Monday, June 28, 2010

Being a musing about listening and the sounds of a lake

If you ever get the chance, I recommend just sitting on the shore of a weedy pond and listening. In the stillness, the pond itself was alive with sounds – the lily pads that covered the surface made a sort of irregular clapping sounds – not quite but similar to the polite clapping of a bored audience. Even after minutes of gazing out across the field of lily pads, I never saw what was causing the clapping, but the occasional splash of a fish briefly breaking the surface identified the likely culprits. What was amazing was how quickly the clear surface of the water filled back in with the leaves of the lilies such that it was impossible to see where the fish had broken the surface mere moments after it had appeared.

Later, as I sat quietly enjoying the sound of the lake itself, a flash of blue drew my attention – a brilliant baby blue colored bird with a rust-colored chest was sitting mere feet from me on the ground – then fluttered up to the branches of a maple by the shore. There it sat, singing in the tree and I think I may have heard the faint echo of another bluebird calling back.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Being a study of a wasp

Today I include in this journal a painting of a dried wasp specimen. Alas, but one wing and a couple legs were lost from the specimen and therefore could not drawn, though the way the wasp dried, the legs were hardly visible anyway on account of being twisted up close to the body and therefore not viewable from the angle I chose to paint this piece from.

Monday, June 21, 2010

On Being detained

Alas but that I have been completely unable to do any sort of… well anything the last days on account of being detained by one Mr. B. who has detained both myself and Captain Izumi on suspicion of piracy. It is of course entirely true but one must never let certain types know as much. Fortunately of course our ship is well designed with false doors and floors throughout such that even the most thorough search ought to reveal nothing to even the most skilled investigator which of course Mr. B. is most certainly not or else he would realize at once the captain of the ship we were accused of attacking, one Captain U. is known to sell his own cargo then reporting it stolen and has done it at least twice before. It seems to happen whenever he is transporting rum and sugar from the West Indies. Unfortunately Mr. B. apparently hasn’t even interviewed the captain and of course since the Falcon’s Vengeance has some rumours about it being better armed than a mere merchant ship ought be, he had enough power to be able to detain us for most of the last week and Falcon’s Vengeance is still grounded and may be for another week while he tries once again to find non-existent evidence against us. I wonder if he has something against our family personally or if he is merely overzealous in pursuit of pirates in general?

Of courses the entire situation has Captain Izumi in quite a temper – she understandably hates being detained and even worse having uninvited individuals searching her ship. While Mr. B. thought he had a problem with Piracy before, he has not faced the wrath of a wrongly detained pirate captain before and Captain Izumi will no doubt spend the next weeks or even months stealing any delivery specifically to Mr. B. Meanwhile I have written my family about having him relieved from his duties as town sheriff, which I imagine will sooth Captain Izumi’s temper enough that we can resume our flight path in time for the Faire in Hartford in a couple short weeks.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Being a discovery of specimens of Ghost Plant in the beech-oak forest of Connecticut

After a day of pillaging yesterday, we landed today to sell our gains and I took the opportunity to take a short walk through the native woods of Connecticut. The forest was dominated by oak, beech and maple and though the sky threatened rain it remained clear until after I had returned to the shelter of the ship. After accidentally flushing a young deer, I happened to notice a pale form sprouting up from the litter - at first it seemed to me a peculiar sort of mushroom or some other lower plant but then when I looked more closely I realized it was not a fungus at all but indeed what I was observing was itself a flower! It was a true plant before me entirely without any sort of color anywhere. I had seen it only once before years ago – as part of my studies – I had found a specimen of Ghost Plant, sometimes known as Indian Pipes. These tiny flowers are rare and grow only in the dark of the forest. Finding myself without my magnifying scope, or even my hand lens, I was forced to sketch the plant without performing a detailed study of its anatomy and I fear it will not dry well as other plants do, though I will endeavor to preserve it anyway being that the benefit should it work would indeed quite outweigh the loss of a few minutes of time and the minimal input of supplies needed for the attempt.
Ghost Plant – Kingdom Plantae; Species Monotropa uniflora. The flowers were made up of five petals which formed a tube or a bell-shaped flower which was oriented down so that the entire flower had a stooped appearance or looked rather like a cane. The anthers of the flower were found to reside below the single stigma, circling it on all sides. The base of the stamens (at the point of attachment) was a pale blue-grey sort of color with yellow anthers. Stigma was a much paler yellow, but these were the only colors throughout the entire plant save the grey of the shadows it cast.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Being an introduction of sorts

An idle day at the start - I thought to stay abed into the morning but my captain was about well before I and the ship was far from quiet enough to allow me to remain asleep as long into the morning as I had hoped. I have spent much of the day since arranging my paint and watercolor supplies and organizing some of my research materials into a fashion that I might be able to write about them coherently. It seems a quite daunting task that I am not entirely certain where to begin – there are so many subjects upon which I make a more complete study though it is obvious that I cannot give equal weight to every topic in science – meteorology, wind and waves, zoology, botany, geology, physics… I will focus on that of which I know more – the biological sciences, with some observations such as I can make on other topics. In particular, I wish to make a detailed study of the Air Kraken, as it is a species most peculiar, and other species as we come across them, be they marine, terran, or avian.

In addition I have spent a portion of the day reading the published works of great naturalists, including Mr. Darwin’s journals from his travels aboard the Beagle, Mr. Roberts’ Daybook on Meteorology, Phrenology, and Rural Biology, and the Country Diary of Lady Edith Holden among others that I might discover through their works how I might focus and approach my own studies. Mr. Darwin’s work is of course much known through his monumental book so I need say little of his research. I much admire Lady Holden’s intermingling of her paintings into her work – she has marked skill with the watercolor brush - but I think Mr. Robert’s book may be perhaps a little too dry to use as a model, as it is often merely a recording of meteorological conditions and a listing of what is blooming without discussion and I am perhaps too much of an artist to appreciate such formal approach for my own work though as a data source his work is quite solid.