Two fully-grown coyotes crossed the road in front of us at 10 AM today before I turned into Jamestown Beach. A patrolman told me he had seen others. The boldness of these sleek canids in shaggy coats the color of dry oak leaves took me by surprise. Their cousins in the mountains are far shier because they are hunted.
Minutes earlier, I disturbed a pair of Red-tailed Hawks feeding on what little remained of a deer carcass in our yard. A kettle of vultures waited patiently nearby.
When a new carcass appears, I assume a road accident victim crawled away to die and attracted scavenging birds to our yard. But coyotes in a pack less than two miles away might have been the primary scavengers or even come here to prey on deer. We are visited by red tooth and claw.
While walking our dogs, Ben and Reg, on the beach, I heard two Great Horned Owls calling to each other in the pinewoods. And the morning’s entertainment finished as a pair of eagles soared acrobatically in the blue sky.
2 + 2 + 2 + 2 wildlife sightings the same morning remind me that Valentine’s Day falls this month.
On Valentine’s Day, I queried an AI bot about the idealistic love that Ancient Greeks called agape and compare it with the romantic notion of love. This is how it replied:
“The main difference between romantic love and agape love is that romantic love is usually based on physical attraction, emotions, and mutual admiration, while agape love is based on selfless giving and unconditional acceptance. Romantic love can change over time, while agape love is unending and unconditional. Romantic love is often focused on two individuals, while agape love is focused on giving to others and showing kindness to all.”
While musing on Valentine’s Day about how big love can be, I applied the adjective cosmic. No, I didn’t mistype it for comic love! Way back in my college days, I read an arresting thought from the cleric-cum-archeologist, Teilhard de Chardin. Can love embrace all nature for all time and pale every other kind of love by comparison? Cosmic love is gobsmacking. When one of my scientific heroes, the immunologist Peter Medawar, ridiculed him as a peddler of mystical nonsense I laid Teilhard’s books aside. Recently, I pulled his books down from the shelf, their pages now brown with age, for fresh reflection.
After I published THE BOY WHO COULD BEE under the pseudonym Rowan Gordon, I wondered if an artificial intelligence bot could invent a better story than the one I created. This is how it launches a story using the keywords: boy, monk, beehives, Devonshire monastery.
Once upon a time, there was a small boy named John who lived in a small village in the Devonshire countryside. He was an incredibly curious and adventurous young lad, and he was always looking for something new and exciting to do. One summer day, John stumbled upon a monastery situated in the hills of Devonshire. He was immediately drawn to the peaceful atmosphere and he decided to explore the grounds. As he was strolling around, he noticed a monk tending to several beehives. John was fascinated by the monk’s work and he decided to approach him and ask what he was doing. The monk explained that he was looking after beehives to help ensure that the bees had a safe place to live and make honey. He asked John if he wanted to help him and John eagerly agreed. For the next few weeks, John and the monk worked together to tend to the beehives. They would check the hives for disease or pests, and make sure that the bees had plenty of food and water. They would also clean out the hives and make sure that the bees had enough space to move around and build their hives. John learned a lot from the monk about beekeeping and he was very …
It’s a very different story from the one I published, although an impressive start and is grammatically perfect. I am glad I let my imagination flare rather than use a bot to trawl the internet for themes. I pasted below a synopsis of the book I published for middle-grade and older children. It is available at Amazon and on order from booksellers.
A Devonshire monastery garden looks serene on a summer day where an old monk is pottering around his bee yard. He strives to breed perfect bees with a reluctant helper, the village boy, Joe. But the bucolic scene is about to be disrupted. The boy has more to cope with than grouchy Brother Adam, stinging insects, and his older cousin, Emily, from London. Brad, the village bully, is desperate to uncover a medieval secret buried on the grounds. Meanwhile, the monk’s prize hive is in turmoil after the birth of a mutant queen and two broods struggle for supremacy. The fate of the monk’s favorite hive and its secret hang on an unlikely alliance as the boy and the insect seek peace when all seems lost.
I doubt AI will replace a writer’s creativity for long while, though it may help when stuck for ideas.