July 3, 2017

A nightingale - star of the final chapter

Strictly for the Birds (book review)

Birds are the constant companions to an off-grid life. Alone, in pairs, or most mesmerizingly in flocks, birds are a distraction for the eye, they are food, and they are a soundtrack for humans in the wild.

But it in the UK,people who go out in search of birds are called Twitchers, and they form a network – tipping each other off whenever there is a rare sighting. Recently on the Sussex Coast, a boatload of illegals from Iran landed silently in the early morning on a little known beach. Their plan would have worked brilliantly on any other morning, but unfortunately for them word of a Golden Eagle had gotten around, and as they strolled onto the beach, there facing them was a 40 yard line of camo-clad birdwatchers, monoculars and cameras at the ready – its hard to know which side was more disappointed.

A new collection of poems and aphorisms about the avian world, Buy it on Amazon – As Kingfishers Catch Fire, captivates through the diversity and the sheer love that some of us humans have for our feathered friends. “This book came to me in a cabin in the woods…near Athens, Georgia,” says author Alex Preston, as he introduces a chapter on the Nightingale.

The Robin redbreast is at once the humblest and most loved of common songbirds. Preston says English Essayist William Hazlitt valued the Robin more than a friend or a lover: “Give me the robin redbreast pecking the crumbs at the door, or warbling on the leafless spray, the same glancing form that has followed me wherever I have been….”

But this is no literary history. Preston gives us an intensely personal account of his reaction to the appearance of birds in literature. We learn that a Robin was living in a shed when he bought his bleak new house in South Eastern England. His son nicknamed the bird Mr Bulldozer.

The Dove is introduced via the diagnosis of Preston’s father with cancer. A pair of doves bookend his memory of caring for the old man: “We spoke about the doves, about poetry, to avoid speaking of other things, or rather as a way of speaking about them….”

The relation between doves and death is continued in TS Eliot’s in the Four Quartets:

“After the dark dove with the flickering tongue
Has passed below the horizon of his homing
While the dead leaves still rattled on like tin
Over the ashphalt where no other sound was….

Other chapters take in the Gull, the Nightjar, Kestrel, Peacock , Crow and many more. The Nightingale is saved for the final chapter. It’s a bird that to this writer signifies walking home through City squares after a late party. For Preston it’s a song heard from the bedroom that inspired him to what Wallace Stevens called “the yellow moon of words about the …

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Luxurious cabins threatens the environment

Remote Cabins Threaten Norwegian Wildlife

Norwegians love to unplug once in a while — disappear from civilisation into their remote cabins. Being in contact with the nature is one of the most valued factors for people with cabins. They enjoy the cumbersome, rural life without any power, water or toilets. Or so they claim. In the last years cabins have gotten bigger and with more facilities, and it is starting to affect the environment and the wildlife in the Norwegian forest.

Cabins a disturbing factor
According to the Institute of Natural Research (NINA) report on “Conflicts and Sustainability around Second Home Development”, the mountain huts can give an unnatural high access to food to small game such as red foxes. This gives red foxes access to bigger areas which threatens different species, like the arctic fox.

Much of the cabin construction takes place in areas that are particularly important for wildlife such as migratory roads, winter habitats or calving areas. These are areas where the animals are particularly vulnerable, according to forskning.no.

The research shows that development interferes more than previously thought. For example reindeers are located kilometers away from their permanent infrastructure. This means that large mountain areas in practice are not available as habitats anymore. When removing cabins and trails, the reindeer seems to quickly reuse the areas, says Senior Researcher Bjørn Kaltenbor who conducted the interdisciplinary project.

Not enough focus on environmental awareness

The degree of environmental awareness people have for their cabin life is not particularly high. On the other hand, the attitudes towards new developers are overall negative.

Kalterborn told forskning.no: ”The vast majority of cottage owners are negative towards major future changes in the cottage areas, such as infrastructure development and depreciation”.

Cabins are today one of the largest economic sectors in the rural municipalities in Norway. In many of the municipalities, construction is considered a rescue plan in relation to failing agriculture and relocation. Unfortunately, according to Kalterborn´s research, the majority of the municipalities in the Southern Norway region have insufficient capacity and lack of competence and overview to keep up with developments in the sector.

“This can create major conflicts for the government in the future if they have to return lost habitat for important species such as wild boar”, Kalternborn warns.

Want to capture wild animals on camera? See: Trail Cameras for hunters or animal lovers.

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Cooking with the sun

There are several different ways to use the sun in cooking, aka solar cooking or solar ovens. If you live in a sunny place, the desert, anyplace with unobstructed sunshine, you can use a solar oven to cook most meals.

There are parabolic cookers, these are like using a hot grill, you pretty much have to be right on top of it all the time to cook with these.

There are panel cookers, these use a silver (usually mylar) foil covered cardboard, the DIY ones are often made from a window shade made for vehicles. The nice thing about these are they are very portable, light and easy to set up. The bad thing about them is they don’t reach and maintain a very high temperature, and being light weight, they can blow away in wind.

The third major kind are box cookers, these work just like a small oven, they can be made of a cardboard box, or for a more permanent solution, made of wood or plastic. It is essentially an insulated box with a glass top and to make them work even better, reflectors are added to the top. This is the kind I like best.

I have scoured YouTube in search of the best build, I see many mistakes being made, mainly in the materials used in building them, you don’t want to use anything that will off gas or become toxic when it becomes hot, using styrofoam, some types of glue, some kinds of wood even will out gas toxic fumes when heated, I cringe when I see these being used.

I found one video that really jumped out at me, though I’m sure there are many more, I liked this one. The first video shows how it’s built, I will admit that my ADD struck and I had to move the video along a bit, but the build is solid. The second video shows a whole chicken being cooked in this solar oven. Enjoy!



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