Sun 16 Jan 2011
Great blue herons are the most widespread variety of heron in North America, and one of them has taken to frequenting the field around Mitchell cabin.
Great blue herons typically weigh 4.5 to 8 pounds and measure 36 to 55 inches from their heads to their tails. Their wing spans are huge, 5.5 to 6.5 feet. As birds go, their stride is also impressive, usually around nine inches in a straight line.
A Great blue heron and a Blacktail doe take a late-afternoon stroll together in my pasture.
Although herons do much of their hunting in shallow water, where they prey on small fish, crabs, shrimp, and insects, they also hunt in fields such as mine, where they dine on rodents, frogs, snakes, and even small birds. Great blues swallow their prey whole and have been known to choke on oversized morsels.
In other matters, if you have not yet seen the YouTube video of a “flash mob” in the Antwerp, Belgium, train station, you really ought to.
As people walk through the bustling station, a recording of Julie Andrews singing Do Re Me from The Sound of Music starts playing. Dancers young and old gradually emerge from the crowd until roughly 200 of them are prancing in the center of the lobby, much to the delight of onlookers.
Most of us know the song: “Do, a deer, a female deer; re, a drop of golden sun; mi, a name I call myself; fa, a long, long way to run…” The tune was running through my head yesterday, so I began singing it for my friend Lynn Axelrod.
When I came to “ti, a drink with jam and bread,” however, she was surprised. “I always thought it was ‘a drink with German bread,’ Lynn laughed. “Julie Andrews’ enunciation must not have been very good.”
I’d add that it’s just as easy to spot something else that probably contributed to Lynn’s misunderstanding. In the musical, Julie Andrews as a governess teaches the song to the von Trapp family children to mitigate the Austrian-military-style parenting of Capt. von Trapp.
As it happens, there is a word for mishearing a lyric the way Lynn did: mondegreen. It comes from people misunderstanding a line in an old Scottish ballad, “Thou hae slay the Earl of Murray and laid him on the green,” as “Thou hae slay the Earl of Murray and Lady Mondegreen.”
Other notable mondegreens include a line from a hymn, “the cross I’d bear” being heard as “the cross-eyed” bear.” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “There’s a bad moon on the right” has likewise been misheard as, “There’s a bathroom on the right.” (Please see the 1st and 3rd comments regarding this one.)
But my favorite mondegreen is confusion over a lyric from the Beatles’ song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. On occasion, “the girl with kaleidoscope eyes” has been been misheard as “the girl with colitis goes by.”
Western Africa. Ghana is in the center at the bottom of the map.
I used to wonder who the viewers are of all the beauty and wisdom this blog imparts each week, so I checked. Although numbers vary from day to day, the largest group of readers consistently comes from the United States, particularly California.
They’re followed (at the moment, which is fairly typical) by: Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, India, Australia, and Mexico. Somewhat to my surprise, however, were the many regular visits this blog has been receiving from the geographically small country of Ghana on the west coast of Africa.
Of the roughly 200 countries on earth, Ghana was recently 9th in visits, is currently 15th, and has consistently been in the top 25.
These are not the robotic visits of computers making contacts with this blog for only an instant. Typical visits last from 45 seconds to nine minutes, and often they come from people who have never visited this site before.
By African standards, Ghana with a population of 18 million is not unusually impoverished thanks to gold, oil, diamond, bauxite, and agricultural exports. Its literacy rate has been steadily improving, and if its residents keep getting information from this blog, it could become among the most-sophisticated countries in sub-Sahara Africa.
Before long, no Ghanaian will mishear the Beatles’s She’s Got a Ticket to Ride as “She’s got a chicken to ride.” (I suspect this mondegreen originated in the United States where some people have trouble understanding English accents.)