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Dust of Snow
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
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In Ireland a woman could raise hens and sell the eggs. Of course there were fights. Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law disputing control of the hens, and some of those disputes were vicious; but still an egg is a pleasant thing to contemplate, warm in a straw nest, carrying all that power and history.
Angela Bourke, ‘Le Soleil et le Vent’, in By Salt Water
"I’ve done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I’m used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3000 nautical miles there was nothing alive to be seen."
In place of the missing life was garbage in astounding volumes.
"Part of it was the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Japan a couple of years ago. The wave came in over the land, picked up an unbelievable load of stuff and carried it out to sea. And it’s still out there, everywhere you look."
From “The ocean is broken”, by Greg Ray in the Newcastle Herald
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The calves were kept in their house during the cold weather where they were fed morning and evening with buckets of milk warm from the cows. It was one of the first signs of summer when the calves were left out and they were so accustomed to the limitations of house life that it took a lot of gentle persuasion to coax them into the bright sunlight. When we brought them through the haggard into a big green field they could not believe their eyes: they spread their legs and put out their noses expecting to meet a barrier; then took a couple of steps and tested with their noses again. They did this a few times until gradually it dawned on them that there were no more barriers: this was freedom. Then they took off, whipping their tails high into the air and galloping around the field with sheer abandon.
Alice Taylor, To School Through the Fields: An Irish Country Childhood (1988)
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Ecologists have long understood that the typical interaction between any two individuals or species is neither competition nor cooperation, but neutralism. Neutralism means apathy: the animals just ignore each other. If their paths threaten to cross, they get out of each other’s way. Anything else usually takes too much energy. Being nasty has costs, and being nice has costs, and animals evolve to avoid costs whenever possible. This is why watching wild animals interact is usually like watching preoccupied commuters trying to get to work without bumping into one other, rather than watching a John Woo action film with a triple-figure body count. Apathy is nature’s norm.
Geoffrey Miller, The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature (2000)
Three scientists sit inside a fire lit bat cave in Panama, August 1915.
Photograph by George Shiras, National Geographic
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…no wild land is ever entirely still and silent. It has its discords and its detonations. Earth collapses with the engineering of the ants; lizards smack the pebbles with their tails; the sun fires seeds in salvos from their pods; pigeons misconnect with dry branches; and stones, left to their own devices, can find the muscle to descend the hill.
John Crace, Quarantine
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