Weekend … it’s finally here … the WEEKEND! That moment you have all been waiting for for a lonnnngggg five days has finally arrived! So, do you guys have big plans for the weekend, or just planning to hang out and relax, maybe paint the kitchen? Me, I will be watching them knock a few out of the park at the Super Bowl. What? That was last weekend? Oh drat. I can’t believe I missed it for the 25th year in a row! So, who won, the Mets or the Cowboys? What? Really? Okay, well … moving right along here, what would you like to do with our short time together today? Are you up for a bit of traveling? Great! Then grab a seat, fasten your seatbelt, and let us travel in our armchairs to … India!
I first happened upon a picture of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, India, a few weeks ago, but as I was on some other mission at that time, I bookmarked it and promptly forgot about it. Tonight, I happened upon it again and thought it might make an interesting point of origin for our weekend jaunt.
Shri Harmandir Sahib, known worldwide as the Golden Temple, was built starting in 1581, and completed in 1589. It is a Sikh temple and has been rebuilt numerous times, after being destroyed, also numerous times, by Muslims invading from Afghanistan. It is built around a man-made pool, and when it was destroyed in 1757, and then again in 1762, by an army led by Ahmad Shah Abdali, they filled the pool with garbage! Not very nice, eh? It was, once again, rebuilt by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, using marble and copper in 1809, then was overlaid with gold foil in 1830. This has to be getting expensive, I should think!
In the early 1980s, the temple became a center of conflict between the Indian government led by Indira Gandhi, some Sikh groups and a militant movement led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale seeking to create a new nation named Khalistan. In 1984, Gandhi sent in the Indian Army as part of Operation Blue Star, leading to deaths of over 1,000 militants, soldiers and civilians, as well as causing much damage to the temple and the destruction of Akal Takht. The temple complex was rebuilt again after the 1984 damage. I must say, they are persistent!
The Golden Temple is an open house of worship for all men and women, from all walks of life and faith. I like that, but I also like the fact that every single day, they provide more than 50,000 free meals to anyone … that’s anyone … who needs a meal.
There is a huge communal kitchen and volunteers come in every day to help prepare the meal and clean up afterward. Lentils are cooked in huge vats, on open fires, that take two people with large wooden paddles, to stir. The kitchen uses 12,000 kilograms of flour, 1,600 kilograms of pulses (lentils), 1,600 kilograms of vegetables, and 1,400 kilograms of rice per day. About 25 percent of the food is donated.
Did you enjoy your visit? Where to next, friends? I thought to visit a bit more of India, but … let us head over to London, for there is something going on there with the hedgehogs …
Britain’s hedgehogs, for all their iconic cuteness, have fallen on prickly times. The hedgehog population has been on the decline, and the people want them back!
In the 1950s, some estimates placed the British hedgehog population at 30 million. A 1995 study put the number closer to 1.5 million across England, Scotland, and Wales. Over the last two decades, hedgehogs have declined by roughly fifty percent in the countryside and by a third in urban enclaves. Now, as cute as hedgehogs may be, here in the U.S., people go to all sorts of machinations to keep critters such as hedgehogs out of urban areas, for they damage yards, eat flowers, and so on.
Michel Birkenwald, a London jeweler, has become one of London’s most enthusiastic engineers of infrastructure for animals. He founded and self-financed Barnes Hedgehogs around four years ago. The group drills the holes in fences and other obstacles for free to provide hedgehog access, and generally advocates for the welfare of wild hedgehogs. Once Birkenwald has crafted a passage, he usually affixes a sign reading “Hedgehog Highway,” with the creature’s spiky silhouette.
It seems that the decline is, at least in part, due to urbanization, thus a decline in hedgerows, the wild shrubbery that has been replaced by buildings, roads, etc.
While Birkenwald is drilling holes in fences and other obstacles to allow hedgehogs safe passage around town, there is yet another hedgehog advocacy group, Hedgehog Street.
Apparently all these efforts are working, for a report released this month indicates that the rate of decline is slowing. Hooray for the hedgehogs! I cannot believe I am sitting here at 1:00 in the morning writing about hedgehogs! Have I finally lost my bloomin’ mind?
And one final stop on Filosofa’s Saturday Surprise train … let’s head to Canada where there is a rare phenomenon called ‘snow rollers’.
A rare wind is blowing up cylindrical “snow rollers”—a phenomenon that occurs only when wind, snow, and moisture synchronize in a rare confluence of conditions.
When the wind is strong—but not too strong—and the snow is light—but not too light—and sticky, a steady wind can roll snow into neat, spiral cylinders. They dot a field of snow like icy bales of hay. They start small but can grow around two feet in diameter.
Snow rollers can be kind of cute as they skate across a field—but just imagine if you didn’t know anything about these and came across a field of mysterious cylinders. Aliens? Nope, just nature.
Well, my opinion, for whatever it’s worth, is that my Canadian friends can keep their snow rollers, for I am ready for spring, for wildflowers and bumblebees, for brisk morning walks and grilling out in the evening.
Well, friends, I know you all have fun things to do this weekend and you’re eager to get to them, and I certainly do appreciate you popping over to spend a few minutes with me. What better way to start the weekend than with a song, yes? Have a wonderful weekend, keep warm and safe. Hugs ‘n love from Filosofa!
Gotta love Stevie Wonder, yes?