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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Myths about Imaginaries

Legends of the Sea: The oceans of the world are populated with Imaginaries that live under the sea. Ever since people came up with the idea of boats, humans and Imaginaries have met up on the water, often to the detriment of both.

I’ve been researching some of these legends of the sea and was going to write about them here, but in most of the stories I’ve found, sea-creatures are the villains, and that makes me very sad.

I think this is so because while the sea is home to many creatures, it is an alien environment for humans. If a boat sinks in the ocean, the people on it drown. Because humans think the sea is a terrifying and dangerous place, most of the Imaginaries that humans have met in the sea are typecast as monsters, or even evil beings.

Take mermaids and silkies, for example. Although different in temperament – mermaids like collecting things, whereas silkies have no possessions – they are both gentle species and generally mean no harm unless threatened. But as far back as Homer, the “sirens” of the sea (which may have been mermaids or silkies) were said to enchant sailors with their songs, only to send them to a watery death.

Sea “monsters” have earned the same kind of bad reputation. Cartographers used to draw gruesome pictures of sea “monsters” on maps, and reports about monsters almost always include frightening descriptions. For example, Hans Egede, a Scandinavian explorer, reported seeing “a most terrible creature” in 1734 off the coast of Greenland. Apparently the “monster” did nothing to the ship – so why did he say it was terrible?

While it is true that some sea “monsters” would eat a person if one came into their path, most of them – Chan, Echeneis, Yannig, Zaratan - are actually less dangerous than sharks.

Legends in which the sea “monster” is a hero and not a villain are few and far between. A Tlingit legend does credit one particular sea “monster,” Gunakadeit, with bringing good fortune to a starving coastal village in Alaska. But a story like that is the exception rather than the rule.

If you come across any good stories in which the sea “monster” isn’t monstrous, please let me know here at Iranigami, and I’ll try to put the story in this column. - GWYNEACH, Iranigami Annalist (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.