Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Wonders of vegetation

I enjoy flipping through  a wonderful old book at home called “The World of Wonders”, sadly not dated but clearly Victorian or Edwardian.  It contains a complete mish mash of “Wonders” in no discernable order. Opening one double page spread at random I get articles on St Vitus’s dance, The destructive power of worms, and The story of the Portland vase!  In it yesterday I came across the following advice which I thought best to pass on to you.  It might save your life, although I very much doubt it.

Wonders of vegetation - TREES STRUCK BY LIGHTNING

Fig trees and cedars are rarely struck by lightning; the beech, larch, fir, and chestnut are obnoxious to it; but the trees which attract it most are the oak, yew and Lombardy poplar whence it follows that the last are the trees most proper to be placed near a building, since they will act as so many lightning conductors to it.  Again, the electric fluid attacks in preference such trees as are verging to decay by reason of age or disease.

So now you know which trees to shelter under when a storm hits the towpath, or you would if you believed what the article says.  I should perhaps point out here that the book also extols the virtues of woven asbestos suits for firemen.  We have much to learn from our forebears.

I also can’t resist quoting a subsequent paragraph entitled CAOUTCHOUC, which is according to Google is another name for rubber.

There is no possibility of the demand exceeding the supply of this gum.  The belt of land around the globe 500 miles north and 500 miles south of the equator abounds in trees producing this gum and they can be tapped, it is said, for twenty successive seasons. . . Each tree yields an average of three tablespoons of sap daily.

That’s all very well, but what about the supply of tablespoons?

I continue to search through this indispensable tome for items on waterways or boats, but as it has no index and everything is in a completely random order, it may take some time.

PS I just checked up on this book and found it was first published in 1896

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