Category Archives: nature

A Vague Thought

Vague

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‘Great Wave Off Kanagawa’, ‘La Vague d’Hokusai’ or ‘The Wave’ – by Katushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849) an artist and printmaker of the Edo or classical period. Hokusai was a prolific artist, and his paintings were popular in his lifetime, and in Europe and have become world famous since. It has been said that Monet was deeply influenced by Hokusai. He originated Hokusai Manga (manga = random drawings, so no connection with the modern usage of manga), a body of reference for other artists (some fifteen volumes).

In this painting, the waves have claws and are menacing, the humans in tiny boats are, by comparison, vulnerable and at the mercy of nature. Mt. Fuji in the background also dominates, the only natural thing not threatened by the water.

The connection to vague is of course the French translation = a wave of panic swept over me. So, in French the title implies what the painting is showing, the wave about to sweep over the fishermen.

Hokusai was concerned for the decline of society and was also seeing the end of the classical period. The painting shows judgement, the wave about to sweep over the fishermen and the community was a judgement on the people. I would retitle it – Nature Strikes Back.

The perspective of Hokusai is striking, because he is commnicating that the way Japanese society was behaving – it could not, should not continue.

But that is more real for us today because we have intervened in nature, with chemicals, polution, clearing, salinity, depletion of species, nature can strike back as a result of the changes it faces. Researchers have long been saying that weather patterns are changing, rainfall has changed, the earth’s atmosphere is warming. The positive is that there are many who are working hard to get our attention and change that.

In a more personal sense the painting speaks of consequences, if we don’t care for ourselves, if we don’t check our excesses, if we don’t care for others, then there are consequences that will affect us. Without reflective time, without some quiet within the daily, without healthy diet and exercise, without love and loving, without the capacity to listen and to share, to be creative, we are at risk of life sweeping over us with claws waiting to consume us. Mindfulness is not a mystery, it simply learning to to put our ego drive away and focus on the real self and its potential and relations. to use a cliche – stop and smell the roses.

But unlike the fishermen in the painting we are not at the mercy of such things, we can (we must) stop and take time, and we can work together on the crises that seem to surround us. And not in the least to begin to challenge the work ethic which will consume us first if we don’t.

Nature rises up
the claws of consequence
time to paint

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Galahs Partake

via Daily Prompt: Partake

It begins with one, two, then three, then more. They gather to partake in the most joyous fun together. It was raining the other day and we were sitting on the veranda watching the day go by, when nature’s jesters turned up. The ubiquitous Pink & Grey Galah, found almost everywhere in Australia. They love to play, and they love to play in the rain (when it’s warm weather that is). This group started with one then there were more. I love it when they hang upside down to get the full feel of the rain and get a wash. You can hear from there calls that they are having a ball. It’s a little like watching young children have fun together.

The Pink and Grey Galah or Eolophus rosiecapillus (although science is also saying Cacatua rosiecapillus) a cockatoo, is common across Australia. Its common name is derived from its colour – pink with grey. Our English word Galah is taken from the Aboriginal language Yuwaalaraay and their word Gilaa. Galahs form strong bonds as couples who mate for life, and they are known to become depressed if their mate dies. There is an urban myth that if one of the couple dies, the other remains celibate, but it has been proven that they do indeed find another mate. They can live up to thirty years in the wild. They are highly inteligent, social, and adaptable.

In Australia the word Galah has also been used as a euphemism for someone who is a loud mouth. In teaching meditation, the term for a distracted and busy mind was always a monkey mind, but I use the word Galah mind, it makes more sense when you have no monkeys.

But their playfulness reminded me of how humans generally lose their sense of play, we become too serious and dismiss play as childish, silly, immature or a waste of time. We crush the inner child at every turn with our grown up ways. Dr. Stuart Brown gives us a great way to look at play as important to our health and development.

Like the Galahs, we too need to hang loose ocassionally, we need to play in the rain, we need to partake of fun. And like the Galahs who grieve their dead mate, we grieve so many things in our lives, and there is a place for counter-balance, not as distraction, but as intentional. Brown talks about how we need play to be whole and healthy, how doing the most, what appears to be silly things, enable us to see life differently. In other presentations, Brown provided research of prison inmates whose childhood had been deprived of play, there is a correlation between play deprivation and development issues. Some sobering thoughts, but ones that affirm the need to play.

Sometimes we need to be life’s jesters, and make like a Galah (the bird, not the loud mouth).

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Prolific

via Photo Challenge: Prolific

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Hakea Laurina, one of many Hakeas. A prolific flowering tree, and a beauty to behold, one the glories of the Australian bush.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Glimmer

via Daily Prompt: Glimmer

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(Image: hdwalpapers2013.com)

I love the night sky, the glimmer of light, those stars, planets, refracting the sun’s light for vast distances we call light years. As a child I wanted to go out there and see how it all fitted together, and to see if there was life out there in some form. Space always captivates me, it is, as Captain Kirk said: “Space, the new frontier.” And with an ever expanding universe, there will be an ever growing new frontier, and one we cannot consume.

There is always a divide over space exploration, those who criticize it, for a variety of reasons, and those who support it. Constructive criticism is worth hearing, but that which is borne out of ignorance or fear is not. Fear closes us down, shuts off our creativity, our capacity to dream and think big. It’s easier to be negative than positive, but it is positive energy that will help us, negativity will be our death.

On a tangent here check out, and thanks to Skirmishes With Reality, Jaron Lanier on How We Need To Remake The Internet, where he talks about how negativity is destructive: www.ted.com/talks/jaron_lanier_how_we_need_to_remake_the_internet

Martin Luther king Jnr. said: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” No wonder that the great spiritual guides of the past all made that connection in a variety of ways, because as you say that quote it it seems logical.

As with light, so with love, love is a glimmer of hope, and a more down to earth hope. Like light, like the universe, love is a positive and ever expanding energy. When we become love in all its forms for others, we become glimmers of hope. Together we can dispel the darkness that haunts our world, our communities, our homes, and our selves. We can be that energy where we are. Love is a new frontier, lets explore that.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Filed under astronomy, environment, life, mindfulness, nature, Science, Space, Spirituality

Awakening in the Bush

via Photo Challenge: Awakening

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Last spring near Mayanup, one of those scenes so common in the bush, the wildflowers awaken and disturb the sedate tones of sepia that is our winter scape with rich colours. The rains soak into the soil, the sun warms and the seeds respond, an awakening of visual delight, and food for the soul.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Froth, Perhaps the Best of Us

via Daily Prompt: Froth

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Taken a while back, the Blackwood River on the north side of Boyup Brook, froth in the foreground, foam to the middle left.

Froth in water, be it lakes, rivers, creeks or the ocean, is generally a combination of pressure or agitation (so, rushing water, or crashing waves creating bubbles), the matter from decomposing plants such as oils (in Australia one significant culprit is eucalyptus), dead plant tissues, dust making froth or foam, and protein (which is also a common contributor to foam in expelled urine). Many people imagine that someone has dumped detergent in the water, given the dramatic effect of the froth or foam, and yet it is all natural ingredients contributing to the phenomena.

Froth or foam is not ordinarily considered to be a negative. That which occurs naturally in water is quite normal and shows nature in process. In some circles a froth on top of a glass of beer is considered a good thing as it indicates that the beer is not flat or lacking. In firefighting foam has been utilized in combating fires involving flammable liquids, the foam restricts oxygen thus preventing fire. Detergent froth and foam is seen as useful in that the foam is the detergent becoming active when needed. And we have all at some point utilized pretrochemical foams in mattresses and pillows, etc. But froth and foam have been used negatively in literature. The old saying, “it’s all froth and bubble” is a form of ridicule applied to any situation you wish to criticise:- The speech was all froth and bubble” meaning, the speech was lacking substance.

Everything has its good and not so good side, or, everything has both strengths and weaknesses, froth and foam are no different. But the weaknesses are few and overall froth and foam make such a valualble contribution to nature and to life. In some ways we can see froth and foam as a metaphor for ourselves. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I have a view that our weaknesses are few in comparison to our strengths, and we all make a valuable contribution, and often not just in our core vocation, but in what my grandparents might have considered stuff that was froth and bubble – hobbies, interests, leisure activities, creativity – the things that make us come alive, energise us and carry us (and others with us) through.

Froth and foam are the result of aggitation and energy and natural ingredients, this is not unlike ourselves. When we are aggitated, put under pressure, stimulated, enabled, we can produce all sorts of creative things. Froth and bubble are signs of life, signs of substance, a parallel to cream – the best rising to the top. When we are energised the creative rises to the top, sometimes dramatically, and for all to see, just like frothy waves, or foam enveloped waters. Life is not all froth and bubble, but when the good and the creative rises to the top it is to be seen, shared and celebrated.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Rush

via Daily Prompt: Rush

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I took this photo when Jon and I went to Bluff Knoll a couple of years ago. It was raining towards the top, and given the the sides of the mount were almost vertical in long sections, the rain rushed, hurtled down in streams. I love the sound of rushing water, it is something I’ve liked since I was a child, and this day was no different, it was a real treat. The other experience, inevitable really, was that we got soaked, and I didn’t mind that either. When I was a kid I’d run around without my raincoat on and rejoice in the rain. To play on the word rush, I got a rush out of the rain, and out of the rushing water.

Over the years I’ve experienced a rush in different ways, the usual suspects, drugs, alcohol, sugars, speed, abseiling, sport, travelling, bush walking, and the list goes on. It took time to learn to simply enjoy the moment, to attend to the experience as it was without seeking after it. It took time too, to emmerse in the experience without just consuming it. Of course it was partly learning and maturing, but it was also learning to let go and to deepen in the experience. There is something about experiencing a rush, a peak moment, to reach the pinnacle, but to do so without rushing it because the quality is richer and lasting. Not everything has to be immediate.

Who could forget the clasic Aesop fable ‘The Tortoise and the Hare” where the hare presumes to beat the slow moving tortiose, and yet through over-confidence and arrogance loses. Aesop simply making an observation about life, it’s how we are when we don’t immerse and attend.

I love this quote from Tolstoy: “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” and Rousseau: “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” The reverse is also true.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Explore

via Daily Prompt: Explore

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One of my shots of Jindalee (Giles Breakaway). The Great Central Road and the roads that intersect it, the places along the way, have well and truly been traversed over two hundred years of exploration, mineral exploration, pastoral leases and tourism. But for us (Lyn, Su, Geoff) it was a time of exploration – it was the first time we’d been out there. As I looked out across to the east of the breakaway, I wondered what visual and geographic delights lay beyond. I was happy to camp for a time and explore the breakaway, and even happier to drive on into our unknown and see what was up ahead.

That has been my life up to this moment, that inner exploration. For me there is always that interesting intersection of living in the present moment, savouring the past for the treasure it has yielded, and looking to the next step, yearning to grow, to be more fully present, more in the experience, less attached to the material. Keeping the balance is the key, learning to love the past without clinging to it, rejoicing in the real now, and embodying the tension of possibility in tomorrow without trying to make it happen. I have worked hard at begining to let go the past, and I don’t always plan tomorrow, in fact, it is often said of me that I like to live in chaos – creative chaos I might add! Progress, though I smile, it comes with age and experience. Yet one must attend, be aware.  Even so, it is still a great achievement when I can just be in the present moment, and today, for a time, was just one of those moments. It always takes my breath away, and I am grateful for it.

I am one of life’s explorers, a soul on a journey of self discovery. I hope you are too.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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In Memory of Karen Silkwood

via Daily Prompt: Radiant

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My mother entered her teens during WW2, and as a consequence she enthused her children to know about it. In my own meanderings around the subject of the war I could not reconcile the use of nuclear weapons (depite the plea for shortening the war), I was deeply moved by the photographic footage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I still am (one photo the evokes the same response is the image of Phan Khi Kim Phuc Running while burned by napalm). The results of Chernobyl and Fukushima are horrifying.

But the story that really got me was the story of Karen Silkwood which I first encountered through the movie Silkwood starring Meeryl Streep, and thereafter through reading. The story of how she raised the issue of health and safety at the Kerr-Mcgee chemical factory, and how she mysteriously disappeared on her way to meet a journalist. In 1974 she testified before the Atomic Energy Commission about her concerns. Silkwood was also suffering from the inadequate safety of the chemical plant where she worked – she said she was suffering from plutonium contamination.

Silkwood’s story told me then that the nuclear industry could be easily compromised (but then, which industry can’t be compromised?) by sloppy safety practices and the lust for profits and market gain. And look at the results:-

Windscale, UK, 1957 – Windscale 1 caught fire, the radiation reached Europe (200 cancer related deaths documented).

Sodium Reactor Experiment, USA, 1959 – 13 fuel rods overheated, the gaseous material that resulted was discharged into the atmosphere.

SL – 1, USA, 1961 – power surge caused by single fuel rod extraction, the steam explosion killed the three workers on duty that day, they all received lethal doses of radiation.

Enrico Fermi Unit 1, USA, 1966 – the first and only fast breeder reactor that overheated.

Three Mile Island Unit 2, USA, 1978 – nuclear reactor coolant escaped.

Chernobyl, Ukraine, 1986 – massive release of radiation across the Soviet Union and Europe. Poor safety procedures during a scheduled maintenance operation resulted in the reactor suffering a series of explosions, followed by a fire which also accelerated the release of radiation.

Fukushima Daiichi, Japan, 2011 – and earthquake and subsequent tsunami damaged the nuclear plant, it overheated and suffered a series of explosions, and massive amounts of radiation were released.

Needless to say these are the big ones, there are myriads of small problems with radiation release due to reactor problems, but also from radioactive waste control problems. Currently the issue of nuclear waste rages as the state and federal govt. determine whether or not to place a nuclear dump at a small rural centre in South Australia, at Kimba (we stayed there last year, great little town). Of course, the community have been given all sorts of guarantees! But once you’ve understood Silkwood, once you’ve checked the serious nuclear disaster list and seen how most of them are human error issues,  guarantees don’t mean much. In my view, nuclear reactors = radiation in our environment.

I don’t know that I can stop the whole thing, I stay informed, I write to politicians, I bring it up with others, short of chaining myself to a fence in South Australia, that’s about it, but if more of us wrote and lobbied it would at least, if nothing else, alert our local reps to our understanding and concern. Guarantees don’t cut it! Don’t be fooled.

For those interested: https://antinuclear.net

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Warning Signs

via Daily Prompt: Warning

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Photo: abc.net.au

The famous Salmon Holes at Albany, in the Torndirrup National Park. Fishing is not prohibited but there are warning signs at the entry advising people that there is a risk of being swept into the water. Since 1983, 12 people have drowned, so the warning is quite real. But a University of WA study revealed that 226 people believed they would survive falling into the ocean. Well, some have, Lyn’s late uncle Grattan was swept off the rock, but managed to survive to tell the tale. But too many believe they are invincible. One of the features of the bay are the sudden “king” or large waves, that catch people off-guard. These are powerful waves, and pose a serious threat on slipery, wet granite.

There are warning signs in many places for a variety of expected risks and outcomes. These signs are on equipment, packaging, cliffs, rocks, and well, everywhere.

Humans don’t come with warning signs. I’d add a few: dangerous when ego is driving; an ecological hazard, if lacking emotional intelligence 101 do not engage, dangerous if provoked, and so on. We are a complex species, and not always adept at working out where our emotions are coming from, sometimes not until damage is done in a relationship. We can be swept away by jealousy or anger, ego or fear. The rock of life is just as slippery as the one in the photo, and sometimes there are “king” waves that sneak up on us unanounced. Best we need to read the signs, and take care.

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