Note to readers

 I am currently in the hospital, having fallen and broken my right ankle. After this I will have to go to a rehab center for a while so posting may be sketchy. Keep me in your thoughts as I try to heal.

This week in birds - #585

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : My 'Christmas Cheer' dwarf azalea is in bloom. Obviously, its calendar or its name is a bit off. The plant was a gift to me on the death of my mother twenty-three years ago this month and I treasure it. *~*~*~* The swallowtail butterflies are beginning to make their appearance so it must truly be spring. *~*~*~* Are you ready for the solar eclipse on April 8 ? Plants and animals, unlike you, might not be able to anticipate the eclipse but they will respond as Nature disposes them to. *~*~*~* Climate change is increasing the chances of glacial lake floods in the Andes. *~*~*~* What are the signs that spring is truly here to stay? *~*~*~* Should orcas be split into two distinct species ? *~*~*~* Punxsutawney Phil and Phyllis have welcomed two baby groundhogs to the family. *~*~*~* How do birds manage to remember where they have stored food? It turns out they create a kind of memory barcode to guide them. *~*~*

Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah: A review

This story is set in East Africa in the early 20th century and follows the lives of three people - Ilyas, Afiya, and Hamza. Ilyas and Afiya are brother and sister and Hamza is in love with Afiya. Ilyas was stolen from his family when he was just a child. He was stolen by German colonial troops and was forced to fight in their war against his own people. After years of fighting in their wars, when he is finally able to return home, he finds his family gone. His parents are no longer in their home and his sister has been given away. Hamza, on the other hand, was sold into the war. He grew up under the tutelage and protection of the German officer who "owned" him. He would become an "Askari" soldier (local soldiers who served in the German Colonial Army). Both Hamza and Ilyas fought voluntarily for the Germans but they seemed to have little understanding of the political implications of the conflict.  Abdulrazak Gurnah was the 2021 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literat

Ten Second Staircase by Christopher Fowler: A review

Here's another Bryant and May mystery. They are always fun reads and Ten Second Staircase does not disappoint. (Although, having now finished reading the book, I still have no idea where that title came from or what it means.)  In this one, Bryant's and May's unit, the Peculiar Crimes Unit of the London Police, is just about to be disbanded as part of a departmental reorganization. But where will that leave our two octogenarian detectives who have no desire to retire? In order to forestall that imminent closure, the detectives need to solve a couple of cases, one old and one new, both of which have their basis in the historic London mythology of classic crime.  To aid in their investigations, this time around their unit has a new addition, May's granddaughter, April. And, of course, she has her own set of peculiarities in that she is agoraphobic. The modern-day mystery here involves a series of second-tier celebrities being killed in very elaborate ways. A witness to o

Poetry Sunday: To Daffodils by Robert Herrick

What flower is more emblematic of spring than the daffodil? Poet Robert Herrick certainly found it to be so. And like the daffodil, our "spring," too, is all too brief.  To Daffodils by Robert Herrick Fair Daffodils, we weep to see You haste away so soon; As yet the early-rising sun Has not attain'd his noon. Stay, stay, Until the hasting day Has run But to the even-song; And, having pray'd together, we Will go with you along. We have short time to stay, as you, We have as short a spring; As quick a growth to meet decay, As you, or anything. We die As your hours do, and dry Away, Like to the summer's rain; Or as the pearls of morning's dew, Ne'er to be found again. Note : This poem always brings to mind one of my favorite songs by Ian and Sylvia back in the day. (Yes, I am that old!)  

This week in birds - #584

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : A Killdeer views the world from atop a fallen log. *~*~*~* The headline said that scientists are divided regarding the climate crisis and I'm thinking, "When were scientists ever NOT divided and how is that the headline?" *~*~*~* There's no division over the fact that last year was the hottest year on record . *~*~*~* Our plant hardiness zones are changing . *~*~*~* The fossilized remains of the earliest known forest have been found.  *~*~*~* And in news of human fossils, a site in Ethiopia has revealed the oldest known arrowheads . They are from 74,000 years ago.  *~*~*~* In the state of Washington, a woman on a biking trip was attacked by a cougar . Fortunately, her friends were able to rescue her from the cat's jaws. *~*~*~* In Slovakia, it is bears that have been attacking people. Five people have been injured in attacks this week. *~*~*~* The Philippine Eagle is an endangered species with

Poetry Sunday: St. Patrick's Day: With an Irish Shamrock by Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all who celebrate it...and even those who don't! And here's a poem for you from almost a hundred years ago in honor of this day. St. Patrick's Day: With an Irish Shamrock by Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna From the region of zephyrs, the Emerald isle, The land of thy birth, in my freshness I come, To waken this long-cherished morn with a smile,      And breathe o’er thy spirit the whispers of home. O welcome the stranger from Erin’s green sod;   I sprang where the bones of thy fathers repose, I grew where thy free step in infancy trod,   Ere the world threw around thee its wiles and its woes.          But sprightlier themes          Enliven the dreams, My dew-dropping leaflets unfold to impart:          To loftiest emotion          Of patriot devotion, I wake the full chord of an Irishman’s heart. The rose is expanding her petals of pride,      And points to the laurels o’erarching her tree; And the hardy Bur-thistle stands rooted beside,