Hurdy-Gurdy

We just took our first trip in 17 months. This was the longest we’ve ever gone without traveling. COVID-19 restrictions have made it tricky to leave the country. You never know where the next outbreak is going to come from, and we weren’t excited at the prospect of quarantining for two weeks on a border somewhere. So, we did a road trip inside Germany….

Our first stop was the UNESCO World Heritage city of Würzburg. [1]

Würzburg’s Residential Palace was built from 1720-1744 by Balthasar Neumann and is the most important building from the Southern German Baroque era. Definitely worth a visit! But I want to talk about a little statue I found in the Court Gardens in the back.

‘Twas then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man Came singing songs of love – Donovan

“Look! It’s a hurdy-gurdy player!” I exclaimed.

“What’s that?” Uwe asked.

“A strange instrument that the musician cranks to play: It buzzes and drones. Donovan sang about it.”

See the crank he’s turning?

The hurdy-gurdy is about 900 years old and maybe came from a fiddle. An even earlier version was the organistrum and required two people to play it, one to crank the handle and the second musician to pull up on the keys. It was used for choral music. The hurdy-gurdy or something like it, the lira in the Byzantine Empire, was described by Ibn Khurradadhbih. The next version of the hurdy-gurdy was called the symphonia. It was smaller, with three strings and keys that could be pressed from underneath. Present-day hurdy-gurdies have either a guitar body or a lute back.

Musicians in high courts played the hurdy-gurdy until it fell out of favor, and the hurdy-gurdy is mostly familiar now as an instrument used by roving minstrels. According to Wikipedia, in the Ukraine hurdy-gurdies are still played by itinerant, often blind, hurdy-gurdists called lirnyky. [2]

The instrument was saved from obscurity, helped no doubt by Donovan’s song in 1968. He wrote Hurdy Gurdy Man while studying Transcendental Meditation in India with the Beatles. Apparently, he wanted Jimi Hendrix to perform the song. Now, that would have been one hell of a recording! As it is, George Harrison helped with the lyrics. Jimmy Page, John Bonham and John Paul Jones all performed on the recording before they went on to form a little group named Led Zeppelin.

All my life, Hurdy Gurdy Man is one of those songs that floats in my consciousness. It’s as mystic and magical as a tale told by a wandering troubadour.

Thrown like a star in my vast sleep
I opened my eyes to take a peek
To find that I was by the sea
Gazing with tranquility

‘Twas then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man

Came singing songs of love
Then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
Came singing songs of love

“Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy” he sang

“Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy” he sang
“Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy” he sang

Histories of ages past

Unenlightened shadows cast
Down through all eternity
The crying of humanity

‘Tis then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man

Comes singing songs of love
Then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
Comes singing songs of love [3]

NOTES: [1] My readers know that Uwe and I make a beeline for World Heritage sites. They’ve always, always been worth the effort! [2] wiki/Hurdy-gurdy [3] Source: LyricFind. Hurdy Gurdy Man lyrics © Peermusic Publishing. PS: I learned a lot writing this post!

© Jadi Campbell 2021. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was a 2020 Best Book Award Finalist for Fiction Anthologies. The title story was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was named a semifinalist for the 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Prize.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

 

 

My Imaginary Friends: #4. Jeremy and His Tattoos

I’ve been a massage therapist for well over 30 years. The pandemic put a temporary end to that part of my activities. I may be a massage therapist again in the future; we’ll see.

I massaged some really interestingly tattooed bodies through the years.

Around 1988, one of the first tattoos I ever massaged has remained maybe the most intense and in some ways most frightening tattoo I’ve ever seen up close. A young woman had a skull, snakes crawling in and out of the empty eye sockets, inked on the breast above her heart. When I think about her now, I know that tattoo was a claiming of some dark and needed power. I have never forgotten the intensity of the energy she radiated.

I massaged a soldier of fortune with a Thai demon on his shoulder. “He has my back,” the guy told me.

One of my closest friends worked for decades as a trial lawyer. She always dressed up to go into court. She has an eternity knot tattooed on the top of her foot, and the image is elegant and discrete.

My nephew owns two bars/bistros in Hong Kong. Niko recently got himself inked with Native Americans on each arm to honor Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys. His left shoulder depicts Mount Hood and a Haida eagle. On his right forearm is a pineapple: it’s the traditional symbol of hospitality, he told me. I didn’t know this, and appreciated the fine work even more.

 

When it came time to write  my first book Broken In: A Novel in Stories, I gave my character Jeremy tattoos. His tattoo images were inspired by the massage clients I have been honored to touch over the years. His chapter is titled, Punctured.

The ink on his body is his fate. – Jadi

The first time they slept together and she saw the tattoos she said, “It’s like being at the movies. Or inside the pages of a very Technicolor comic book. Oh! There’s the snake in the grass!” Jeremy was amused, knowing she was being flippant to mask her nervousness and the erotic appeal of his colors on her skin.

Abigail traced the outline of the demon turned towards her on Jeremy’s shoulder. She marveled again at the detail in the scales. It was such a small tattoo compared to the crouching tiger. She moved her small hand and placed it on his thigh where the tiger waited. “A tiger in my tank,” she murmured in wonder, just loudly enough for him to hear. It drove him wild.

-from my chapter Punctured in Broken In: A Novel in Stories

NOTES: Text and photos © Jadi Campbell 2021.  Thanks Niko for allowing me to use the photographs of your tattoos!

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase Broken In: A Novel in Stories and my other books. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the international Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts. 

The Animal Kingdom: Grande Finale 2

The place that inspired The Trail Back Out

And it’s the last post in this blog thread for Bobbo! I present the Grande Finale: Installment # 42! describing what to call groups of animals … See how many you can guess. Answers listed at the bottom of the page.

Well-hidden knot member. Back trails, Cranberry Lake, Adirondacks

  1. This herd wasn’t on a leash.
  2. The obstinate gang ganged up on the humans.
  3. It’s not easy to find this knot.
  4. The cluster clustered on blossoms.
  5. I’m troubled by the trouble brought on by a troubling.
  6. A mute is anything but!
  7. A gargle really has necks to gargle.
  8. After reading this wonderful blog thread I hope you all now worship the worship!

Answers:

Herd member, Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, India
  1. Herd of deer [1]
  2. Herd, gang AND obstinacy of water buffalo [2]
  3. Knot of toads
  4. Cluster of dragonflies [3]
  5. Troubling of goldfish
  6. Mute of hound dogs
  7. Gargle of swans
  8. Worship of writers [4]
Herd, aka Leash, Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, India
Cluster member, Cranberry Lake, Adirondacks
Gang, Inle Lake, Myanmar
Herd, Inle Lake, Myanmar

NOTES: [1] Also known as a leash of deer [2] Herd, gang and obstinacy of water buffalo National Geographic [3] Cluster, swarm or flight of dragonflies [4] Australian Geographic  and An Exaltation of Larks by James Lipton.

Worshipper of words….

NOTES on NOTES: I almost never put myself in my posts. For this final hurrah a photo and the final, special definition are called for. Thanks and much love to all my readers for sticking with this thread and sharing your feedback. — Jadi

© Jadi Campbell 2021. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.  Fun animal names from www.writers-free-reference.com, Mother Nature Network and www.reference.com.

Click here for my author page to learn more about my books and me.

Hive, Thai temple … the hive mind that is the Internet …

Brideshead Revisited Revisited

I don’t know about anybody else, but last week I hit an emotional wall. Tuesday night I got up every few hours and went to check the news results. (I live in Germany, and we’re six time zones ahead.) When I woke up Wednesday morning, things in the USA presidential election were still undecided. Like the rest of the world, I was holding my breath – and about to turn into a permanent nervous wreck.

On that night, or maybe it was the next night, I stopped following the news reports. I honestly can’t remember which day I decided I needed a serious distraction.

And so, for the last five or six days, I’ve been revisiting Brideshead Revisited.

BridesheadDVD.jpg

I revere Evelyn Waugh’s book, which I read again and again with pleasure. I first saw the Brideshead Revisited BBC series on PBS television in the early 1980s. I loved the show so much that I bought myself the DVD set. Jeremy Irons, Sir Laurence Olivier, Diana Quick, Sir John Gielgud, Anthony Andrews, Claire Bloom – what’s not to love? The acting is wonderful, the scenery is beautiful, the story evocative and wistful. Jeremy Irons’ voice overs make Waugh’s writing sing.

“But I was in search of love in those days, and I went full of curiosity and the faint, unrecognized apprehension that here, at last, I should find that low door in the wall, which others, I knew, had found before me, which opened on an enclosed and enchanted garden, which was somewhere, not overlooked by any window, in the heart of that grey city.”

The first time I went to Europe traveling alone, I made a point of going to Oxford; I had fallen in love with the city depicted in the book.

“Oxford, in those days, was still a city of aquatint. In her spacious and quiet streets men walked and spoke as they had done in Newman’s day; her autumnal mists, her grey springtime, and the rare glory of her summer days – such as that day – when the chestnut was in flower and the bells rang out high and clear over her gables and cupolas, exhaled the soft vapours of a thousand years of learning.”

Last night (November 9th), during our second coronavirus lockdown, in the ongoing fight over the vote count, I sailed across the choppy, stormy Atlantic with Charles Ryder and Julia Flyte.

“Then something, some surviving ghost from those dead ten years – for one cannot die, even for a little, without some loss – made me say, “Love? I’m not asking for love.”

“Oh yes, Charles, you are,” she said, and putting up her hand gently stroked my cheek; then shut her door.

And I reeled back, first on one wall, then on the other, of the long, softly lighted, empty corridor; for the storm, it appeared, had the form of a ring. All day we had been sailing through its still centre; now we were once more in the full fury of the wind – and that night was to be rougher than the one before.”

My DVDs were formatted for early tv screens, and don’t look at all right on our wide screen television. But I don’t care. I watch one or two episodes each day, parceling out the pleasure, to make it last as long as I can.

“Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there’s no room for the present at all.”

“I felt that I was leaving part of myself behind, and that wherever I went afterwards I should feel the lack of it, and search for it hopelessly, as ghosts are said to do, frequenting the spots where they buried material treasures without which they cannot pay their way to the nether world.”

I am still deeply in love with Brideshead Revisited and Evelyn Waugh’s wise, melancholy voice. His words really are treasures, which pay my way to the nether world, every time I revisit.

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2020. Image courtesy of Wikipedia. All quotes from Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. I will leave you with one last quote that says everything I care to about a particular political figure: “He wasn’t a complete human being at all. He was a tiny bit of one, unnaturally developed; something in a bottle, an organ kept alive in a laboratory. I thought he was a sort of primitive savage, but he was something absolutely modern and up-to-date that only this ghastly age could produce. A tiny bit of a man pretending he was the whole.”

The Trail Back Out is finished and available for purchase! In my new collection of short stories, two strangers meet in the woods. Children wear masks. A gambler hides in the cellar during a Category Five hurricane. A wife considers a hit-man’s offer. Princess Rain Clouds searches for happiness. An entire village flees, a life is saved, and a tourist in Venice is melting. Everyone keeps trying to make sense of strange events far in the past or about to occur. Let these characters be your guides. Join them on the trail back out – to a familiar world, now unexpectedly changed.

Click here for my author page to learn more about my books and me.

 

 

The Trail Back Out is Available for Preorder!

It’s finally done: my first book in 4 years!

From tales of Eddie, high on LSD and trapped by “What Died in the Fridge” or a compulsive gambler hiding during a Category Five storm in “Better Weather”, to the luminous title story of two strangers meeting by chance in the backwoods during a pandemic, I wanted to describe the pain and humor of being alive. Included in this collection are “Rules to Live By”, a funny and deeply thoughtful story about what we choose to teach our children. I wonder about our responsibility to others as a hunter is shot and left for dead in “The Green Under the Snow”. In “Do Dreams Float?” a wife considers a hit-man’s offer of revenge. And the eternal search for happiness is carried out by a gloomy little girl nicknamed ‘Princess Rain Clouds’.

I finished these tales during the coronavirus lockdown. These are descriptions of everyday life in strange times. Whether during the upheaval of the last century or the present COVID-19 crisis, The Trail Back Out will guide you through a labyrinth of questions about how to live and love.

The Trail Back Out will be published as paperback and eBook for Kindle on August 23, 2020. The version for Kindle is available now for preorder. Click on one of these links to order a copy:

The Trail Back Out: USA

The Trail Back Out: Germany

Information on all my books is available here:

Jadi’s Books Amazon Page: USA

Jadi’s Books Amazon Page: Germany

I wish you all a safe and healthy autumn.

Happy reading,

Jadi

How I Spent My Summer Lockdown

Being a writer almost always means feeling guilty about carving out time alone with a blank page of paper or a white computer screen. At the same time, being a writer means almost always feeling guilty for not creating time dedicated to empty paper/laptop.

And the corona virus crisis hit, and in March we went into lockdown….

I finally filled our balcony with planter boxes of flowers and herbs. We have more bees and pollinators than I’ve seen in years. Nature is loving this “Stop everything” business! And I got down to serious construction of Book #4, a collection of short stories.

This was lockdown, so it’s not like I could go anywhere else, right? Wasn’t the Universe handing me exactly the time and space I needed to write my next book? I took my pages or laptop out the balcony and went to work.

I don’t know about you other writers out there, but the Muse makes me toil for months on end before she grants me an audience. I write every day, drudge work, one word after the next for my daily quota. Trust me: this is not inspired writing. It’s showing up and doing the job. I spent a few months planting my ass in front of my computer or my pages to revise, thinking, “What the hell ever made me think this will be any good?”

I stayed committed to the writing, because past experience has taught me that it eventually (seldom right away, but, always, always, eventually) gets rewarded.

And one morning I was eager to get back to it. Half a day passed before I noticed how much time had gone by. I began to dream plot twists. The writing stopped being drudgery and even contained occasional flashes of inspiration.

Now, half a year later, I’m getting ready to publish. This is my corona virus book; I could even title it, How I Spent My Summer Lockdown.

I’m going to title it something else. I’ll keep you posted on when the new ten stories are ready to meet the world.

NOTES: Text and  Photos © Jadi Campbell 2020. To see Uwe’s  photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

SPECIAL NOTE: If you try to comment in the wordpress.com reader and get the message “Sorry – there was a problem posting your comment”, click on the title of this post to get to jadicampbell.com and post your comment there.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

A Cast of Thousands: Day Two

I remain in serious escapist mode, and in today’s post I continue to take us as far away as I can. I’m describing the magnificent Indian wedding  I attended in Mumbai just a few months ago.

The following night, the newlyweds held an evening reception for 500 guests at the same venue. A magician circulated around the room. The saris were a cross between Cinderella and the Arabian Nights. I saw really, really serious bling. It was a dazzling evening full of gorgeous, kind, friendly people. In the interest of privacy I am posting mostly photos that show the backs of gowns. These were taken with my old cell phone, so the quality’s not great. But these give an idea of how spectacular this celebration was!

The women who had taken my breath away the day of the wedding now wore evening saris. There are no words adequate to describing how gorgeous everyone appeared.

Once the event began the full bar stayed busy. I was served the largest gin and tonic I’ve ever had to drink: it was as big as my head. The drink was also one of the strongest I’ve ever tasted. I drank it and afterwards I immediately switched to white wine. Another g&t and I would have landed under a table.

I chatted with a large chocolatier-pastry chef who had worked in Switzerland. The woman who designed the bride’s clothes and the man who designed her jewelry. A professional jazz singer who had given her voice lessons.

The waiters worked both days and must have been exhausted. They circulated the room with appetizers served on trays of stone. The appetizers were wonderful: smoked salmon-asparagus-horseradish rolls. Lamb bites in tiny crusts. Spicy paneer. Corn fritters with salsa. Tikka chicken bites.

A full diner buffet included both vegetarian and meat dishes.  The buffet included a station carving up one leg of lamb after another, chopped into small strips and served au jus. There were various rice dishes, and breads freshly made on-the-spot (both days). Dhals. Another food station served chat: layers of potato patty with chutneys, chickpeas, cilantro. Another station served a variety of Mexican dishes. Other stations included vats of sautéed veggies. I didn’t even glance at the station with teriyaki dishes; the Indian food was just too good. A separate table held lots of desserts. I tried the chocolate mousse cups and the waffles with Nutella and fresh fruit: kiwi, mango, strawberries.

A waterfall is behind the beaded curtain. The sashes on the chairs were an elegant gray for the evening reception

My sister and I drank Sula, a surprisingly yummy Indian white wine. We were both delirious with how magical the evening felt, all those  beautiful people. When we left shortly before midnight the room had been converted into a dance floor….

… each outfit was even more beautiful …
…really stunning gowns

I will forever be grateful I was invited to attend an Indian wedding. The hosts (busy with the other 499 guests) were incredibly generous and gracious. My thanks to my dear friends in Mumbai and their family for allowing two visiting girls to share their joy.

NOTES: Text © Jadi Campbell 2020. Photos © Jadi Campbell and Pam Campbell.

To see Uwe’s pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

SPECIAL NOTE: If you try to comment in the wordpress.com reader and get the message “Sorry – there was a problem posting your comment”, click on the title of this post to get to jadicampbell.com and post your comment there. Sorry for the ongoing problem.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

A Cast of Thousands: Day One

Preparing the dais for the wedding ceremony. The canopy is made from thousands of fresh flowers

I’m in serious escapist mode, and in today’s post I want to take us as far away as I can.

This weekend we’re meeting up with friends, a married couple with a little girl. They will be the first friends we’ve actually seen in person in over two months. I’ll finally climb out of the pair of tights I’ve been wearing since March except for when I go outdoors (and then the go-to fashion item is my surgical mask).

Our friends are from India, and that reminds me of the last really BIG social event I attended: a wedding in Mumbai back in January. I took my sister Pam to visit the bride’s mother’s uncle and his wife, and our visit coincided with the two-day celebration.

In secret I’d always wanted to be invited to an Indian wedding! The spectacle, the days of celebrating! A cast of thousands! I packed a couple dresses and a pair of heels. As you can see from the photographs, the clothes were beyond beautiful. Out of respect for privacy I’m not using any photographs that might identify people’s faces. But really these pictures are about the clothes, the venue, the amazing food, and the generosity of the hosts.

Women in saris with matching hair accessories

The bride is Farsi, the groom Hindu. The first day was the wedding ceremony. It was a small affair for immediate family and friends. All 250 of us….

The outdoor patio where the lunch buffet was served. Curtains of flowers hang over the entryway

Here are my impressions, recorded in my journal: “250 people came and went, waiters circulated with appetizers and drinks (vegetarian and non-alcoholic as it was a religious ceremony). A huge vegetarian lunch buffet was set up outside.

The chairs were all covered in white with purple and saffron yellow sashes tied on the backs. These matched the flower canopy over the dais. The canopy had been made of elaborate long drapes of thousands of fresh flowers.

The Hindu men’s turbans matched the bows on the chairs. Really a wild parade of colors. Gorgeous!

The wedding party sat on a dais and the rituals went on for two hours. Sadly, the professional photographers blocked the view most of that time. What I could glimpse was chanting, reading of sacred texts, the tossing of rice and flower petals, a fire lit towards the end of the religious ceremony. A yellow sash was tied to bind the bride and groom to one another. They then walked (circling) numerous times around the fire. Both sets of parents were seated on either side, the sisters too. All took part in the rituals.”

My next post will describe the second day and the evening portion of the wonderful wedding celebration.

NOTES: The clothes were incredible. Pam and I were seriously underdressed, luckily not shamefully underdressed. Everyone made us feel welcomed! Text © Jadi Campbell 2020. Photos © Jadi Campbell and Pamela Campbell.

To see Uwe’s pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

SPECIAL NOTE: If you try to comment in the wordpress.com reader and get the message “Sorry – there was a problem posting your comment”, click on the title of this post to get to jadicampbell.com and post your comment there. Sorry for the ongoing problem.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

My Schizoid Loop

King Crimson is infamous for a song named 21st Century Schizoid Man.

Cat’s foot iron claw
Neurosurgeons scream for more
At paranoia’s poison door
Twenty first century schizoid man

Blood rack, barbed wire
Politicians’ funeral pyre
Innocents raped with napalm fire
Twenty first century schizoid man

Death seed blind man’s greed
Poets starving, children bleed
Nothing he’s got he really needs
Twenty first century schizoid man

Songwriters: Robert Fripp/Michael Rex Giles/Greg Lake/Ian Mcdonald/ Peter John Sinfield. 21st Century Schizoid Man (2004 original master edition) lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

That’s the opening soundtrack to days that are hard in lockdown. I’m fine most of the time. The sky is a blue I cannot remember ever seeing. Less pollution and few cars on the roads mean more and louder birds than before.

And I go for walks, and practice self-care. I love to cook, so that’s more than all right. I can take my time with elaborate recipes. Great way to channel my restlessness. Uwe and I live together in lockdown harmoniously most of the time.

Last night’s quiche

Some days, though,  I exist in a schizoid loop. I’m trapped in repeating cycles of WTF WTF WTF? Every couple of days I feel this: boom. I understand how we got to where we are right now. We’ve been pushing the envelope for decades. Why did we think we’d be exempt? Boom! But hard as I try, I cannot grasp how swiftly our world changed once that final roll of the cosmic dice was set in play.

We’ve been taken down by a virus, something you can’t even see without a microscope.

BOOM!

And fuck doing yoga, and meditating, and the crap version that’s all I can remember of the tai chi I learned from a Chinese man in my San Francisco neighborhood 40 years ago. What’s happening now overwhelms me. Forget trying to understand the point of view that claims we just need to get back to business as usual. That bullshit is literally killing us.

I gather myself back into a little ball and slowly unwind my cramped limbs and psyche. Writing helps more than anything. My first collection of short stories is taking shape as I try to deal with what’s happening.

I have friends with health issues who  live in  deadly serious lockdown. A few weeks into the self-quarantine the radio station I listen to played It’s All Too Much, a song from the Yellow Submarine album.  I’ve always loved this song! The Beatles were a big part of life’s soundtrack for my entire family, including my parents when they were alive.

My friend and her husband are Beatles fans too, and they turned me onto Radio Paradise in the first place. I was all smiles that morning, such fond associations and sweet memories all around. I thought, Hey, I’m gonna call her, and she answered her cell phone with a really cheery “Hi there!”

I lost it. I burst into tears and couldn’t stop crying. She hung on and waited for me to be able to speak, because that’s what friends do, and at some point my  crying jag stopped just as abruptly as it began. “That was not my plan when I dialed your number!” I said. “That’s the first time this has happened to me since this crisis began. I have a feeling it won’t be the last.”

And we had a really good laugh. I’m learning how to be less careful with my emotional balance, I figure if I need to weep then bring it on, because on some days crying is the single response that even approaches appropriate. I haven’t broken down since, but when I’m out for a walk and I see a family with little children in the distance, I feel those tears. Or when I hear from people I know in my present life, or from my past. Or anywhere else on the globe.

WTF WTF WTF?? I’m a hot mess, and that’s as it should be. If I find myself crying again, I’ll be in good company.

When I look into your eyes, your love is there for me
And the more I go inside, the more there is to see

It’s all too much for me to take
The love that’s shining all around you
Everywhere, it’s what you make
For us to take, it’s all too much

Songwriter: George Harrison. It’s All Too Much lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Stay safe everyone. Stay healthy.

NOTES: © Text Jadi Campbell 2020.  © Photos Uwe Hartmann 2020. To see Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de. Source: LyricFind

SPECIAL NOTE: If you try to comment in the wordpress.com reader and get the message “Sorry – there was a problem posting your comment”, click on the title of this post to get to jadicampbell.com and post your comment there. Sorry for the ongoing problem.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Quetzal

Happy April Fool’s Day! What’s quetzal, anyway? A noun, a verb, a symptom brought on in quarantine for the corona virus?

Glad you asked. The quetzal is a legend, a myth, a member of the trogon family, and one really cool bird. It’s also very, very elusive.

And what the hell is a trogon? Let’s start at the top. Until just now, I didn’t know. The term comes from the Greek and means ‘nibbling’, because quetzals carve through rotting wood to make their nests in tree trunks. The trogon family of birds is an exclusive club: they are the only animal with a heterodactyl toe arrangement. [1] The resplendent quetzal lives only in a narrow range of cloud forests at high elevations in Central America. They don’t migrate, and like altitudes of 4,000–10,000 ft (1,200–3,000 m).

A lot of people think it’s the most beautiful bird in the world. The quetzal was sacred to the Aztecs and Mayans. The Aztecs associated the bird with the snake god, Quetzalcoatl. Kings and nobles wore quetzal feather headdresses for special ceremonies.

And oh my god, those feathers…. The head and back of the bird are a brilliant green, the belly feathers are bright red. The female has more gray on her chest, and black and white in her tail, while the male has incredibly long streaming tail feathers that trail up to three feet (!) behind him. These don’t grow until the bird is at least three years old.

The quetzal’s big, about 36-40 cm or 14-16 inches long. But its brilliant green feathers are iridescent and blend perfectly into the cloud forest foliage. For a large bird, the quetzal is surprisingly hard to spot.

So when we planned our trip to Costa Rica (I write this in March, after two weeks of the virus lockdown, and it feels like a different life time that we took that trip, not just a few weeks ago), we hoped we’d get lucky enough to spot a quetzal. We went to the Monteverde cloud forest region. One day we joined a tour to the smaller and less crowded Curi Cancha Reserve. Amazingly enough we saw a pair of quetzals! Quetzals are monogamous – and there they were, male and female! Thank god for the guides that day, because there’s no way we would have sighted the birds on our own. They’re just too perfectly camouflaged. I only have one photo for you, but hopefully it was worth reading this post to get to it.

We present to you in all its shy glory: THE QUETZAL! This is the female, a brilliant emerald that dazzles the eye. Believe it or not her partner is much, much gaudier

It was magic to see a quetzal pair. We got lucky that day.

NOTES: [1] Dictionary.com explains heterodactyl is “having the first and fourth toes directed backward, and the second and third forward, as in trogons”. Well, what do you know. This is my second new word for the week. Trogon was the first. PS: This post is not an April Fool’s joke! Resplendent quetzal © Jadi Campbell 2020. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

SPECIAL NOTE: If you try to comment in the wordpress.com reader and get the message “Sorry – there was a problem posting your comment”, click on the title of this post to get to jadicampbell.com and post your comment there. Sorry for the ongoing problem.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.