Thursday, March 28, 2013

Survival of the fittest and skin cancer

However much we dislike the concept of the survival of the fittest, it is a reality. Charles Darwin  knew it: we know it.

On the seashore, this truth is shown time and time again. Marrum grasses struggle to colonise the sand closest to the shore. Some runners survive the salty spray, while others shrivel up and die. 

Recently, while exploring the seashore, I found a piece of pig face creeper that had broken free from its parent plant and established itself in a crack of rock, close to the pounding of waves. I discovered roots so it looks as if the plant will survive. 

On the other hand, a penguin found dead on the sand has become food for sea birds. A mangrove seedling, washed ashore, will try to establish itself. But mangroves never survive on this part of Phillip Island. The skeleton of a seal pup -- found on the sand -- reminds me of the breeding colony on the northern tip of the island.
In the photo you can recognise the flipper and the general shape of the seal pup.

Meanwhile I'm recovering from surgery on my eyelid (removal of a skin cancer), and also on my back. Unfortunately, the back lesion proved to be a melanoma. I'm going public over this in the hope that it will encourage other people to have their skin regularly checked by a Dr with expertise in the recognition of skin cancers. Also, that it will encourage people to protect their skin from sun damage.

It is now three days since surgery and my eye is still black, bruised and taped half shut – not a pretty sight!  Likewise my back is painful every time I move. However, I am a survivor and I will recover and be back to my normal activities of writing and and watercolour painting -- very soon.

Thank you to all my friends for your good wishes.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A goldmine of flotsam

After a prolonged spell of unusually hot weather, Phillip Island has turned on a savage cold front with gale force winds and a huge sea.

Consequently, the flotsam along the seashore is rich and varied. Sponges of all shapes, colors and sizes; sea urchins; cuttlefish; crab shells; sea squirts; abalone shells; driftwood, silver with age; and mountains of sea grass.

One of my greatest pleasures is to explore the seashore after heavy seas, and share this pleasure with you.  It truly is a gold mine of interest.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lonesome George, hippeastums and a car ferry

Along with botanical art, I've plunged myself back into book research. This time it's Lonesome George, the 100-year-old Galapagos Island tortoise that was the last of his kind. It seems that I just needed something truly challenging and inspirational to get me writing again!

Over the past week we've bought 12 hippeastrum bulbs -- mostly via eBay. Unpacking these precious parcels – delivered by Australia Post – has given me a thrill of expectation. Each bulb contains a unique germ of life; a genetic blueprint that has the potential to create flowers of great beauty; living things that inspire feelings of intense pleasure and awe.

A long day trip to Melbourne and then Geelong, on Thursday, combined a medical appointment with a pleasant sharing of time with my brother and his wife, as well as my 94-year-old mother. On our return journey, the car ferry that crosses Port Phillip Bay between Queenscliff and Sorrento, enabled us to avoid driving (for a second time) through Melbourne -- in peak hour traffic.

It always gives me a thrill to go on an overseas boat trip. With blue skies and yachts at anchor on a  sparkling bay, it's easy to feel that all's right with the world -- even when it isn't.

I couldn't resist including photos of Major: retrieving sticks, gazing into the sunset and playing with Doug and Del.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dream catcher and sea tulip

Every now and then I receive a gift that touches my heart.  So it was with the dream catcher, a gift from my close friend, Val.

The traditional dream catcher is made of wood, hide, animal gut, bird feathers and other natural items. Hung above a sleeping human, it's believed to have the power to catch all dreams, trapping the bad and releasing them into the universe with the first light of day; allowing good dreams to flow down the feathers to the sleeper below.

To activate my dream catcher, I placed a feather on the web -- one that I found yesterday, on the beach. Then I left my dream catcher out in the moonlight.  Tonight it will be ready to work its magic!

Yesterday, a sea tulip caught my attention, washed up in flotsam.  A sea tulip is not a plant; it's an animal closely related to a sea squirt and quite complex in spite of its fairly simple appearance. A sea tulip lives at the end of a stalk, attached to rocks just below low tide level. 

To the left of the photo of the dream catcher is a photo of my Great Dane, Gem. She was one of the most wonderful dogs I've ever had the privilege of sharing my life with. Tragically she died of canine bloat, aged only five years.