Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pen Meets Paper July 6 '09

Opinion by Helge Nome
I like the four seasons here north of 45 in the Northern Hemisphere. You can count on chilling out after a long summer. Life in the tropics of Australia for almost 20 years gives one an appreciation for some cool weather when it comes around. Also, the deciduous forest here in the north changes its dress every year, as compared to the tropical forest that scarcely changes its appearance. And the change from day to night, and visa versa, comes in an instant in the tropics, as opposed to the gentle changes in our region. Having had the benefit of growing up in the temperate region of Norway and spending time in the Norwegian Arctic, the Middle East, Australia, temperate and tropical, and now cold Canada, I can sit back and comfortably declare that east is east and west is west and home is best, as it should be for anyone who has the power to choose.
I have taken some time to study the habits of my new neighbours, the local ravens and crows that have become quite plentiful since I have given them excess meat scraps from my dog food supply. Birds need a lot of energy to fly and the fatty scraps are ideal for that purpose.
One interesting incident illuminates just how connected to each other these winged visitors really are: As their food supply of scraps is intermittent they get frustrated from hanging around on an empty stomach and so, early in the piece, decided to raid my pile of recyclable plastic shopping bags parked underneath a spruce tree. A bunch of these big birds, used to feeding on scraps contained in plastic bags in local population centers, made a big mess taking the pile of bags apart without achieving any culinary satisfaction.
The interesting thing is that this only happened a couple of times, after which no birds bothered with it again, in spite of the fact that a large population, more than 100 birds, were involved. They obviously have a highly developed communications system, in spite of fighting and scrapping over choice pieces of meat.
By and large, because of our own ignorance, we don't appreciate just how smart our black feathered relatives really are. That was not always the case: In Norse mythology, there was a close relationship between ravens and those mythical people that were half god, half human and mixed with mere mortals at their pleasure. When needing to travel quickly, or listen in on conversations meant to be private, they would routinely turn themselves into ravens so as to be able to move about freely.
Ravens also used to (and perhaps still do) nest in the top of the Tower of London and the word was that “when the ravens leave the Tower of London the Empire will fall”. And as a matter of curiosity, my “home town” in Australia is named “Ravenshoe” after the title of a book left behind in the fork of a tree
by the government surveyors that planned the town site some 100 years ago.

No comments: