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The valley became barer, bleaker, progressively less inviting. Yet even here, in its upper reaches, it had a certain beauty; not its former beauty of woods and shades and gentle colours; but a bold, bizarre beauty; a kaleidoscope of strange pigments and exciting, unexpected contrasts. Soon the valley slopes fanned out, exposing new vistas: wider horizons: the whole range of the hills, startlingly detailed in the clear, hazeless air. Dead ahead there swelled up a smooth, symmetrical hummock, its slopes, flecked with mica, reflecting the sun like a massed array of heliographs. To the left rose a rugged mound of granite, smooth and scalloped as a magnified Dartmoor tor. While to the right towered a fantastic pyramid of wine-veined quartz: alternate layers of crimson, grey, and black.
The children moved slowly forward; dwarfed by the immensity of the hills.
James Vance Marshall, Walkabout
The zone is reverting to one big, untamed forest, and it all sounds like a fantastic success story for nature: remove the humans and the wilderness bounces right back. Lured by tales of mammals unknown in Europe since the Dark Ages, we’re setting out on an atomic safari.
Henry Shukman, ‘Chernobyl, My Primeval, Irradiated Eden’, in Outside magazine.
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The peak bright-knolled beyond all hills, with its hill-top round and green and rugged; the hill full of swordsmen, full of wild garlic and trees, the many-coloured peak, full of beasts, wooded.
The peak that is loveliest throughout the land of Ireland, the bright peak above the sea of gulls, it is a hard step for me to leave it, lovely Hill of delightful Howth.
From The Hill of Howth, anonymous Irish scribe, ~14th century. Translated by Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson in A Celtic Miscellany.
Havoc’s pups were growing up fast. When first they had emerged into the daylight they had been frightened of almost everything that moved and quick to retreat to the safety of the den as soon as they sensed anything unfamiliar was approaching.
One morning we watched as they peeped very cautiously over the edge of their den, staring towards the bright orb that gradually appeared over the rim of their world. As more of the sun appeared, the pups bobbed down, only to appear again as more and more light flooded the plains. The same evening, when some clouds had drifted slowly past the huge red globe of the setting sun, the pups stared with amazed looks and ducked back into their den. Soon a whole succession of small black heads reappeared, one after the other, still staring towards the clouds.
Hugo van Lawick, Solo: The Story of an African Wild Dog
There are green turtles whose feeding grounds are along the coast of Brazil, and they swim 1,400 miles to breed and lay their eggs on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic, half way to Africa. Ascension Island is only five miles long. Nobody knows how they find it. Two of the turtles at the Aquarium are green turtles, a large one and a small one. The sign said: ‘The Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas, is the source of turtle soup…’ I am the source of William G. soup if it comes to that. Everyone is the source of his or her kind of soup. In a town as big as London that’s a lot of soup walking about.
Russell Hoban, Turtle Diary
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Image from the Gundestrup cauldron, found in a peat bog in Denmark in 1891 and thought to be about two millennia old.
The antlered, human-like figure is Cernunnos, horned god and master of beasts. His name derives from the Proto-Indo-European root *ker- “head, horn”, which also gave rise to horn, unicorn, rhinoceros, cerebrum, and cranium (see American Heritage Dictionary, 5th ed.).
Several French towns are named after Cernunnos, such as Cernay-la-Ville and Cernay in the Haut-Rhin region.
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Each attitude being a syllable in human nature’s total message, it takes the whole of us to spell the meaning out completely.
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