It’s the first day of Winter here in Australia and the weather has been very pleasant. Cool and sunny, but with the good news that our water reservoirs are at 32.7% (592.9 billion litres) full, compared with 26.5% (469.3 billion litres) at the same time last year. We are hoping for more good rains over winter and spring to keep those dams full! I had a very busy day at work today, full of meetings, hundreds of emails, phone calls and letters. At least much was achieved!
As one of my friends celebrated a birthday today (another crazy Gemini!), this is dedicated to all people celebrating a birthday today. And you are in good company with some of the other birthday boys and girls on this day:
- Henry Francis Lyte, hymn writer (1793);
- Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot, physicist (1796);
- Brigham Young, Mormon prophet (1801);
- Mikhail Glinka, Russian composer (1804);
- John Edward Masefield, poet (1878);
- John Drinkwater, poet/playwright (1882);
- Frank Whittle, jet engine inventor (1907);
- Marilyn Monroe (Norma Jean Baker), actress (1926);
- Andy Griffith, actor (1926);
- Bob Monkhouse, comedian (1928);
- Pat Boone, singer (1934);
- Gerald Scarfe, cartoonist (1936);
- Colleen McCullough, Australian author (1938);
- Robert Powell, actor (1944);
- Frederica von Stade, opera singer (1945);
- Jonathan Pryce, actor (1946);
- Jason Donovan, Australian entertainer (1968).
The plant for today’s birthdays is the marjoram, Origanum majorana. The name is derived from the Greek and means “joy of the mountain”. Astrologically it under the dominion of Mercury and it symbolises blushing shyness. The ancient Greeks crowned married couples with marjoram, as they believed that Aphrodite had blessed the herb and the pleasant fragrance was the result of the goddess’s touch.
Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (1804–1857) one of today’s birthday boys, was the first of the nationalistic school of Russian composers. His operas “A Life for the Czar” (1836) and “Russlan and Ludmilla” (1842) introduced a characteristically Russian style into the language of music. He influenced many other composers, not only Russians but also many of the other Slavs. The exuberant overture of “Russlan and Ludmilla” is a gem amongst classical music. Here it is!
St Elmo (also known as St Erasmus), whose feast day it is today, was a bishop from Syria who was martyred by having his intestines drawn out through a slit in his belly with a capstan or windlass. He is often invoked, therefore, against all sorts of intestinal disorders and bellyaches. Because a capstan was used, he is also one of the patron saints of sailors. The term “St Elmo’s Fire” describes the electrical discharges that are seen around ships during storms and are thought of by sailors to be a sign of the Saint’s protective presence.