Tag Archives: night

Siphonophore or salp?

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Horticulture is all very well,

housework is never all very well, but no doubt it is good for one’s character (just some cushion plumping still to be done),

but they interfere with the important things in life, namely watching someone colour in the floor of the Pacific stripe by stripe.  I feel like Slartibartfast.

Then there is the crucial business of blue water going by for an hour, or possibly two, occasionally diversified by some passing gelatinous improbability, until we arrive at the main event:  the ocean floor, a varying number of kilometres but always a Very Long Way Down.

Here one can inspect more gelatinous creatures, the occasional fish, and a variety of coral.  Unfortunately, being live from the other side of the world, they usually reach bottom just at the time all British people should be in bed.  What technical genius, though, not only to send ROVs to that depth, but to live stream HD video to all and sundry, along with baffled commentary from assorted specialists.  It’s just as much fun as reindeer – though I do occasionally wish the scientists were speaking Norwegian.

For those who live in another hemisphere, or don’t mind propping up their eyelids with matchsticks:

http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/media/exstream/exstream.html

Not very joined up

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One of those random days where none of the bits matched any of the other bits.

We started with reindeer of course, striding away across the snow.  Not feeling like doing any striding myself, I ripped back some knitting.  Do you know how difficult it is to unravel wool which is both hairy and decorated with sequins?  Not so much ripping as delicately untangling each row and removing the snags one by one to avoid spoiling the yarn.

The reindeer were having a little rest.  Some of them were asleep.  The ones that were asleep chewed slowly.  The ones that were awake chewed less slowly.

I cut the grass.  I promised myself I wouldn’t complain about cutting the grass.  Look: this is me not complaining about cutting the grass.  I decided the time for curlicues was past, and mowed straight over the violets.  Most of them were finished anyway, and now they all are.

Checking in on the reindeer:  they were stepping steadily in the chilly sunshine.  A few paused to suck and gnaw at exiguous strands of lichen glued flat to black rocks.  I meditated on stripes.  Tricky things, stripes.

Episodes of social engagement followed. The sea was blue and sparkly, the hills pale green over the pale chalk, but I couldn’t enjoy – bank holiday weekend, so all the ordeal of homicidal motorbike riders and suicidal cyclists and lost tourists looking at the view instead of the road.  Bad combination.

Home again, I made sure the herd was all right.  Their humans were amusing themselves by drawing giant patterns in reindeer, right across the valley floor – by laying a trail of what looks like pony nuts, which the reindeer rush into lines to feed upon.

Watering plants next.  It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, at last, and the timing is rubbish as usual, with hundreds of people in tents, poor loves, and an early garden show kicking off.

Back with the reindeer.  I’ve turned the sound off.  It’s getting a bit late in Norway and the screen caption says it’s -12°C.  The current shot:  A reluctant northern night is gathering.  A small snowmobile van thing is shown slowly approaching the camera position over a wide field of snow.  It passes the camera position.  The camera pans to keep it in view.  The van thing progresses across the snow.  The camera centres on its little flat square doors.  It goes further away over the snow.  It goes further away some more.  It goes away a bit more.  The now tiny back view of the van thing disappears gradually over the brow of a snowy hill.  The camera continues to look at snow on the now empty hill.

I think the reindeer and I are stuck with each other for the duration.

Minutt for minutt

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(for about a week).

NRK (Norwegian broadcasting) is televising and live streaming the reindeer migration (reinflytting – excellent word!)  in the far north of Norway, all day, every day, until the reindeer arrive wherever it is they are going.  Probably take about a week … along the way there are musical interludes, but, though some of the pieces are lovely, the natural sound is even better.  When the music is playing I can leave the screen burbling in the corner, but once it goes silent I can’t look away.

At the moment the reindeer group which is being followed is having a little snooze.  If you would like to watch them having a little snooze for an hour or so, this is the link:

https://tv.nrk.no/direkte/event/f7946

Oooo – I think a couple of them may have woken up … and yes … noses to the north it is.

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote

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Yes, right.  The shoures showed no sign of percing the recent droghte as they were vanishingly parsimonious; and as they were composed of a thin vicious sleet on a north wind they had no claim whatever to be soote.  As they slanted by we did get a little bit of glamour out of them.  This must be the coldest rainbow I’ve ever seen.

The chill got into my bones rather.  Last fire of the season?  Or are we about to have one of those perishing springs and blighted summers again?

Hit pause

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I don’t know why it should be so disconcerting.  There you are, vaguely watching a TV programme from 1991, and you suddenly see a prop which is exactly the same pen you bought for yourself nearly 30 years ago. The programme is ancient history.  And you are still using the pen.

Rather circuitous

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The grass has been a spring meadow, studded with primroses, daisies, violets, narcissi, the odd grape hyacinth and bluebell, and even a few naturalising cyclamen.  When nearly knee-high, it has to be cut at last – a beastly job, choking the inadequate mower.  It also takes an inordinate time to guide the mower in dumpy arabesques around the primmies

circumambulate ungraceful wedges of turf round the spring bulbs

and leave strange linear features which will turn into strange linear colonies of bluebells next year.  Because of course I want to preserve and develop this jewelled turf and enjoy it again each spring.  Meantime – we do look a bit odd.

Elsewhere, the now-venerable crab apple is about to burst into the full performance.  Who knows how many thousands of blossoms?  I counted forty on a six-inch twig.

This tree holds its crabs well, and has been feeding the birds all winter; now the last shrivelled fruits are being pushed off by the new leaves and flowers.

A very different creature, the pittosporum is turning its inside-out black flowers …

… strange, very strange …  (even stranger if you click for full size image) …

… until, as daylight fades, they set loose their perfume.

Don’t panic

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(!YES!  !PANIC!)

It all started so promisingly.

The baby 5″ is quick to set up and I took a couple of snaps for the fun of it, before the sky was properly dark.

I even managed to catch a little of the earthshine, though it needed a time long enough to over-expose the lit crescent of the moon.

The 5″ was, however, not giving a good image of Jupiter, and I lugged out the 10″.  Given that we’re talking astronomy here, no surprise that the clouds came up in a moment, and wiped the sky like a sponge across a blackboard.  At this point everything began to go wrong, a maddening saga involving collimators, flat batteries, lost screws, and the impending disintegration of the whole primary mirror assembly on the 10″.  And it wasn’t even April Fools yet.  I secured the primary before sulking off to bed, but it’s going to be a vile job to realign everything.

This afternoon was bright but it was the mist in the downs which was making me happy.

Driving home, I could see four complicated sky layers, all apparently doing different things.  By the time I could photograph, only two of the layers were obvious: the low grey layer which was the one sitting on the hills, moving quickly to the right, though there was almost no breeze at ground level; and the high white cumulus, drifting almost imperceptibly to the left.

Made me think of Jupiter all over again.

Placid day

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Well first, there were two slow-worms in the compost bin, basking under the heat-trap plastic covers.  This is the younger of the two.

Then the violets are spreading ever further about the grass at the back – fully justifying my failure to mow regularly, as evidently they are having the chance to set and distribute seed.  The camera even caught some of the colour today, instead of rendering it a mere blue.

And I settled down to a treat.  I saw a copy of this at Sarum College and became both besotted and acquisitive.  (Thank goodness for online second hand bookshops.)  Not a facsimile, of course, just a reprint; coping with all that black letter would be a challenge too far.  We owe some wonderful English to Tyndale as his work was so extensively pinched for the Authorised Version not many years later,

but the prologues are improbably fascinating in themselves, documents to the fermenting Reformation then in progress.  You can quite see why prologues, marginalia, and glosses were subsequently forbidden to be included, and are still omitted from most Bibles to this day.

I haven’t managed to catch Fluffers getting on to this perch, and I want to know how she does it.  She doesn’t have normal feathers and hardly any wings; when she gets down from the chair she falls more than flies, landing with a big dump; how does she fly up accurately and perch?

Nonetheless: there she is.  Sleep well, Fluffers.