Archive for the ‘lessons from nature’ Category

Monster Snapping Turtle Caught in Oklahoma

May 14, 2014


EDMOND—Dave Harrell of Edmond, Oklahoma caught an alligator snapping turtle in Lake Eufaula on Sunday that looks like the guy you have to defeat before advancing to the next level of Super Mario Brothers.

Harrell says he was fishing for catfish when he snagged the prehistoric-looking creature. It is believed to weigh over 100 pounds. Harrell and his companion, Audey Clark, snapped some photos of it and then let him go.

For more information, read this, and happy swimming this summer.



Murmuration of Starlings

November 10, 2011

A group of starlings is called a murmuration. This video captures a rare, chance encounter and shared moment with one of nature’s most beautiful and most fleeting phenomena.

The clip is not mine, but it was too powerful for me not to share:

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive via Vimeo.

I have many original posts in the works, but I’ve been too busy with work, the wedding, etc. to devote the requisite time to them. Check back often!

Even to Even

September 25, 2011

Psalm 55:17 and several other passages show that God created time so that a new day begins at sunset. I recently noticed a powerful analogy about the life-cycle of men and women that is laced into that evening-to-day pattern that I’d love to get your thoughts about.

If you drew a picture of the day linearly, from beginning to end –from sunset to sunset– its light might look something like this:

(a.)  (b.)                                                                         (c.)

Monica made this for me. As an artist, she's well acquainted with Roy G. Biv.

Let’s go through the three sections briefly.

Section a.

The official beginning of the day is the very moment that the last sliver of the sun slips below the horizon.

Like a wedding reception that the radiant bride recently left, the glow remains, but is fading fast.

I remember from the hunter’s safety class I took as a boy that, in North Carolina, it is legal to shoot at a deer up to 30 minutes after sunset. That’s because enough light remains to allow the hunter to see the target clearly, to make sure it’s not one of his hunting buddies wearing a double-beer hat, and to allow him take a confident shot.

It ain't quite huntin' without my beer hat.

But it is against the law to shoot at an animal 31 or more minutes after sunset, because there is not enough light left to take a confident shot. Which brings us to…

Section b.

Within an hour of sunset, all the light has vanished. It is dark, and we sleep (or stay up watching old episodes of Gilligan’s Island on Hulu maybe).

Section c.

The sun rises, we wake up, and let our diurnal eyeballs lead us through our various daytime activities. This is the real substance of the day when we have the light to accomplish our work, play, and other objectives.

The Analogy

The first section is our physio-chemical existence, the life we are now living. It is the 3 score and 10 years each of us is given.

The biblical writer James called this physical life a vanishing vapor. The Apostle Peter called it withering grass. Ezra called it a shadow. King David called it a flower of the field that is gone after the wind passes over it. CAKE said as soon as you’re born, you start dying.

We live out our short lives, and then die.

Death is represented by section b. The sun is down, and we “sleep”.

But then comes section C.

At the end of this age of man, everyone who has ever lived and died will be resurrected. The overwhelming majority will then begin real life that lasts forever.

The analogy breaks down at the very end of the spectrum — because, well, because the day ends. But the sun will never set on us again once our real lives begin, and the light will never fade. The life we are now live is just a blip on the radar. It is the 30 minutes when you can still shoot at a deer. It’s the prologue — just before chapter one of our never-ending book begins.


“As a well spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.”
― Leonardo da Vinci


A Time to Cast Away Stones thanks Monica Antonio for creating the sunlight graphic above.

Behind Your Quiet Eyes

August 1, 2011

“The mind is like an iceberg; it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water.”  ~Sigmund Freud

Last April, a 13-year old Croatian girl baffled her doctors and parents when she emerged from a 24-hour coma no longer able to speak Croatian, but suddenly fluent in German.

Sandra Ralic’s parents said their daughter had only just begun to study the German language at school and that she’d never developed the skill to a level even approaching fluency. Her parents had to hire a translator to communicate with Sandra.

It’s easy enough to understand how trauma could damage the place in Sandra’s brain that stored her Croatian language skills, but how is it that she was suddenly able to communicate in near perfect German, vastly superior to the mastery of the language she had before she slipped into the coma?

One facet of the answer is television.

News sources said that before Sandra’s coma, she occasionally watched German TV shows to supplement her classroom study of the language. On a conscious level, this is the linguistic equivalent of tackling Albeniz’s “Asturias” the first week you start taking classical guitar lessons…

Beginning around 0:40, he strums robust chords with his pinky (or annular?) while his other fingers on the same hand frantically pluck. It’s literally breathtaking.

But for Sandra’s subconscious, watching TV in German was far from fruitless.

Rare cases like Sandra’s reveal that our brains have a staggering capacity to absorb information. Every word we’ve ever read is likely stored there. Every syllable we’ve ever heard or uttered is on file behind our quiet eyes.

Situations like Sandra’s reveal that our brains know how to compartmentalize, frame, and categorize any information our five senses perceive.  For whatever reason, we are not presently able to access most of these massive storehouses of information. Like Freud said, the mind is like an iceberg with only “one seventh of its bulk above water”.  The rest, we are not able to tap into right now.

But I believe that a time is on the horizon for each of us, when our real lives will begin, and we’ll be handed the keys to unlock those doors and sail through the oceans of knowledge behind them. So we should educate ourselves carefully, read voraciously, and keep from succumbing to frustration about our presently unreliable memories.

All that you touch
All that you see
All that you taste
All you feel.
All that you love
All that you hate
All you distrust
All you save.
All that you give
All that you deal
All that you buy,
beg, borrow or steal.
All you create
All you destroy
All that you do
All that you say.
All that you eat
And everyone you meet
All that you slight
And everyone you fight.
All that is now
All that is gone
All that’s to come
and everything under the sun is in tune
but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

–“Eclipse” by Roger Waters

Just Like Water

July 28, 2011

We should learn to be just like water. Here is why:

Imagine the sun beating down on a picturesque Caribbean beach during the heat of a summer day. If your schedule doesn’t allow for such foolishness, you can just look at this picture:

Water, sand, and sky


With indiscriminate generosity, the sun pours out its heat onto (a) the beach, (b) the ocean, and (c) the atmosphere. The temperature of the sandy beach rises steadily with every minute of exposure to the sunshine. The air’s temperature increases even more drastically as the solar radiation assails it.

But what about the water? How does the serene, blue ocean react?

Water is known for its exceptionally high specific heat capacity, which gives it the ability  to absorb and release heat with comparatively slight changes in temperature. In response to the sun’s heat, the temperature of the water warms up by only a few degrees –far less than that of the land or the air.

Now, imagine that the sun has set. The busy among you, can just take a look at this to save time:

"La Plage Après le Coucher du Soleil" (by j.s. jacques, copyright 2011) All Rights Reserved!

After the sun sets, the land surrenders its heat to the atmosphere rapidly, and the air temperature plummets even faster.

But the water cools down only by a few degrees.

Water has a higher specific heat than any other common substance which makes its temperature fluctuate much less than that of land or air. Oceans and other bodies of water are essential for sustaining life on earth because their heat capacity helps to reduce drastic fluctuations of temperature. Without water, air temperatures all over the planet would also rise and fall much more drastically making conditions for many animals and plants unsuitable.


The Apostle Paul said that people should cultivate and embody the trait of temperance if they are striving to live godly lives.

A temperate person, rather than allowing himself to be brought to a boil by circumstances around him, stays pretty steady. He doesn’t let environmental factors in his life reduce him to depression, any more than the ocean allows the absence of sunshine to drain its heat during the night.

A temperate man isn’t oblivious to his circumstances, but neither is he a slave to them. He knows there’s a time to mourn, and a time to dance– even a time to cast away stones. But, just as the water can absorb large amounts of sunshine before it begins to really heat up, a  temperate man or woman can withstand stressful circumstances before his or her state of mind is swayed by it. Such a person can also endure a long and sunless night without losing the joy accumulated during brighter times.

Many people seek to build homes and live near oceans, lakes, and rivers because the water moderates the local climate. Likewise, many will be drawn to the stability of a temperate person. They will see him or her as a peacemaker, and seek the person’s company.

When it comes to our response to the circumstances of our lives, we should be temperate, just like water.


“Here lies one whose name was writ in water.” ~John Keats