I’ve seen the trends in photos on various photo sharing sites, like Google + “Caturday!” or “Wildlife Wednesday”.
And I thought, “Hey! ‘Spider’ and ‘Satur’ have the same number of syllables and they both start with ‘S’!” And, conveniently, Brisbane is jam-packed with the lovely little (or not so little in many cases) arachnids.
So here is my Spiderday post.
NB: If you are arachnophobic, stop reading now. Seriously, there will be no more Gangnam cat pictures.
Emily Dickinson liked them too:
The Spider as an Artist
Has never been employed –
Though his surpassing Merit
Is freely certified
By every Broom and Bridget
Throughout a Christian Land –
Neglected Son of Genius
I take thee by the Hand –
- Emily Dickinson
I’m not overly partial to cities, but as far as cities go, Brisbane is not a bad one. It’s got plenty of green spaces, trees, and fauna throughout the city (there are even fruit bat colonies downtown), so one never gets that strangulated feeling of being surrounded by nothing but cars, people, and sickly urban trees. In addition, there is a river winding throughout the city which makes it vulnerable to flooding, but also more scenic.
Don’t feel like taking a bus today? Why not take the ferry downriver? It’s a nice system.
So, having lived in this city on and off for months…overall, I say, “Well played, Brisbane!”
Here is a small subsample of the flowers of Brisbane suburbia (places within walking distance of the city centre, I should know) for people suffering in the northern hemisphere, it is a bit of colour. (Don’t worry, I’ll be shivering in snow soon myself! Then I will look back on this post with nostalgia):
I’m not very good at taking photos of people. I always feel shy about pointing a camera at someone, especially because I hate photos of myself so much. But the Laura Street Festival was a very nice and relaxed atmosphere, and I wanted to share the few photos I took.
So, yeah, Laura Street Festival! http://laurastreetfestival2012.weebly.com/
If you’re in Brisbane next November, you should check it out!
This weekend Brisbane, and much of the eastern coast of Australia, got hit by massively impressive electrical storms. Yesterday afternoon, the city was hit by 25,000 lightning strikes and hail stones the size of softballs.
I feel like this dramatic weather is chasing me around the globe! I was in Pennsylvania for Hurricane Sandy, in Beijing for the massive storm that dropped the first snow and thousands of trees and powerlines, and now in Brisbane for this huge electrical storm! I think I’ve had enough dramatic weather for the season!
How should I sing when buffeting salt waves
And stung with bitter surges, in whose might
I toss, a cockleshell? The dreadful night
Marshals its undefeated dark and raves
In brutal madness, reeling over graves
Of vanquished men, long-sunken out of sight,
Sent wailing down to glut the ghoulish sprite
Who haunts foul seaweed forests and their caves.
No parting cloud reveals a watery star,
My cries are washed away upon the wind,
My cramped and blistering hands can find no spar,
My eyes with hope o’erstrained, are growing blind.
But painted on the sky great visions burn,
My voice, oblation from a shattered urn!
- Amy Lowell
Here is a thing that I didn’t know existed: dog sledding in the subtropics. Yes, it is true, you can dog sled where there is no snow!
As you may know, I am very fond of animals. I have a lot of experience caring for both exotic and wild animals (e.g. in zoos, wildlife rehab centres, and nature centres) and domestic animals from chickens, cows, and horses to cats and dogs.
When I was walking about in Brisbane, I spent a month or so dog sitting for two handsome sled dogs while their owners were in the UK. (I was also looking after their blue-tongued skink, but “skink sitting” doesn’t sound very illustrious.) They had a very rigorous schedule of training and a strict diet.
I ran at least 5 k with them every day, sometimes with a waist harness. That is, I had two dogs of more than 30 kg each (70 lbs) tied to my waist while we were running. Everything went fine…unless they spotted a wallaby.
Speed training = two sled dogs, a waist harness, and a wallaby.
We also trained with a bicycle. They were harnessed to the front of the cycle and to each other. They were very well trained dogs, and responded to a variety of commands: haw for left, gee for right, onby for forward, hike for faster, whoa for halt.
And their diet was a varying regime of raw ground meat (sometimes including kangaroo, but also chicken and beef), a mixture of oats and dried vegetables, and a standard dog food mix, with chicken necks for treats.
The dogs, that is, not the skink, who mostly just slept under the heat lamp with his feet dangling.
Allow me to introduce the dogs.
I know, you must be impatient to learn how one can possibly sled with no snow! I sure was.
Well, you just need a special kind of sled, is all:
There are a lot of people who enjoy this! There are whole clubs, in fact. And when Dakota and Kiyuke’s owner returned, she let me come along on the next race. I was pretty proud because she told everyone how I had kept the dogs very fit!
Dog racing is very noisy!
There are a lot of good looking dogs.
After a lot of hubbub and baying, we race!
Animals can be clever sometimes (just maybe not skunks). There are plenty of examples of animals that do pretty darn well for themselves by taking advantage of humans. Here’s a fun example.
I’ll set the scene for you. Imagine yourself in the Sunshine State of Australia: Queensland. That’s nice, isn’t it? Anyway, you’re on an island (Moreton Island to be specific) off the coast of the state capital, Brisbane. There is sand and sun everywhere, and even though it is the middle of winter and those silly Aussies are all wearing heavy down coats, you have decided to go for a little snorkel.
This is a pretty touristy thing to do, admittedly, but what the heck, snorkeling is fun, even for field biologists who are definitely not tourists. The problem with snorkeling off the coast of Brisbane is not the water temperature, which is balmy by any North American standards, but the fact that the reef doesn’t extend that far south. If your mind is nonetheless absolutely set on snorkeling, you can go out to Moreton Island and flipper around Tangalooma wrecks, which is depressing if you’ve been on the GBR before, but fun if you don’t have any expectations whatsoever.
Your guide has a bag of bread which he will use to attract the maybe six species of fish that you will see out there. He tows the bread along behind you on a foam board with a sad little flag as you flipper out from the beach, buffeted by waves rolling in.
It isn’t long before you notice an unexpected companion (and unpaying customer) along for a flipper himself. It is a smug looking Cormorant!
The Cormorant paddles along beside you, and when you reach the wrecks he is even kind enough to help you open the bag and begins tossing out bread for you. What a nice Cormorant!
Here’s the thing, Cormorants do not eat bread. As a matter of fact, they eat fish. Why should he be interested in your bread at all, you ask? Ah, you see, because the fish are interested in the bread. As they swim up to nip little bready bits from your fingers, the Cormorant sneaks some meals of his own. The fish have become a little suspicious of your bread now, so the Cormorant has another idea.
While you are face down in the water, mildly observing moon wrasse, he clambers right onto your back (cheeky bugger!). Hiding within your benign snorkeler’s shadow, he can sneak up on the fish easily, and you unwittingly bait them in for him.
Soon, he is so stuffed that he can’t fully swallow the last fish and you can see its outline in his throat, fins and everything. Maybe he’ll catch a ride back on your floating platform and have an after dinner sun on the beach.