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Tatiana Schatten

Variable Vegetation

Anyone familiar with plants will be aware of the magnificent and whimsical variety of plant names. Whether they are domestic or wild, there is always at least one interesting name out of the bunch. Take for instance, the lichen called Old Man’s Beard. It is one of the few beards which you can pull without much harm being done to the owner. Then there is the fungi named Dead-man’s finger and looks like a dark, strange imperfect tower sticking up from the wood upon which it feeds. Some plants are named after their colour, for instance, the cladonia lichen called British Soldiers. Sage green are their stems, but bright red are their tops like the uniform worn by British soldiers. They may be a  motley crew of little men, these minute plants, and they may come in vast armies of green and red, but I am afraid they will never march.

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A Letter from the Pigeon Post

Based on true events 

 

Dear Cousin P,

I have written to tell you that my husband has now been switched, swapped and turned around. Now there is a new Mr. P, and my! what a problem he can be! No matter, I love him even still for he is a sensitive, kindhearted pigeon and that is the most important characteristic of a Mr. P. He is a little uneven in his colouring, though, for he has one white wing tip and one blue. We must make an interesting pair, with his normal pigeon colouring of blue and iridescence and me white with grey speckles. I wonder if the pattern of my eggshell soaked through to me when I was young , but our eggs do not have any markings so that could not be. I guess I’m a salt-and-pepper pigeon then. 

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The Wings of the Wind

The soft cry of the wind could be heard among the barren Poplars and kingly Cottonwoods. It swept through the trunks, over the dried grasses of the summer which was now long gone, and between the leafless branches of the trees. But the wind bore wings. Dark and powerful wings with feathers as soft as moonlight: the wings of a Northern Goshawk. With majestic grace, the raptor sped through the labyrinth of trees, a limp form hanging from his feathered limbs and a raucous mob of followers  hanging at his tail. These tormentors would not give in; these Black-billed Magpies in stubborn pursuit, squawking and teasing the prince among birds. American Crows, too, had joined the party, to the greater annoyance of the majestic hawk who could have easily slain one on the spot if his talons had not already been occupied. So, the raptor did his best to dodge and duck here and there through the poplars with a pestering horde of feathered fussers following close behind. Finally, the goshawk gave in, and neatly landing among the tree trunks, began his feast. 

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The Eight-legged Unicorn

It was a warm summer afternoon, when the trees were whispering their soft language, and their leaves were of a shining golden-green hue as the sun toyed through, between, over and around them. I,  wrapped within the spell of the noonday sun, dreamily entered into our bright, light-filled porch and collapsed into a chair to continue my studies. Yes, indeed, I was enslaved  by education upon that most glorious of days, but at least I could complete my assignments with the friendly sun beating down upon me. But I was very soon distracted from my labours. Glancing up from the tiresome papers, I beheld a small grey spider crawling on the arm of  my seat. I could see the two largest of its eight eyes appearing like shining beads, and peering more closely, I saw that the spider carried a pale cat hair upon its back with the tapered end stretching past and between those dark eyes. I can easily imagine how confused that little spider was, seeing that white, thin object protruding from above its head. The Zebra Spider lifted its front end up (I believe it was trying to snatch a better look at the foreign hair) then it spun around and around as if it thought it could shake it off. I believe I eventually removed the hair that was tormenting this little creature of the Lord’s, and off it leapt and disappeared from view.

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Fright and Flight

There is nothing quite so terrifying as a Black-capped Chickadee, at least if you are a goldfinch - an American Goldfinch. Yes,indeed, the chickadees are smaller than our brightly-coloured selves but my! Are they ferocious! In fact, just the other day, while I was perching passively upon a sunflower head, partaking of a peaceful meal of sunflower seeds, a chickadee came zipping toward me like some strange bumblebee. With frightening speed it hooked its sharp talons into the lower sunflower petals and unfolding its wings so that they were spread upon both sides of its feathered body, the tiny terrorist glared up at me with beady eyes. My heart practically halted its rhythmic dance in my golden breast, I had never been so alarmed in all of my born days! To have that little black-masked ruffian swinging threateningly beneath me (upside down even!) was much too much, and I swiftly made my escape before it demonstrated any more hostilities. Ah, if  only we goldfinches had some bravado like some birds, but we don’t, though it would be rather useful when it comes to opposing chickadees.

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Wednesday October 28, 2020