Well, Rockwatching has been up and running for a number of years now (5 to be exact) and I believe it has contributed significantly to the interest of people like myself who like caving, rocks, the outdoors, gems and minerals in Ontario.
We are just a few short days from 2011 and I believe it’s high time we made some resolutions -all of us (you my loyal fellow bloggers as well).
So in the interests of all involved a few ground rules to follow on Rockwatching from now on
1) Lets not carry a personal vendetta onto this site which is meant to be a forum where like minded enthusiasts can interact in a positive way.
2) Lets respect each other and try not to get personal when we are frustrated.
3) Lets respect the basics of conservation and eco-minded thought.
4) Lets not assume stuff we don’t know for sure (hence the survey at the bottom of the post).
5) Lets keep in mind that this is all about enjoyment.
6) Lets keep in mind that just because the topic is on the table, every single aspect that pertains to it is not an open book.
7) Lets respect people who are not on the site, private property, reputations etc. Just because there is discussion of a site or feature does not mean permission has been granted to go there.
8) Lets not get petty, self righteous or important. Stop correcting my grammar, spelling or use of terms. I am a writer at heart and so I believe I can use the language as I please (providing it’s in good taste, or if I choose, not in good taste).
9) Lets not waste my time by having to re-direct you to one of the above rules.
Before dinner we went on a tour of Mario’s farm – he had an alligator on a chain that he goaded for our entertainment. It lived in a scum covered cement pool behind the shed where he kept his Lada. I wondered if I could keep a pet like that, but come to think of it, we have some kind of exotic pet law back in Guelph.
Here is a little bit of how the article had initially appeared (though in “Beyond the Playa”, the editor had coaxed it into something more about the dinner than the crocodile) …
““My he looks like a nasty fellow” I commented to my host. The creature eyed me coldly. “How long have you had him?” “9 years” “ And I suppose you are going to take his belly skin? Use it for handbags? Gangster shoes?” “Si, my pet, I feed”. Still no reaction from the beast, it seemed indifferent to its fate. I doubt that it understood me, but then again, neither did my host.
Life never fails to amaze, I wondered at the bond that must have developed over those 9 years. Master gazing fondly over his ill-tempered charge; a rusty chain fastened around its armoured neck. Reaching over in provocation the farmer yanked it’s tether and the beast went absolutely beserk, snapping and thrashing it let loose a fetid hiss from its gaping mouth. Whereas a dog bites at 300 pounds per inch this killer pulverizes bone at a crushing 5000 pounds pressure.
I wondered what it was that had bought me here. My resort offered a perfectly suitable meal – rice and beans – typical Cuban fare, and chicken or some kind of fish. “What kind of fish?” I would ask. “Cuban fish” they would invariably reply.
Well here I was in the banana grove of a farm near Varedero; overlooked by the various creatures who lived there, my host’s Cocker Spaniel, Hootie, the hootia and of course the angry beast. “Nombre?” I asked my beaming host. “Crocodillo” he told me. The “Tinyosa” – great flapping black vultures watched from a tree nearby. I am sure they hoped that I might get to close.”
As for the piggies in the picture, sweet and snuffling as they were, I believe we derived a significant amount of guilt. I hadn’t realized that one of their brethren would serve as dinner until a part of him/her appeared with our meal. I believe we would have paid for his freedom if we’d realized the consequence of our visit, but then again, a wild pig soon grows ferule and even uglier, so freedom for these creatures might be good in theory, but in practicality Mario’s family would go hungry and so would we – “Circle of Life”.
A mother and baby howler monkey in what we came to refer to as “the monkey tree”.
One really hot day when Maggie only wanted to relax on the beach I ventured further inland up a dusty road. I reached this tree that must have had about 30 howlers in it. I think it may have been a guanacaste tree that has been enveloped by a strangler fig.
The monkeys just watched me until I got really close and then the males started barking. It was insane. Every monkey within several kilometers took up the cry, you could hear them everywhere. Its quite intimidating.
There we go – “Bad Old Chester”. Chester – the new “Rockhound”.
Sadly Shaka passed away in October. He had a tumor on his spleen – virtually unsaveable as the ensuing operation revealed. You may remember him from the post “Cave Police” (July 2006) and also “Bubbles at the Bear Lake Apatite Mine”(July 2006). Of course you can never replace so loved a member of your family but you can move on. I went through a slump that lasted several months during which time I found it hard to write or enjoy anything for that matter, but Maggie and I finally decided to get another golden. Chester came from a Mennonite farm up near Palmerston – his father an absolutely beautiful creature – pure white and of amazing temperament.
Chester has one white claw and it is this – according to Maggie – that makes him evil. I say it is his blue eye – the evil eye – try sleeping when he wants to play – you will understand the true meaning of evil. Joshua, my son also appears with Chester. Some suggest that it was from Joshua that the dog got his wicked nature.
The bats cluster here under a shaded tree trunk along the edge of the Tempisque River. They arrange themselves in this linear formation to emulate a serpent. When one moves they all move, it gives the impression of a wriggling line – something like a snake on the tree trunk. This fools would-be predators.
Check these guys out, there were several clusters of these furry little agglomerations hanging from the roof. Some had fluffy white bellies. I find them quite endearing and have a bat house in my garden.
Shaka, (my dog) does his best to ignore the kitten. It is puzzled by this fluffy giant and does its best to make friends. Shaka is old and wise and has encountered other felines of this size. He knows they have sharp claws and he just hopes that if he ignores this one it will tire and go away.
Following the release some time ago of my book "Rockwatching; Adventures above and below Ontario", I am pleased to announce the release of my new book "Tamarindo; Crooked Times in Costa Rica". It is a story of opportunity. Edgehill Press is the publisher. (www.edgehillpress.com)