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!

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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.

 

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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.

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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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Weekly Photo Challenge: Up Against the Odds

It’s always interesting to spot another person taking photographs. My curiosity gets the better of me. What are they looking at?

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Yes. I was there to see the wooden lighthouse at Katiki Point, still standing on the edge of the wild Southern Ocean since 1878. But I had to keep an eye on that photographer.

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Couldn’t catch the birds flying past + the waves breaking!

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My Zoom wasn’t as big as his.

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What are the odds he’d get this close to a big seal? Just look at the expression on its face. What is it thinking? Get back. You’re too close? Oh my goodness, not another nosey beak!

I’m reminded of something that happened on an earlier trip to New Zealand over twenty years ago –

My friend and I expectantly trotted down the track, through low scrub towards the beach on the edge of nowhere. We couldn’t see the sea but we could hear it. It was a beautiful, clear day and the sign had said that the rare Yellow-Eyed Penguins could be sighted at this time of the afternoon.

On this driving holiday of New Zealand’s South Island, we were free as birds to stop, explore and move on when we felt like it. We were having a good time. We didn’t need binoculars. This landscape was large.

The Hide which ended our trek was small and dark, but with a step up and a viewing gap where we might scan over the low trees to the beach below. I swung myself up and in, surprised to find another person already inside.

Arms folded, she was leaning against the wall with a cigarette in her right hand. We said hello. She raised her eyebrows in a nod, and exhaled. I stepped up to the wide view. She sat down on the plank, along the back wall. When asked about any sightings, she replied that no, she hadn’t seen any. We waited. She lit another cigarette.

We waited. I was happy just to watch the sea move. Time passed. She suddenly stepped up beside us and looking out said, “They’re late!” I was speechless.

“The sign said they get here at 3.30pm every afternoon, and it’s past that now.”

My ‘compadre with total recall’ sprouted some of what we’d read on the sign – the hundreds of kms adults swam every day to bring back food for their young, how small the colony was, the size of the birds, how much fish they caught …

She sat down again. We waited in silence: motionless; just smoking.

“I’m not waiting any longer,” she suddenly muttered, as she screwed the butt into the ground with her boot. Relieved to see her go, I said, “Hooray!” ( No …truly, it’s an Aussie way to say “Cheerio!”) and settled back into the chin-on-hands position and stared down at the surf crashing onto the shore.

No ‘parcel of penguins’ landed on that golden crest. But we did, finally, spot one dark shape flounder thru the foam – only to be hurled unceremoniously onto the beach. This solitary Yellow-Eyed Penguin, picked itself up and, after staggering a little like a drunk waiter, made its way up the steep sand, head down. It was awesome to watch each determined, tiny step. The bird was gone in about ten seconds. We stayed on for a while longer but saw no more penguins.

……

Today, these “rarest of penguins in the world” are more endangered than ever. The latest challenge has been outbreaks of avain diphtheria … amongst other things. For more info see the highlighted link.

Nature really is up against the odds. We humans are the oddest creatures.

Now, having written this down, I wonder what that woman was really looking for.

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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.

Scanning new horizons: WPC

In 2017, let me really appreciate where I live, decide where I’m heading, and take more memorable photos.

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I remember snapping this on the wall of  the Grille Cafe, Transport World, Invercargill, New Zealand …

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 Here’s to a peaceful, respectful and creative New Year. Thank you for reading my blog posts.

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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.

Scottish Snippet 5: Museum WPC

The National Museum of Scotland is a beautiful place to explore, popular with all ages and free for everyone. It’s full of curiosities and photo opportunities.

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My friend poses under an elaborate Victorian water fountain cupola made of cast iron.  See more of one I spied by the roadside at Newport-on-Tay – looked like a wedding cake!


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Now this scary, 2 m tall skeleton belongs to a Giant Deer. Imagine how it once looked, all muscle, thick hide, pulsing with life and tossing a 3 m wide crown of antlers. This Megaloceros giganteus is 12,300 years old, found on the Isle of Man in 1819 and brought to Edinburgh by the Duke of Atholl.

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Tree -lover that I am … this stopped me in my tracks. A chair grown into shape!  It’s of Willow, designed and cultivated from 2009 – 16 by Gavin Munro and on loan from Full Grown Ltd!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, sure enough.
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Story Twigs the Imagination! Text and photos by Meg Philp© 2016

Tea and Truce: Hodja No. 5

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There’s nothing nicer than catching up with a friend for tea and cake: a time for stories, news and reassurance.

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It’s been my experience that drinking tea together has been responsible for many a revitalising conversation. In times of crisis, real or unreal, putting the kettle on for a cuppa has heralded a joint confab to solve a problem, salve a ‘wound’ or have questions answered: a time of friendship.

I’d say, I inherited a genetic disposition to drinking tea from my mother. Here she is as a five-year old, dressed up, having tea with her dolls.

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Coffee just doesn’t have the same effect on me – all that pressured steam and long instructions pitched against the machine like  “Half strength cappuccino with some water on the side.” Ordinary black tea, with its ritual stirring, slow sipping and relaxed breathing has been a mainstay in my immediate family and circle of friends. Being offered the best china, or guest’s cup make’s it all the more pleasurable. (Oh no! Is that orange juice?)

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Of course, tea is not for everyone and that’s fine. We all have choice – of what we drink and who we have tea with.  I remember my mother’s anguish in her forties when her only brother told her that his religious beliefs forbad him taking tea, or socialising in any way, with those who were not a member of his sect. My widowed Gran lost much contact with her son, daughter-in-law, 5 grandchildren and their children: my mother lost contact with her only sibling: one of the two branches of my mother’s side of our small family gone!

Hard to imagine …  Tea is social and inclusive. It is a time to ponder, calm down and gather strength for what’s ahead.

Of course, I do have a choice of teas. Making such a cup last week, I was surprised to read this on the packet. Didn’t it make me daydream! Go on! Put the kettle on!

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You know, Hodja was fond of a glass of tea and good stories in the teahouse. One day a tall man entered who was not from the district. Everyone in the place stopped talking and turned to watch.

The stranger smiled when he caught sight of Hodja, nodded and came over to his table. “You probably don’t recognise me … but I remember you. I was in charge of the border guard at … .”

Everyone listened.

“Ah yes!” affirmed Hodja, looking him straight in the eye. ” It must be twenty years since I earned my living as a trader.”

Hodja invited him to sit down and called for more tea and turned to look at his guest quizzically.

“I’m retired now,” said the tall man, “but I’m glad to speak to you … I know you outwitted us everytime.  We were all convinced you were smuggling something over the border. But all your donkey ever carried was paniers of hay! We always searched and even sifted it. But we never found anything.”

Hodja smilled.

“Tell me now, after all this time,” begged the stranger,  “how did you make money trading hay?”

Hodja shook his head and replied “To tell you the truth … I was smuggling donkeys.”

At this everyone in the teahouse roared laughing, including the stranger.

All photos by Meg.

Hodja’s story adapted from one I heard Ben tell at our local TellTales story circle. (Yes, we drink tea there and the cafe opens up for coffee fans.)

Story Twigs My Imagination: blog by Meg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License