And along came spring.
Like myself, the Kalij Pheasant is not endemic. The species was first introduced to Hawaii in 1962 for hunting purposes at the Pu’u Wa’awa’a Ranch. Native to the Himalayas, studies have noted that the birds occur in pairs of a single male and a single female, leading to the conclusion they live a monogamous lifestyle. But in Hawaii, and certainly in our backyard, researchers have observed that they live a more gregarious lifestyle with family units consisting of just one female and between one and six males along with their offspring.
As near as I can tell, we have several family units patrolling our kingdom. They are highly entertaining, verbose and for the most part unimpressed with your presence. In the spring, like right now, almost on a daily basis you can find two or three males in the middle of a dust-up with a single female on the sidelines looking on.
“Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame…” – Jimmy Buffet, Margaritaville
“Humans are the most advanced of mammals – although a case could be made for the dolphins – because they seldom grow up.” – Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker.
We have a wonderful cluster of Giant Birds of Paradise in our back yard which I can see from our office. The planting is a real stunner that I have admired every day for the last ten years. It is also a happy haven for Japanese White-eyes, Yellow Billed Cardinals, Kalij Pheasants, an occasional turkey or two, Geckos, Anoles and lots and lots of bugs.
A few days ago, I “saw” it, for the first time as a candidate for an abstract. I love it when these little vignettes pop into my head.
During my time in Hawaii, I’ve visited both the Volcano’s National Park on the Big Island and the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum on Oahu. During each visit, I’ve marveled at the paintings by Jules Tavernier and D. Howard Hitchcock. Both of these men were at the Volcano School in the late 1800s.
Wikipedia notes that Tavernier “was fascinated by Hawaii’s erupting volcanoes—a subject that was to pre-occupy him for the rest of his life, which was spent in Hawaii.” During this time, the trip to Kilauea was a grueling one-to-two day adventure on horseback. I can only imagine the journey.
In writing of Tavernier’s “House of Everlasting Fire”, The Hawaiian Gazette wrote, “Words fail to depict the awe-inspiring grandeur and weirdness which combine to strike the beholder with a conviction of the genius which can so truthfully portray the wondrous lineaments of the ever restless lake of fire, the dark and grim surroundings of the famed abode of that dread goddess whose fretful moods are voiced by loud explosions, fiery tongue and trembling’s of the earth.”
Hitchcock, was a graduate of Punahou School on Oahu and a student of Tavernier at the Volcano School and like Tavernier explored and painted “old” Hawaii, in all its glory.
And so, with both Tavernier and Hitchcock in mind, I took at spin at a digital rendering of an extremely rare, incredible, perhaps never seen before, fire hose of lava streaming into the ocean from the cliffs of Kilauea.
Every wonder what Van Gogh might have painted if he had a nice telescope? And why does the Sombrero Galaxy look like a hat? Reasons include the Sombrero’s unusually large and extended central bulge of stars, and dark prominent dust lanes that appear in a disk that we see nearly edge-on. Billions of old stars cause the diffuse glow of the extended central bulge. Close inspection of the bulge in the above photograph shows many points of light that are actually globular clusters. The spectacular dust rings harbor many younger and brighter stars, and show intricate details astronomers don’t yet fully understand. The very center of the Sombrero is thought to house a large black hole. Fifty million-year-old light from the Sombrero Galaxy can be seen with a small telescope towards the constellation of Virgo.
Base Image and description Credit: NASA/Hubble Heritage Team
Ironically, perhaps, on the same day NASA announced the exceptionally exciting discovery of seven Earth-size plants around a nearby star, one of my Kai ‘Opua Outrigger Canoe Club brothers ask me to apply my impressionist vision to one of the Hubble Telescope images he found on the Hubble website. As luck would have it, I learned that the Hubble images are in the public domain. However, any derivative images such my abstract rendering, if the nebula wasn’t already abstract enough, provide appropriate acknowledgement to NASA and STScl (Space Telescope Science Institute). How wonderful! So be it!
The image I selected was a region of the Carina Nebula. By definition, a nebula is a cloud of gas and dust in space. Some nebulae (more than one nebula) are regions where new stars are being formed, while others are the remains of dead or dying stars. The Carina Nebula contains at least a dozen brilliant start that are 50 to 100 times the mass of our sun.
As I think about this, I also think of Tom Robbins who wrote in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues “Perhaps everything was connected to everything, in a discernible if nebulous way, and if one might only trace the fibers and filaments of those connections, one might… One might what? Observe the Grand Design? Untangle all the puppet strings and discover whose hands (or claws) are pulling them. End the ancient search for order and meaning of the universe?”
What is the meaning of the universe?
There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted. – Henry Matisse
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