Archives for category: Nature

                                 PORTRAIT OF A BUDGIE

I have kept Budgies since i was a kid and still do at 80. These cage birds, originally from Australia where they are to be found in the wild, have always fascinated me for their intelligence, beauty, variety , poise, response to humans and their extraordinary behavior. Their relationships, love affairs, rearing of young by both parents and teaching them  how to enter the world of adult birds, their jealousies conflicts, flirtations, animosities, faithfulness to spouse  and even appearance strangely remind me of human traits and behavior. This post is a saga of a few protagonist birds in my aviary and their amazing story illustrated by photographs.

                                         MY AVIARY

My birds were some 30 in a fairly spacious aviary in the backyard of our house and visible at all times from within. While we were all confined because of the Covid  pandemic and lock-downs, a parallel infection of Bird Flu suddenly hit my aviary. Birds started dyeing  on a daily basis and i was quite alarmed. I had two pairs of Skyblue budgies that had mated and were now rearing their young in two earthen nest boxes on either end of the cage with five fledglings each, which both parents diligently spent all their time laboriously feeding and grooming in the nests.

                       A SKYBLUE BUDGIE

Apart from these two pairs the other two dozen were green , the colour found in nature in the wild in Australia. Over a century or more breeders have developed them as cage bird pets very responsive to humans with a wide range of colours through mutations.

Within days most of the the green were wiped out to my horror. The bird version of the Covid Pandemic had entered my cage. I wanted at least my rarer Skyblues who were with young fledglings to survive. After consulting a vet. I bought the recommended antibiotics and other medicines and as directed began mixing them in the seed and water. But it was too late and before long all the green perished and then the Skyblue got infected as well.

One pair of Skyblues had a fledgling that had begun to emerge into freedom from the nest into the aviary. and had learnt to feed and drink water on its own. She must have imbibed the antibiotics just in time and looked as if she was unaffected. But her parents were dead in two days and all her siblings in the nest as well. In the other nest the mother Skyblue and 5 fledglings also perished. Only the father survived. Apart from these two survivals a third also did, a canary yellow recessive pied beauty, a male. Thus the bird flu holocaust took all my birds except these three survivors,  two males and a fledgling female, not dissimilar to a handful of survivors on a ship wreck.

This aviary had become my Titanic. Fortunately the medicines continued to work with the three and they showed no signs of bird flu. The crisis had passed for these lucky birds.

Its then that the Avian  saga  began in my aviary. I named the three as Skyblue (the surviving Skyblue Dad), I called the pied yellow beauty male Casanova Blondie and the young female Opal, as she was an Opaline grey wing mutant. These became the protagonists of my saga.

    BRAVE OPAL THE HEROINE OF THE SAGA

 BLONDIE THE VILLAIN OF THE SAGA

      SKYBLUE & OPAL HERO AND HEROINE OF the SAGA

The three birds left alone in a large cage had to interact with each other. Budgies are very social birds and are perpetually in a state of interaction. Skyblue became fond of Opal and began chatting with her often -this is usually done by knocking beak to beak. He also sought to kiss her and in the process offer her regurgitated food which in Budgie language is the friendliest of acts. A male begins his courtship with this act. If it is accepted by the female it signals acceptance of the proposal but only for friendship. In other circumstances it is merely an act of friendship and two males or any two budgies will make this food offering to indicate friendship and attachment. Opal’s acceptance was at first only a signal that she was not offended by his overtures but would more than tolerate his proximity and friendship. While Skyblue began to secretly pursue his prime goal of making Opal agree to go as far as mating not just budgie friendship, and kept persisting with his wooing to gain that end.

Blondie left to himself became curious about what the other two survivors were up to. Opal being a just emerged fledgling, say a teenager in our terms and therefore had no conception of sex, mating and what follows. Skyblue some 30 years in our terms, aware of her innocence began the strategy of arousing the appropriate feelings in her by making her curious of the earthen nests. He would poke his head in the opening, then encourage her to do the same, as if this were a kind of game they were playing. Most birds show reluctance to enter a nest out of fear, but once having entered they like it there, reminded of their own infancy in a similar nest. Then from familiarity arises maternal feelings and both eggs and desire begin to get generated. Skyblue aware of this, being a mature male stud, finally succeeded in making her enter the nest. This went on for several days to a week. Now whenever she felt any insecurity on approaching humans etc she would promptly enter the nest and remain there till the ‘danger’ had passed. Skyblue now felt secure in his intended purpose and would possessively sit on top of the nest, nursing his secret ambition, while she was inside. Birds get very excited when they see a nest – a basic instinct gets aroused in both males and females.

                        Skyblue on nest when she is in

Blondie grew more and more curious and excited when he saw Opal enter the nest and like Skyblue was aroused by the entry. When she emerged from the nest and flew to a perch he promptly followed her and began to propose regurgitated food as an offering of love while knocking his beak against her for greater familiarity and to open her mouth and accept his offering of food with an intimate suggestive ‘budgie kiss’  Opal angrily resisted and rejected this offer, not knowing him at all, by pushing him away and flying to the perch where Skyblue was located mainly to get away from his unwanted soliciting.. Blondie  followed her in flight and persisted with his overtures. Skyblue then attacked him and made him fly elsewhere.

Soon, a couple of days later Skyblue’s attempts at mating grew more aggressive while it became plane from her repeated acceptance of beak to beak regurgitation that her system had begun to feel a certain arousal. They flew together to the nest and she boldly entered it. When she returned to the perch at his entreaties shown by strong beak pulling towards himself she finally adopted a posture of submission allowing him to climb on to her back and commence mating.

This was interrupted several times by curious and excited Blondie, but Skyblue responded by frontal attacks and chasing him from point to point in the cage to establish his physical superiority. There were no more interruptions and the mating continued to a completely successful end. These two lovers now spent most of there time mating about four times a day and immediately thereafter she would retreat to the nest and remain there not coming out even to feed, a sign that she was about to lay. Skyblue, a mature male who knew all the signs of a female’s cycle, then fed for two and entered the nest to feed her regurgitated food. About a week later she laid an egg and then became inseparable from the nest as a consequence. As the days passed the number of eggs grew to five. She diligently incubated her eggs till they began to hatch one by one.

                    Hatch-lings and eggs the first clutch of five

 Under the tender care of both parents the chicks developed fast growing by the day with a full plumage of feathers.They began peeping out of the nest and in another week emerged and found perches, took flights tentatively and learnt from demonstrations by parents how to forage for seeds and find the source of water in the cage. Blondie continued to interfere at every stage but once the chicks were all out he lost interest.

                      FIRST CLUTCH OF FIVE FULLY GROWN

Barely had the first clutch emerged from the nest and been taught to feed and drink that Opal started getting curious about an empty nest. Seeing this Skyblue  joined her with growing enthusiasm and began to seduce her again. Blondie noticing these developments joined in as well, trying to ‘beak to beak’ with her and Skyblue resenting the flirtation tried to drive him off.  Whenever she entered the nest he would fly and sit over it and try to peep in. The conflict with Skyblue had resumed in full force.  Once again the loving pair began to mate several times a day, with Blondie interrupting their act. Now she was more often confined in the nest than outside. Ceasing to feed by herself. Skyblue took up the duty of feeding her in the nest. Blondie was always nearby excited with curiosity and jealousy. This time within weeks Opal had broken all records by laying eight eggs!! With the hatching of her first egg the tension in the cage exploded into fights between Blondie and Skyblue. It must have been like love on a deserted island after a ship wreck. He tried several times to enter the nest to the protesting screeches of Opal who was now a fearsome mother as well.

Opal with first born and eggs of second clutch

Blondie’s jealous interventions now assumed alarming proportions. I noticed that Skyblue looked depressed and did not feed Opal as often as he should have. If Opal was not provided food in the nest by her spouse she would not be able to feed the new born and it would die. It required to be fed every few hours or the nest would be a disaster.

        OPAL WITH TWO CHICKS HATCHED, SECOND CLUTCH

 If Skyblue did not recover after fights with Blondie who was getting the upper hand and with daily more mouths to feed as the eight eggs hatched one after the other the result would be mother and brood all perishing. As a first step i introduced another yellow, a  beautiful female acquired from the pet shop, a rare Lutino with red eyes to distract the lonesome Blondie and help the pair with growing number of chicks to succeed in rearing their young. I named her LUTINO. Blondie immediately took to her but she as any self respecting female fully resisted his advances. He then thus rejected, renewed his intrusions into the affairs of Skyblue and Opal with greater vigour and there were daily fights between the two males. If Skyblue got fatally wounded or even disabled it would mean the death of Opals family – a great tragedy after the earlier Bird Flu tragedy.

The pics below shows vividly how the quartet were faring. we see Opal with an assertive Blondie flirting beside her while she is helpless to get rid of him. Skyblue is on the nest desperate to get rid of Blondie and Lutino now showing interest in Blondie is kind of curious to know why he is soliciting Opal if he wants her.

    The quartet rather than a triangle

       Skyblue holding vigil while Opal and brood are fearful within

 Skyblue defends the nest as Blondie wants to claim it as his own

After Skyblue fails, Opal with maternal fury confronts Blondie and drives him away.

The helpless  terror stricken chicks and remaining eggs while Opal was forced to go out and defend the nest. There was a perceived danger that Blondie in fury would enter and harm the chicks as they were not his own.

The sad result of all this was that opal was not being fed and was hard pressed to feed the growing chicks, Skyblue was fighting what appeared to be a losing battle and poor Opal with immense responsibilities and fear had virtually lost her mind and balance. In the days to come this resulted in some terrible consequences. Opal had already four demanding chicks to feed while not being fed herself and unable to go feed herself leaving the nest unprotected. There was also not much help from Skyblue and danger was ever present from Blondie’s aggressive behavior.   As if this was not enough she hatched another egg and now had to start all over again devoting all her time to this youngest fledgling.

The very next day to my horror I found that fledgling on the floor of the cage dead!  I needed expert advice.

On the net i found that such advice was available with  expert Forums on budgies . I placed the facts before one of the forums and sought help in the shape of advice as to what should i do next. Their opinion was firm. A rogue Budgie like Blondie should be separated from the Dad and Mum with responsibilities of rearing their young, else this kind of tragedy would be repeated. I sought their opinion on who could possibly have perpetrated this act. After debate they came to the conclusion that the distraught mum had done this because she was just unable to cope with the tension of feeding yet another chick and threatening the lives of the other four who were developing quite well as she just did not have the resources.  In addition the presence of Blondie and his antics had virtually blown her mind with little help from Dad who himself was facing a crisis when he should have been busy feeding Mum and kids.

I protested that this went against all norms of maternal instinct which i had been given to understand was the primary instinct in nature!! The eminent members of the Forum clarified that in nature it was NOT the maternal instinct that was supreme though it was high up on the scale of instincts. What superseded that was ‘THE SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST’ instinct. And mum had to concede her maternal instinct in favour of the superior choice, leading to her eviction of the last helpless chick . I was told that this was not uncommon among birds in the wild. They chose to help the fittest if resources were lacking. Further  that Raptors could even go to the extent of feeding the helpless chick to the largest surviving chick!!!  Shocked though I was I came to the new realization that Nature, God’s handmaiden was ruthless when it came to helping God preserve his creation as He had conceived it, and apart from procreation and maternal instinct what alone could do that was to ensure the ‘Survival only of the Fittest’ even if it meant some  unfortunate choices.

I then hastened to separate BLONDIE to save the breeding pair and surviving four and confined him in a smaller cage at least till the loving pair had achieved their goal of feeding and rearing the four almost grown ‘fittest’ and teaching them how to forage and find water without the need of being fed beak to beak by their parents till they learnt the art of survival. The only concession i made was to give him the company of Lutino while in confinement. Here they are shown below confined.

                             BLONDIE IN CONFINEMENT

But the tragedy did not end there. Shaken and confused, but with nature helping her to choose the supreme instinct of ‘survival of the fittest’ and not quite aware that the danger had passed with Blondies separation, considering the stress she had undergone, the two remaining eggs were dutifully hatched according to Maternal instinct, but the new born chicks were ruthlessly evicted  and in the days to follow i found them dead at the bottom of the cage. I discarded my earlier notion that Mum had done the inconceivable only because they may have been still born and dead, for the sake of not endangering the lives of the others through , say infection. No one wants the company of dead beings even ones own progeny. But this was not the case here. She had indeed followed the rule that when resources are limited the fittest alone have the right to survival. Of course i am sure that among humans with intelligence and its corollary morality, and our human maternal instinct, this natural ethics does not apply, at least most of the time i hope.

After the separation of Blondie and his now equally interfering hen and further the cruel but ‘NECESSARY’ eviction and death of the three newborn, peace returned to the cage.

    growing plumage

                      peeping at the sun no fear anymore

               First out a real beauty – cobalt opaline greywing

Skyblue resumed his role as devoted father feeding Opal and the kids both within and on emergence from the nest, outside in the cage till the remaining four learnt the art of survival, able to locate the food and water and able to fly to perches and roost

The first out had only to call and Dad dad promptly arrived to feed it

The sacond called out and Dad responded by arriving to feed it while two remained inside awaiting their turn to emerge

eventually the remaining two also emerged and the nest was empty..Outside in the cage Opal, Skyblue, their first clutch of five and second clutch of four all merrily were fine and together with continued guidance from the successful parents.

I was also advised by the Wise Forum that I should not allow the pair to breed again a third time as Opal would be too exhausted. But within a week she began to search for a nesting place with the encouragement of Skyblue now that their preoccupations with the second clutch had come to an end. I noticed Skyblue  making affectionate advances and Opal readily responding. Before long this translated to mating!! I recalled the Forums warnings and had all nests removed. The matings nevertheless continued. This time the forum advised that I isolate her for her own good till she had fully recovered her strength.  The next day i discovered an egg on the floor of the cage. I then decided to isolate Opal.  with her first born beauty the cobalt Opaline for company,to prevent further mating and laying of eggs, for her own sake.

The happy couple wanting to mate again but abortive on account of the curiosity and intervention  of a son from the first clutch!!. Looks as if opal is singing a love balled.

Opal was isolated with her opaline daughter for company and Blondie and Lutino restored to the Aviary.

         Opal in isolation

Blondie and Lutino wasting no time on return to the aviary to find a suitable nest.

OPAL WOULD BE RETURNED TO THE AVIARY AFTER RECOVERING HER STRENGTH AND ONCE HER BREEDING CYCLE WAS BROKEN.

One other thought occurs to me since the blog essentially springs from spirituality and is called Search for the Soul. While we have moral responsibility for what we do as humans with intelligence and conscience, it is not as if animals are without responsibility or that their acts go unnoticed by the Universe. indeed in my view they too have responsibility and are judged for what instinct they find preferable. No punishment for choosing Survival of the Fittest as that is natural ethics but when they defy that  to favour maternal instinct which need not lead to survival of the fittest, then they have graduated from animal status and are probably allowed rebirth as a human. for their advanced sense of morality and ethics.  However in this Saga our heroine OPAL does not fall into that category since her instincts did not go beyond natural ethics. No problem, she displayed enough maternal instinct to qualify as a great Budgie.

            END  OF SAGA IN MY BACKYARD

apple snail

Of all living creatures the snail is perhaps the most curious. Being a nature lover I have observed them for long. Slow self reliant with its home securely fixed on its back it forages for algae. Its mouth opening and closing constantly. Its eyes that can view light rest behind its two antenna  which probe the environment very effectively. There are two species, one is a hermaphrodite, the other is either male or female but can change gender at will! The hermaphrodite variety is natures boldest experiment. When two snails of this type come close and are attracted to one another for mating they instantly decide which one will be male and which one female for that particular episode. Or if both decide to be male they will exchange sperm and retain it to fertilise their eggs later. That must be considered a wonder of nature’s playful experiments.

In my fish tank i have some large Apple or Mystery snails. Frequently they come together while foraging. They keep the fish tank clean by consuming algae and food droppings for the fish. Recently i observed their mating. the male ( this is not the hermaphrodite species) climbed the shell of the female then produced a penis from its neck which probed within her shell to fertilise her. This went on for a couple of hours. The female did not turn into a male luckily. My snails keep changing gender and its difficult to know who is permanently one or the other.

The snails in my tank are a happy lot, slowly gliding up the glass cleaning it of microbes then remain pensive having fed till another of their kind approaches. Then in their slow slimy way they get excited to know what the others gender is,  to know if there was any need to change its own!! Then begins the strange courtship of one climbing the shell of another and probing the other with its sex apparatus. Then both become still and proceed with the orgy for hours examining one another. The one choosing to be female then days later moves to the top of the fish tank to lay her egg capsule on some plant or edge. there are some 500 eggs, most eaten up by fish when they emerge. But multiply they do ever so often yet there is little evidence of offspring in the tank. What a wonderful creature this is, basically sightless yet full of awareness with the two antenna, foraging merrily and being so innovative with sex. Never a dull moment for them. Finally at close of day crawling into their shell homes and closing the  trap door the Operculum

  What a  wonderful way to end the day – what they think of when coiled in their secure homes. surely there must be some thoughts even for a snail. If it can think to move in a direction, forage for algae with its large mouth and feel around with its antenna and have glorious sex for hours, it must have some thoughts when home, what it will do next.

Yes , i love my snails and the fulfilled lives they lead in their quiet slow lives. And then they also perform a service for me, by keeping my tank clean as scavengers do. And they have no demands for food air or filters. Im waiting for the time I can see some baby snails moving around. Well not yet!! Incidentally the snails i have are called Golden Mystery snails.

apple snails mating

intense love

 

Asttrophytum Myriostigma – Star Plant

Since childhood Ive always had a fascination for the cactus. why I’m not clear but whenever i saw a cactus i would gaze at it for long observe its special architecture different from plants and wonder at how it survived. i always treated it as some kind of pet animal that had presence but didn’t move or make a fuss. As i grew older I examined this strange fascination. The cactus never asked for much, no daily water and strong in all weathers. It knew the art of survival. Nightly it would quietly absorb carbon di oxide, then as day dawned it would use it to photosynthesise with its fat succulent stems which stored water to produce its food. It hardly grew and had spines to ward off predators and catch the first morning dew drops in a desert with no water or rainfall, which would then trickle to its roots and quickly be absorbed in the fat succulent stems. What a wonder of a creature i would think. So self sufficient and self reliant sitting still like a yogi in meditation. It did grow imperceptibly thickening its water filled stems protected by a waxy coat to prevent water loss, always looking plump and happy never withering like other plants with neglect. Its architectural contours were perfect round with pretty shapely stems and the spines. In many cases these spines looked purely ornamental than to ward off people. I loved my little cactus and daily gazed at it trying to communicate to its desert soul. If you water a cactus daily it will die. Its that kind of strong hardy plant that does not like pampering. So I would give it sunlight not keeping it on my desk table and water  once a week. It thrived and grew. Like a fat pumpkin. Im sure it was aware of my loving presence. Then one surprising day i noticed a protuberance at the top, a kind of boil. As i watched daily it grew into a thick bud quite out of keeping with its general make up of stems and spines. It assumed a brighter green colour and finally the bud grown real big burst into flower, my happiest moment. no small flower but a lotus like big single flower red and yellow and bigger than the cactus. a miracle of nature. It said to me I’m happy and sexy. The flower remained for a month before it had done its purpose and fertilised its ovum, then it dried and fell away. The happy cactus then grew fast and became double its usual size. It was for me always like a dear pet.

Then I began my crazy pursuit of other cacti. I went to distant nurseries to collect all species and brought them home. My family thought i had gone crazy. Opuntias with yellow and white thorns, with a character of their own, succulents of all kinds and my favourites the globular spineless ornamental type. My favourite was the Astropfytum Miriostigma translated as starplant with several dots. It was a grey blue smooth stemmed plant with few spines and a myriad pretty dots on its sexy fleshy stems which were parted in four. Then one of the Opuntias taught me a lesson. my vision suddenly blurred. The eye doctor said you have a ‘thief’ in your eye. One of the hairlike spines had travelled and implanted itself in my cornea. He surgically removed it and said i had better get rid of the Opuntias. so i did.

Then decades later in my retirement i saw some globular cacti in a nursery and brought two as pets. They give me no end of pleasure. A mystic astrologer remarked, these are not just plants but souls so you better look out. Its not considered auspicious to keep them. I didn’t care, if they are souls they must be the friendly type.

Some of my favourites:

A poem inspired by my unusual fascination for these plants:

                                          THE  CACTUS

Halls of ochre butcher as they chase

One drop.

Not one insect spared but splits

In parching,

Sound of dry grass crackling,

Eyes thaw in ochre dust.

Like a dwarf sits the cactus.

Awkward limbs but affection in the interior,

Soft pulpy green-walled translucency

Where the moisture drips.

But without,

Its challenged thorn-lusty prurience grapples

With the desert’s grip.

Hate is an outer armour,

Love’s moisture is in the stem

And there is proof for when

The desert awakens in the rain,

Bulbs of chlorophyll

Explode in monsoon blooms

The milk pulp making fissures on the ragged skin;

Blood red hues, hibiscus violet

Flowers fed on milk. Then

How large the hidden heart

Bandaged in bristling brutality

For survival.

And now is the time of seed’s revival;

Another need brings the dwarf’s art.

 

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The carnivore predator often attracts our admiring attention for its strength, naturally equipped weapons of offence and hunting strategies, its ability to overpower and kill its prey. The mighty lion is proclaimed king of beasts. We marvel at the knife like long canines of the large cats, their retractable claws on paws as broad as the face of their victims, their enormous size and muscular strength and deafening roars. The cat is cute but equally lethal when it strikes its prey with lightening speed. We are astonished by the athletic speed of the cheetah in chase and the aerial jet like flight of the raptors, outpacing any flying creature, in mid-air kills, when the force of their huge talons snuff the life out of the victim with the force of a canon’s shrapnel when it strikes. Likewise the marine monsters, Sharks, Swordfish and Killer Whales and riverine mobs of piranhas  and catfish become our awesome nightmares, armed to the teeth literally for their grisly purpose. These masters of the land, sea and air evoke amazement, respect and awe for their strength and prowess.

But the question arises whether they are indeed more fortunate than their prey, the herbivore deer, antelope, wildebeest, horse and cow or their avian counterparts who rely on seed for nourishment, or again the species of fish who subsist on weeds and plankton, like the gentle giant the humpback whale or its terrestrial counterpart the elephant. Does the strength and fury of predators make them more fortunate than the rest of the animal kingdom?

Both are fundamentally motivated by the perpetual need to seek sustenance and nutrition in the food they consume. While the herbivore and plant and seed eating beings consume simply by grazing or foraging, their aggressive predatory counterparts do not have it so easy. They need to employ guile, give chase, overcome the prey at some risk to themselves in a kind of wrestling match, overpower and kill their prey every time they need a meal. The amount of energy required to graze stands in no comparison to the energy expended in chase, catching, overcoming and killing their mobile food and often the food escapes and they are left hungry. To have to hunt for food is a strenuous excercise which when compared with the virtually effortless grazing and foraging can only be seen as a punishing necessity, no less than a curse imposed on these regal beings, which I would like to term as the Carnivores’ Curse.

I would rather be a sparrow than a hawk, a humpback rather than a shark, a gazelle than a tiger.

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pigeons

We tend to dismiss the ubiquitous, humble pigeon as a grey feathery blob,  just a common bird if not a pest. But be not deceived, inside its feathery breast resides a heart far more adventurous than yours. As it forages on the ground bobbing its head and courting with its dance steps, we are persuaded that it is a land creature. Yes in its little mind there is much knowledge about land – where to look for seed and feed, how to use its feet to traverse the ground and how to move its legs in an intricate dance number – but that is only a small part of its life.

bird-pigeon-flying-transparent-background-0400-10049.previewThat little mind knows much more – how to take flight, spread its strong other limbs, its folded unseen wings and rise into the air, far into the sky. Those eyes not only are expert in looking out for seed and worm a few inches away but know how to survey from far above, hundreds of meters away, like when one is in a plane, and make out distant features on earth, recalling in swift flight the route to its nest, how to utilize warm currents of air far above for effortless gliding, doing areal acrobatics for fun, knowing how to join a flock and move together, flapping its wings in quick flight in the absence of currents and gracefully landing expertly with reversed flaps of wings precisely where it wishes, to resume its land creature aspect. It also knows the precise location of the nest it has built deep down a well under the earth and how to descend to the ledge which is home, or enter a building secretly to the enclosure it has chosen over a pillar, a vent or aperture , deftly to laboriously build its nest, lay eggs in the company of its mate’s encouraging gurgling calls, and after hatching to care for its brood and bring it out to learn how to forage and fly.

ROPI_formationFlight_Kumon_b_wikiThis is not what it seems – a mere creature we see strutting about – it is terrestrial, arboreal, areal and avian – a creature of land and air, earth and sky, tree and buildings, wells and towers, outdoors and indoors, earthy minutiae and macro areal  landscapes, capable of maneuvering dexterously in both – pedestrian and pilot rolled into one. We need therefore to wonder, of how much its mind must encompass of these contrasting elements and diverse dimensions – it must be a remarkable being that can handle both and be at all times aware of being a creature of two worlds, capable of switching at will from the terrestrial to the areal – something beyond our imagination and scope as Homo Sapiens.

We need to marvel at the heart of this little creature which must feel dual emotions at once of remaining on land or flying high in the sky. Close your eyes and imagine that you too could have such dual capacity, then sit down and read a book but suddenly decide to take off and swing through the clouds viewing the speck of your home where the book is resting on a table far below and then decide that you need to read some more and swiftly descend and alight gracefully at your door – breathless? sure – but now you look forward to a little more reading – and of course you wont need that car anymore since you can visit friends or go on a date ( as the pigeon does on the parapet of yonder high rise) by simply landing at the door.

Whenever I see the humble pigeon just beyond the reach of my hand as I throw some seed and it comes close to pick at it I know that he has just been flying high in the sky and you could not suspect that it has. It is also the kind of emotions an amphibian would have at home in two elements where land is for procreation and rearing young and the sea is for food and fun.

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himalayas and deodars

 

M O U N T A I N      B L I S S

 

Branching overhead

The great maple

Umbrella

Covers the sky.

 

Marching up the mountain stairs,

Stately Deodar pines ascend

Surrounding me, augustly,

Tall, bottle-green sentinals.

 

The clear air

Stirs a summer dance

Of flashing leaves

And gliding butterflies

Everywhere.

 

This cheeky Magpie,

Longtail trailing phosphorescence

Flits, branch to branch,

Now high, now falling low,

Feasting carnivore.

 

 yellowbilledmagpie2                                                               

With Himalayan impertinence

Perches within reach, defiantly,

Bright yellow beak, unfriendly eye,

My gross intrusion spies.

 

Then suddenly tweaks the tail

Of my slumbering dog,

Become danger to her nest.

 

Cicadas fill the ears

With mountain music,

Their eerie castanets resound

Through the forest’s silence

Where pine-needles flash

And pregnant cones fall,

An infant pine to imbed.

 

Thoughts begin to rest,

Descending in a spiral vortex,

Strangely induced unexpectedly

By this other world here

Of sublime heights.

 

As commanding snows

In a range

Declare divinity,

Raising the spirits

With rare wonder

Of thoughtlessness. 

            thB8T5QHZE  

 A  R  B  O  R   E  A  L

 

I am a tree

You do not know me

I chose to be

Meditating

for a century.

 

You believe that I don’t

But move I do

imperceptibly.

My thick bark feels

The change in the air

Far better than you,

Knows seasons thoroughly.

 

My arms extend

As I open twig fingers,

A kiss from the sun

Makes me grow a leaf.

 

Then I feed hungrily

Sun’s rich sap,

Carbon in the air,

Earth’s minerals juicy,

Mix and stir

A delicious elixir.

 

Now having fed

On sun and earth and air

I feel fine and fit and ready.

 

Did you know

That in my bark

Resides my heart

In every branch and twig it beats

And that is where

I start my love affair.

 

thO7ANGBTQA touch of sun

Such sensation,

Goosebumps appear

Bulge and split and tear

Into flowers everywhere

Pistils and stamens

Pollen and ovum

My twin gender declare.

 

I sing a song then

Sensual with fragrance

In a language, one

With butterflies and bees,

Love’s chaperons.

 

I feel a thrill

As a bee fills

My flowering heart

With pollen

And I seed fulfilled,

Then send my own pollen

To a pretty tree

With ecstasy.

 

thVPNMHP2MThen having loved

I grow pregnant

With fruit and pods of seed

My infants drop

Into the earth to feed

 

My feet are my roots

Hidden probing shoots

Freeing my personality

Into the air above,

We together, one entity.

 

Now happily

My branching arms

Embrace the sky

Pubescent with leaves

As I grow

Taller thicker denser

From adolescence to maturity.

 

th7NUGL408Now  I invite birds

 On my boughs to nest

Their weary night’s protective rest,

Every creature made

Finds shelter in my shade,

th7KK2FX8PMy limbs are heavy

With fruit soft and sweet

For every being a special treat.

 

thDLV53VY2

Then in winter

Shedding my leaves,

Ceasing all activity

My essence withdraws

To my slumbering capillaries.

 

Hibernating like a Yogi,

To my woody meditations

I retreat,

My arboreal journey

Now complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AI1NM79CAFOCI2VCAMTZ1PLCA7D1SYDCA57OT0OCAFDSEPNCAG6F84GCA9UVXNUCA9FA03HCABHJF7ZCASMTOC9CAX47MDUCAI6CNUWCAQB76INCA2RCZ2WCAP182U7CAWZHXLACAFDB1NUCAU6FJUECAU67TBS

 

                                  THE  WORLD  OF  SMELLS

 

The world of smells

Orange or apple

The difference tells.

 

Danger and corruption

Of putrid wells

And cadavers.

 

Odorous intrusions

Upon one’s space

Like a gratuitous slap on the face.

 

Uncovered crystal tops,

Rare fragrance

From shop to shop.

 

The cat sprays

 A territorial trail,

Dogs for eternity

 Upon a spot.

 

Lost calf in the herd

Discovered,

Ant on its unerring trail

To the honey-pot.

 

Fragrant flowers

For bees and wasps,

Like the urge to procreate.

The world of smells

Beyond sight and sound,

A new dimension

 From within

impels.

rail coach

Sometimes there is no word to explain or describe an obtuse thought or feeling. This is where poetry comes in to interpret it. As children I and my siblings had this problem in defining our feelings when some sound, sight or a combination of the two produced an indefinable cerebral ecstasy. So we invented a label to describe it – ‘tasty’, though it had nothing to do with taste. When in a rolling rail coach the momentum of the wheels jumping over the joints of the rails produced a rhythm like castanets we would look at each other, smile and say ‘tasty’, or again when on a lake side on picnic the waters lapped the shore with each little tide stirred by the wind, we would listen carefully to the lulling sound and burst out tasty’ or again when the window of a  car kept jogging up and down framing the scenes flitting past, while remaining securely with us, it was ‘tasty’, yet again when one heard the sounds of a horses hoofs on cobble stones that was ‘tasty’ and so on and on.

horses hoofsIn adulthood I renamed the childhood ‘tasty’ as synthesis – synthesis of invading patterns of the observed phenomena with the patterns of the mind when they are joyously in synch creating a cerebral experience of ecstacy and comprehension of an essence.

   

Credit: 0 1universe.blogspot.com
Credit: 0 1universe.blogspot.com

 

         S Y N T H E S I S

 

The monkey’s paw

Holds the gesture

Faithfully, like the peasant’s

Unclasped hand.

 

Slithering,

The snake majestically stands

And turns

Its Nefertiti head.

 

Lapping

The lily beds,

Watery comfort

In the ear

Persists.

 

The tree’s posturing

Irregularity, unmatched,

Assert their branching patterns.

 

credit: lovelyloey.wordpress.com

credit: lovelyloey.wordpress.com

Held in a thousand ethnic ways,

The pen turns and twists

And fashions.

 

Pencil heels and chopsticks

Click,

The cat’s long tongue

Laboriously licks,

The clock ticks seconds.

 

The gallop of horses’ hoofs

On cobble stones,

Racing wheels on endless rails,

Lullaby of the rocking coach,

Delight to cerebral heights.

 

Nature’s momentum uncontrolled,

Inspires

Our artfulness

 

As primal grace,

A semblance here

Or a sounding there, original pace

Evoke a resonance.

 

And so we move beyond

The natural artefact

To the self-conscious grace

Of a cultured act.

neel after 2 days

It is quite remarkable how an infant is reared to adulthood. A baby at birth looks so fragile that parents hardly believe that it could survive from one day to another. We have most of us known or are in the process of experiencing the challenges which parents face when a baby is brought back home from hospital care – the cradle, the frequent changing of diapers, the feeds, the allergies, the fevers and constant threat of infections. The odds appear insurmountable. Yet as if possessed by some superhuman maternal and paternal powers they are up to the challenge. Parents become dedicated slaves to a natural force, from wakefulness to slumber and the process never ends, continuing from stage to stage, from rocking in a cradle to crawling, to a toddler, to teaching linguistic skills and imparting learning. Each walking adult represents the miraculous outcome of that enormous dedication of decades of unrelenting care and meticulous rearing which we take so much for granted when looking at a crowded street of ‘self reliant’ grown ups. It is simply amazing if we sit back and think about it.

myna with youngWalking in a park I happened to see three Starlings (Mynas) together. The chick now nearly adult would scramble up to one parent and opening its beak wide, flutter its wings to arouse sympathy, begging for a feed.

The parent, ignoring this  normally irresistible pleading, just walked ahead foraging in a pile of rotten leaves and earth for worms. I noticed that it was not actually foraging but putting up a mock show to teach the youngster what needed to be done beyond demanding a feed beak to beak. I also noticed that slyly it was looking back from the corner of its eyes to see if the message had penetrated the thick avian skull! Before long the little Myna began to imitate the process, not very clear what it was looking for. Days later I saw a happy threesome foraging away for worms. The young bird had come of age in nature’s fast-forward for the animal kingdom.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAgain I observed how my pet Budgies diligently reared their young in the nest box. Both parents taking turns would gently pry open their tiny beaks and proceeded to regurgitate processed seed. I also saw how the father later began to feed the mother who now never left the nest box regurgitating into her beak so that she would be fed and be able to feed her chicks as well. Later again when the chicks developed feathers and left the nest both parents would be on either side showing the chick how to pick up seed on its own, by demonstrating through mock pickings with a stern eye on the chick to see if it followed suit.

beta with spawnThen in my fish tank, the Siamese Fighting fish Beta Splenden, after wrapping himself sensuously around the female forced out her eggs, fertilizing them instantly by spewing out his seminal discharge and as the eggs rained down both male and female forgot their sexual antics and quickly began to pluck them as they fell to rush up to a bubble nest created by the gorgeous male, to deposit them one in each bubble of sticky saliva. Then the lady was chased away after a night of orgiastic embraces had exhausted her of all her eggs. If she was not then removed she would have been killed by her paramour. The male considers himself the sole caretaker of his brood. He then kept tending the eggs, mending his nest and diligently picking up falling eggs to replace them in the nest. When the fry burst forth from the eggs he would chase them and gulp them up and returning to the nest spit them out into it. Once they were freely swimming his work was done and then he would allow himself proudly to be surrounded by them. Until this stage was reached he would be fasting. Later when it was time to feed the fry with dry fish food a problem arose – they refused to see it as food. I was then advised to introduce smarter fry of another species the Platy who readily accepted fish food from birth. Once these were introduced the Beta fry learnt from them how to snap up the fish food.

Credit : africanmemories.com

Credit : africanmemories.com

The point here is how every adult whether man, lion, eagle, whale horse or whatever needs instruction on what it can feed on. and where to find it. What may take years to learn through instinct or a process of hit and miss, is quickly grasped in moments through emulation, imitation and duplication. The acquisition of skills can only take place when there is instruction, which the word education encompasses in a larger context. The knowledge that we acquire through a liberal education, learning about skills, acquiring abilities and scientific knowledge in a matter of years, what it has taken mankind millenia to acquire. The specializations that combine to create human technologies, culture and civilization are skills that have to be imparted from generation to generation.

A bird will never know what and where to forage and would die of starvation if the parents died before it could learn those skills. A lion cub would never survive if it never learnt to hunt. The most helpless  of them all, yet the most intelligent, the human child, requires decades of learning to become more than a mere savage.

Instinct is important, it teaches the bird how to make a nest ( there is no school for this) but before that instinct can come into play the rearing is vital for survival – nurture precedes nature. Every generation will require that nurture. But equally Nature will ensure nurture – the maternal or paternal instincts which drive us frantically to provide progeny with nurture, care and protection even if it were to be at the sacrifice of ones life. So in the end Nature ensures nurture and nurture ensures survival.

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