Posts Tagged ‘Corey’s Bow’

Just a note, before coming to the end of Corey’s story: Some children are content to learn to speak, but others make up words very freely. Chowmega is the name of a wood that belongs to family lore; you needn’t look for it anywhere else. But as Pooh might have said, it wanted to come into the story, so I let it.

#12  Gaspard’s Apple

It was a perfect, friendly day on the asteroid. Gaspard was sitting at a low table, quietly fletching arrows made of his own chowmega shoots, beautiful red-streaked, pale golden wood, straight as ash, strong as cedar, light as bamboo. His feathers were deep yellow, occasionally streaked with red; their spines seemed to attach very readily to the arrow, as if they belonged there. Corey watched him for a while, then set himself to shooting from the equator to the northern daisies and back again while Gaspard watched.

Afterwards, they had lunch, wonderful French baguettes with bright yellow butter, and the same deliciously winy drink as before. As they ate, Gaspard told stories about his childhood. Not all were happy stories, but it was clear that the orderliness of mechanics and of the universe had comforted his soul during many of the disorders of his beloved France. This was a human view of mechanics that had never occurred to Corey.

Indeed, he got so involved in Gaspard’s stories that he wasn’t even thinking of his bow when Gaspard finished the last bit of bread and said, “So you want to see my apple tree eh?”

“Oh please,” answered Corey jumping up. “I would like it very much.”

“Well, and then you could shoot yourself a few apples, of course,” continued Gaspard.

“So then, Monsieur Coriolis,” Corey said, feeling a little strange, “you do really have an apple tree? For I have never seen it.”

Gaspard smiled, wiped his hands on his white cloth napkin, brushed away the crumbs, and stood up. “But of course!” and he led the way through the sunflowers and turned left. For a while, they walked along the gardens, past many beautiful plantings that Corey couldn’t quite remember seeing before. Everything seemed a little different from what he remembered. The roses were redder and the daisies more delicately petaled; the peppers hung long and tapered and the squash lay ribbed and streaked… At first, he thought it was a trick of his memory or of the light, but then – well, then he saw the apple tree, just its top.

“It must be growing on a hill,” he thought, “like the peaches. A real hill, not just a round-the-asteroid hill.” The tree was still very far away, with apples so dark they were almost purple, but there was no mistaking them. A moment later, the ferns came in sight in a little dip of the land, and, remembering the peaches, Corey thought perhaps the apples were at the same latitude; he did feel he had walked a similar distance from the equator. In fact, he meant to ask if Gaspard had two gardens, but even as the question formed in his mind, his bow seemed to lift into his hands on its own. He looked at the apple and aimed very carefully six inches to the left, just as with the peaches.

Something was wrong.

Gaspard came alongside him and stood perfectly silent.

He lowered his bow.

The sun was wrong. It was going down on his right instead of his left. Suddenly, he realized why. He was in the southern latitudes!

“Why! We crossed the equator,” he cried out half-accusingly. Gaspard smiled and bowed slightly. Corey raised his bow again, aimed six inches to the right of the topmost apple, and, as his arrow curved beautifully left, brought it down with a thwack and a rustle that could be heard a mile away.

“Alors! Tu as gagné ton arc et des fleches,” smiled Gaspard. “So! You have won your bow and arrows.”

“Merci, Monsieur Coriolis,” answered Corey with a bow. “Thank you! Oh, and voici! I have brought back your pine nuts – roasted!” He reached into his quiver and handed Gaspard the little bag, lifting his hand to shade his eyes from the setting sun and also to brush away sudden tears.

When he could see clearly again, the afternoon sun was sparking through his own trees. His bow hung at his side, and the quiver on his shoulder was heavy with red and golden arrows.

The End.

But if you want to start over, go to Corey’s New Bow.

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#9  Latitude Gardens

That night, Corey fell asleep wishing he could tell Gaspard what he had learned in New Zealand. He wondered if GGC-1835 had a southern hemisphere…

“Of course I have a southern hemisphere!” said Gaspard.

They were walking along with a bright patch of buttercups to their left, a most unusual planting in what Corey concluded must be the most unusual garden ever planted. It was only a few rows wide, but it stretched away to the horizon both north and south as far as he could see. It wasn’t all buttercups, of course. And it wasn’t all level, either, for soon they were walking up a steep hill towards a patch of merry forsythia in golden bloom. The forsythia was a massive bush, and more of the golden shrubbery was spaced 25 yards to the left and right, crosswise to the garden. Gaspard called it the Summer Circle, “Yes, yes of course! It goes all round the asteroid.”

Corey thought he must have seen one of these bushes from the top of the pine tree. Gaspard agreed: “it’s about 30 degrees north of the equator.”

Past the forsythia, they found anise, carrots, daisies, bush beans, and then they were looking down along some ferns and asters into a little valley with cattails and a willow at the bottom and several more herbs and flowers and some kind of fruit tree up on the farther hillside.

“Peaches,” said Gaspard, “and ripe enough, but too high to reach. I suppose you might drop me one – just knock the branch of course, so we don’t have peach soup.”

It was not hard to drop several. Corey missed the first shot, being uncertain of how much turning to expect, but in the slow motion of the flight, and in the disturbance of the leaves, he knew exactly where his arrow went – six inches to the right — and he was on target after that.

They crossed the valley and ate their peaches which had hardly bruised in the thick grass below the tree. Then Gaspard said he wanted to walk south and let Corey see how the arrows changed their flight curve with latitude.

It turned out that the plantings were Gaspard’s latitude garden, and each bed marked a change of 1º of latitude, “so I know where I am,” he said, “but the arrow’s flight doesn’t change the same amount with each latitude,” he added.

“I know,” answered Corey. “I figured it out once and then Pete had an equation. But I don’t know how much it changes.”

Gaspard smiled. “Pete,” was all he said, shaking his head.

They faced south and Corey shot his arrows one by one at the start of each planting: towards the beans, towards the daisies, towards the carrots and then the anise, even towards a spray of forsythia hanging outside the line of the garden.

By the time he ran out of arrows, they were retrieving them as they walked, and he could see how they were closer and closer to his visual mark. When a bright patch of sunflowers came in sight, Gaspard proposed one more shot and then a picnic at the equator, for indeed the sunflowers marked the center latitude on GGC-1835.

Corey agreed; he was hungry again, and he remembered Gaspard’s French bread and butter. They passed some white peonies, broad leaved comfrey, golden daylilies, deeply fringed parsley, and several other plantings before they reached the equator and sat in the shade of the sunflowers. The north equatorial section was taller with pale yellow flowers while the south equatorial planting was a crowd of shorter sunflowers with flaming red centers. A narrow path of white stones passed between them and beyond, apparently wrapping itself around the whole asteroid. Corey’s arrow to the equator was off his sights by less than half an inch.

He ate contentedly for a few minutes and then gave a quick little sigh of frustration. “Isn’t there anywhere that you just shoot where it looks right and the arrow goes there?”

“Hmmm,” said Gaspard. “Good question!” He was buttering his last crust very carefully and looking sideways at Corey, a twinkle in his eye.

“I mean, a kind of Isabela Island,” continued Corey. “It made me like to use my eyes! But here we are at the equator and I’m still off a little. Not very much, but…”

“Hmmm,” said Gaspard again, nodding his head with a slight frown betrayed by his twinking eyes.

Corey sat very still. Into his mind flew the image of Dad with the verse about turning left in the south…

Suddenly, he jumped up, grabbed his bow, and ran south along the latitude garden. As he ran, he noticed that the plantings were the almost the same as those in the northern gardens, only warmer and richer colors. He passed golden clover, fragrant cilantro, red Hibiscus, a borage bed full of bees, and more until he came to the red peonies.

When he reached these, he turned around to aim away to the north at a drooping white peony that hung to the side of its plot. Gaspard had moved well away from the garden and was smiling broadly.

“I wonder will my arrow turn left, then right?” wondered Corey. “No, that’s silly. The arrow goes straight but it might seem to be going left into the garden at first, and then right back out to my target. I wonder…” He aimed precisely where his eye told him, pulled his bow and let the arrow fly. It made a beautiful arc just slightly towards tallest sunflower, and then straightened itself back out to cut the white peony cleanly from its stem.

Gaspard went to pick up the arrow — and the peony — and turned to meet the young bowman as he came running up. Corey was so happy he was almost crying.

“I did it; I did it!” he called.

When he had caught his breath, he had to settle one question.

“So then the arrows went straight by the Wolf Volcano because I was shooting across the equator?” he asked eagerly.

“You may have been shooting across the equator,” said Gaspard. “Certainly Isabela Island sits at your equator, and Wolf Volcan is precisely upon it. But more importantly, your world is bigger than mine and your arrows move faster there. The sine anywhere near the equator is very small, and you could not have measured the curve whether you were precisely on the equator or just nearby.”

Corey gave a sigh of contentment.

“Hey,” he said shyly, rubbing his toe in the grass. “Do you have an apple tree?”

But Gaspard did not answer. When Corey looked up, he was in Wellington, and his arrows were beside him, smelling slightly of peaches. The sun was rising, and a large vase of red and white peonies stood on the windowsill. He did not remember seeing them before.

(To be continued…)

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Corey’s on his way to New Zealand. Have you figured out what he will find there? I wish his drawing were larger. I’ll work on it.

Also, I realized that Corey’s Dad and Mom needed names. So his Dad’s name is George. His Mom gets a name soon. I think it’s Marie.

Corey’s Bow #8 Windy Wellington

“New Zealand! When did we decide to go to New Zealand?” demanded Corey. He really didn’t want to go. He was afraid he would miss Gaspard somehow.

Mother smiled. “I told you right after the trip to Victoria Island,” she said, “but you might have been thinking o other things. We’re going to visit my brother Richard and your Aunt Gabrielle, and their new baby Jack.”

Pete figured out what was bothering him. “Never mind anyway. It’s no farther to GGC-1835 from there than from here.”

Corey wasn’t so sure, but anyway, he had to pack. Mother had already done the laundry, so it didn’t take long, and soon they were on the way to the airport. First they took half a day to get to California; then a second airplane took all night to cross the ocean. When they arrived, the weather was very cold and they were so tired of sitting they could hardly walk straight, but Corey remembered that this was the uncle who had sent him his bow and arrow, and thanked him as soon as they met.

“So you like it?”

“Very much,” answered Corey as everyone bundled into a warm car. It was rainy but beautiful and he liked the clouds scudding above the hills as they drove to Uncle Richard’s home.

“I’m sorry it’s so cold; it’s late winter here when you have Indian summer at home,” said Aunt Gabrielle when they reached her house. “But shh. Jack is sleeping; come in and get some breakfast.”

As the other adults settled by the fire, Aunt Gabrielle took Corey and Pete into the kitchen. They found that the light switches were up-side down – up was ‘off’ and down was ‘on’ — and that the door handles turned the wrong way to open doors.

“Is everything up-side down here?” asked Corey.

She laughed and shook her head. “I guess someone thought it would be a good joke to make handles and light switches that way. No, nothing is really upside-down. Only the Moon and the constellations, the few you can see in both hemispheres – like Orion.” She bustled about her stove.

“George says you like to shoot your bow,” she said, as the pot began to whistle. “So I made sure you can visit my Dad in his vineyard. Plenty of room to shoot there, and no grapes to bother right now. And,” she was pouring hot cocoa into two large mugs, “I don’t think your arrows will turn upside-down or go backwards.”

Pete and Corey took their hot chocolate in by the fire where they had biscuits and fruit and cheese, and then set out to visit the town. At first they wanted to sleep, but Aunt Gabrielle said that if they slept, they would never get used to the time of day in New Zealand.

“We’re not only down under,” she reminded them, “we’re around back.”

They went to visit the Parliament house, which looked like great skep and was even called the Beehive; then they climbed to the top of a hill to look out at the bay. It was windy everywhere; Corey thought he had never seen so much wind. No place for a bow and arrow!

But the following morning, they took a long ride across the hills into vineyard country, finally coming to Mr. Barker’s place. When they got out of the car, there were hugs all around and Mr. Barker wasted no time encouraging Corey to shoot his bow wherever he wished.

“‘Tis a surprise you’ll have,” he warned.

Corey was very excited and he chose the farthest thing he could see, the top of a fencepost, directly north across a slight dip in the field. Of course he was not sure of his latitude, so he didn’t exactly expect to hit his first target, and it was foolish to choose such a distant one, but imagine his astonishment when the arrow went substantially left of his aim.

“What?” he lowered his bow.

A brief disturbance in the gorse beyond the fence had told him exactly where his arrow had gone. He shook his head and stood very still. Slowly a new picture formed in his mind.

Sure enough, a surprise. Something else was upside-down in this place, and it did matter. He pictured himself standing on the bottom of the globe and shooting upwards. The globe then came round from west (left) to east (right), carrying his target along so that his arrow fell left of target.

Corey sees how an arrow shot from the South Pole will fall left of its target.

Corey sees how an arrow shot from the South Pole will fall left of its target.

“Wow!” he thought. “I suppose everything will be turned around now, — north, south, east and west, all falling left of target, instead of right.” He stood very still, going over everything he had learned in the northern hemisphere, re-drawing everything in his mind until he was satisfied that all the directions were reversed. Then he shook his head and aimed very carefully right of the fencepost. Thwack!

He ran to get his arrows and then aimed one east – to the right of east, that is, and one west – or rather, slightly northwest. Now he had a lot of walking to do, but as he set out, he saw his Dad was coming towards him, holding up his hand. He broke into a run.

“Dad,” he shouted, “did you see me shoot? Did you see?” He was so proud of himself, he couldn’t stop smiling and he was almost crying at the same time.
His dad came up and shook his shoulder.

“You sure got that figured out fast,” he said. “Let’s get those arrows.”

They set out together, and as they walked, Corey’s dad began to recite this verse:

Your southern trips arc to the left

For of straight is each journey bereft

Wherever you aim

No flight is the same

The hand and the mind must be deft!

“Dad!” grinned Corey. “You knew about it all along! But I didn’t know you could write poetry.”

“Oh, it’s not really poetry, just a rhyme,” said Dad.

But he was pleased.

(Continue at Latitude Gardens…)

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Corey shot his bow all the next day. Somehow, being able to think clearly about his arrows’ inevitable swing to the right made it okay with him. “North, south, east, or west, every direction’s bound to go to the right,” he mused. Only a few inches. It wouldn’t even show from outer space. But for a bow and arrow, and an apple or a rabbit, enough to matter totally.

As he perfected his aim, he began to wonder about battlefields. Did guns have to worry about bullets going right? Did cannons have their cannonballs going to the right?

A flock of geese honked above him. “What about migrating birds?” he wondered, lowering his bow. Did they get confused about where they were going?

“At least the birds have memory, as I do,” he mused, “and can learn from their mistakes. They probably have it all figured out.” He didn’t shoot the geese; but he watched them gradually disappear into the depths of the southern sky and thought of his first arrow on GGC-1835. What a beautiful flight that had been!

Then his mind wandered back to shooting. “Wow! I bet those cannons were a bear to operate,” he smiled to himself. “Maybe if they went fast enough, the earth didn’t turn very much. My arrow is a bit slow, of course.” He considered this for a minute, then shrugged.

He had to cross a little brook as he went to retrieve his arrows, and he began to wonder about rivers. “Rivers stick to the ground,” he mused, “but not very tightly. I wonder how many of their bends are right turns from the turning earth. Of course they can’t make all right turns; eventually ‘down’ would be to the left.” But he wondered if that was why they never went straight. “Never, ever.” He shook his head.

“Trains stay on their tracks of course,” his thoughts continued. “So they’re ok. But I wonder about airplanes. Do they have to turn left and aim southwest to go due west?”

After a while, he sat down and drew this picture:

Corey's latitudes

“Near the North Pole, the correction would be greatest, and near the equator, the least,” he mused. “I suppose pilots have must some kind of chart of how the turning changes with latitude.” He smiled at his drawing. “Pilots and geese.”

Behind him, Pete gave a satisfied sigh. Corey looked up. His brother was standing by the sidewalk with his arms folded and surveying an odd piece of handiwork. It said, in large chalk writing:

Fc = 2MΩV sin(Θ)

“What does that stuff mean?” asked Corey. “I can’t even read it.”

Pete drew himself up to his full height, (which was not very high.) “It means that the amount your arrow is going to turn depends partly on how heavy it is, partly on how fast the earth is turning, partly on how fast the arrow is going, and partly on your latitude.”

“It doesn’t mean all that,” said Corey. “It’s too short. Anyway, you didn’t say ‘equals.’”

“Don’t have to,” answered Pete. “When I say ‘depends on’ it mean that all the stuff afterwards has to be figured out and then it equals the turning.”

Corey was silent. Then he said, “Say what it means again.”

Peter squared his shoulders and said very firmly, “It means that things that fly above the ground turn right partly because of how heavy they are, partly because the earth is turning, partly depending on how fast they go, and partly depending on how far they are from the equator.”

“There!” exclaimed Corey. “Which is the part that says about how far from the equator.”

“Sine theta,” answered Pete. “It’s the pink part. Sin means sine, and theta means whatever latitude. Every latitude has a special number called its sine, and that’s what you need to know.”

And does the sine get bigger with the latitude?” asked Corey.

“Maybe. I don’t know,” answered Pete.

“Why do you like equations if you don’t know what they mean?” asked Corey, who found Pete’s mixture of understanding and indifference completely frustrating and incomprehensible.

“I just like equations,” answered Pete, arching his eyebrows. “They’re cool.”

Just then, their mother came to the door.

“Pack your bags for New Zealand,” she called.

(To be continued…)

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Corey #6: Which Way West?

Story so far: Corey has a wonderful new bow with arrows that oten goes to the right of his aim. Very troubling! He has landed on Gaspard’s asteroid, GGC-1835 and is now getting some help. He just shot an arrow to the west but it went northwest. You might want to catch up with the story by going to Corey’s page.

“How about you just climb up and get that cone,” said Gaspard as if he had not heard the question.

“Can I really?” asked Corey with big eyes. For a moment, he forgot all about his troubled arrows. This was the tree of dreams, a perfect climbing tree, amazingly high and with each branch perfectly spaced.

“Of course! But don’t take your bow. Take my spyglass. I want you to watch me.” He hung a magnificent little old-fashioned spyglass around Corey’s neck. It’s gold chain gleamed in the sun, and Gaspard set off to the north.

“Hey, where are you going?” asked Corey.

“Not too far,” answered Gaspard. “I’m going to get your arrow, but I’ll stay in sight if you keep climbing.” And off he went, while Corey climbed, glancing west from time to time.

At first, Gaspard went north; when he reached the Park Circle, he turned west. Corey checked his progress now and then, and by the time he reached the treetop, Gaspard was just a speck on the horizon. He settled himself against the trunk, wrapping one leg around a sturdy branch for balance, and raising the spyglass, he swept the scene. Gaspard was bending over; obviously he had the arrow. Then he set out along the crest of the asteroid, staying in Corey’s line of sight. Now he was pointing to something… Oh, he was pointing to the tower at the North Hole, and he was turning to face it… Now he held out the arrow in his right hand, pointing to something and waving it. Corey frowned and turned to look southeast where he was pointing. There was nothing to see but some kind of yellow shrubbery that had been out of sight from the ground. Gaspard could just as well have stood under the tree and pointed it out if that was all he had in mind. Corey looked back and checked his line of sight; Gaspard wasn’t exactly pointing to the shrubbery, but it was impossible to make out anything more, and then his arm was down and he was walking back.

Meantime, the sun was getting into Corey’s eyes, and suddenly he realized that the quick afternoon was coming to an end. He should not be in such a tall tree in the dark. He pulled off the cone and tossed it down, then began his descent.

As he jumped from the last branch and retrieved the cone, Gaspard came up, huffing a little, and handed him his arrow.

“Thanks,” said Corey. “But what were you pointing at? I didn’t see anything.”

“I was merely pointing east,” said Gaspard. “Just straight east. You saw me point to the North Hole and then turn to face it, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” said Corey. “But you were pointing distinctly southeast.”

“To you, it looked southeast,” agreed Gaspard, “but I was pointing east. I looked north and pointed east at a right angle to north.”

Corey frowned.

“Well,” said, Gaspard, “perhaps it would be clearer if we just stood side by side at the North Hole. Then my east would be completely at right angles to yours, eh?”

Corey considered this and nodded slowly. Then, “you mean that from over there, your east was my southeast?” he asked. “And opposite that, for me, would have been my northwest,” he added. “So the arrow… what did it do?” Corey was having a hard time picturing things.

“Well, your arrow kept going to the west as best it could, but it judged west from its launching; that’s not the same as the west that you have in mind around here. By the time it fell, what with the asteroid turning around below and changing its own east and west whilst the arrow was keeping the memory of the asteroid’s old east — by the time it fell, as I say, its west was an old west motion. And based on old west motion, the turf it landed on was what we consider northwest.”

Corey shook his head. “That’s too many olds and news,” he confessed. “I don’t get it.”

“Look, let me draw it,” said Gaspard. He took a paper from his pocket and quickly sketched some curves and ellipses and some little straight red lines, all within a large circle.

corey E-W arrows

“These are our latitude lines,” he explained. “And the straight red lines point east and west as we perceive them at the same latitude but different longitudes. The orange line is the arrow’s flight, which traveled from my position on the left to your position on the right. It’s flight is perfectly straight, but…”

“But wait,” said Corey. “You have angled the arrows too much.”

Gaspard shook his head. “No angle at all; an optical illusion,” he said, pulling out a ruler from his pocket and placing it on his drawing. Corey moved it back and forth. He looked sideways at Gaspard as if he didn’t quite trust him.

corey E-W arrows w rule

At last he gave in. “You are right. The arrow goes the same direction all the time. So when it falls, it falls north of its latitude line,” he finished. “Even though our latitudes are the exact same.” He closed his eyes to fix the image in his mind.

When he opened them, he was in the wagon again, with a very large pine cone in his lap.

“You met Gaspard,” said Pete. “How do you feel?”

“I feel like shooting my bow again,” grinned Corey.

(To be continued.)

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Corey’s Bow #4 GGC-1835

(If you’re new to the blog, you’ll want to go to Corey’s Page and get up to speed with this story.)

Corey’s Bow #4: Meeting on GGC 1835

Corey slept fitfully. The next day, he went out and sat on the back of his wagon, deep in thought. He was not moving; his target was not moving – “unless you count the rotation of the earth as a movement,” he thought. But anyway, he and his bow and arrow were also moving right along with the earth, so that didn’t count.

He sighed, let his bow slip to the ground, and dropped his head into his hands.

“So there, laddie, what’s ailing you,” asked a kind voice. Corey looked up to see a large, rather angular but kindly face leaning over him, with a broad forehead surrounded by hair so thick it made him think of a bear, only it was very neatly combed. “I see you have a good bow here,” the visitor continued, “and I wonder if you’ve come to shoot in my park?”

Suddenly, Corey realized that he was not sitting in the wagon at all, but on a kind of wooden chair or ledge with an amazing, tall, wooden observation tower directly behind him. Meanwhile his feet were dangling comfortably over a low, mossy depression in the soil right before the tower. Startled, he glanced around and saw that he was indeed in some kind of park. The grass was emerald green and neatly mowed all around him, and the sun was climbing into the sky in a rather odd way off to his left. Where was he?

As if in answer to his thought, the park man said, “This is my asteroid, GGC 1835. I thought you would like it because it is so small, but still big enough for your bow. Would you like to shoot something?”

Corey stood up, looked off in the distance, and saw no targets but a low-growing shrub, some sort of pine with a cone at the top, dancing slightly in the wind. He shrugged and then looked at his bare feet. “I do like your asteroid, sir, but I don’t know if I can hit anything. Something is wrong, at least on Earth where I live, and when I shoot, it doesn’t go straight as it should. Except on Isabela Island.”


“Yes, really. I don’t know what to do.”

“Well, let’s see,” answered his new friend. “Why don’t you go ahead and shoot that pine cone; it’s large enough, and I should like to eat the seeds if they are ripe.”

Standing in the center of the depression, Corey shot. He missed, but the flight of the arrow was the loveliest sight he had ever seen. It seemed to be going in slow motion, as if the air were thick (but his breathing was easy) so he could watch the arc of its flight and even though it curved to the right, it flew so gracefully that his heart leapt, and he almost applauded. He looked up with awe.

“Of course you are Gaspard,” he said, smiling. “My name is Corey. I see that my arrow has gone to the right, and I think I see why: I am at the North Pole…”

“The North Hole,” Gaspard interjected.

“At the North Hole, then,” Corey continued, glancing down at the moss, “and since I am standing still and your asteroid is turning, my arrow missed completely.”

Gaspard smiled. “Very well then. You seem to understand your problem perfectly.”

“No I don’t,” said Corey. “Because in my world, I live at 42º latitude and that’s not at all the same as the North Pole. And anyway, my arrow always goes to the right — north, south, east, or west. If it were just about the turning of the earth, it would go right when I shoot south, but then left when I shoot north, while east and west should work perfectly.”

Gaspard looked thoughtful. Then, “let’s try it,” he suggested.

They walked south (there was no other direction to go) and passed an inconspicuous white path on the way. Gaspard called it the Park Circle and said it went all the way around the North Hole. As they walked, the sun quickly climbed the sky, and the tree seemed to climb the sky as well. It was a towering specimen, a little sequoia whose its height had been hidden over the curve of the asteroid. Corey picked up his arrow, many feet from the base of the tree, and then looked up where the rapidly climbing sun shone through its majestic branches.

“How long is your day?” he asked.

“Just two hours,” answered Gaspard. “Two of day, two of night, and 8 miles around the globe. If I walk fast enough, I can stay at noon even on the equator. I could never do that on Earth!”

Corey chuckled and fitted his bow. Carefully, he aimed towards the North Hole, or rather towards the observation tower just peeping over the horizon. The arrow arced gracefully north – no, northeast. It spiraled gently around and though he couldn’t see its actual fall, it seemed to draw in from the east before it disappeared near the tower. Corey’s mouth fell open as he lowered his bow and looked at Gaspard.

“You are moving,” Gaspard reminded him. “You are moving east and your bow and your arrow were moving east with you. Did you think that the arrow would forget the motions of its bow and just go north?”

Corey was speechless. So northbound flights turned right after all, just like southbound flights… He scratched his head.

(To be continued…)

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Some of the things that govern the weather are, as Winnie the Pooh might say, not very thingish. Today, I would like to begin a discussion of something that is not very thingish and that is usually misunderstood, partly because it is hard to explain. It is the Coriolis effect, and it governs the four winds of the world and the seven seas and a great many other things you never heard of. It brought Columbus to America and it took him home again, and it forms and moves everything from Hadley cells to hurricanes. You don’t study weather without meeting the Coriolis effect, sometimes called a force, but it is hardly a force unless math is a force. It’s just a fact, an odd one, one of the oddest in all the world and one of the least thingish.

Common explanations fall into two categories — good ones with more math than you have at your disposal, and bad one that break down so quickly as to be almost useless. I suppose there are also bad ones that require a lot of math; I wouldn’t know. But anyway, I have begun my own explanation, and it comes as a story which I hope you will enjoy.

Corey’s Bow (part one)

Once upon a time, there was a young man named Corey, who, on his 12th birthday, received a wonderful bow and a quiver of seven bright arrows from his uncle across the sea. He opened it with awe and delight, and then found, tucked into the wrapping, this mysterious message: “If you can shoot Gaspard’s Apple from across the valley, you may keep the bow, but if you miss, you must give up your bow on the 20th of August next.” Just one year away!

Well! Think of that! Corey was already an excellent bowman, and he was confident that he could shoot anything, over hill or down dale. He could shoot a crabapple from the top of a tree; he could catch a bumblebee in flight; he could trouble the wingtip of a hawk bothering the songbirds in his back yard. He picked up his bow and marveled at its lightness; he pulled it taut and marveled at its smooth response to his tug; best of all, he shot his new arrows and and marveled at their flight, swift and true — and very far.

Well, pretty true. I mean, he could still shoot crabapples and bumblebees and whatnot, but these were all nearby. It was whenever he shot at a distance — a new experience with these magical arrows that soared so easily across the broad fields — that Corey had a problem. His arrow always fell to the right of his target. Always.

No… not quite always. Once he got a jackrabbit on the crest of a distant hill, but when he went to retrieve his prize, he found that there was a light wind up there; he had not noticed it and no doubt it had corrected his shot. It was most troubling. The arrows were perfectly balanced, and if they had not been, they would have gone as often left as right. The bow was faultless. Corey squinted; he prayed; he rubbed his neck and his eyes — to no avail. The arrow went off to the right, and he must shoot left of his target, just as he had long ago learned to shoot above it. But Corey understood the shooting higher; of course an arrows falls in flight. This was different, and it irked him to turn left after sighting his target; and how far left? It was all so mysterious and unreasonable…

And who was Gustav, anyway? What apple? He began to feel protective of his bow and hostile towards this stranger who could take it away by putting an apple on some hill or other. What hill?

(To be continued…)

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