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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/731

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

ples of muscular, long-lived people who live on a minimum of animal food, such as those of the Grecian Archipelago, who subsist on goat's milk, figs, and maize-bread. Individual examples are to the same effect. Dr. Winship began as an invalid, and by athletics and diet attained such vigor that he could lift twelve hundred pounds. He indulged, we are told, occasionally in sardines, and for the rest depended on fruit and farinaceous (that is, starchy) food. The recovery of health in grape-cures shows what may be sought in that direction; the peach-cure has lately come into notice, and doubtless any ripe, fresh, juicy fruit, if not of a kind too astringent or laxative in certain cases, would do as well. I can testify that a quart or two of strawberries, twice or thrice a day, soon recovered me from torpidity of the liver and consequent constipation, increasing for a year or two; and yet this is spoken of as not of an aperient sort. Since then my only medicine is fruit the year round."

 

Thrifty Habits of a Woodpecker.—Not many observations have been recorded of the laying up of food for future use by birds. One woodpecker, in California, is known to deposit food by digging holes in the trunks of trees and driving acorns into them till the trunks look as if they were studded with brass nails. Professor O. P. Hay observed a similar trait in the redheaded woodpecker during an unusually favorable season for beechnuts in Indiana. "From the time the nuts began to ripen," he says, "these birds appeared to be almost constantly on the wing, passing from the beeches to some place of deposit. They have hidden away the nuts in almost every conceivable situation. Many have been placed in cavities in partially decayed trees; and the felling of an old beech is sure to provide a little feast for a bevy of children. Large handfuls have been taken from a single knot-hole. They are often found under a patch of the raised bark of trees, and single nuts have been driven into cracks in bark. They have been thrust into the cracks in front gate-posts; and a favorite place of deposit is behind long slivers on fence-posts. I have taken a good handful from a single such crevice. . . . In a few cases grains of corn have been mixed with beechnuts, and I have also found a few drupes, apparently of the wild-cherry, and a partially eaten bitter-nut. The nuts may often be found driven into the cracks at the end of railroad-ties; and, on the other hand, the birds have often been seen on the roofs of houses, pounding nuts into the crevices between the shingles. In several instances I have observed that the space formed by a board springing away from a fence-post has been nearly filled with nuts, and afterward pieces of bark and wood have been brought and driven down over the nuts, as if to hide them from poachers. These pieces of bark are sometimes an inch or more square and half an inch thick, and driven in with such force that it is difficult to get them out. In one case the nuts were covered over with a layer of empty involucres. Usually the nuts are still covered with the hulls; but here and there, when the crevice is very narrow, they have been taken off, and pieces of the kernels have been thrust in."

 

Alaska and its Tundra.—A contributor in the "American Field" describes Alaska as having dimensions not only in latitude and longitude—"for not a great distance from the Aleutian Islands, separating the Pacific from Behring's Sea, and in the former body of water we have the deepest sea-soundings known to science, while Mount Saint Elias cleaves the clouds for 19,500 feet, the highest mountain of the North American continent, and the highest Alpine peak in the whole world; for the line of perpetual snow and ice starts at its very base and covers it throughout except where buttresses of bare rock and pinnacles of perpendicular stone jut through the frozen mass, because they are too steep for the snow and ice to rest upon. . . . If we look at a map of Alaska we will see that fully a third of it is above the Arctic Circle, and the climate and other characteristics of this part are truly Arctic. The thermometer falls so low in winter-time that even the short, squatty Eskimo does not have to crane his neck to read the scale; the ground is frozen for numberless feet below the surface, while nothing grows on that surface except the hardy polar mosses that form the marshy covering for the vast tundra for