Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Treesome ...

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Bishop Berkeley


Now that I've lured you here with a blatantly misleading title I have to 'fess-up' that I am taking this opportunity to ostracize this fixation on trees!

There must be a multitude of aberrations that are much healthier to obsess about, and I shall make it my crusade to go away and focus on a few, after this post.

Since the phone-cam was apparently doing a good job I decided to continue making an effort to capture things I had already vaguely planned to use for a post. And it is an effort. Phone-cam in one hand trying to manipulate buttons that are microscopic, electric boxer on lead tugging me 'every-which-way-but-loose' in the other!

David, here's the gauntlet thrown down; come collect my boxer and then see how well you can compose 'raw' shots without resorting to Photoshop! Rant over.

I mused about the microcosm of life I can always find within the small patch of green that I visit daily. A line of trees along the cemetary wall gives sustenance to a variety of feathered friends. Pigeons are by far the most numerous, but there are colonies of 'escaped' parrots, the ubiquitous sparrows and even a few doves. The birds feed happily off the fruits, berries and insects that the trees serve up. And a right royal feast it is, too.

At ground level, in the underbrush, the killing fields, live the killers, the feral cats! They sit and wait patiently for unwary pigeons to wander into their kill zone (the other bird species are far too intelligent), and then it is a matter of 'pounce' and 'off with its head'. I've observed feathered remains almost daily, but have only ever witnessed one kill. And I have to tell you that, unlike domestic cats that appear to 'play' with their prey, feral's don't waste too much energy. Their kills are swift and deadly, and even though I cannot say it is nice to observe, I can understand how their need to do it is rooted deeply in their instinct for survival. More so when they have a family of cute little kittens to raise.

I thort I thaw a puddy-tat!
I thort I thaw a puddy-tat!

So, it is a matter of keeping one's eyes peeled. The dog knows they're there because he can scent them, but I have to spot them earlier than he does so that I can issue my "Straight On!" command. Or I end up being dragged unceremoniously into the bushes!

As I mentioned earlier, this is a microcosym of life being played out daily on a very tiny stage. The trees feed the birds, the birds feed the cats, and the dog and I, at the top of food chain, conspire to make life difficult for all of them. I guess that is the way of the world.

On a different tack. This is a little extra for 'townies'; the 'country-cousins' are already familiar with this phenomenon.

During my 'fieldcraft' training in the military, one of the lessons taught was how to navigate terrain without the aid of a compass. Not as easy as you'd think. Unless you are American! It has never ceased to amaze me how my American colleagues in the military were always able to locate NORTH without even breaking sweat. Conversely, they found it difficult to get from point 'A' to point 'B' driving a car on European roads because of the hairpins, switchbacks and roundabouts they encountered. A symptom of familiarity with how their towns and cities are built on a grid pattern.

But they could always tell you which way was North!

Well, here is a bit of information that will always help you, even in the deepest, darkest forests of your mind. And even in town if you are unfamiliar with the locale. Look for the moss on the trees, and the side that displays the thickest layer is the side that is pointing NORTH.

North to Alaska!
North to Alaska!

For the sceptical amongst my readers, I regret I didn't have a compass with me when I took that shot so that I could have shown the compass needle pointing to the big red 'N'. You will simply have to take my word for it.

Helpful information, or what ... ?

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Cath said...

Extremely helpful - as always. Of course, instead of a compass there is always the sun and a blade of grass to cast a shadow over a watch face... that's a cute one too! It takes a bit more working out and depends on what time of day it is as to which direction the shadow falls, but it works.

However, it does not involve a tree so your obsession would not be fulfilled. :(

I did not know that Tyson is electric. Poor thing, - shocking! And as I read the line about you risking being unceremoniously dragged into the bushes I thought to myself, "I bet there was a time he didn't complain about that..." but then again, maybe you did if a dog dragged you in there.

Feral cats are instinctive animals. Contrary to popular belief about cats being solitary, ferals will hunt larger prey in packs. We had a number of half feral cats when I was a child, and together they would hunt down weasels, stoats, even a badger! But small prey like birds - "I killed it, so iz mine! Gerroff!"

Good piccies - looks like a lovely walk.

Fletch said...

"I bet there was a time he didn't complain about that..."

Cath, that brought back a fond memory or two ... oooerrr. That was quite wicked of you!

The feral's on the green do tend to pack a bit, and on the few occasions that Thyson has managed to take me unawares and get close to one, he has always come off worse. Mostly it's a scratched nose, but once it was a slash over his left eye. That was too close for MY comfort. And that's the main reason I keep him from hurling himself at the cats.

Dumb dog!

jinksy said...

I usually don't know which way is up, let alone North!

Fletch said...

That wonderful old-fashioned phrase "topsy-turvy" springs to mind, Penny.

I hope you don't start to make people stare, by checking closely on the trees in your area from now on!

Lee said...

Fascinating post, Terry. No surprise that the feral community is secretive and deadly, but I love the way you describe it.

Timex has an "Expedition" watch with a compass on it (which you can true to N for your area), along with 3 alarms, a timer, a stop watch, and a hydration reminder. I got mine at WalMart.

Love the camera tree shots.


Fletch said...

"Timex has an 'Expedition' watch with a compass on it (which you can true to N for your area) ..."

Ah! the haze clears, Lee. So that's how my American colleagues were able to pull the wool over my eyes. Darn, never gave WalMart or Timex a thought!

But I think I'll stick to my dark-faced, leather strapped, CK ...

Shrinky said...

Yeah but, WHY?? Why does the moss grow thickest facing north, eh, eh? C'mon, answers please!

Feral cats, their kittens sure do look cute, don't they? As a kid, big sis' and me katnapped one and took it home. It shot up the chimney and sliced ma to ribbons before she finally caught it (and us). Happy days.

Nothing wrong with obsessing about trees, I'm gonna' come back as one if I have any say in it.

Fletch said...

Ever tried growing those pretty flowers in a north-facing garden ... ?

"I'm gonna' come back as one if I have any say in it."

A bonsai, no doubt?

(Shrinky-Tree = Bonsai) --- oh, never mind!

Count Sneaky said...

Lee put me on to your site.
Most interesting! Finding North has never been a priority for the Count. Finding his way home...well,
we all have our little problems. Your quotations from famous writers is a great touch. My site could be described as a "feral" site.
Yours is beautifully done. The best. Count Sneaky

Fletch said...

Thanks for the 'royal' seal of approval, Count. You are welcome to visit as often as I get around to posting.

At the moment it isn't that frequent ...



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