I read an article the other day that puts an entirely different spin on the cave art of early man. One theory is that the art is of religious value, possibly done by the tribe shaman while in a trance-like state (probably from eating the mushrooms that your mother warned you about). The images (of hunting down animals, of human figures kneeling in submissive postures, of trees with lines that seem to be flames coming from them) are thought to have been an attempt to use magic to influence the subject, so that for instance the hunt would go well, the miscreant punished, or the fire might be made to burn in some other direction. A new theory (curiously popular inside the Beltway) is that the images are a high tech (for the day) visual display in a kind of training center where tribe members were taught what were thought to be the essential elements in the strategic plan for survival -- wipe out the enemy's food supply, kill the enemy combatants, and burn down the forest where the enemy lives.
This new theory is put forth in an article entitled "Staying the Course: The Plan for Cro-Magnon Hegemony."
Here's a bird for you, Dubya.
And speaking of birds, in Ripon, California, there's no mistaking this week's entry.
The Blue Jay
You know the type -- tall, athletic, gorgeous, the kind who steams the girls' glasses everywhere they go, but who sadly happens to be finger-nails-on-the-blackboard in polite company. Bo Duke from the Dukes of Hazzard comes to mind. (The John Schneider Bo from the TV series, not the Sean Scott movie version.) If there ever was a bird that really wanted to see what you had under the hood of your muscle car, the Blue Jay is that bird. Jays are extremely loud and talkative, and while accomplished flyers, make no attempt at stealth. You can hear a jay coming several yards away, they land heavily, and they love a good fight.
The operative word in Blue Jay is blue (See Figure 4). A year round resident, the large, bold and beautiful jay is really the dominant bird of the Ripon backyards. Not necessarily the most numerous, they are very territorial and will tend to run off everybody they think might be competition. Of course the jay is a sucker for a peanut (unsalted!), and with only a little patience, you can have a jay literally eating out of your hand. We have one that will sit on the trellis outside our window and tap on the glass to get our attention. If we close the blinds, he will go from window to window until he catches sight of us. Fortunately, we have no window in our bathroom.
Next Week: The Bluebird