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TWO TREES

This short story/history lesson relates to Bruny Island, located off the south eastern coast of Tasmania. This island is now a favourite tourist destination because of its unique natural beauty as well as being known for it’s diverse range of fresh food from both land and sea.

This story is significant, compelling and symbolic.

There is nothing significant about these two gum trees, except they witnessed the arrival of white men on this land. They did not protest but stored what they saw within their wood and it would still remain hidden today except for a painting of the trees made by a white man, one of the first white men to tread this land, the leading artist from H.M.S. Providence under the command of Captain Bligh which anchored off this point in 1792.

I have copied the script accompanying a photograph of the original painting so that it would be easier to read and give some authenticity to my story.

These trees were not standing tall, they were not significant in their beauty. What is significant is the history that these two trees have witnessed in the past, what they have endured through storm and tempest over the years, standing proud on a windswept coast, a witness to a significant period of Tasmania’s history. I thought at the time “if only we could tap this source of knowledge, how richer we would be”. I also found the experience of photographing the above scene profoundly emotional knowing that it had been painted over two hundred years ago and had changed little in that time, almost as if time had stood still.

The above scene is a photograph of the source of fresh water known as the “watering place” marked on the charts of Captain Tobias Furneaux,( Adventure 1773) and again on Captain James Cook’s charts (Resolution, 1777). It was also referred to as Resolution creek and Resolution River at different times.

At the beginning of this post I stated ” The story is significant, compelling and symbolic.” Readers will put their own interpretation on this statement, but to me it is significant, as it was the first time that white man had put foot on this island. The story may not be compelling to all readers but to those with an appetite for history it probably would be. It is a symbol of man’s need to discover new places, new species, in fact, anything new.

This is just another view of the same beach and shows just how clean and clear the water is, much the same as it was all those years ago.

If you ever get the opportunity to visit Bruny Island, take it, you won’t regret it.

Jimmy Bee

Featured

THE OWL CRITIC

By James Thomas Fields.

“Courtesy gives it’s owner a passport round the world. It transmutes aliens into trusting friends…..James Thomas Fields.

My sincere thanks to Keven Mueller and Unsplash for this photograph

“Who stuffed that white owl?

No one spoke in the shop,
The barber was busy, and he couldn’t stop;
The customers, waiting their turns, were all reading
The “Daily,” the “Herald,” the “Post,” little heeding
The young man who blurted out such a blunt question;
Not one raised a head, or even made a suggestion;
And the barber kept on shaving.

“Don’t you see, Mr. Brown,”
Cried the youth, with a frown,
“How wrong the whole thing is,
How preposterous each wing is,
How flattened the head is, how jammed down the neck is —
In short, the whole owl, what an ignorant wreck ‘t is!
I make no apology;
I’ve learned owl-eology.

I’ve passed days and nights in a hundred collections,
And cannot be blinded to any deflections
Arising from unskilful fingers that fail
To stuff a bird right, from his beak to his tail.
Mister Brown! Mr. Brown!
Do take that bird down,
Or you’ll soon be the laughingstock all over town!”
And the barber kept on shaving.

“I’ve studied owls,
And other night-fowls,
And I tell you
What I know to be true;
An owl cannot roost
With his limbs so unloosed;
No owl in this world
Ever had his claws curled,
Ever had his legs slanted,
Ever had his bill canted,
Ever had his neck screwed
Into that attitude.
He cant do it, because
‘Tis against all bird-laws.

Anatomy teaches,
Ornithology preaches,
An owl has a toe
That can’t turn out so!
I’ve made the white owl my study for years,
And to see such a job almost moves me to tears!
Mr. Brown, I’m amazed
You should be so gone crazed
As to put up a bird
In that posture absurd!
To look at that owl really brings on a dizziness;
The man who stuffed him don’t half know his business!”
And the barber kept shaving.

“Examine those eyes
I’m filled with surprise
Taxidermists should pass
Off on you such poor glass;
So unnatural they seem
They’d make Audubon scream,
And John Burroughs laugh
To encounter such chaff.
Do take that bird down;
Have him stuffed again, Brown!”
And the barber kept on shaving!

“With some sawdust and bark
I could stuff in the dark
An owl better than that.
I could make an old hat
Look more like an owl
Than that horrid fowl,
Stuck up there so stiff like a side of coarse leather.
In fact, about him there’s not one natural feather.”

Just then, with a wink and a sly normal lurch,
The owl, very gravely, got down from his perch,
Walked around, and regarded his fault-finding critic
(Who thought he was stuffed) with a glance analytic,
And then fairly hooted, as if he should say:
“Your learning’s at fault this time, anyway:
Don’t waste it again on a live bird, I pray.
I’m an owl; you’re another. Sir Critic, good day!”
And the barber kept on shaving.

_________________________________

James Thomas Fields was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. His father was a sea captain and died before Fields was three. At the age of 14, Fields took a job at the Old Corner Bookstore in Boston. Afterwards, he wrote for the newspapers, and in 1835, he read an anniversary poem entitled Commerce before the Boston Mercantile Library Association.

Fields wrote the following poems: The Lucky Horseshoe; The Lover’s Peril; Patient Mercy Jones; The Captain’s Daughter; Common Sense; With Wordsworth at Rydal.

As with the first poem posted, I was brought up with this poem, only this time it was recited by my father.

Fair weather to all,

Jimmy Bee