Tuesday, June 20, 2006

An Aquarian Thing

" Loss is nothing else but change,
And change is nature's delight"
-Marcus Aurelius

I have thoroughly enjoyed the downloads from NPR in the last year, many of their programmes are superbly done, and the new Radio Expeditions, a collaboration with the National Geographic Society, is certainly no exception. Celebrating and exploring the natural world and cultural diversity, the latest episodes have been in the Himalayas, which will always get my attention, having been there on a number of treks. Investigating the effects of climate change on the alpine environment and the state of medicinal plants found in high altitudes, the professionally done productions take the listener to some very far away places in just a few minutes. Have a look, and listen if you can.

Meanwhile, back in the cultural immersion pod... as a long time music afficianado, this NYTimes article on a resurgent festival season in the U.S. with leading proponents bringing a kind of "freak folk" back to centre stage was heartwarming. No, the hippies have not gone away yet and don't hold your breath, these committed musicians are a whole new generation. Any artist taking their craft seriously and living a life that supports that principle as best they can will always have my support. A first time performance down under next summer of one of my favourite musicians, Eric Clapton, would appear to be a somewhat different (and closed) affair for the "members" of the Hawkes Bay Mission Estate Concert series. Not exactly how I remember seeing him (more than just) a few years back with Derek and the Dominos. Now playing to middle aged chardonnay-sipping boomers, he still can do the business, it just may be more appealing to the Rod Stewart set. But then hey, good for them. I mean, we are talking about those infamous species... 60's rock guitarists!

However they have more urgent problems in Australia, where the Army is being called in to stop the relentless stampede of...cane toads! OK then. Extreme measures for extreme situations I suppose. I often think of Australia in that way. Extreme. Weather, wildlife, or (what else begins with W?) It has offered up to me in the past some of the heaviest rainfall, hottest days, biggest surf, longest roads, and now...cane toads. Let me know what I can do.

In New Zealand, the (sort of) streaker with an interesting past (that's always going to come up in these situations, eh?) at one recent rugby match has auctioned off her bikini for a little over $4000, and the Japanese have managed to bribe some of our Pacific neighbors into voting against the moratorium on whaling down here. Wassup with that? Have they not learned to leave those creatures alone YET? Never a dull moment in the Land of the Long White Cloud...

Staying with Aotearoa, the Maori New Year, or Matariki, is being celebrated this month, and for those with the burning desire to know more, it translates into The Eyes of the Lord, and refers to the small grouping of stars (called pleiades by others) rising in the Northeast sky on June 2. Matariki begins on the first new moon after this, which is June 27. Te Papa Museum has a nice summary of the significance here. Any celebration giving thanks and respect to the source of life is worth mentioning in my view. Meanwhile, the solstice is here now, which for those of us who work the land means (in this hemisphere anyway), we are now at the point of our shortest day, the soil temperatures to start rising soon, hopefully along with the air!

Kia Kaha and Aloha


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