Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

from the Bryans and the Ryans! 

In the following days Willa and/or Chari hope to share 2012 Book Lists, 2013 Goals, and all that sort of thing.   But for now, just a greeting and a couple of quotes. 

this excellent new year greeting is brought to you courtesy of Graphics Fairy

The Beetle begins the journey. He  clasps the ball with his long hind-legs and walks with his fore-legs, moving backwards with his head down and  his hind-quarters in the air. He pushes his load behind  him by alternate thrusts to right and left. One would  expect him to choose a level road, or at least a gentle in-  cline. Not at all! Let him find himself near some  steep slope, impossible to climb, and that is the very path  the obstinate creature will attempt. The ball, that enor-  mous burden, is painfully hoisted step by step, with in-  finite precautions, to a certain height, always backwards.  Then by some rash movement all this toil is wasted:  the ball rolls down, dragging the Beetle with it. Once  more the heights are climbed, and another fall is the  result. Again and again the insect begins the ascent.  The merest trifle ruins everything; a grass-root may trip  him up or a smooth bit of gravel make him slip, and  down come ball and Beetle, all mixed up together. Ten  or twenty times he will start afresh, till at last he is  successful, or else sees the hopelessness of his efforts  and resigns himself to taking the level road. 

That is probably the most improving part of Fabre's reminiscences about the dung beetle, and seems suitable for a mood of New Year's resolution, but this following section is my absolute favorite, though not so edifying, and makes me laugh every time I read it.    Follow the link for the complete context, or just understand that apparently beetles like to take advantage of other beetles' hard work.  

But sometimes the thief bides his time and trusts to  cunning. He pretends to help the victim to roll the  food along, over sandy plains thick with thyme, over cart-ruts and steep places, but he really does very little  of the work, preferring to sit on the ball and do nothing.  When a suitable place for a burrow is reached the rightful owner begins to dig with his sharp-edged forehead  and toothed legs, flinging armfuls of sand behind him,  while the thief clings to the ball, shamming dead. 

The  cave grows deeper and deeper, and the working Scarab  disappears from view. Whenever he comes to the surface he glances at the ball, on which the other lies, demure and motionless, inspiring confidence. But as the  absences of the owner become longer the thief seizes his  chance, and hurriedly makes off with the ball, which he  pushes behind him with the speed of a pickpocket afraid  of being caught. If the owner catches him, as sometimes happens, he quickly changes his position, and seems  to plead as an excuse that the pellet rolled down the  slope, and he was only trying to stop it! And the two  bring the ball back as though nothing had happened. 

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