Sheltering Green : WPC

This week’s Photo Challenge reminded me of a Russian proverb “Everyman loves the tree that gives him shelter.” Last Fall, we had a leisurely walk around Green Lake. People were in the lake, on the lake but mainly, around the lake.

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Green shade is a blessed relief in our hot Australian summers. A local family of Boobook Owls have moved to smaller trees which give denser shade, so they can sleep better.

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A ‘Good’ Match : WPC

This week’s Photo Challenge gave me too much choice. I scrolled thru my photos and mulled over my choices for a while. ‘Good’ is such a loaded word.

The colour of my neighbour’s ‘Tilly’ (Utility Truck) is pretty close to the blossoms on my Illawarra Flame Tree. Reds are hard to match.

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Last year I was keen to get a photo from the train going over my favourite railway bridge. Continue reading

Re purpose: WPC

This week’s photo challenge is about repurposing? …”discovering an object for which you’ve discovered a clever new use.”

Like Phoebe Anna Traquair?

Painted in 1920s by Scottish Artist Phoebe Traquair for the Great Hall of Lympne Castle, Kent

Painted in 1920s by Scottish Artist Phoebe Traquair for the Great Hall of Lympne Castle, Kent ( National Museum of Scotland)

Art galleries and museums ‘repurpose’ objects all the time to engage visitors, of all ages; to make them inquisitive; puzzled; challenged to compare, and contrast; to critique and make recommendations: to appreciate differences and similarities; to remember images of what they treasured; to open up to wonder. It’s more than just labelling and classifying – they want to get people talking and reflecting on what was most memorable for them.img_1035-1Most Scottish museums and galleries are free. We visited Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum last year for a special (ticketed) Mucha Exhibition. I’d last been in the building when it was a dusty museum/storehouse last century.

fullsizerender Caught a glimpse of some refurbishment and wondered why they put these objects together – a Spitfire behind an elephant? Did you have to guess which is heaviest?

Our tour guide was very informative but I didn’t get time to ask these objects which caught my eye, so I nipped back and took this photo to look at later.

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The curators must have a sense of humour. What do you reckon? These are twice the size of tennis balls and thought to be pre-Viking.

One ‘repurpose’ – You stirred them in the cauldron to help tenderise the meat being cooked.

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PS. An adult elephant can weigh up to 4500 kg. This 1944 Spitfire’s max. weight is 3565 kg. For an image of the completed display, click here.

PPS. Yes. The Mucha Exhibition was pretty. But I got fed up looking at so many draped, ornamental women on posters … time to move on. Spent a more engrossing, enlightening time in the galleries upstairs. I’d go again any day.

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.

Graceful Nature: Weekly Photo Challenge

When I wonder about ‘graceful,’ images of dreamy movement and soft curves come to mind.

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Sometimes graceful movement is so fast – like a butterfly. I have to follow till it rests. Standing very still, I hold my breath and ‘click.’

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Other times, a curve catches my eye. As I stare, I sense some infinitesimal movement within … an unfolding.

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and then … there’s my own, walking times, when what I see makes me feel infinitesimal … and my heart leaps!

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Sometimes I go about pitying myself, And all the while I am being carried across the sky by beautiful clouds. (Ojibway poem)

Here’s another graceful image from a story that I tell –

Out in the cattle kraal, a silver cord descended from high in an African night sky, down, down … to its dusty centre. By the light of the moon, a crouching man keeping watch behind the thorn-bush fence, saw his black and white, speckled cattle move apart. Hearing singing, he looked up and there, round the shining cord, he spied a line of beautiful women floating down, one after the other. Singing softly, they spiralled down till they touched the ground. All wore wondrous clothes and ornaments which flickered in the moonlight and carried a calabash held against one hip. Then they walked silently, gracefully, to an animal and murmured soothingly as they sat. Sing together again, they steadily milked his black and white cows.

As a child, Laurens van der Post was told this story about women of the sky by a black woman –servant. It’s on pages 132-4 of his book “ The Heart of the Hunter.” If you want to hear my version of the whole story, you’ll have to come to Storytelling Unplugged: the Meetup group I organise, next first Friday of the month!

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All text (except those 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

White Samite, Mystical, Wonderful

 

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This abstract image reminds me of a scene in the Grail legend, when the vessel, covered in white samite, is reverently carried aloft through the Great Hall.

The words, ‘Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,’ come from Tennyson’s poem Morte d’ Arthur , and was a line I heard but couldn’t see: something not of my time and wasted on me in high school English class.

Many years later, on a raw, winter’s day in Cornwall,  I stood at the edge of Dozmary pool, listening to Canadian Ed Kylie telling the story of King Arthur’s death based on Tennyson’s poem. This was the  place where Excalibur was said to have been returned to the Lady of the Lake. In my minds’s eye, I did see the glittering sword flung, turning, end over end through the air. The arm I imagined coming up was pudgy and chilled pink.  All I could see of the ‘samite’ was a draped, white, sodden bedsheet. I couldn’t see more of the story for the cold.

Wikiwand can give me interesting facts about samite. It was the most important silk weave of Byzantium, reserved for kings and church leaders. But, clothing is such a personal, fragile artefact. I like to feel fabrics. Mostly, it’s the colour and patterns, the warp and weft that draws me in. I have only poured over many fascinating remnants under glass in museums – from christening gowns, to shawls and mummies.

Visualising the colour and texture of fabrics and matching these to the clothing characters wear helps make them, and the story, more visual, more believable, more memorable.

The ‘fabric’ in this image might not only be white Samite, but also

  • a cloak for the wicked lead in Andersen’s ‘The Snow Queen.’
  • the stone horse’s hide in the Asian folk tale about a magic brocade, when the horse is magically brought to life.
  • Sleeping Beauty’s coverlet
  • the magic tablecloth Mannannan spread before Cormac when he was in the Land of Faery
  • a dress for the woman in the moon
  • What do you imagine?

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Abstract

This week’s Photo Challenge was to turn the concrete and familiar into something new and mysterious.

Sources: Poem – Morte d’Arthur, http://www.bartleby.com/42/637.html

Wikiwand entry’Samite,’ https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Samite

All text (except that 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.

Half-Light Stardust: Weekly Photo Challenge

Winter sunsets by the sea, here in Coolum, Queensland, often have a sugar-almond blush … before the stars come out.

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And now the purple dust of twilight time … 

‘Stardustwritten by Hoagy Carmichael, was one of the romantic songs my father liked to sing over the years. When it was his turn at family celebrations, he would stand in front of the fireplace. We all sat round our living room, hushed, expectant. Inspired by Nat King Cole, he’d smoothly slip into the song, looking at mum and she’d blush. The rest of us were held spell-bound there, till he raised his glass to her at the end, and we did the same.

All text, except those 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

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Sources: Stardust sung by Nat King Cole on Youtube :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VezW1PtDq5E

 

 

 

Feeling harmonious: WPC

I first saw Mount Taranaki (formerly Mt Egmont) over ten years ago. “Awesome!” I thought.

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I love seeing this “ ever-fixed mark.” It helps me get my bearings and draws me in like a magnet, every time I go back to NZ to visit friends. Mt Rainier, near Seattle, has the same effect on me.

 Once, at the end of a NZ holiday and feeling wistful, I had this view out the aircraft window. Just one look and I was on “Cloud Nine!” MtTartop (2)

Human beings, vegetables, cosmic dust, all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible player. (Albert Einstein)

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Text (except quote in italics) and photos by Meg Philp

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

Giving a Fig for Storytelling

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Ooooooh fresh figs! Some years ago I planted a Brown Turkey fig tree just so I could celebrate February with this tangy, moist fruit. Right now, the tree’s laden with more figs than ever, which darken as they ripen. I’ve been giving figs away to neighbours.

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Once, a long time ago, an old man was planting a young fig tree when the king of that country rode by. He reined in his horse and asked why all the youngsters in his family weren’t doing such heavy work, planting trees. “After all,” he added. “They are the ones who will eat the fruits?”

The old man bowed and explained that he’d learned about growing trees from his father, and his father’s father. “Now it’s my turn to plant trees so my grandchildren will enjoy them.”

The king agreed that figs were a most delicious food and thanked him for his work. As he turned to ride on, the ruler suggested the old man might bring some to to the palace, if the trees bore well.

IMG_8749It was some years, after careful pruning and tending, that the trees flourished and yielded a crop of ripe brown, pungent globes of fruit. While his doubting wife shook her head, old grandfather filled a small basket and set off for the palace.

The guards refused to believe that their king had asked for this crazy old man’s figs. When he pulled back the cloth and lifted the fruit to their noses, explaining, “Just say, that the old man he saw planting the fig tree comes bearing the fruit of his labours,” he was brought before the king.

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The monarch remembered their meeting and so enjoyed eating those figs that he had his Royal Treasurer fill the basket with gold coins. Beaming, the old man bowed in thanks and wandered home with a full heart. On the way, a nosy neighbour spotted a shiny coin as it fell from the basket. He rushed over and held it up to him. Aghast at the old man’s good fortune, he quickly invited him in for tea. There, he learned of the king’s fondness for figs.

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Just after dawn next day, the man had his wife fill her biggest basket with figs from their garden. When it was full, he staggered off to the palace gate and demanded to see the king. The shouting that ensued attracted not only a motley crowd but also the king, who was about to ride out.  The Gate-Keepers stood smartly to attention, and a hush fell over the curious. All listened to the fig bearer and their king, with shocked faces moving from each in turn. When king realised that the man wanted a reward for his figs, he drew in a deep breath, shook his head and gathered up the reins.

“No,’ he said, turning away from the demanding citizen. Then he declared, “Unlike you, the old man gave to me wholeheartedly, expecting no reward. Guards! Let him have his figs. Stand him against the wall and have the people throw them at him!” With that, he and his retinue galloped off, leaving the crowd scrabbling for their fruity missiles.

The greedy neighbour returned home a sad, sticky, splattered mess.  His wife giggled helplessly at the sight of him, saying that all he gotten for his figs, was figs!

“Enough of this, wife,” he muttered as he sat down. “I’ve been a fool … but a lucky fool…  lucky because it was soft figs they threw at me … not beetroots.”

Within the week, his story had spread through the city. His wife, meanwhile, boiled what figs they had left with sugar and made jam. As she spooned it thickly on her bread one morning, she sighed and looked husband up and down.

“Ah yes, dear husband,” she mused. “The taste of fig jam will always remind me of what a glorious mess you got yourself into!”

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 Sources:

Adapted from “The Figs” in Schram, Penninah. The Hungry clothes and other Jewish folktales. New York, Sterling, 2008: 22-4

http://museuconfitura.com/en/historia-de-la-confitura/

All text and photos © Meg Philp

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

 

 

 

 

I Spy Plovers

Cyclists hate the nesting season here. One speeding past with a magpie in hot pursuit once yelled out to me in passing,” Why do they pick on me?” He was in black and white lycra at the time. Get too near magpies, or plovers, and they’ll dive bomb you! Kids often learn this the hard way.

Plovers don’t build nests … just scrape the ground and lay their speckled eggs there. They are, however, the most protective of parents.

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A pair of Eastern Plovers live locally. I’ve been paying attention to them for a couple of years. Their territory includes a bowling green and a soccer pitch across the road from each other. When I got a better camera, I was able to follow them more closely … they always kept an eye on me.

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This green keeper goes out of his way to let the faithful plovers raise their chicks. He doesn’t cut the grass too close, leaves ramps out so the hatched chicks can get out of the sunken green, led under the fence, encouraged across the gravel road, down the slope, under another fence and out onto the large field by their careful parents.
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This past year, though, in Nov and June, two sets of chicks didn’t make it past the puffs of grey, fluff stage. Saddened, I blamed nearby cats or butcher birds. Not a sign was left of them. I thought the pair would give up … but was delighted to see this in August.

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Walking along the fence line every time,  I finally caught a glimpse of three fluffy chicks, in the early morning. As soon as the adult spotted me, she called them back, under her,  with a clicking sound. I got to know what the different calls meant  like Come back quickly / Move out slowly / Don’t go too far / Hide – danger!

Eventually I was able to stop and photograph them.11092015c

A week later, they had moved their home into the middle of  the soccer pitch.

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Though, one chick had gone, the parents were never far away. One acted as scout, the other as shepherd. Soon I could get close enough to see how much they’d grown.

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They started ranging further afield and seemed to get used to me, this strange bird with a black beak and a green cap.

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They roamed together. Now, as big as their parents, the younger birds haven’t got their yellow wattle fully developed. I wanted to get a shot of them flying to finish the story.

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Months later, I’ve been willing them to fly. Several times, they’d wait till I’d given up with my camera, was walking away, and they’d suddenly fly past me, dodging like Spitfires. I noticed that the leader /scout would give three short screeches. (“Fly!”) then the family would follow. Sometimes, they’d been dive-bombed by other birds like Magpies (and one Noisy Miner here).

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Three short screeches … and I caught them taking off as a family, following the scout parent. That’s it. They’re on their way.

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The plover, also know as the Masked Lapwing, has many names in different Aboriginal languages. There’s an ebook called Pitthirrit the Plover for 9 – 11 year olds, available as an app on iPad / iPhone. Produced by the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages, it’s a traditional story of the Gunitjmara people, the Traditional Owners of southwest Victoria, Australia. Available for $2.99  –  Updated 22 November 2015.

  Click or more info on the plover

This Australian site is a great help – http://www.birdsinbackyards.net

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All text and photos, except where highlighted,  by Meg

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

 

Oops! I fell : Weekly Photo Challenge

MSCF2578I was walking along, minding my own business a couple of weeks ago when, at my feet a flurry of colour made me side-step. “Oops! What is that?”

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A fledging was staggering about beside me … probably got a bit too cocky looking down from a hollow, high up in that tall eucalypt nearby. My … there was a lot of squawking going up there.

Instant dilemma. (Thinks: I shouldn’t pick it up. How will it get back up to safety? It can’t fly! Is it hurt? What can I do?) While I worried, the creature took action.

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 It finally got started after two floppy, failed attempts and began to climb. I could hear my grandmother saying … If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. I shakily took photos.

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“Breathe and hold, ” I muttered to myself and the bird, then pressed the shutter.

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The fledgling was a young Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, in a punk phase, totally unfazed by my presence. Other lorikeets were making a racket from bushes on both sides of the path. It’s not for nothing that the collective noun is a “pandemonium” of parrots.

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As the fledgling gingerly climbed higher, its feathers settled when it sat. There was still a way to go to get to safety.

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This all took about 5 minutes. The bird took a breather every so often and preened. There’s the tree I think it fell from, on the left. That pandemonium of lorikeets squawked continuously until the youngster had climbed out of my reach.

I stepped out, heartened by that plucky little bird’s persistence and determination. Boy, that bird taught me a thing or two! It wanted to fly … it was learning to fly! It wasn’t going to quit.

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I need to acknowledge a traditional Aboriginal story and popular children’s picture book here, called How the birds got their colours which features a Rainbow Lorikeet.  Pamela Lofts created the book of this story, which she heard from Mary Albert of the Bardi people of Western Australia. It was published, illustrated with children’s responses as paintings, in 2004 … a classic, widely used in schools and still in print,

This recent YouTube video (Don’t be put off by the 10 sec ad. at the start), directed and filmed by Teagan Spratt and Alannah Bryne retells this Aboriginal legend, as part of a Media Arts assignment in 2014. A significant feature is the explanation by Aboriginal elder Bill Buchanan, as he answers questions about the cultural significance of such stories, told to children.

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All text and photos, except where indicated, are by Meg

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

How The Birds Got Their Colours. Dir. Teagan Spratt and Alannah Byrnne. YouTube. YouTube, 1 June 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93UIsjYz75k&gt;.

Adult Scaly-breasted Lorikeet

Adult Scaly-breasted Lorikeet

Updated _ Scaly-breasted Lorikeet: Basic Information from Birds in Backyards. Web. Downloaded 3 Jan 2017.<http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Trichoglossus-chlorolepidotus&gt;

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