Love the Tree that Gives You Shelter

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Huge tree in Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, NZ.

While mulling over last Week’s Photo Challenge of a Favourite Place, I recalled an old Russian proverb tale “Every Man Loves the Tree that Gives Him Shelter.”

It celebrates regeneration symbolised by the oak tree that grew from the acorn planted by Great-Grandfather on the day his son was born. That child became a Grandfather at forty years old when Vanya’s Father was born and ninety-two when Vanya ( the latest in the family) was born. The old man keeps his grandson company under the tree, enjoying the shade while his parents work in the garden.

“I love my mother best in the whole wide world,” says the child. His grandfather nods, adding ‘Your mother is your shelter, Vanya’ …

Trees shelter and protect. They provide many other benefits.They change with the seasons, bud, flower, fruit and drop seeds. Most grow taller and have a longer lifespan than we humans.

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This Spanish Chestnut at Balmerino Abbey, Fife, was said to have been planted by Queen Ermingarde in 1229. Tests have revealed it’s only 400 – 435 yrs old

By the gate of the house I grew up in was a Rowan tree. The Scots’ superstition was that it kept any evil from your door.

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Old Rowan tree in Autumn, berry-laden, among the ruins of a cottage at the back of Tobermory, Mull.

If you’re fortunate when you were growing up, you had a family to protect you. On the TV news, the sight of a huddle of women, fleeing the bombardment in Ghouta stays with me. They were scurrying away together, shielding small children as well as carrying whatever they could – for the last woman it was a bright blue plastic bucket – in chaotic street full of gray rubble, guns and fear.  How will this civil war ever resolve so that the people can live in peace? How will they ever build homes again and plant their Olive trees?

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Cherry Tree in Spring, NZ

Standing under a flourishing tree lifts my spirits … the way a friend does when we hug … no matter where I am. One of my favourite places full of trees is on top of a nearby mountain ridge. In the quiet spaces within this soft, dappled forest are sculptures created by Graham Radcliffe.

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Created by Graham Radcliffe in his Phoenix Sculpture Gardens, Mount Glorious, Brisbane.

… The story continues …

When the child asks his grandad what the old man likes best, he replies “My tree,” He then fishes an acorn out of his pocket and gives it to the child saying “Plant that and when your mother’s no more and you’re an old dad like me, you’ll not want for shelter till the earth is your roof.”

NB. This is an old story and as a sign of its time has much gender bias. Everyman means every individual to me.

Many years ago I remember we had a speaker from a charity ‘Men of The Trees’ talk to my class of eleven year olds about tree conservation. The organisation has planted 26 billion trees internationally since it began in 1926

(Just found out in Wikiwand that the original English Branch of MOT has rebranded and is now the International Tree Foundation.)

T T T T T T T T T T T   T T T T T T T T T T T  T T T T T    T T T  T  TTTTTT TTTT TTTTTtttt

Sources

Balmerino Abbey. National Trust for Scotland. Accessed 29 March, 2018.

Everyman loves the tree that gives him shelter. in FARJEON, Eleanor. Eleanor Farjeon’s Book: Stories – Verses – Plays. Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1950:95.

Men of the Trees.

Top 22 Benefits of Trees. TreePeople. Beverley Hills, Cal. Accessed 29 March 2018.

See also http://www.treesisters.org. Their focus is on reforesting in the Tropics.

Favorite Place

All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and also Copyright © under Australian

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Spider and the Fly

Wandering the garden, pondering this week’s photo challenge “Beloved” … bee-loved? Loved, be … by?

Oh look! Here’s a spider with a pretty orange heart on its underside.

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Just hanging around, waiting … then … it all happened so quickly –

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Will you walk into my parlour? said the spider to the fly.

Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy,

The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,

And I’ve a many curious things to show when you are there.

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Oh no, no, said the little Fly, to ask me is in vain,

For who goes up your winding stair, can ne’er come down again.

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Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.

He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,

Within his little parlour, but she ne’er came out again!

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And now dear little children, who may this story read,

To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed.

Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye,

And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.  Mary Howitt (1829)

These are just some verses are from a fable / poem written almost 200 years ago and worth retelling yet. I hadn’t read the whole of it till now.

We know that to ‘close heart and ear and eye’ does not keep us safe any more.

Time to speak out against any such a ‘human’ perpetrator … ‘evil counsellor.’

After 5 years of work, including written records of over 3956 victims’ oral narratives from more than 8000 who came forward,  the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has released its Final Report: Recommendations. This downloadable document includes recommendations such as a National Framework for Child Safety across all organisations, as well as a national curriculum for Online Safety and much more … for all children.

Now’s the time for community action … so much more than The Spider and the Fly.

Beloved
Sources:

The Spider and The Fly.  Wikiwand. website. Accessed 6 Feb 2018.

Golden Orb Weaver Spider (Male 8cm) Queensland Museum website: Find out About : Spiders. Accessed 6 Feb 2018.

All text (except those in quotes in italics) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and also Copyright © under Australian Law.

Silence for the Wonder-worker: Weekly Photo Challenge

What’s that in the Mandarin tree – so silent and stoic?

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After my online search … it’s the chrysalis of a Citrus Swallowtail Butterfly. 

Hanging from a silken girdle, a secret transformation is underway at this nymphal stage. Most of the larval cells have had to die before the adult structures (of the butterfly) can take shape. What survive from their breakdown into ‘caterpillar soup‘ are imaginal cells – one for each adult body part – all ready to carry on and complete the metamorphosis over time.

Will a male or female butterfly emerge? The female of the species has more colour.

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The main character in Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Butterfly” is a male butterfly intent on finding a wife amongst the blossoming flowers. He dismisses one flower after another, ending up old and alone. It’s not a story I’d tell to kids because of the way females are portrayed. The main character is so conceited and superior. However, he does get his comeuppance – caught late in the summer by a human, he’s pinned to a board – ironically ending up as an object in a display case. (Surely people don’t do this in this day and age?)

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But back to another photo of the chrysalis. (I have no idea if this is a mite in the foreground.)  It can take from one – six months for the butterfly to finally emerge,  depending on the weather.

And to think one of the wonders of the natural world is happening in my backyard right now!

Silence

 

Sources: The Butterfly in Haugaard, Eric Christian. The Penguin Complete Fairy Tales and Stories of Hans Andersen. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, Penguin, 1974:782.

Identification thanks to – The Butterfly House, Coffs Harbour. Papilio Aegeus. Accessed 18 Jan 2018.

Jabr, Ferris, How Does a Caterpillar turn into a Butterfly? in Scientific American, August 10, 2012. Accessed 18 Jan 2018.

All text and photos by Meg.

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and also Copyright © under Australian Law.

 

Mangoes: WPC Growth

In Queensland, luscious mangoes signal our summer holiday season over the New Year. So juicy and delectable, they are best eaten leaning over the kitchen sink!

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A few years ago, my neighbour’s Bowen Mango tree used to produce so many mangoes, she couldn’t give them away … so she had it lopped!

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Whenever I see a mango tree, I remember an Indonesian story retold by storyteller Helen East. My version goes something like this –

One still, summer’s night the moon shone full on a tall, dark mango tree. Cicadas suddenly ceased chirping  and listened. Disgruntled voices were drifting up from the tree’s roots  “After all,” they complained, ” we do all the work and get none of the attention or thanks!”

They muttered on about how hard it was deep down in the dark earth, holding the whole tree fast, while keeping water moving up to the trunk, the branches, those leaves and all that fruit.

“Look at that lazy trunk, just standing there!” they yelled, looking up.

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Hearing this the trunk yelled back “ Not, so! My job is constant strain. Holding all this tree together in wind and storms is much harder. If I break, we all die. You forget too that I carry all the food back and forth to all parts. I’ve also had limbs chopped off for firewood, bark stripped by foraging animals: the pain of it all.”

Then the trunk added “It’s those leaves just hanging there, dancing in the breeze. I wish that was all I had to do!”

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Surrounding branches swayed in disagreement. They thought differently.

“How little you know, “ whispered the leaves in chorus. “ All day long we convert energy from the sun sharing it with the whole tree. We’re up all night releasing air for the tree while it rests. We shelter you all from too much sun. Heavy rains often tear us down.You wouldn’t want to have our job. Look at the fruits, all they do is hang around, grow fat and glow with pride when they’re ripe. There’s the kind of job we’d like!” they sighed.

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The fruits held their tongue at first. They knew it was because of their existence that this tree was valued. Then they indignantly pointed out how badly treated they were, often ripped off before they were ripe or gnawed at by bats and rats.

“We have the worst of all – such a short life. Though prized by humans, many of us can be left to rot at the base. The rest have to give ourselves up to be eaten, pulped, sliced and worse…”

A deep voice broke through the babble.

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“Enough! … I spend a long time waiting for my fruit to ripen,” said the husky stone.

“We fall together. If I am cast aside and land on good earth, we go on. When I dry out, I force my case to split open so the seed can begin to grow into a sapling. I remake all of you from my core when a root descends and a shoot ascends. Trees like us have flourished for thousands of years. We all have our part to do in the growing …”

Just then,  a woman came softly into the garden to look at the moon so the tree fell silent. And the cicadas began their rhythmic nocturne once again.

Growth

Sources – Story adapted from Helen East’s retelling “The Heaviest Burden” in  BRAND, Jill, BLOWS, Wendy & SHORT, Caroline. The Green Umbrella: stories, songs, poems and starting points for environmental assemblies. London, Black, 1991:93.

Mango – Wikiwand article

All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and also Copyright © under Australian Law.

 

Wishful Thinking? Transformation – Weekly Photo Challenge

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This bug reminded me that someone I love has dyed their hair blue. When I had blonde hair, I dyed it red for a change and kept it up for years.

I know this bug isn’t thinking about what’s going on but that blue really does makes it stand out … an easy target.

Transformations happen whether we notice or not. We change. They change. The world changes. It’s also the main driver in stories … no change = no story.

Most fairy tales for children were like parables. They told how youthful, ordinary characters push for change for the better, and are often helped in magical ways, as in Cinderella’s ‘rags to riches’ story. Listeners learn to spot the character’s  human qualities. eg.  powerless – powerful, arrogant – humble,  cowardly – brave, threatening – protective, deceitful – honest, cruel – kind …  all that they might live “happily ever after.” It’s all wishful thinking.

Grown ups put their best foot forward and get on with what needs doing.

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Inspiring young people to grow out of fairy tale notions happens best thru surprise and laughter, perhaps?

Here’s a recent, modern parable which does this, a speech at Uni of Western Australia by Tim Minchin – 9 Life Lessons read aloud by the comedian himself. It makes me laugh every time I hear it.

Transformation

All Photos and Text  by Meg except where indicated.

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and also Copyright © under Australian Law.

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Temporary? Weekly Photo Challenge

What’s not to appreciate? … a sundae special just waiting to be savoured …

 

… the latest plover mother in the place she was reared, sitting on eggs – no matter how often the mower goes by …

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… leaving no imprint behind, but a sense of having seen marvels …  able to revisit anytime, in our imagination. High days and holidays!IMG_4133 (1)

  1. Huckleberry ice cream.
  2. Masked Lapwing (Plover) nesting on spare Bowling Green.
  3. 14th – 16th Century marble intarsia (inlaid) make up the entire Siena Duomo floor. Covered in sheets to protect them from wear all year, except June 29 – July 31 & Aug 18 – Oct 26, when visitors can see them revealed, from temporary wooden walkways.

Moonstruck was one of my favourite movies. I recall Cosmo, father of the bride- to-be, reacting to the ring Loretta (Cher) was given with her latest marriage proposal. He thought it looked stupid because it was a man’s pinky ring.

She replied “It’s temporary.” At which he exclaimed, “Everything is temporary!  That don’t excuse nothin’.”

And for a story to make you think more about Temporary, you can’t go past It could Always Be Worse retold by Margo Zemach available for you to read as part of Teaching Children Philosophy, thanks to this Creative Commons Licence,

Temporary

All text and photos by Meg. Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and also Copyright © under Australian Law. Please request permission to copy photos.

 

Have a Sticky Beak: WPC Peek

Staring out the kitchen window this morning, something in our tallest tree caught my eye. Got the camera out to ‘have a sticky beak’ – Aussie slang for ‘have a look.’

DSCF6769A young Maggie preens itself.

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 … then settles down for a branch snooze after a noisy morning. It’s been up since Dawn learning to carol and sing. Indigenous Peoples have called these birds Koorakoolas, Goorebats or Curlucks.

DSCF6783 (1)Shut-eye doesn’t last long.

An adult flies up. The young one squawks for food !

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Australian poet Judith Wright in her poem Magpies wrote

” they look like certain gentlemen

who seem most nonchalant and wise …

… their joy is long. For each is born with such a throat

as thanks his God with every note.

In my back garden, these magpies are content to amble. I followed Ma or Pa walking around till I got this last shot. They’ve never ‘dive-bombed” me like those magpies in parks, protecting their nests when people get too close.

Thank goodness for tall trees, singing birds and sticky beaks.

Peek

PS. I f you want to hear them ‘carolling,’ check out Youtube for videos of Australian Magpies. I might get up really early tomorrow and record them myself.

All text (except where noted) and photos by Meg. Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and also Copyright © under Australian Law.

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Refreshed: WPC Glow

Mushrooms glow after rain, or are they humming?

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Last week’s long downpour refreshed our neighbourhood. September was the driest in 20 years. Now the Jacarandas can really get ahead…

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 while local Galahs help their chicks find food for themselves.

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For many students, these blossoms herald final exam time … and perhaps, a sinking feeling.

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But, outdoors at last, these Kindy kids take turns…

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… excitedly shooting for goal in the Jacaranda Cup!

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PS. The day after I posted,  I spotted this glowing object by the walking track.

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Not another mushroom … an inside door handle sticking out of the ground. It makes you wonder how big the door is … and where it leads?

Glow

Galah

Jacaranda

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and also Copyright © under Australian Law. Please request permission to copy photos.

Structure / Order: Weekly Photo Challenge

The challenge this week is ‘to share the structure of something that is typically overlooked.’

“What kind of flower is that?” I wonder, as I spy crumpled pink on the footpath.

“O, oh. Is it dead?” I zoom in.

A couple stops to find out what I’m photographing and before I can say anything to them about poisonous … , he’s picked up a broken branch to touch …

the spider … which grasps the proffered twig and hangs-on in mid-air, while being carried to a near-by tree.

Here it stays, held fast by eight skinny legs – an impressive structure!

Not really scared of spiders … am fascinated by their differences, their webs … their ingenuity and their persistence.

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Tiny spiders like these surely have a sense of humour –  ‘Moustache’ Spiders?

 

Structure

Story Twigs the Imagination! is a blog created by Meg Philp and Copyright © under Australian Law. 

Plant Life: WPC

This week’s Photo Challenge ‘Elemental” had me casting my eyes heavenwards … and then down to the window-sill. Elements of fire, earth, water and air are all captured here, as a winter sun pours into the house.

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Simply put,  Planet Earth thrives because of plants. They provide food, oxygen, medicine, and products, as well as creating and preserving the soil.

There’s a potted history in the three flower types this little posy -Violas were herbal medicine used by the Greeks as early as 4th Century B.C. Edible Nasturtiums were found in Mexico and Peru and taken back to Spain by the Conquistadors in the 16th century.  Petunias were also discovered about the same time in Argentina. Scots explorer James Tweedie sent purple ones back to the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens in the 1830s.

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Plant collecting expanded with the British Empire. Edinburgh’s ‘Physic’ gardens and Royal Botanic Gardens flourished from 1653 on.

The British ‘landed gentry’ arranged the education of their off-spring in birth order. Their first son, as heir, was destined for university or would study law,  as might their second son.  Other younger sons would go into the Priesthood, the Military or  (Dear me!) Trade and apprenticeships. By the 1800s, with the expansion of the sciences like Botany in the Age of Enlightenment, a dedicated few became plant explorers, travelling to exotic places, Asia, Australasia,  and the Americas, they brought back rare species for the gardens of the great estates, like Crarae Garden in Argyll, Scotland.  There, you may walk amongst Nepalese, Chinese and Tibetan trees and shrubs sent back by botanist Reginald Farrer.

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Camellia, member of the Tea Family from China.

There’s so much about plants that is taken for granted – more stories to tell … Just grow some, water them, care for them!

For more info about the Golden Age of Botany, see PlantExplorers.com. There you’ll find out about how other intrepid explorers battled the elements to bring back rare specimens … See Joseph Banks (1743-1820) who sailed with Captain Cook … or Scotsman  George Forrest (1873 – 1922) from Falkirk, who discovered over 1200 plants in China, Tibet and Burma and then introduced hundreds of them into western cultivation.

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Superfoods

See also this List of gardener-botanist explorers of the Enlightenment


Sources

DAVIES, Amanda.The History of the Petunia in “Thompson & Morgan” (Blog) Feb 12, 2016. Downloaded 10 August, 2017.

Pansy. Aggie Horticulture, Texas AgriLife Extension Series. Downloaded 10 August 2017

PlantExplorers.com; the Adventure is Growing. Downloaded 10 August, 2017.

PERRY, Leonard. (Dr.) Nasturtium; a favourite old-fashioned flower. in “The Green Mountain Gardener.” University of Vermont Extension, Dept of Plant and Soil Science. Downloaded 10 August, 2017.

‘Reginald Farrer.’Wikiwand. Downloaded 10 August, 2017.

Wallis, Patrick (and) Webb, Cliff. The Education and Training of of Gentry Sons in Early Modern England. ISE, London, (forthcoming). Downloaded 10 August, 2017.

Elemental

All text and photos by Meg.

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

This blog of text and images is Copyright © under Australian Law.