2,000 Poles Walk into a Bar

Okay, kids, let’s talk ’bout that Krakow, aka Cracow, which is wierd if you know that ‘C’s in Polish are pronounced like ‘ts’ in English. So this city has two vastly different names. Cracow is prefered by graffiti artists, which caused me to think for a sec that it was an alternate, Anglicized spelling used by the youth to distinguish them from the ugly old. Turns out it’s just the spelling used by the soccer team o’ the city. Ugh.Someday, mon kinder, I’ll teach you why soccer sucks so bad, but that’s beside the point just right now, so back to Krakow:Come in Nov 1, the Catholic’s All Saints’ Day, which, since almost all Poles is Catholic (ever since, oh, 1943 or so) is a national holiday. Cemetaries are replete all the way with candles, and fairly glow, and are stuffed long after dark (sunset: 4:13 pm) with people who’ve obviously never heard of Zombies or Halloween. They don’t have Halloween here.Let me explain.All Saints’ or, The Day o’ the Dead is the Catholic interpolation on the Pagan end of the year, when cold made the world die, especially in Ireland, and all the ancient dead were allowed to walk the quick earth with impunity. When Christianity came to these vile bastards, it was infinitely easier to give new names to the the things they did than try to change them (see my long disertation on the Inquisition, coming soon) and so Druid New Year’s became All Hallows’ and its eve All Hallows’ Eve.More to the point, it’s not surprising that multiculti USA, Protestant, Buddhist, Muslim USA, don’t really get universally into All Saints’.It’s Halloween that’s notable. The more easily secularized elements. No shock, but let’s think for a sec, eh.
Children dress as immortal characters to intimidate the older generation into giving them free candy, an older generation to whom they are, for all intents and purposes, immortal. (I mean the old will be dead long before the young die, here) It’s a celebration of youth and instant gratification in an atmosphere of immortality. For all the invocations of cemeteries around Halloween, they remain empty, the fearful amongst us afraid of them, because the entire air of the holiday is one in which death is a nonentity, and these houses of it seem apt at any time to break into resurrected evidence that these children, and all the ones before them, will in fact never die. Not really. Not forever.
This is a contrast with the nations where All Hallows itself is celebrated, where citizens flock to cemeteries, light candles, acknowledge the dead and acknowledge that they themselves will die. They seem to adore the older generation here, not the younger. It’s a solemn day wherein our debts to those who came before are treasured, and our entrance into their realm is prepared. For all the ghoulishness of Halloween, it is the denial of death that abounds. It is the eternal present of mountains of free candy, taken with and eaten with impunity, a gift from a generation who will not live to see them die, a token of relative immortality they’ll have to pass along some day, though only in theory. For now.
Some time walking around Krakow, too, I think of this conciet: “The Atheist’s Bible” just a title. No grasp of how to present it as a fictive thing in a fictional thing. I think for a second of the Bible sans the name o’ god, and amidst this train o’ thought I imagine this verse: Thou shalt not take a name in vain, and this seems much more profound all of a sudden than simply saying “god” when you’re not praying, which is what that actually means. That you might owe something to your father and his father and the tons of other dudes who wore your name before you, this is interesting to me, when a whole country or two flocks to light candles above the scentless corpses of thier ascendents. When American kids sleep off the sleepless giddy night of a sugar high that celebrates them as the newest, the unobliged. The wearers of the masks of immortality.
I say this maybe because Krakow sort of wierd in Poland, in that there are parts of it that ain’t less than say 60 years old. Way south it dodged Nazis and Russkies both, and has an old castle that still stands, and a Jewish cemetary with no candles that takes up a few city blocks. It’s an old, history riddled city, I mean, you can see a Da Vinci and some other stuff, there’s an architecture museum here despite the fact that a real architecture museum would have to be like, a city. More interesting, I think, is the city, run down a bit and poor and full of tourists and polyglot beggars, beautiful old buildings, a refreshing dearth of post-Soviet gaudy blue-purple-orange colored apartment complexes.
It’s nice for sure.
British assholes come here to bachelor party becuase pounds v zloties is like 5-1 and it’s actually cheaper to come here and do anything than to spend a night out in Londontown. This sucks especially on national holidays when all the natives are inside contemplating death, surrending the streets to grown-men children. All trick, no treat. Trust me.
The shining fact at the end, though, really, is Krakow, heart, I think, of this most maligned of European countries, the one place where the future is brighter than the past (almost like Halloween), is ascendant, and like the zombies we all dread, that’s pretty cool.

Photoblogging: Ruru

A saluki friend in New Zealand, Graham Bond, often sends us bird of prey photos. Most recently, he captured these images of “Rurus” (Ninox novaeseelandiae, also known as “Morepork”), agile little insect- eating owls, catching moths in his porch lights.

He writes:

“These are a couple of poor quality photos that I managed to get of the Ruru. As you can see it is quite a small owl – the fence rail is 100mm deep – and large moths would provide a fair meal. However they are a true raptor as I have also seen them catch sparrows that often roost around the house and also starlings.”

He is right about the raptorial character of Ninox owls. The largest, the powerful owl of Australia, eats flying foxes and large possums. They are also called hawk owls (not to be confused with the arctic hawk owl, Surnia ulula, sole member of a single- species genus) because of “their long tail, narrow wings, and poorly developed facial disk..” (Handbook of Birds of the World).

I think they are delightful pocket raptors.

Photoblogging: Winter

It is really winter. COLD,and snow coming every few days, though not much is sticking yet at our “low” 6500 feet.

We took the hounds out running west of town where we hadn’t been in a long time. The fields hadn’t gotten much rain and were devoid of hare but we had fun anyway.

Ataika is attentive.

Larissa still sometimes needs restraint


Smiling at run’s end: Steve and Lashyn:


PS: It can be colder elsewhere:


Montana sharptail (courtesy Bruce Haak).

Photoblogging: Eagle Nest

Readers who know
Edge of the Wild
may recall the eagle essay, where I visit the nearest golden eagle eyrie, on “Mount Titty” north of town. Ataika and I went out looking for quail there the other day. No luck, but I got a couple of photos of the old nest, still active. (It is the tiny white mark halfway up the rounded mound to the right of the “nipple”).


We crossed La Jencia Creek, dry exept in summer rains, heading right in the photo, to climb onto the bench below the nest. Tazis track very straight.

Here is a closer look. Can you see the nest now, nearly dead center? When they are on eggs I won’t go any closer than this.

Frosting

A storm last Friday left us with a couple more inches of snow and some sparkling frost-covered trees.

This didn’t last too long after the sun hit it. You could see where the cottontails had been out early looking for breakfast.
Someone’s been chewing on my little aspen. I didn’t see any deer tracks around this, though there are plenty of deer around. At dawn this morning I was out with the dogs and saw five does tip-toeing through the backyard. The dogs were so intent on sniffing rabbit and mouse trails that they never saw them. The sight of this chewed tree made me look up at the mature aspens behind it, all of which bore similar scars.

Pictureblogging 2: Partnerships

Blog- friend Cat Urbigkit is a rancher, sheepherder, and dog breeder who runs stock in southwestern Wyoming and writes wonderful children’s books.

She recently told me a tale of the rivalry between a young stock- protection dog and a burro with the same job over who would control the sheep, especially five sheep the young Anatolian thought she “owned”. Look at these photos.

An earlier generation of animal behaviorists breaks everything down into simple units. The herd- protection dog thinks it’s a sheep (funny, they prefer dogs as mates); dogs’ relation to sheep is subdued prey drive. (Yes, I do mean Ray Coppinger, who pioneered well but has become dogma personified). Perhaps the donkey thinks it is an Alpha.

I am more in the Vicki Hearne mode. Dogs and other intelligent animals have honor and ideas and very individual personalities and ways. And they do love and think they own “their” sheep.

Pictureblogging 1: Dogs

Some tazi shots: Vladimir’s enormous five- month old Urtak in Virginia, closely related to ours:

And the very different year- old Russian “Semirichenski” male Timur– a bit like our Lashyn– playing with him. Good new genes.

Lash and Kyran’s gorgeous daughter Nemrah at Monica’s in the East mountains.

I hear someone offered John Burchard an almost- new Suburban for her sister Tigger. He declined of course. But it is ovious I do not know how to make a living.

Surrender Ye Swords

Last month my friend Buddy completed his master’s degree in art history, presenting a thesis on sword making and the weapon’s eventual supplanting by firearms. As these things happen now, a morning radio announcer from Ireland found Buddy’s thesis online and asked him to comment on the recent banning of samurai swords by the UK. Buddy is requested to comment on whether a sword can mean more to its owner than weaponry, or something along those lines. Why would anyone want a sword, is, I suppose, the idea. I’m not sure Buddy owns a sword, but it’s an interesting question.

On the topic of banning swords in the UK (to be fair, they are banning only those swords inexpensive enough for everyone to own and use—collectors are exempt), I guess knives are next. Pointy things, bad for you.

Carrying a sword in public, evidently, is already illegal in the UK and punishable by four years in prison.

So what did they knight Elton John with?