I talk to them at 3am, my children, I tell them about the Doomsday Vault in Svalbard, how it’s beset by melting permafrost; I talk about the hairy frogfish, the predator- prey cycle of life, how humans keep birds in cages, and how travel to Proxima Centauri b would take them 6,300 years, a little cosmic joke, ha ha; I explain that the gang-rape of a mother in Kyiv next to her child and dead husband is called collateral damage, that the weight of a butterfly of uranium destroyed Hiroshima, and that no single wild species depends for its survival on the Freak Show that is the Human Race; I tell them that we fail to learn from human history and how they are blessed never to have been born. ©️2022 K Price
As I ride pillion through this primeval forest, I don’t think
of the ancient trees, how they give us the smooth paper leaves
on which we love to press down with granite
made from the centre of the earth;
nor of the fungi beneath, how one fruiting body brings us certain death
and another alters our consciousness
with its saprotrophic strangeness;
nor of the native bees, how their furry-bodied industries
sustain our food security and survival
as a species;
of Mr Tait, whose smile
was a warning, and how he taught
us to bookmark a book with its own pages
without damage, and how he showed us how to mitigate
injury from possible falls when using a chair
as a ladder, and how he use to call
all the boys Fathead!
©️2020 K Price
Astride the KTM beast, we ride
the country roads of New England, passing mini
country churches not big enough to swing
an axe (other than the verbal kind). At the crossroads
in one hamlet, there are two, along with a pub
and a servo, and I wonder if on Sundays
the population of around 150 evenly splits
itself between the green fibro Catholic and the beige fibro
Anglican House of God diagonally opposite. Or do the agnostics
and atheists muddy the holy water? Truth is
I’ve never seen any flock
to attendance, so who goes there? The farmers
praying for rain? The fossickers praying
for that nugget, the alcoholics praying for forgiveness
for beating their wives and children senseless after one
too many at the public house on a Friday night?
Or are these houses of worship mere relics
of the past along with the town’s faith
on account of all that flood, fire
©️2020 K Price
Leaning into corner after corner on a wheat-
fringed country road, we come upon
a pair of vintage Renaults sitting side by side
in the paddock, like an old couple enjoying
the sun. But age has wearied them and the years
condemned to a slow rusting death, the for-sale sign
long faded. Who drove them to their final destination
full of hope they would go as a bonded
pair to loving home?
©️2020 K Price
I’m riding pillion on the KTM beast
when our silhouette on the damp bitumen paints my scarf flying
like a Siamese fighter’s tailfin in the slipstream
and I think of you
and wonder if in that nano-second that the forces of the universe conspired
to smash you into the cobblestones of the Riviera
you had a chance to think:
I tuck in the delinquent ends
I wouldn’t want your spectacular end
to be in vain.
©️2020 K Price
Notes from a KTM – December 2019
Autumn steals in like a quiet
cat, looking for a warm place
to settle. On the mountains
in the copses and through the forests, the trees rustle
amongst themselves, and blush
at her touch. Do the beetles know
of this? I do not know, they talk
to their gods in tongues.
©️2019 K Price
The sea knows
loss, its ancient suspirations inhale
terra firma grit by grit
The sea knows
abyssal hobgoblins well up
from their deep-rutted trenches
even on sunshiny days
they manifest their stinking grotesquery
on sabulous shores
The sea knows
is always sighing
Like you the sea knows
© 2018 Karen Price
Last week, this funny, sweet floofie-bum turned one. He celebrated with his best friend, Millie, who joined our family in May this year. They bring us such joy.
In February, this little creature came into our lives.
Born in early November last year, he arrived from the breeder a bit worse for wear: our local vet confirmed he was underweight and treated him for an evidenced flea infestation and a suspected case of worms.
But with lots of TLC (not to mention sleep and food)…
Such a funny, sweet creature, who chirrups and chats away. Considering Mainecoons can reach up to 16kg, let’s hope he stays that way 🙂 .
I chatted to this chap while riding the spectacular Tadami Line in the Fukushima Prefecture of Japan in January. He has travelled all over the world and, now retired, loves to travel on the Japanese rail network on his pensioner’s card. He told me that he is 84 but climbed Mt Kilimanjaro when he was 75: “Three days up, two days down. Climbing Mt Fuji is a lot easier.”
While we were talking he smiled a lot with his spectacular gold-filled teeth, but when he posed for me to take his picture, he struck a more serious look.
Now, this makes my heart glad 😄🥂🍾
The friendly, helpful staff at Kanazawa Station Visitors’ Centre advised me not to attempt a day trip to the Snow Monkeys from Kanazawa. Not unsound advice, but I ignored it anyway (as I only had time for a day trip) and caught the 8:58am Hakutaka567 Shinkansen (bullet train) from Kanazawa to Nagano. On arrival at Nagano Station, after asking directions, I flew down a couple of escalators and bought a day pass to the Jigokudani Yaen-Koen. The pass included the return trip on the local Yukemuri express train (or the express bus) between Nagano and Yudanaka on the Nagano Dentetsu line, the local bus between Yudanaka Station and the park entrance, as well as admission to the park.
From the local bus stop to the park main entrance, it’s a short uphill walk along the road, and once you’re in the park, you climb a set of stairs, walk approximately 1.6km through the forest, and then climb another set of stairs at the end of the trail to reach the macaques.
The park’s visitor advisories stress that visitors ensure they wear appropriate footwear, but humans being what they are ignore advice when it doesn’t suit them (yes, I know, I ignored advice not to attempt the day trip), and I saw many people attempting to walk the snow- and ice-laden forest trail in the most ridiculous footwear, including one chap in sandals and socks.
The walk is beautiful but quite treacherous even for those in sensible footwear. You need to watch out for iced sections; I saw people land flat on their backs without warning. And while the unfenced forest drop-off is not exactly sheer, it is precipitous, and you’d need rescuing with ropes if you slipped on the ice and disappeared over the edge, so a good sense of balance comes in handy. And bear in mind that you’re walking at altitude, even if it’s only 850m, so you need at least a basic level of cardiovascular fitness. Many visitors seemed to struggle along the way.
Is it worth it?
The monkeys are utterly fascinating to watch, particularly those bathing in sleepy bliss in the hot spring, and I wish I’d had the time to observe them for a bit longer.
However, it’s not quite the scene of simian serenity depicted in the brochures. It’s not so much disturbed by the constantly scrapping, screeching macaque troupe romping about in the surrounding snow, but rather by their human cousins behaving badly. Contrary to the blurbs that advise that the monkeys ignore humans, this is not what I observed, and my guess is that the situation has developed due to our endless stupidity. The park provides many clear warnings to visitors to not bring packets or foods into the area and to not attempt to interact with the monkeys in any way, all of which were ignored by some people on the day I was there. I watched as a macaque went for a girl who attempted to retrieve a torn packet of junk food rubbish from him. Another bystander amused himself by throwing snowballs at the animal, which it blocked with a fascinating human-like action. And the way that macaque sat and stared long and hard after the idiot as he walked off down the path chilled me to the bone.
A few things to note if you’re planning a similar visit:
- The JR Rail Pass is incredibly good value for getting around Japan (not to mention much more convenient and relaxing in comparison to flying), and I cannot recommend it enough. But it doesn’t necessarily cover all local train routes, so check beforehand (in my case, it covered all the local train trips I took except the local train from Nagano to Yudanaka).
- Although the Shinkansen (bullet trains) are equipped with all the modern conveniences including impeccable toilets, many of the local trains do not have toilets, including the local train from Nagano to Yudanaka, so make sure to check, and take your comfort breaks before boarding.
I do not know
This silence, the silence
Words fail me at the moment, so I’ve been doing a bit of postcard colouring instead, using the output as birthday and thank you cards.
Quite smudgy in places, but life is not lived by colouring between the lines.
On my return to blogging in April, I was deeply saddened to discover that one of my favourite poets of all time had died in December 2016.
Cynthia Jobin was a blogging friend and a masterful poet, whose art was superior in form, structure and rhythm. But what I love most in her work is the way she infused it with mischief. Her intellect and humour shines through her poetry.
Sadly, Cynthia’s WordPress site is no longer up. I hope her unpublished work will not be lost.
I will miss you, Little Old Lady. You were a beautiful light in the darkness.
It’s been 8 months since my last blog post (sounds like confession). Where has the time gone?
Since then I’ve changed jobs and finished my degree.
And the world seems to have gone quite mad.
At least the Blogosphere is still turning.
My work meeting finished at 4pm. I still had minutes to type but was also due to meet a friend for dinner and the theatre at 6:30pm on the other side of The Bridge.
Anybody who lives in Sydney knows that trying to get across the Sydney Harbour Bridge by car into the city from 5pm onwards gobbles time. So I made the journey at 4 and typed the minutes here. A lovely way to end the work day.
Concealed in the sameness
the faded blue suit
Clark Kent by day
Who cares, who cares to look?
But out there
when darkness falls
it’s kite-flying breathtaking riddles
out of dayshadows, an infinite teasing
of zetetic minds
The Universe –
ultimate mystery man.
To find oneself, at 50-something, studying astrobiology (under duress) as a subject in a Bachelor of Arts (Linguistics) degree is a little discombobulating, to say the least. Particularly if your last contact with the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics was some 30-odd years ago (and geology, never). But the university at which I’m
studying crawling through my degree has a rule (which only came into effect after I started) that every undergraduate student must complete a Planet unit and a People unit outside of their stream in order to complete said degree.
So, every week this semester just past, a very grumpy band of Arts students, including me, would huddle together in the prac room, muttering furiously over concepts such as chirality; and biomarker composition; and whether the lump of rock before us was sedimentary, metamorphic or igneous; and whether another lump of rock before us was a stony, iron, or stony-iron, meteorite; and whether the earth was oxic or anoxic when another lump of rock before us was formed.
On the opposite side of the room, sat a bunch of engaged, aspiring astrobiologists, scientists and geologists, who spoke in a language even the polyglot Arts student doesn’t care much for. We were strange bedfellows; almost different species. 😀
What a discomfiting experience.
But, it blew my mind!
I learnt so much. About how far (and not) scientific knowledge has come since I was at school; why the exploration of our solar system (so what’s the big deal about a bunch of dead rocks and gassy balls in the sky?) is deeply interesting; the mysteries of the vast and strange universe that we find ourselves in; and, most fascinating of all, the extent of the microbial and extremophile world around, beneath, on, and in us. I even had a bit of fun with the Design-a-Lander-for-Titan assignment (the tutors mentioned that they were looking forward to the Arts students’ designs. Yeah, I thought, some comic relief).
There is much value in seeking out our opposites and differences in knowledge, beliefs, philosophies and interests.
What have you learnt recently that has broadened your mind?