Winter Zen: Taking A Cue From Snow Monkeys

Living in Southern California where it’s a few hours drive to see snow does not give me the credentials to write about winter.  So here’s a lovely piece written by Barbara J. King and a meditative-monkey glimpse  for all you living with winter-white:

“We are about 15 days away now from the spring equinox — but winter is not yet done with us.”

“By measures of temperature and precipitation, winter 2015 has brought ongoing hardship to many in the U.S., perhaps especially in and around Boston, where epic blizzards continue their toll.”

“At this point, those of us in snowy, icy locales may need some inspiration to make it through March. I have found mine in this three-minute film, produced by Art Gimbel, of Japanese snow monkeys in Jigokudani Monkey Park. The film is also featured online at National Geographic.”

“As primates, like us, these monkeys delight me: Look at the intelligence in their eyes, the delicate fingers as one monkey — clutching close a juvenile, perhaps her child — plays with a bubble in the water.”

“We see in the film the monkeys’ profound relationships made real by grooming rituals, and the animals’ calm as they seek, in warm spring waters, a respite from the snow and ice.”

“So, sure, who can resist red pandas cavorting in the snow? But if it’s winter Zen we need, it’s the Japanese snow monkeys from whom we may take our cue.”

“Barbara J. King, an anthropology professor at the College of William and Mary, often writes about human evolution, primate behavior, and the cognition and emotion of animals. Barbara’s most recent book on animals was released in paperback in April. You can keep up with what she is thinking on Twitter: @bjkingape.”

Death by SUGAR! (parenthetically speaking)

“What happens if you need to catch your own dinner, but you’re just not fast enough? (send out for pizza delivery . . . ) If you’re a slow-moving cone snail with a yen for sushi, you drug a bunch of fish.”

“The tropical sluggard kills by overdosing fish with a toxic cloud containing insulin, (the last toxic cloud of insulin I overdosed on was  Ben & Jerry’s Totally Toxic Delight – a blend of the finest refined sugar and high fat cream) . . .  Plummeting blood sugar levels throw the victims into a stupor.” (I know that feeling)

Cone Snail

Cone Snail (resembles Carmel Delight) Photo by Design Pics Inc.

“Cone snails are notorious for stinging scuba divers tempted to pick up their beautiful shells. But the geographic cone snail —the most venomous cone snail of all, with several human deaths under its belt (which is a variation of Ben & Jerry’s taking credit for expanding belts)—takes its practice of poisoning to a whole new level.”

Once the fish are in a sugar coma, the cone snail reaches out with what’s called a false mouth—it looks like it’s throwing a cape over its prey—and drags a stupefied animal into its mouth. The snail then stings the fish with another set of toxins, just to make sure its victim is completely paralyzed.”

Want to watch?  Click her for a sped-up video: Toxic Snail Puts Fish in a Sugar Coma, Then Eats Them.

(I do not currently have a sped-up video of me eating Ben & Jerry’s)

“Other compounds in cone snail venom produce similar results, says Helen Safavi-Hemami, who studies the toxins at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Victims become dazed and confused, leading researchers to call this group of toxins, including the insulin, the nirvana cabal.” (Ahhhhh, sugar NIRVANA, I know it well)

“But no other animal that researchers know of—except perhaps people (Jane J. Lee’s words, not mine)—uses insulin to kill like this, lead study author Safavi-Hemami says. A sensational case in the early 1980s involved a husband accused of trying to kill his very rich wife using insulin injections.” (It would have been less suspicious if he had taken her to an all-you-can-eat ice cream parlor)

“How brilliant is this,” says Meyer, who has observed a close cousin of the geographic cone snail—named Conus tulipa—hunting and killing fish in the same way in Guam. The fish almost look like they’re passed out drunk, he says, and now we know why.” Article by Jane J. LeeNational Geographic 

Me, slipping into a coma of  toxic delight

Me, looking like a fish almost passed out drunk.

 

What a Wonderful World – SPECTACULAR!

Ya gotta watch!  National Geographic Wild HD (Living Music Action)

Thank you so much Rosemary – Seeking Equilibrium Blog – for sending this!

One night, One photograph, All One

John Stanmeyer, Photographer

John Stanmeyer, Photographer

“The photograph “Signal” was taken along the shores of the Red Sea on an evening of a full moon in Djibouti City, Djibouti. I was there on assignment photographing the story “Out of Eden”, a project with National Geographic explorer Paul Salopek related to our collective human migration out of Africa that began some 60,000 years ago.”

“I’ve been asked often over the past few days what this photograph means to me. Very simple — it felt as if I was photographing all of us — you, me, our brothers and sisters — all desperately trying to connect to our loved ones.”

“In this tenuous period of human migration where despair and hope simultaneously intertwine, we seek to find comfort, a sense of balance, a desire to be home, reconnecting to something stable, reassuring. This photograph of Somalis trying to “catch” a signal is an image of all of us as we stand at the crossroads of humanity, where we must ask ourselves what is truly important, demanding our collective attention in a global society where the issues of migration, borders, war, poverty, technology and communication intersect.”

John Stanmeyer, Photographer

Click here to read the full article and what is taking place in this photograph.

Thanks Rick for sending this link.

Warning: “You’ll cry in a good way”

Elephant & Ant

Slowly, slowly I’ve been working on Ramesh Sood’s haiku tale of the love story between Elephant & Ant. I love elephants.

When I saw the story of Shirley and Jenny  on Sunshine and Chaos Maureen Ryan’s excellent blog I cried, just as Maureen had predicted “. . . in a good way”.

When you look at this remarkable film  you’ll love elephants too.

Argo Films  won 2 Emmys for the documentary The Urban Elephant. It was produced for Pbs and National Geographic.

XXXXXX to you Maureen Sunshine and Chaos