Rowland Morgan

The Guardian (an English newspaper) has a section where people can contribute an obituary for a deceased person they knew. Usually it is a partner, brother, sister, etc. The person being remembered will have had some quality that brought them to the public eye.

One from Gerald Morgan the brother of Rowland Morgan caught my wife’s eye. Rowland Morgan was a journalist who had a column named Digitations in the Guardian in the 1990s where he wrote about ‘facts’. For example:

British Telecom’s scrap tyres each year would form a column 44 times the height of the London BT Tower.

Henry VIII had an average of five enemies a day executed.

That second fact definitely caught my attention. Henry reigned for 36 years, so that’s 5x365x36 = 65,700 people that he had executed over his reign, give or take. I wasn’t taught that at school. I was taught (not explicitly) the divine right of kings and the right of barons to barter with the monarch.

Digitations was made into a book, so I ordered a copy. Perhaps there is more background to the ‘interesting’ fact about Henry VIII.

Update 28 July.

In Digitations I found out that the term ‘global warming’ was first used in 1975 by the American scientist Wallace Broecker, who wrote a paper entitled: “Climatic Change: Are we on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?

Poppies On Newly Turned Earth

Unprocessed poppies on newly turned soil

In the park near our house the Council planted some trees. It is a long term plan because there are already probably one hundred or more trees in the park.

Some trees are nearer to the end of their lives than the beginning. So in due course, the newly planted trees will grow to dominate the scene.

At the same time, both this year and last the Council left an area to grow wild. It is separate from other areas of the park where they sowed wildflowers. They left this area to just do its thing.

And in this area that they left to grow wild, the only place that poppies have grown is where the soil was turned for the tree they planted there.

Which reminds me, and probably many, many others, of the poppies of Flanders, when after the artillery had turned the land to mud and the battle was over, the poppies grew in the newly turned soil.

And here is a version of the photo that I made where I overlaid the image with a photo of misty clouds and then blended in Photoshop. The darker mood seems to suit the idea of poppies on the battlefield.

poppies on newly turned soil

The camera I used to shoot this is an Olympus E-PL8 with the 14-42mm kit lens. I bought the camera to test whether I can shoot comfortably with a camera that does not have a viewfinder but only a rear LCD.

The answer is no, I need/want a camera that is about as small but that has a viewfinder. There are a couple of reasons for that and the biggest is that on a sunny day it is impossible to see the image in the LCD.

The other reason I need/want a viewfinder is that I like to be sure exactly where my focus point is, and LCDs don’t lend themselves to that.

So I sold on the camera, but I do like the richness of the colours. They remind me of the colours in the photos of Robin Wong who shoots with Olympus cameras.

UPDATE

The newly planted tree is Pinus pinea, which is commonly known as the stone pine, also known as the umbrella pine. It is native to Southern Europe and the Middle East, and it can reach 15-20m (45-50ft), so not a big tree by the standards of some of the trees in the part. That said, in this climate and latitude, perhaps it will grow taller, looking for the illusive light.

Hoverfly On Yarrow

man colours of yarrow

overfly on pink yarrow

Cambridge Council has left areas in the parks to grow wild, aided by sowing wildflower seeds. But in years and years of seeing yarrow, I have never seen the deep colours of these.

Because there are so many species and cultivars, yarrow comes in many different colours. So, while yarrow does exist in these colours in the wild, my guess is that the Council has bought in a selection of seeds that are not exactly ‘UK’ wild.

That said, they do the job and the area is teaming with bees and hoverflies. It is testament to the regenerative power of leaving things alone.

pink yarrow

The Bee

There was a bee on a purple flower spike, an arrangement of many small flowers on a tall stem. I forget which species of flower it was, but the bee moved quickly up the stem from one little flower to another. One quick sip, and on to the next flower. It did not dither; it took a sip and then a tiny distance upwards to the next flower. It was like the bee was going up in a lift (elevator), higher and higher on the flower spike.

It made me think how we humans see the bees sipping nectar and think how lovely it is to watch nature moving in its own time.

This is attributed to Lao Tzu:

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

Today though I was thinking about the mind of the bee, and the task it had before it. Sipping at each flower, on and on all day. It is like piecework, where the worker is paid for how many of a thing he or she can turn out in a day. For the bee it means it gets a living only so long as it keeps sipping. Is it fun, or is it a hard day’s work?

Come to think of it, do bees have downtime when the jobs are done, and it there is time to laze around and contemplate the whole cycle of nature?

Some animals plainly have downtime. Lions after they have eaten, for instance.

Or an orangutan at rest, sitting on a branch of a tree, lazing back against the trunk, idly prodding something that interests it.

Tamara is amazed that cows keep going, munching grass. She wonders what they think. She wonders whether they look at the next clump, and say to themselves ‘Oooh, grass!” Looked at that way, life is a never-ending delight. Perhaps it is that way for the bee.

Tamara and I once saw a moorhen couple getting ready to raise young. The male looked frantic, dashing about finding sticks, bringing them back and then off again. Its little legs were moving as fast as moorhen legs could go to bring back another twig.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

Ah, Lao Tzu is talking about the closed system of nature. Every variety of experience is in there. It is constantly moving and changing. Its rhythm is perfect, beating to the tune of the universe.

Man is an odd fish.

Slowly we are getting used to the idea that we do not stand outside of nature, but we are still a million miles away from knowing how to get out of our present predicament.


dark red yarrow flowers
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