Joshua Tree national park: music, myths and art in the desert

In – and around – Joshua Tree the arts and culture shine all year round

The Big Bang Theory of Palm Trees

When I first saw this image, I felt l was The Creator at the beginning of The Big Bang witnessing the right-hand side of the creation of our current universe. Photons escape the explosion and start their never-ending journey into the darkness, like a train that never comes out of a tunnel. Patches of dark matter are about to turn into the first stars and galaxies. Matter and anti-matter are mutually annihilating each other and yet why did this explosion, this bang produce more matter than anti-matter? If it had produced equal amounts, we wouldn’t be here. Black Holes, Brown Dwarfs, and Red Shift haven’t come into existence. Atoms that will create us all are being manufactured, and electrons, neutrons, and quarks. The whole of all our existence is here in a dense blanket of seething, boiling creativity. And in this image there is just the first 1 thousandth of a second of time, a snapshot of creation, an instance from the beginning. All this can be seen in a palm frond, if you know what you are looking for.

World view: free climbing a giant redwood, Eureka, northern California

California’s huge redwood trees are a natural wonder. In these breathtaking shots, climber Chris Sharma scales a 77-metre-tall sequoia. The reason? A chance for biologists to check the 600-year-old tree’s health

The Cat and the Douglas Fir – the art of social climbing

This is an extract from the book Cats with Purrsonalities

Freddie decided that the Douglas Fir in the corner of the garden was his Everest. The lowest branch was around twenty feet from the ground and the trunk was too wide for me to put my arms around. Freddie stood at the bottom of the tree and jumped on to the bark and clawed his way up a few feet, miaowing to himself, before falling off. He decided more momentum was required so he began his run-up ten feet from the tree; about two feet from the base he leapt on to the trunk and started to climb again miaowing to himself for encouragement.

The problem was as he climbed his front paws became further apart, so by the time he was fifteen feet from the ground his face and tummy were pressed tight against the tree. He couldn’t go any further; he gave a distressed miaow and then fell off the tree, landing on his feet of course. Freddie was undeterred and started his next run-up fifteen feet from the base of the tree; he must have reached one foot further up the tree before falling off.

However, Freddie was encouraged by this progress and started his next run-up right by the house; again he leapt at the the trunk from two feet away and climbed steadily, but around 17 feet from the ground his face was pressed against the bark and he fell off. I had seen enough and tried to stop him make another attempt, but he dodged me and attacked the tree again, but with the same results.

I stood right by the trunk to stop Freddie making another attempt, but he approached from a different angle and landed on the trunk near my head. I took a hold of him and tried to pull him away from the tree but he dug his claws into the bark and refused to move. I prised his paws away one at a time and took him back into the house with him yowling in my arms. The next time Freddie went into the garden I watched him very closely, but he contented himself with sitting at the base of the tree and practised jumping onto the trunk. He was happy doing that although who knows what he tried to do when my back was turned.

This is an extract from the book Cats with Purrsonalities