Monday, May 31, 2021

Spider Palace


Blood Moon

Last months blood moon - I'm indulging myself with seven very similar shots as we were outside in the cold for ages. 

The moon was very moonlike. 

Our first few hundred shots were quite blurry as we didn't have the telescope mechanics working, and then the next few dozen shots were blurry as we forgot to let go of the shutter button. Luckily, before the moon reverted to it's normal shade, we'd worked out the logistics. 

I love looking at the crevasses and seas of the moon, witness to all it's space trauma. It makes me grateful to our oceans for blunting and hiding some of earths celestial wounds. 

All the kids come out to briefly look - but only the littlest ones stayed out with us for most of the eclipse. To be honest, they were more interested in their were-wolf howls than the moon, and in concocting stories about baby were-wolves only being born when were-wolf queens (them) howl at the blood moon, but they occasionally glanced up. The next day I showed them youtube to explain it all and illuminate the earth and moons rotations and revolutions. 


Jewel Beetle


She's a little baby jewel bug - spotted at the very tail end of my morning walk. 

My dogs became impatient as I stopped to admire her - and succeeded in completely tying me up - their leads criss-crossing around my knees, but I do think she was worth it. 

Some googling when I returned home (thank you Queensland Museum) told me she's a 'Hibiscus Harlequin Bug Nymph' - the nymph because she's only a baby, her parents having quite different colouring. 

It took me awhile to see her little eyes when I was photographing her - but when I uploaded the photos I was quite won over by her sweet and plaintive, slightly lugubrious expression. 

My Great Grandfather told me stories of a magical Goldie Beetle who would shrink children to his own size and take them on adventures - while she isn't Golden, I do love the rich colours of her metallic sheen. 

I could believe she had magical powers that led to adventure. 

Monday, May 10, 2021


I love and envy the thistle. I feel guilty for my love. I know it shouldn't be here. I know it's a noxious weed. A toxic pest. Feral. I know it wrecks havoc. 

And yet. I love the contrast of it's soft, glowingly white thistledown, it's jagged spikes. I love the gentle purple shades of it's flower, and the aggressive jutting thorns encasing the flower. 

I love it's links to Scotland - the place I almost belong. I was conceived there, I went to school there for a year, I've worked there and visited again and again... and yet. I know it isn't mine. My fleeting visits - even a year at a time aren't long enough to truly know. 

It's stories and folklore, it's history are mine. I trace my mothers tree back - mother to mother - seven generations to a small town near Elgin and a woman whose daughter has 'illegitimate' scrawled across her death certificate. 

My mDna tells my my maternal ancestors have links to Orkney going back thousands of years. 
My father was born in Scotland - his family tree trace back through generation upon generation of Scottish lowlanders and people criss-crossing backwards and forwards from Northern Ireland. 

The thistle is from my roots - neither of us belong here - our mere presence causes damage, is a reminder of genocide and destruction, and yet. I can't wish myself not here. And I admire the thistles beauty and the memories and sense of belonging it engenders. 

And I'm jealous of how well the thistle has adapted. My pale, sun-blotched skin, headache prone blue eyes, heat-wilting person, tells me every day how poorly suited I am for this environment. 

The sight of the thistle takes me away for a moment to gentle mists and cool and invigorating cold. To a place of belonging and time. 




The plants we see closest to us on our walks are mainly weeds. In fact, in the ditch and verge along our most common walk, I have almost given up on seeing indigenous plants. I picked up a weighty booklet called 'Weeds of Southern Queensland' and the photos are all-too familiar. 

I've only just realised there's a symbol chart - and a few plants should be reported within 24 hours. 

And while I do intend to study, read up and report - I'm fascinated by these hardy plants that travel and grow where they're unwanted. That are hardy and tough and vigorous. 

As I commented to my husband when he looked askance at me looking up the evolution and uses of thistles - these are the plants that will remain long after we're gone. 

And if things go badly wrong - these are the plants people will be living off. 

Windmill Grass

In the car - where many of our discussion take place - the kids and I were discussing the colour of grass. We say grass is green, but we look out the window and see that there are golden and brown grasses, pinkish, purplish, white and silver tinged. 

My obsession with grasses is entrenched now. My realisation about my ignorance about them has been lowering. For example, if asked, I would have sworn grasses must have been one of the earliest life forms. It appears not - according to a cursory reading grasses are a mere fifty million years old. Spiders - at around three hundred million years old are by far more ancient. 

Despite my ignorance, I am enjoying studying the unexpected forms and colours, and observing the bustling life within each stalk - much of which I don't truly see until I upload the photos to the computer. 


Monday, May 3, 2021

Mini-beasts or Macro-Monsters?

I think he could be challenging me. He is at least wondering what kind of giant I am - the bug-eating or the non-bug eating kind? 

He has such interesting shapes - and the way he sees the world must be so entirely different. 

I've been to the library and accidentally borrowed an armful of books about the small creatures that live around us. A new obsession - but at least an educational one! 




I prowled the banks of the stream - filled for the first time in at least a year - as my daughters played in the playground beside it. Butterflies fluttered, bugs seemed to study me. This spider seemed to decide I wasn't food and I studied it's haired legs and patterned body with interest. 

I've been thinking of writing a children's book about mini-beasts and have been reading up about spiders. My mind is full of new and odd words. Spinnarets, chelicerae, pedals. They are old interesting, odd and faintly disturbing. 

I am intrigued.