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Archive for March, 2014

Into The Wild Wood

Words & Images by Duncan George

(Duncan George Photography)

If you close your eyes and imagine a wood in a dark fairy tale, what do you see, smell and hear?

wistmans-wood-1(Image credit: Duncan George)

In your minds eye do twisted and sinister trees thick with moss and lichens form anthropomorphic shapes in billowing fog? Underfoot do you struggle for grip on treacherous granite boulders? Perhaps a far off stream provides an aural accompaniment with the the odd and inexplicable crack of a twig sounding ominously close. Does a dank earthy smell pervade the air?

wistmans-wood-2(Image credit: Duncan George)

Just to bring you back to reality, such woods do actually exist and not (just) in Transylvania or some far flung part of Asia but in the UK. On Dartmoor there are three remote high moorland copses of stunted oaks. I think there may be more in Cumbria. The one I have visited on Dartmoor many times is the best known, Wistman’s Wood. The name Wistman’s is thought to derive from wisht-man meaning haunted or pixie-led. The site is believed to have a human involvement dating back to Druid times. When seen in thick fog, in the half light of dawn or dusk it’s easy to see why much folklore and tales of the supernatural surrounds the place.

wistmans-wood-3(Image credit: Duncan George)

It is a fantastic location for art and photography. One of the aspects I like about it is, off-season when I tend to visit, it feels so remote. All the shots in this blog post were taken on Friday morning last week (Nov 2012) and the only other person I saw there (which is unusual in itself, normally I don’t see anyone) was an artist taking photographs to act as as a sketchbook.

wistmans-wood-5(Image credit: Duncan George)

Although Wistman’s isn’t hard to get to in the way that remote Scottish mountains are for example it’s still a challenging drive and hike on Dartmoor in thick fog. Twice out on the moor with visibility down to 2 metres or so I’ve lost my bearings completely and had to use a compass to reorient myself (not something I ever had to do in my previous career in media!). Normally one could rely on the sound of the West Dart River as a guide but fog deadens sound. It’s easy to understand how people can get into trouble in an environment which can quickly switch from benign to malevolent.

wistmans-wood-4(Image credit: Duncan George)

What draws me to the wood is the magical feel of the place. The trees whilst quite small in comparison to normal oaks are fantastically contorted with a myriad of branches, each one being completely unique. Of course every tree is unique but here whilst they share the same genealogy each looks as though penned by a different artist . Furthermore they don’t resemble those in ‘normal’ and more uniform woods and forests.  Wistman’s is located on a hillside strewn with boulders and both trees and granite are coated in a carpet of moss. Some of the trees are draped in lichens as though dressed for Christmas. I’ve never seen lichens so resplendent in any other location. It used to be said that it was alive with adders although thankfully I haven’t seen any. It would be unfortunate to say the least if I set my camera down on a nest.

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All text and photos copyright Duncan George.

To see more of this gentleman’s amazing photography, I urge you to go check out his website. You will not be disappointed!

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Saw this photo at TheFeaturedCreature.com and had to share!

clown-spider-2(Photo Credit: Igor Ryabov)

This ‘scary clown’ spider is actually a species of crab spider in the family Thomisidae. Ukrainian photographer Igor Ryabov, 44, a full time engineer, has been experimenting with macro photography for the past three years and spotted the crab spider near to his house.

Tell me this thing doesn’t remind you of Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King’s “It!”

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Equinox on a Spinning Earth 

Explanation: When does the line between day and night become vertical? Tomorrow. Tomorrow is an equinox on planet Earth, a time of year when day and night are most nearly equal. At an equinox, the Earth’s terminator — the dividing line between day and night — becomes vertical and connects the north and south poles. The above time-lapse video demonstrates this by displaying an entire year on planet Earth in twelve seconds. From geosynchronous orbit, the Meteosat satellite recorded these infrared images of the Earth every day at the same local time.

Image: NASAMeteosatRobert Simmon

The video started at the September 2010 equinox with the terminator line being vertical. As the Earth revolved around the Sun, the terminator was seen to tilt in a way that provides less daily sunlight to the northern hemisphere, causing winter in the north. As the year progressed, the March 2011 equinox arrived halfway through the video, followed by the terminator tilting the other way, causing winter in the southern hemisphere — and summer in the north. The captured year ends again with the September equinox, concluding another of billions of trips the Earth has taken — and will take — around the Sun.

Equinox-Earth-1

Thanks, as always, to NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day.

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Wake up and smell the bacon!

You know it was just a matter of time before Oscar Meyer would come up with an app for this!

wake-up-smell-bacon

As we say down in Arkansas, “Yew just cain’t make this stuff up!

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Normally, one wouldn’t think insults would be a source of fondness and nostalgia.

The way phrases are turned in The South makes you rethink all of your notions about enjoying otherwise unpleasant things.

Here are a handful of my favourites…

Back in Papaw’s day, they would have kept him upstairs.

He ain’t hooked up right.

fiddle-possum

He’s about half a bubble off plumb.

His cheese done slid right off his cracker.

I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.

I wonder what she would charge to haunt a house.

No decent woman can afford to be seen with him.

fluent-redneck

‘Nough to gag a maggot.

She talks just to hear her head rattle.

She’s three pickles shy of a quart.

That man ain’t got the decency to die.

You’ll have to look over him, he ain’t had no home trainin’.

popcorn-sutton-moonshine(The Late Great Popcorn Sutton – bootlegger)

Your hair looks pretty good but your clothes needs something done.

She could start an argument in an empty house.

That girl’s not wearing enough fabric to flag down a train.

He’s old as sin and twice as ugly.

You lie like a dirty cur dog.

shoot-deer-motel

That dress is ugly as homemade sin.

He don’t got all what belongs to him.

She has her nose so high in the air she could drown in a rainstorm.

He’s as windy as a sack full of farts.

He’s country as a bowl of grits.

far-wood

He’s 10 pounds of manure in a 5 pound bag.

Useless as a screen door (or cat flap) on a submarine.

She looks like Death suckin’ a sponge.

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Here are three of the most effective yet subtle insults. When said properly, they can be devastating. And if you’re not from The South, you probably won’t even know you’re being insulted…

You’re not from around here, are you?

Bless your heart.

That’s nice.

bless-your-heart

Thenk yew!

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Life finds a way.

life-finds-a-way(Image: Posted in melbourneer.com)

Nature finds a way.

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Science geeks, nerds and wonks have been going at it hammer and test tube.

Cars that run on air! A new state of matter! Mass whale grave!

Here are their latest findings!

March-02-14

Smartly done, scientists!

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For details, read the following articles. They are well worth your time!

Exoplanets: http://bit.ly/1fuJlyp
New state of matter: http://bit.ly/1hA2IVk
PLOS ONE: http://bit.ly/1hqiP7N
Martian meteorite: http://bit.ly/1cxqr40
Car runs on air: http://bit.ly/1hrMpdH
Liver cells: http://bit.ly/1fXlIcP
Mass whale grave: http://bit.ly/1esobQ9
Water vapour: http://bit.ly/MIUyOY

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