The Grumpy Naturalist:

Bat Luck (50 second read) 
by Farriz Mashudi 22/06/2020

It used to be that bats brought good luck. Adorning a pewter plaque received as a wedding gift, the word in Mandarin “Fu” being homonymous, symbolised good fortune for our Chinese friends.

product image
From the Royal Selangor’s Auspicious collections, a customary gift for newlyweds.

Bats depicted in a circle, or better still, with succulent peaches are said to represent a multitude of peachy blessings:

#1. Long life; #2 Health; #3 Wealth; #4 Love of virtue; and #5 A peaceful death

Not one wrought by painful disease.

Now they’re billed as mini Draculas, mutant spreaders of a new coronavirus. What’s happened with the ancient symbol of happiness? Were Chinese ancestors not so wise after all whilst bat colonies bided their time hanging-out in caves waiting to outsmart the world?

The science, it seems, is finally catching up with genus chiroptera. Turns out these five-fingered mammals can carry the virus lethal to humans, but are themselves, unaffected. Like asymptomatic carriers, it’s true bats can boast of long lives, peace and solidarity — if only for themselves.

In a further ironic twist, within the bat family, it’s the horse-shoe species, genus Rhinolophus that’s believed to be the primary culprit behind strains causing respiratory disease such as COVID-19.

Good luck for some, ill-fated for others.



Fate versus Feng Shui rears its head again in the LATEST POST: Bloom and Tell 22/06/2020


No Clucking Matter (60 second read)
by Farriz Mashudi 19/06/2020              
Photo by Brett Jordan on Pexels.com

Black, Brown, White — There’s always been a pecking order with chickens

All over Portugal, the ‘Rooster of Barcelos’ is hailed as a saviour of the innocent. In the best-known versions, the cultural icon is depicted in black, with colourful local accents.

Similarly, South African restaurant chain, Nandos, considers the red-crested black crower to be a perfect mascot.

Whilst Senhor Galo de Barcelos was possibly only black-feathered, other breeds sport black body parts like the French poulet noir with its raven-coloured ankles. But literally black to the bone, the Ayam Hitam or ‘Black Chicken’ species of South East Asia, of which the Cemani, originally Indonesian, are the most prized and consequently pricey — are also highly esteemed for the medicinal qualities of their deeply pigmented skin, feathers, heart, and even blood.

Believed to embody magical powers, black chickens are revered as bearers of good luck.

In fact, you’d be charmed to even afford one: a mating couple can set you back some five thousand US dollars, and in due fairness, half that for a rooster, according to some sources.

Prevalent in three other breeds worldwide, Science puts it down to fibromelanosis, or heightened genetics, that differentiates the all blacks from your garden variety white poultry. Also termed ‘dermal hyperpigmentation’, and ‘melanism’, whilst whites cost less for meat producers to harvest, besides being a super-food, the darker meats possess a rich and unique flavour much sought after by gourmands.

Culture, culinary arts, and science all agree on this score: black chickens are superior to white, and browns come in somewhere in between… even if vegetarians of all colours object to all of it.

For more on the phenomenon:

http://nautil.us/blog/inside-the-goth-chicken-black-bones-black-meat-and-a-black-heart

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