Archive for the ‘Art’ Category
As I wrote last week:
Something a little different for this week. Mother Nature Network put out an email earlier in January that opened, thus:
Dear friend of Mother Nature, We all see the beauty in a sunset or in a gorgeous painting, but can you appreciate the art in bacteria, climate images or preserved animal remains? These beautiful examples show how for centuries, art and science have danced a well-choreographed routine. The result has been some breathtaking creativity.
The pictures were so wonderful that I have offered the first six for today and the balance in a week’s time.
So without further ado, here is the balance of those paintings.
Leonardo da Vinci
As if he wasn’t busy enough, Italian painter, architect, engineer, sculptor and inventor Leonardo da Vinci was also fascinated with anatomy. He was so intrigued by the human body that by the end of his life da Vinci claimed he had dissected more than 30 corpses. He filled pages and pages with incredibly detailed drawings of body parts, accompanied by thousands of explanatory notes. U.K. heart surgeon Frances Wells, author of “The Heart of Leonardo,” recalled seeing da Vinci’s drawings for the first time as a medical student, “I remember thinking that they were far better than anything we had in modern textbooks of anatomy,” he said. “They were beautiful, accurate, absorbing – and there was a liveliness to them that you just don’t find in modern anatomical drawings.”
Earth as art
The Earth looks pretty darn cool from way, way up in the sky. Technically, NASA’s Landsat series of Earth observation satellites are critical for understanding scientific issues related to land use and natural resources. But really, they take some pretty remarkable images of mountains, valleys, islands and just general patterns in the forests and grasslands. Showing off this natural artistic sensibility, the U.S. Geological Survey created a series of “Earth as Art” images that are absolutely gorgeous. (And if you’re a fan, don’t miss NASA’s global maps, which are mesmerizing.)
Marco Tedesco, associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at City College of New York, sees the beauty in climate science. Coastal flooding. Cloud cover. Melting ice. To make climate work more attractive to the less weather-obsessed, he gathered colleagues from his school’s music, graphic design and video game design departments. The project, called Polarseeds, resulted in a multimedia art exhibit featuring photography, music and video, all centered on the beauty in climate science. Data on Greenland’s melting ice was transformed into music and the gallery featured photos of cracking ice.
Centuries ago, botanical drawings were key to helping people keep records of plants that had healing properties. The incredibly detailed illustrations of herbs and other plants were designed so that botanists and doctors could recognize the species for medicinal purposes. The oldest surviving example of botanical art, the Codex Vindebonensis, dates back to 512 A.D. The illustrations became more detailed and accurate as the centuries unfolded and now have taken on an artistic rather than medical purpose. There has been a recent resurgence in the art form through groups such as the American Society of Botanical Artists.
Preserved animal art
Japanese artist Iori Tomita sees beauty in death. He blends chemistry and art as he explores the natural beauty of the skeletal system in sea life. In his series “New World Transparent Specimens,” Tomita chemically bleaches and then dyes preserved animal bodies of fish, turtles, seahorses and other creatures. A chemical mix breaks down the protein and muscle, but leaves the collagen so the bodies keep their forms. Dyes then color the bones and tendons of the specimens, which are preserved in brightly lit glycerin.
Mercury thiocyanate is an inorganic chemical compound that makes for some pretty dramatic moving art when it’s ignited. In the science world, mercury thiocyanate (typically present as a white powder) has several uses in chemical synthesis, but its real claim to fame is in pyrotechnics. When it’s lit, the compound produces a long spiraling column of ash and smoke that looks like a moving snake. These used to be sold in firework stores, but now you’re only likely to see them in a chemistry class because of claims of toxicity. The modern version is a nontoxic “black snake” that makes a less spectacular — albeit safer — presentation.
Back to wonderful photographs next Sunday.
The power of our beautiful creatures to heal us.
Yet again, another example of a post almost writing itself.
Let me explain.
Yesterday, I published a post about being sensitive to the world around us.
Then this morning there was a new post from Sue Dreamwalker under the title of Fear of the Future. It was uncharacteristically downbeat for Sue.
Now most who follow me know I try to bring a positive touch within my posts… Yet to be quite honest with you all I am really struggling right now to lift myself from the doldrums of my own thoughts.
The key to conquering our fears lies in awareness. When we identify the irrational thoughts that frighten us and replace them with positive affirming ones.
Argh… all easier said than done..
You would think with my inner Knowing, and my Spiritual mind I should be the last person to take a nose dive into that Pit of depression.. Especially when I dredged its depth before and vowed that I had been there done that and worn the T-shirt and I refuse to wear it again.
I could blame it on my Fall which left me feeling bruised with aching, muscles which are still healing.. And I could blame it on grief as I lost a very beloved Aunt last week. I could blame my fatigue on me deciding to move a whole wall of books out the spare bedroom with wrists still recovering from the sprains of the fall.. And I could blame it on the weather being cold and miserable.. I could even blame it on the state of the world, or the Planets .. I have a whole host of excuses I could fall back upon to justify why I am feeling tired and jaded..
Many left comments including me. I spoke of the reward of hugging a dog. My words included:
I don’t have answers other than to feel what you are feeling. All I hang onto when I spend too much time thinking of my own mortality is that the answer, the answer to the moment, is to bury one’s face into the warm, soft fur of a dog. They seem to sense my need at these times. (And that isn’t meant to sound like me devaluing the love and affection that I receive from Jean!)
In other words, that contact with the warm dog holds me in the present and before long the reinforcement of living that present, loving moment puts the unknown future into perspective.
Another comment was left by blogger Rajagopal that included this wonderful tale:
The only thing that I have seen working in my life is to keep living, as much as possible, in the present. There is nothing to fear, either of the now or of the future.
In this context, wish to leave you with the story of the pregnant deer; in a forest, a pregnant deer is about to give birth. She finds a remote field near a strong-flowing river, that looks like a safe place, as she starts going into labour. At the same moment, dark clouds gather in the sky and streaks of lightning sets off a forest fire. The deer looks to her left and sees an approaching hunter with arrow pointed at her. To her right, the deer spots a hungry lion speeding towards her. What can the pregnant deer do? She is in labour! What will happen? Will the deer survive? Will she give birth to the fawn and will it survive? Or will everything be burnt by the forest fire? Or will she perish to the hunter’s arrow? Or does a horrible end await her at the hands of the hungry lion? Constrained by the fire on one side, the flowing river on the other and boxed in by her natural predators, the deer is apparently left with no option. What does she do? Well, she focuses on delivering and giving birth to a new life.
The sequence of events that follows is the Lightning strikes and blinds the hunter, who releases the arrow which zips past the deer and strikes the hungry lion. It starts to rain heavily and the forest fire is slowly doused by rain water. The deer gives birth to a healthy fawn….In our life too there are moments when we are confronted with negative thoughts and possibilities on all sides, so powerful as to overwhelm us. May be we can learn from the deer. The priority of the deer at that given moment was to give birth as safely as possible.
The rest was not in her hands and any change in her focus would have most likely impeded giving birth to the fawn. In the midst of the severest storm, we just have to maintain presence of mind and do what is in our control…the Cosmic power will take care of the rest…best wishes… Raj.
Finally, there was a recent new follower of this place. Her name is Emma and she writes the blog The Muse in the Mirror. Emma was kind enough to grant me permission to republish a post from last December about the healing power of Llamas. Enjoy!
Llama Loving; The healing power of Llamas
It’s official; I LOVE llamas. There, I said it, put out there for the world to know! I love their gentle, sensitive nature, friendly disposition and most of all their goofy, giggle-worthy expressions, which never fail to bring a smile to my face! Concerned that my llama loving status was bordering on obsession, I was beginning to question whether my love for these comical camelids was founded on anything other than sheer amusement! Thankfully as I researched further my findings confirmed that these beautiful animals are much more than a pretty (funny) face!!!
in USA. The adorable photo’s lay testament to the happiness that llama’s bring to residents at Bellingham Health and Rehabilitation Center in Washington, USA. Llama Marisco (pictured above), and Llama N.H. Flight of the Eagle (pictured right) are trained therapists, who spread comfort and joy as they stop at each bed to kiss the patients or have a hug. Resident Holly Barto remarked that…
“It was heaven. Just emotionally – to be able to touch an animal and hold an animal close.”
Another example of the profound healing benefits of llama’s can be seen in this adorable video below showing Rojo the therapy llama and Napoleon the therapy alpaca from Mtn Peaks Therapy Llamas & Alpacas, in Vancouver, WA USA. A non-profit corporation, which offers therapy teams to visit hospitals and schools in the area. The expressions on people’s faces are heart warming to say the least!
“Who knew such fluffed-up, carrot munching mammals could bring so much joy.”
Laughter is the best medicine.
If I am having an off day, the first thing I reach for is a funny llama picture. Better still, a visit to the local llama park soon blasts my bad moon into infinity and beyond! A good giggle-fest at the Ashdown Forest Llama park, in East Sussex, dissolves the blues and confirms that laughter really is the best medicine! (See my picture gallery below to see me with some of the residents of the Ashdown Forest Llama park!).
There’s a very good reason behind the saying Laughter is the best medicine. Research suggests that people feel less pain after a good laugh, because it causes the body to release chemicals that act as a natural painkiller. ‘Professor Robin Dunbar of Oxford University, who led the research, believes that uncontrollable laughter releases chemicals called endorphins into the body which, as well as generating mild euphoria, also dull pain.’ (BBC)
It is common knowledge that animals in general make us happier and brighten our spirits. A growing body of scientific research now suggests that interacting with animals can make us not only happier, but healthier too. That helps explain the increasing use of animals for therapeutic purposes in hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, schools, jails and mental institutions.
The use of pets in medical settings actually dates back more than 150 years, says Aubrey Fine, a clinical psychologist and professor at California State Polytechnic University. Fine who has written several books on the human-animal bond says:
“One could even look at Florence Nightingale recognizing that animals provided a level of social support in the institutional care of the mentally ill,”
So there you have it, next time you’re feeling blue, you know what to do! Head on out to your nearest llama park to insight those warm fuzzy feelings from a fluffy four legged llama! Check out my favourite selection of Llama and Alpaca pics below, guaranteed to bring a smile to any face!!
Note: That last photograph above is only one of a wonderful collection of Llama photographs that Emma included in her blog post. Do drop across there and admire all the wonderful pictures.
The incredible healing power of hugging an animal.
Something a little different for this week.
Mother Nature Network put out an email earlier in January that opened, thus:
Dear friend of Mother Nature,
We all see the beauty in a sunset or in a gorgeous painting, but can you appreciate the art in bacteria, climate images or preserved animal remains? These beautiful examples show how for centuries, art and science have danced a well-choreographed routine. The result has been some breathtaking creativity.
The pictures were so wonderful that I have offered the first six for today and the balance in a week’s time.
The final set to be published in a week’s time.
Background information is after the last photograph.
These animals were photographed just north of the Barber Lake on a highway near Mine Center, Ontario, Canada. The odds of seeing an albino moose are astronomically rare; let alone seeing two of them. It really doesn’t matter the colour of their fur; white or dark brown.
Once in a while there is an opportunity to take in a piece of nature that most of us may never see ‘in the wild’.
A huge thank you to Dordie for forwarding all the pictures featured over the last four weeks.
I noticed the other day a series of photographs of the moon and Venus that were included in an item on EarthSky News. All I am going to do is to republish a selection of the photographs so if you would like to read the full item, including all the photographs, then here is the link.
In the above image, Mars may only be seen by viewing a bigger image here.
Won’t add any more thoughts from me because each and every one of you will have your own feelings and responses to these photographs. Don’t want my ideas to get in the way of your own thoughts.
Just all of you have a wonderful and peaceful weekend.
The psychology of self.
One of the huge differences between humans and our beloved dogs is that dogs live entirely in the present and do not engage in abstract thinking. Indeed, one of the most glorious aspects of owning a dog is being able to lose oneself in those moments of intimacy between yourself and your dog. Here’s a wonderful example of that when Bridget from Oregon Wild visited us recently and enjoyed a moment of bliss with Hazel.
So with that in mind, I am now going to be very un-dog-like and very human by offering an essay that is most abstract in manner. Not my essay, I should hasten to add, but a recent essay from George Monbiot, republished here with his kind permission. Then tomorrow, I want to stay with the abstract theme and include a recent essay from Terry Hershey.
A Small and Shuffling Life
Why, in this age of freedom, are we so confined? And what can we do to reclaim our lives?
By George Monbiot, published in the New York Times, 19th January 2015
Live free or die: this is the maxim of our age. But the freedoms we celebrate are particular and limited. We fetishise the freedom of business from state control; the freedom not to pay taxes; the freedom to carry guns and speak our minds and worship whom we will. But despite – in some cases because of – this respect for particular freedoms, every day the scope of our lives appears to contract.
Half a century ago, we were promised that rising wealth would mean less work, longer vacations and more choice. But our working hours rise in line with economic growth, and they are now governed by a corporate culture of snooping and quantification, of infantilizing dictats and impossible demands, which smothers autonomy and creativity. Technologies that promised to save time and free us from drudgery (such as email and smartphones) fill our heads with a clatter so persistent it stifles the ability to think.
Public spaces in our cities are reduced to pasteurised piazzas, in which loitering without intent to shop is treated as suspicious. Protest is muted by dozens of constraining laws. Young people, who have no place in this dead-eyed, sanitised landscape, scarcely venture from their bedrooms. Political freedom now means choosing between alternative versions of market fundamentalism.
Even the freedoms we do possess we tend not to exercise. We spend hours every day watching other people doing what we might otherwise be doing: dancing, singing, playing sport, even cooking. We venture outdoors to seek marginally different varieties of stuff we already possess. “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers / Little we see in Nature that is ours,” wrote William Wordsworth (1), and it is truer today than it was then.
We entertain the illusion that we have chosen our lives. Why, if this is the case, do our apparent choices differ so little from those of other people? Why do we live and work and travel and eat and dress and entertain ourselves in almost identical fashion? It’s no wonder, when we possess and use it so little, that we make a fetish out of freedom.
Perhaps we have forgotten the bitter complaint made by Benjamin Franklin in 1753. “When an Indian Child has been brought up among us, taught our language and habituated to our Customs, yet if he goes to see his relations and make one Indian Ramble with them, there is no perswading him ever to return.”(2) But when European Americans “have been taken prisoners young by the Indians, and lived a while among them, tho’ ransomed by their Friends, and treated with all imaginable tenderness to prevail with them to stay among the English, yet in a Short time they become disgusted with our manner of life … and take the first good Opportunity of escaping again into the Woods, from whence there is no reclaiming them.” In 1785 Hector de Crèvecoeur asked two European refuseniks why they would not come home. “The reasons they gave me would greatly surprise you: the most perfect freedom, the ease of living, the absence of those cares and corroding solicitudes which so often prevail with us.”(3)
We arose in a thrilling, terrible world. The African savannahs on which the first hominims evolved were dominated by sabretooth and false sabretooth cats, giant hyaenas and bear dogs. When human beings arrived in the Americas, 14,000 years ago, they found ground sloths the weight of elephants; a beaver eight feet from nose to tail; armadillos like small cars; giant lions and sabretooths; short-faced bears whose shocking armoury of teeth and claws suggests they drove giant lions and sabretooths off their prey. A bird in Argentina had a wingspan of 26 feet. Fanged salmon nine feet long migrated inland from the Pacific coast.
We carry with us the psychological equipment, rich in instinct and emotion, required to navigate that world. But our survival in the modern economy requires the use of few of the mental and physical capacities we possess. Sometimes it feels like a small and shuffling life. Our humdrum, humiliating lives leave us, I believe, ecologically bored.
At times this sensation has overwhelmed me. It happened in a newly-discovered bone cave in southern England. The walls and floor were encrusted with calcite crystals, that glittered in the torchlight. One of the archaeologists with whom I was exploring it handed me the atlas vertebra of a Bronze Age cow. Then he picked up another bone, this time with both hands: another atlas vertebra, but monstrous. “It’s the same species as the first one. But this is the wild version. The aurochs.” As I turned it over in my hands, feeling its great weight, I experienced what seemed like an electric jolt of recognition. It felt raw, feral, pungent, thrilling. The colour seemed to drain from modern life.
I felt it again when stalking up a tidal channel with a trident, trying to spear flounders. After two hours scanning the sand intently for signs of the fish, I was suddenly transported by the fierce conviction that I had done it a thousand times before. I felt it most keenly when I stumbled across the fresh corpse of a deer in a wood. I hoisted it onto my shoulders. As soon as I felt its warmth on my back, my skin flushed, my hair stood on end and I wanted to roar. Civilisation slid off like a bathrobe. I believe that in these cases I accidentally unlocked a lumber room in the mind, in which vestigial faculties shaped by our evolutionary past are stored. These experiences ignited in me a smouldering longing for a richer and rawer life than the one I lead.
Unless we are prepared to reject civilization altogether and live in the woods, there is no complete answer to this predicament. But I think there is a partial one. Across many rich nations, especially the United States, global competition is causing the abandonment of farming on less fertile land. Rather than trying to tame and hold back the encroaching wilds, I believe we should help to accelerate the process of reclamation, removing redundant roads and fences, helping to re-establish missing species, such as wolves and cougars and bears, building bridges between recovering habitats to create continental-scale wildlife corridors, such as those promoted by the Rewilding Institute(4).
This rewilding of the land permits, if we choose, a partial rewilding of our own lives. It allows us to step into a world that is not ordered and controlled and regulated, to imagine ourselves back into the rawer life from which we came, to discover, perhaps, the ecstasy I experienced when I picked up that deer. We don’t have to give up our washing machines and computers and spectacles and longevity to shed our ecological boredom and recover some measure of the freedom that has been denied to us. Perhaps we do need to remember who we are.
George Monbiot’s book Feral: rewilding the land, the sea and human life is published this month by the University of Chicago Press.
2. Benjamin Franklin, 9th May 1753. The Support of the Poor. Letter to Peter Collinson.
3. J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur, 1785. Letters from an American Farmer and Other Essays. Letter 12. Edited by Dennis D. Moore. Harvard University Press.
So tomorrow, the second part with Terry Hershey and a short talk by Professor Dan Gilbert, Professor of Psychology at Havard University.
A repeat of a post from last October.
A few days ago, we had a visit from the Wilderness Campaign Coordinator from Oregon Wild. Bridget, that being her name, took the opportunity of saying ‘hi’ as a consequence of her coming down from Northern Oregon to Ashland. Bridget was giving a presentation in Ashland regarding securing more wilderness areas in Oregon; a very worthy ambition. Jean and I have supported the organisation since we moved up to Oregon.
Anyway, I offered to use Learning from Dogs to support and promote any campaigns from OW that would be of interest to LfD readers. I sorted out some recent posts that would give Bridget and her colleagues an idea of what was published in this place and sent her the links.
One of the links that I forwarded was this post from last October. I just wanted to share it with you all again.
Embracing the poetry of nature.
The beauty of poetry.
In yesterday’s post, where I wrote about how Jean and I had the wonderful privilege of feeding a wild deer from our hands, I closed it with a p.s. This is what I wrote: “P.S. It is at times like this that we need poetry. So how about it: Sue? Kim? How would you describe in poetry what Jean and I experienced?“
Well, Sue, of Sue Dreamwalker, replied with a link to a poem of hers that she published back in 2012. I will say no more than republish, with permission, Sue’s beautiful words and close with one of the photographs from yesterday.
Be at One with yourself
Be at one with the world
Be at One with Nature
And see your life unfurl
Close your eyes and imagine
The beginnings of a New Earth,
And Open your eyes to your beauty
Breathe in and give Birth.
For you are One and part of the Whole
Not a separate Unit , but a Beautiful Soul
United within the One Divine love
And part of that cosmic hub.
Share your love along with your Light
And Rejoice in Gratitude
Use your sight
To see a world in Beauty and Grace
You are stronger than you think you know
Spread a little Love where ever you go
Shower your peace and sprinkle your heart
Into the rivers of life send a ripple a spark
Be Calm, knowing all is well
Keep breathing in Peace for inside it dwells
Know you are where you are meant to be
Open your eyes
Come on now See
For we are ONE and it’s time to Unite
Stop all your hating, and judging and strife
Find your heart and clear out your mind
Seek out yourself
And Wisdom you’ll find
Let go of torments and allow the Joy in
Come on now people
It’s time to begin
Be One with yourself
Be One with the world
Be One with nature
And Let the Universe Spin
For the Spiral is turning and
Peace will Win..
© Sue Dreamwalker – 2012 All rights reserved.