It seems only natural that early hominids, hunkered in their caves, should come up with the agency of gods and demons to explain such colossal natural phenomena as thunder, lightning, plague, earthquakes and volcanoes. Or such current or formerly unfathomable mysteries as epilepsy, spontaneous human combustion, or the oceanic red tides that can sweep beaches with a glistening holocaust of expired fish.
Volcanic lightning over Mount Rinjani
Volcanic lightning like that pictured above is both real and awe-inspiring, but what could be more stupefying than an actual rain of fish or frogs? In Yoro, Honduras, there is a “fish rain” every summer and in 2010, a remote desert town in the Australian outback experienced a rain of speckled perch, an occurrence so specific as to be comical.
Scientists hypothesize that rains of animals are created when the animals are lifted off the ground and into the air by tornados or (over water) by tornadic waterspouts. This does not exactly explain the species specific rains of frogs, say, or speckled perch, nor does it tackle the whyfors of frogs landing whole and apparently unharmed by the experience, as has been reported. On the other hand, I give it more credence than a bizarre and cockeyed intervention from some entity divine or diabolical.
Yet it is astounding to pause and consider just how little we understand about our world and universe. As science progresses, darkness retreats, bit by tiny bit. We can now see into mindbogglingly distant reaches of space and down into particles of infinitesimal size. The light of reason is an awesome thing and the computational power of computers has accelerated its advance.
Still, the darkness surrounding us is a grudging Leviathan. So much so that no one has the slightest idea how far the darkness carries, or even if it has an end. And in the meantime, space spins and floats and dangles from its string theories on and on into the distance of time.
If you are a lover of historical fiction, I think you’ll enjoy this post from the blog, A Writer of History. It includes an interactive historical fiction survey that has a good participation rate in only its third year: Yes, I know some of you will think I’m crazy! However, the topic of reading is always on my mind […]
In recognition of the fact that yesterday was Earth Day, and today continues Earth Week, I thought I’d take a brief look at the celebration’s history. Not surprisingly, it started off with a connection to the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere. The spring equinox is traditionally considered to be a time of re-birth, renewal, and […]
The Czech author Milan Kundera touchingly describes in one of his books a photograph of Joseph Stalin on a balcony waving to a crowd while all around him stand his most trusted deputies. The photo, used heavily by those responsible for disseminating propaganda, was taken during the early days of the Soviet Union when I […]
Not Jurisprudence’s Finest Nine Centuries Here’s a bit of strange fluff from the history bin: From as early as the year 824 through the mid-1700’s animals and even insects in Europe could be accused of crimes and tried in criminal and ecclesiastical courts. They might appear in the dock, accused of murder, theft, fraud, criminal […]
Here are some excerpts from a fun post by my friend, fellow Arizonan and author of historical fiction, Judith Starkston. Sometimes disaster brings the best rewards. So it is with the Uluburun Bronze Age shipwreck off the coast of southern Turkey. While I’m sure the sailors who went down with the ship sometime around 1300 B.C.E. viewed the […]
In the folklore of Southeastern Europe and Anatolia (Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Turkey), goblins are known as the kallikantzaros. They live underground and only come to the surface during nights of the Twelve Days of Christmas—December 25th through January 5th. Those days, which used to be known in Serbia as “the unbaptized days,” are a time […]
When writing historical fiction, something as simple as light can be a challenge. Your character needs it to see, your readers need it to receive visual setting, and a lit candle or torch may not be handy. Moonlight and starlight can do a lot, but sooner or later your character will likely need to create […]
I recently came across these old notes I made almost 6 years ago while driving my youngest from one activity to another. She was five at the time and could talk a non-stop stream of consciousness from the back seat. I swear I took this down verbatim using one hand and without taking my eyes from […]
I researched curious types of fruit and was focused on things like durian, stinking toe and Buddha fruit (the extract of which is 300 times sweeter than sugar). Then I came across a website listing 101 strange (read gross) foods. Since I am a sucker for gross foods to eat, I thought I’d share. Here […]