Tag Archives: environment

Weekend Coffee Share10th June, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Thanks to the English Queen’s official birthday, we Australians on the other side of the world, have received a gratuitous public holiday. Although I take an interest in the royal family, I’m a Republican to the core. After all, we Australians are more than capable of standing on our own two feet and making our own Vegemite toast. That said, I’m not handing the holiday back.

Anyway, how was your week? I hope you’ve had a great one and have a few stories to tell.

It’s officially Winter here. However, the weather is quite variable from day to day.  This week there were a few truly miserable days where is was raining, freezing and gray without even a hint of sunshine, and the lot of us complained bitterly wondering what this dreadful beast called Winter is and what it’s doing here in the land of perpetual sunshine. Fortunately, the weather-makers got the message, because we then had a few glorious days of sunshine and we were all happy again. Our world was put right again.

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On Wednesday, I managed to get down to the beach for a walk and took my camera along just to ensure my heart rate didn’t increase to anything like the point where it could be considered aerobic exercise. While watching the waves roll in, I thought about all the generations of people who have arrived by boat upon these shores and come to call Australia home.

While this might seem a bit strange, I’ve been researching our first arrivals for my book. Our earliest arrived in 1808 only twenty years after the arrival of the first fleet. So, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. Arrivals by boat continue today and give our politicians much to discuss.

It’s funny how they fail to consider that the Aboriginal people weren’t happy when we landed on their shores and that those threatening spears might have been their way of saying: “Stop the boats”. While refugees need new homes and places of safety, my concerns turn more to the environment. There are way too many people on this planet and these population pressures are causing hosts of serious issues impacting on the survival of the planet. I had a bit of a wake up call on that front this week while writing a poem after my walk along the beach. They weren’t my thoughts. A random muse dropped them into my poem. However, once they were there, I couldn’t ignore them. A warning that our planet is more important than people. Coming from me, that’s a big thing because I’m a people person and I’m not as much of a big picture thinker. However, as I said this insight come from somewhere else and was left in my lap.

Yesterday, we drove up to Somersby just North of Sydney  and went to the Harvest Festival. Well, we actually went to visit the pecan farm where my annual violin concert is held. Hey, I’d better rephrase that and say that Stratford Music where I learn the violin has their annual concert there and I am but one of the many performers.

 

 

Anyway, getting back to the pecans, the idea was to fill up a bucket with pecans which were weighed and paid for as you left. We arrived quite late in the day because we were also there to pick up our daughter from dance rehearsals nearby. So, things were winding up, but we did see them shake a tree to get the nuts down and the merrymakers were rummaging around collecting their loot. I gathered up some pecans myself. However, I was also distracted through the lens and enjoyed photographing the naked branches silhouetted against a muted blue sky with the quirky-looking seed pods dangling on stalks. Kids were having a ball running through the fallen leaves and the chilled air was filled with laughter. It was very refreshing and although I’m 40 something myself, I still found magic in crunching those fallen leaves underfoot. We’re drying out our stash for a bit and then I’m going to attempt making a pecan pie for the first time. I’ll have to see if I can source some other local ingredients to truly be able to say my pie came straight from the farmer’s gate.

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It wasn’t long before sunset when we set out and we pulled over beside the road to photograph a stunning row of Autumn trees which were prancing around in that glorious magic-hour light looking absolutely glorious. I just kept taking photos from all angles not knowing quite what was going to work out best til I got home.

 

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Indeed, to be perfectly honest, I wanted to soak all of it up and take it home with me. Plant that setting in our own rundown and neglected backyard of arid beach sand. Well, I wouldn’t really want to do that, because I wouldn’t want all of those beautiful trees to die.

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After picking up our daughter, we drove down to Sydney for my parents’ birthdays. That was a low-key celebration at their place sandwiched in between the kids’ activities and Dad’s golf. There was a bit of a miscommunication about the cake and so there was no cake, no Happy Birthday but we had the presents and card sorted. After dinner, mum and I retired to the lounge room where she accompanied me on my violin. Our main piece was Tristesse by Chopin but we’re also working on Edgar’s Love’s Greeting. Although mum’s done a lot of accompanying over the years as well as teaching the piano, getting our act together has been unexpectedly complicated. We usually end up having different versions of the same piece of music, which have been written in a different key. So, even when we’re playing together, it’s been difficult for us to be on the same page. However, we’re starting to get there now.

No doubt, many of you also experience this in different ways in your families and finding togetherness is more difficult than you’d expect.

Meanwhile, in terms of posts for the last week, there was Ghosts On The Run for Friday Fictioneers and if you’re wanting to have a good laugh, you should go and check out Jonathan Livingston Budgerigar. You’ll never forget him. Speaking of Jonathan Livingston, I made a few references to him in Gull On The Run.

How was your week? I hope you have a great one.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

The Majestic Plastic Bag – A Mockumentary.

 

Last night, my daughter flagged my attention wanting to show me something on U-Tube well after bedtime. I was in the middle of something or other requiring all my concentration. Of course, I promised to check it out today but somehow closed the tab, lost the link,  and I won’t mention anything else I might’ve got stuck into today, instead of being an attentive Mum. Well, that is other than spending most of the day asleep due to a weird sleep virus we’ve been fighting off.

Anyway, as Calvin Coolidge famously said: “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence”, and if there’s any being on this planet who knows the power of persistence, it’s kids….”Muhum!!!” Failing success on that front, she frequently resorts to Plan B…my mother!

So, of course, when she asked me if I’d checked out the hilarious plastic bag clip tonight, I cringed and slunk into my chair  and gracefully resigned myself to the inevitable. Thre was no escape, no more excuses or wriggling out of it this time. Facebook, blog, research, emails were all put on hold as I watched, laughed and absorbed its subliminal, environmental messages and decided you’d love to watch it too.

With it’s mock David Attenborough-esque format, this documentary follows the life cycle of the plastic bag from the supermarket carpark into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where it finally “dies”. Yet, although this mockumentary is very funny, it uses humour to share a disturbing environmental message about how plastic bags are impacting on our animals, waterways and oceans in a format which is hopefully spreading faster than the common cold through the World Wide Web.

Indeed, that’s why I had to share it with you.

xx Rowena

Love For A Thousand Years…Friday Fictioneers.

Being detained for importing acorns into Australia, Ciara had simply snaffled a few back from the family churchyard in Cloyne. She didn’t know how old that gnarled and crooked oak tree was, but had no doubt that her grandmother’s great grandmother would’ve climbed it as a little girl. After all, an oak could live for a thousand years. Now, Ciara planned to grow her own and watch her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren climb its branches and feel her arms wrap around them, even  centuries after she’d passed. They would know and feel her love…a love stronger than time.

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This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. This week’s photo prompt is © Sandra Crook. Thanks Sandra for sharing this image of a very striking tree.

Perhaps, many of you are unaware that Australia has  very tight quarantine restrictions, which are strongly reinforced. Indeed, perhaps you might’ve heard of how Johnny Deep and his girlfriend brought their dogs illegally into Australia, which potentially could’ve introduced rabies with catastrophic consequences.

Many years ago, my grandmother brough heather back from Scotland in her luggage and planted it when she arrived home. She was her own woman right to the  very end and I guess so many of us feel that something small and seemingly insignificant couldn’t possibly cause an environmental disaster. Yet, it can.

I am in the process of tracing the journey of my 4th Great Grandmother through the Irish Famine and out to Australia. She was born in Midleton, County Cork and lived in Cloyne nearby as well, which has the most imaginative round tower and churchyard, which inspired my take.

BTW I have become a foster carer for an animal rescue group and we are currently fostering 5 week old kelpie pups, who are still largely bottle fed. Alot of fun but time consuming.

xx Rowena

Z- Tasmanian Devil Unzoo

Welcome to Z – the last day of the  A-Z April Challenge.

Throughout  the challenge, I’d been planning to visit Zeehan as our last stop. Located on the North-West Coast, Zeehan was an obvious choice and posed a great alternative to the inevitable “Zoo” . Moreover, Geoff’s Great Uncle, Robert Ralph French, was a teacher in Zeehan before being Killed in Action in France during WWI. However, although we have that personal connection with the town, we’ve never been there, which makes writing about it a tad difficult, though not impossible.

Moreover, unless we went to the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo, we haven’t had a chance to meet the infamous Tasmanian Devil or find out about it’s battle to survive. It is now listed as an endangered species and much work is being done to conserve it.

“THERE are three hateful things in the world, two that make the blood run cold, and one that makes it boil; the hiss of a snake, the snarl of a Tasmanian devil, and the smile of a banker.”

– Eimar O’Duffy in “Asses in Clover.”

As we’ve continued through our A-Z Alphabetical Tour of Tasmania, there’s been what we’ve seen, but also what we haven’t seen. For better or worse, the haven’t seens include the Tasmanian Devil. Although my son swears he heard one howling in the night, and even glimpsed it through the bathroom window, so far we haven’t seen or even heard one at all.

Hobart to Tasmanian Devil Unzoo

So, instead of heading West to Zeehan, we’re now heading South to the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo in Taranna, which is helping to conserve this endangered species.

“UNZOO – a place where the public learns about wild animals, plants and ecosystems through interaction with and immersion in natural habitats.”

– John C Coe and Ray Mendez, 2005, The Unzoo Alternative

Since 1996, Tasmania Devils have been blighted by an infectious cancer known as Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD).  Since then, the population has declined by more than 60%.6 Transmission can occur by biting, feeding on the same material, aggressive mating, and other social interactions.  DFTD tumors mostly form on the face and/or in the oral cavity.  The cancer can also metastasize to other areas of the body.  Nearly 100% of infected devils die within 6 months of the onset of clinical signs.7 Death results from an inability to feed, secondary infection, or symptoms associated with metastases. Sadly, as a result, what was once the largest surviving population of marsupial carnivores is now threatened with extinction.

The Tasmanian Devil Unzoo is taking a proactive part in helping to save the Tasmanian Devil:

“Tasmanian Devil Unzoo has a long history of supporting efforts to save the Tasmanian devil, and is a partner in the official Tasmanian Devil Conservation Project. This critical project aims to save Tasmanian devils on the Tasman Peninsula by preventing the spread of the DFTD to the region.

As part of this effort, Tasmanian Devil Unzoo is breeding healthy devils for future wild release on the Peninsula. We also maintain a special devil-proof barrier fence at Dunalley, which has been designed to prevent the spread of DFTD into the disease-free Tasman Peninsula region. In addition, through our Devil Tracker Adventure project, we constantly monitor our local wild devils and collect important information on the local devil population through infra-red cameras and data recording.[1]

Unfortunately, as I’ve mentioned time and time again, we ran out of time in Tasmania and we didn’t make it to the Tasmanian Unzoo when we were down there in January. However, we live right near the Australian Reptile Park on the NSW Central Coast. So, we can see Tasmanian Devils and other Australian wildlife there. You probably don’t have this luxury.

Before I turn you over to the Unzoo, I thought I’d better introduce you to the Tasmanian Devil first.

That said, I’m anything but a Tasmanian devil expert and I’m largely going on reputation. Obviously, I’ve never snuggled up to a Tassie Devil to get to know them personally, let alone had the opportunity to run through the Proust Character questionnaire with one.

Devils Teeth

However, as you may recall, I do have my in-house Tasmanian (my husband Geoff). Geoff has told of the Devil’s incredible ability to polish off an entire cow carcass in two weeks including the skin. Out on his cousin’s farm, they’d dump a dead cow out in the bush and two weeks later, the big knee bone was all that remained. It takes a powerful set of jaws, and a cast iron stomach to pull that off, making the Tassie Devil an animal to be feared, but also given a kind of respect.

Tasmanian Devil etching

In search for more stories, I read through some of the old newspapers online and found out about some devils who were sent to the London Zoo. These accounts provide some good insights into public perceptions in the past:

According to the “Overseas Mail” of 2nd December, the authorities at the London Zoo…are extending a warm welcome to live Tasmanian devils. These animals belong to the marsupial group of animals, and may be described as the black sheep of the respected kangaroo family. In appearance the devil; is quite as black as its namesake is painted, and is about the size of a badger. The broad, strong head is armed with tremendous jaws and teeth, and its sole touch of colour is a suggestion of pink about, the muzzle and ears, and a white V-shaped marking on the chest. It is absolutely untamable, kindness seems as much wasted on it, as on a bursting shrapnel shell. Its ferocity is only amenable to buckshot or strychnine. It will fight a man, a sheep, a dog or its own relations. Kill it and it dies snarling defiance. Give it food, and it bites the hand that feeds it with every sign of satisfaction. The mother produces three or four little devils at a time… Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), Thursday 4 January 1912, page 3

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A LONDON IMPRESSION: The Tasmanian Devil

Four Tasmanian Devils, fiends in animal shape whose life is one unceasing anger against everybody and everything, have arrived at the London Zoo. No matter what you do for or against a Tasmanian Devil he remains furious. In his native Australia he is the terror of the sheep-farmer. Woe betide any farmer who relaxes watch, for the Devils have an uncanny knack of knowing just when it is safe to appear among the flock and tear out the throats of their helpless prey. It is some years ago since the Zoo entertained a Devil, and anybody with a taste for excitement should visit the newcomers. A new cage, with “unbite-able” steel bars, has been prepared, and the four hideous strangers are now boiling with fury in it from morning to night. The Tasmanian Devil is jet-black, with massive jaws which will tear ordinary wire mesh into shreds in a twinkling. In his wild state he fights his fellow Devils on the slightest provocation and the victor often devours the vanquished. Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950), Saturday 26 December 1931, page 12

Yet, despite such horrific reports, I also found a report of three Tasmanian Devils being sent to Hollywood to appear on screen:

ASPIRANTS FOR FILM FAME: Tasmanian Devils For Hollywood

Zoologically, the Tasmanian Devil-latest candidate for Hollywood film honors— is an “Interesting little animal.” Destined for a film career, three of them, on Friday next, will leave Hobart on the first stage of a 7000 miles trip to Hollywood. They have been selected as supporting artists for Rosemary Lane in a coming talking picture. On the way they will be housed for a few weeks at Taronga Park. Latent talent, no doubt, has caught the eagle eye of Hollywood’s talent scouts. If so, it is a case of history repeating itself, for, like the prophet, the Tasmanian Devil has found little honour in its own country. The secretary of the Taronga Park Trust (Mr. Brown) said to-day that there were no Tasmanian Devils in the Sydney Zoo. “They are not zoological rarities by any means,” he said, “but for display purposes we have found that the public generally is not very interested in them,”  Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 – 1954), Thursday 11 May 1939, page 9

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Taz.

So, while the Tassie Devil might not make the ideal dinner party guest, it is an essential part of biodiversity in Tasmania and needs to be saved.

At this point, I’m going to take you over to the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo’s  website where you can go on a self-guided tour.

I hope you enjoy it, but also gain a heightened sense of the need for the conservation of all species of animals and plants to ensure biological diversity in the future. It is much better to look after what we’ve got, than try to bring it back from the dead down the track (the Tasmanian Tiger being the case in point).

Once you’re finished there, we’re heading back to Devonport to catch the night ferry to Melbourne, leaving Tasmania behind.

By the way, don’t forget to stock up on goodies before you leave. I know we are…including a dozen Cornish pasties from Scottsdale, Lavender Cheese from Ashgrove Farm, chocolate from the House D’Anvers and Hard Ginger Beer from Spreyton’s Cider.

Indeed, I’d stuff all of Tassie in my suitcase if I could!

Carpe diem…seize our last day!

xx Rowena

The Details for The Tasmanian Devil Unzoo

5990 Arthur Highway. Taranna Tasmania 7180 Australia

T: Within Australia   1800 641 641

T: International      +61 1800 641 641

E: taswild@iinet.net.au

W:        http://www.tasmaniandevilunzoo.com.au

References

[1] https://tasmaniandevilunzoo.com.au/save-the-devil/

https://www.cancerquest.org/cancer-biology/cancer-wild-animals?gclid=CMbNysLXydMCFRwKKgodZVQB8A#devil

Featured image -The Tasmanian Devil Unzoo

Weekend Coffee Share – April 2, 2017.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

I hope you’ve had a great week and that you’re looking forward to a bit of exercise, because today you’re joining me for my 20 minute walk. You could say this has been a “prescription” from my physio and what started out as at 10 mins, doubled and I think I’d better keep a low profile or she’ll soon have me pacing the beach for a challenging 40 minutes. Something tells me, that in that instance, I might need to bring a white flag with me…along with my phone. I might be needing a lift home.

However, as much as I grumble and resist the walk, I’ve been told I’ve lost weight, I’ve become a lot more organised and if it weren’t for the repetitive, barking cough I’d be in almost great shape. I do feel a lot better!

I don’t know whether you’ve heard about Tropical Cyclone Debbie, which hit the North East Coast of Australia with a vengeance last week? There’s been extensive flooding and huge crop and personal losses on a vast scale. I’ve seen countless aerial shots of floods extending across unending plains and yet for me, these images fail to convey the storms brutal force and raw destruction. For that, I need the detail and the stories and appreciate those brave souls who’ve lost the lot and yet share that with the camera and those with no idea of what it’s like. Of course, the vast scale of the damage is hard for me to fathom from my comfy chair, even though we’ve caught the tail end of the storm here.

I have been walking along the beach and experiencing a deep sense of grief as I see more uprooted trees strewn across the sand like dead corpses without a fitting burial. Over the last two or so years, our beach has rapidly been eroding away to the point where they closed a section of road for a few months, concerned it too was going to end up out at sea. A few houses fell into the sea at Sydney’s Colloroy. Not that that’s an imminent threat here but I do love the trees.

That’s why I was pretty annoyed when I saw some young guys running up and down the dunes and doing backflips, causing masses of sand to cascade down the dunes. That’s after the council has been bulldozing sand into the dunes and local environmental groups, and even the Green Army, have been brought in to plant trees to remediate the damage. Well, knowing all of this, I approached the youths and they said they were members of the surf club and knew about the erosion. At that point, I told them that they should’ve known better and kept walking. On my way back, they were back at it again and I simply shot them a look and spoke to the lifeguard who told me that he’d spoken to them before.

Umina Beach taped off Thurs

Umina Beach just after the storm in April.

I can’t blame people for wanting to have a bit of fun, but once you know you’re fun is damaging something and you continue, it becomes vandalism in my mind whether that’s something man-made or the environment. There’s no difference in my mind. What do you think? I’m ringing the council tomorrow. I’ve met the guy heading up the remediation project before  and it’s good to have the community and council rallying together on this.

However, my rantings about trying to save the local sand dunes, only occupied minutes of the last week.

dance feet

The Secret Dancers Network

Last Monday, we had our last contemporary/lyrical dance class for awhile and next term we’ll all becoming Happy Clappers. I am yet to photograph my feet in my pink satin ballet slippers with ribbons as I’m too much of perfectionist with my photography. I want to get the shot just right…so right that I haven’t even had a go. How’s that for ridiculous?!!

Wednesday, I posted another flash for Friday Fictioneers…The Wharfie.

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I also posted a series of photos of my now 11 year old daughter’s approach to applying lipstick…Mummy’s Litler Miss. Like glitter and sparkles, a three year old can never have too much lipstick.

 

 

By the way, in case you weren’t aware, the A-Z April Challenge kicked off again on Saturday. Following up on our trip to Tasmania in January, my theme for 2017 is Tasmania. It kicked of with A- Ashgrove Farm. Trust me! You’ll feel like eating your screen!

How has your week been? I’m sorry that I haven’t been visiting too many of you this year. I’m not exactly having a blogging break but I have pulled back for a bit.

Thanks for popping round. It’s been great to catch up!

This has been another contribution to the  Weekend Coffee Share. We’d to have you come and join us!

xx Rowena

The Inner Tree, Port Arthur.

“The Tree and the Reed”

Well, little one,” said a Tree to a Reed that was growing at its foot, “why do you not plant your feet deeply in the ground, and raise your head boldly in the air as I do?””I am contented with my lot,” said the Reed. “I may not be so grand, but I think I am safer.””Safe!” sneered the Tree. “Who shall pluck me up by the roots or bow my head to the ground?” But it soon had to repent of its boasting, for a hurricane arose which tore it up from its roots, and cast it a useless log on the ground, while the little Reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over.Obscurity often brings safety.”
Aesop

There was such a mixture of grief and intrigue when I spotted this chopped down tree at Port Arthur. After walking through the bush admiring and photographing the soaring blue gums and almost feeling one with them, I was grieved to see something so beautiful destroyed.

“If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.”

Khalil Gibran

Yet, fortunately it’s not often that I get to see inside a tree. Despite loving trees, I still have that child-like fascination with counting the rings and peering inside this hidden, inner zone. Is this where trees store up all their secrets? Where they write down all the stories they hear whispered by the wind? Part of me, believes it is and I wish I could translate them all.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

John Muir-Save the Redwoods

Any fool can destroy trees. They cannot defend themselves or run away. And few destroyers of trees ever plant any; nor can planting avail much toward restoring our grand aboriginal giants. It took more than three thousand years to make some of the oldest of the Sequoias, trees that are still standing in perfect strength […]

via John Muir, Save the redwoods (Review) — Whispering Gums