Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Allison Ballance and Tuke

I haven't been active on the Tuke front for a while, but a trip to Arthurs Pass where I plan to get to know in more detail the Tuke and their mountain basins is staring me in the face.

I found this fantastic piece of writing by Allison Ballance while googling around. This piece won Ballance the 2007 Royal Society of New Zealand Manhire Prize for Creative Science Writing. It is a great meditation on place and change. Ballance connects with the environment, specifically the mountains of the Southern Alps but in doing so she maintains her perspective. She can see how the mountains like us change, sometimes quickly.

Ballances two main themes are glaciers, and yes tuke, or Rock Wren. Here are a couple of teasers...

I fell in love with the rock wrens, which an early New Zealand climber described as ‘looking for all the world like boiled potatoes with their jackets on, set up on hairpins and let loose on the rocks.’ I nicknamed every bird in our study area Bob, for their endearing habit of constant bobbing

there is a big difference between the potential effects of global warming on rock wrens and glaciers. The worst case scenario is that both will disappear, but the similarity ends there. The rock wrens are irreplaceable – they will join four other ancient New Zealand wrens in the ranks of the extinct. Glaciers are made, not of flesh and blood, but of frozen water; if the world cools, they have the ability to rise from the dead.