Walking Rocks?

Query: When I was in Death Valley earlier this year, I saw some enormous 750-pound rocks that appear to travel across the desert on their own. I remembered your article about rock tortoises, and wondered if that’s what these rocks could be?

Corn of Plenty (Part 4 of 4): A Field Guide by Dr. Midas Welby

Corns of the Air: Air-corns utilize their horns for jousting, playing tic-tac-toe, and spearing food in mid-flight. Air-corns often lurk undetected in trees, wood piles, and rain gutters. When bored, they use their horns to ring the doorbells of unsuspecting humans. When the door begins to open, the air-corn flies away.


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Going On Hiatus

December 6, 2014: I am loving college, but I have to admit, I’m overwhelmed.

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Pine Cone Feeders

A Present For Imaginaries: When winter comes, I get concerned about providing extra shelter from the elements for Imaginaries. Recently, I read about people who build wildlife brush shelters out of branches and plants in their yards, and thought this was a great idea.

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What Silkies Want

How They Return To The Sea: It’s not that difficult for a silkie to shed their pelt. They come to land; they lie on the beach; they dry out; they slide out of their pelt.

But once they have shed their pelt, it’s a different matter to get them back on. For that they need a comb. And not just any comb. They need a comb crafted in a particular configuration, and made of ivory, bone, ebony, or genuine tortoiseshell, similar to the one shown in the photo.

When silkies come to land, they look for a comb with 6-12 strong, well-separated teeth and a solid head, like a ladies’ mantilla comb. It must be of a natural material because the comb will end up inside their pelt, and any synthetic material would cause infection.

A silkie who is ready to return to the sea threads the edges of her pelt through the teeth of the comb, and then twists it to lie flat against her breastbone. The little dimple created on the outside of the pelt by the twisting of the comb gives an adult silkie the characteristic “belly button” appearance on her underside.

A long time ago, silkies use to re-fasten their pelts with a shell, but sometimes the closing leaked, which caused illness among the silkies. When combs were first invented by humans, silkies learned about them from the mer-people, who love to collect and hoard all sorts of objects in their colonies. However, silkies tend to be a gentle, non-materialistic species, whereas mer-people are more crafty and acquisitive. Rather than rely on mer-people as a source for their combs, silkies began to undertake comb-quests – the search for a pelt-fastener amongst humans - as a part of their visits to land.

Silkies believe that the comb cannot be acquired by force or subterfuge, but must be freely given from a human hand to the silkie, and they also believe that each silkie has one, and only one, comb that is hers, much as she has one, and only one, pelt. But whether these things are true, nobody actually knows. – ULA, Iranigami Agent (U.K.)


Copyright © 2012, 2013, 2014 by Penelope Stowell. All rights reserved. This website is a work of fiction and does not depict any actual persons, creatures, places or events.