It is easy to find fault, if one has that disposition. There was once a man who, not being able to find any other fault with coal, complained that there were too many prehistoric toads in it.
--from Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson, excerpt from Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar--
I might as well face it. The Year of the Rat is over, and the Year of the Ox is being ushered in and welcomed all over the world. The photo of the rat in the first frame is not my own. I am sure there are rats living somewhere nearby, but I have never seen one yet to be able to take its picture. It would probably escape that fate anyway because I would probably drop the camera and run, not walk, as far away as possible, screaming all the way. Calendars serve many useful purposes: measuring the passage of time, serving as a record of history, reminding us of things we need to accomplish, and making us aware of certain obligations like birthdays and anniversaries. I find it interesting that the Chinese have been keeping track of time far longer than any Western civilization has and have been allowing the lunar cycle to determine the method of time-keeping. Time may be considered not in linear terms but in cyclic ones instead. The course of human history could therefore be seen as contours on an isopach map of the world's history, if such a map only existed. Of course, if it did, you would probably see quite a few eraser marks and blank spots as each new generation tries to adjust the contours of its self-concept onto evidence of previous sedimentary layers. Pictures from a recent visit to the Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science may just prove my point, whatever it is. I should warn you that I was born in a Year of the Rat, but rest easy. My cycle is nearing the completion of its circuit. January 26, 2009, on the calendar finds the Ox taking over. If you don't like what this new year has in store, there is no need to worry. It too is only part of a cycle, just like the seasons, climate change, and anything else governed by nature.
I had no idea Florida was once home to a "princess." Those Napoleons were quite the characters for changing the world and their personal fortunes along the way.
The museum property borders a lake and swamp. Bald cypress trees dominate the landscape, bearing all of the accoutrements necessary for survival in a watery environment. I still have not found a definitive explanation for the appearance of knees on some trees and none on others.
Panthers once flourished in Florida, but we know what progress can do for certain species of mammals. Of course, progress appears to follow a cyclic pattern of its own.
One day, these panthers might once more roam freely in Florida instead of being confined to cages at a museum.
Wolves and panthers are outstanding symbols of the cunning required for survival of the fittest.
You can also find the grandest symbol of them all at this American museum in the Deep South. I would probably never be able to capture one on camera sitting this still in the wild, if I were even fortunate enough to see one. The way it kept staring at me staring at it, I began to wonder if it thought it was seeing some kind of prey. Maybe a rat?