Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/739

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

occurs previous to the culmination. These two inverse variations of pressure may, however, be masked by meteorological conditions, as when there is an ascending or a descending current. During the winter months the mean pressure in the hours following the culmination of the moon is greater than in the hours preceding it. A current of rising air could mask the phenomenon, but there rarely is one at this season. During the summer months the variation is less marked. Finally, if we take account of the action of the sun, we shall find that these differences are more accentuated at the syzygies than at the quadratures, corresponding with what has been observed above. The results of observation thus prove that there really exists an atmospheric tide. It is hardly sensible to our instruments, because we are at the bottom of the ocean, subject to the action of the moon and the sun, and because the elastic force of the air is constantly tending to equalization of pressures.

 

Art and Fun of the Eskimos.—Much as has been written of the Eskimos, says Mr. E, F. Payne, in a paper read before the Canadian Institute, we find in almost every writing something new to interest us. Mr. Payne's own essay bears out the assertion. In building their igloos the Eskimos take advantage of the tendency of the snow to drift on the southeastern sides of the hills, so that the author, on visiting a village after a snow-storm, was struck with its resemblance to a lot of mole-hills. Nothing could be seen but a little snow thrown up on each side of a hole by which a passage led to the igloo; but, on a nearer approach, windows could be seen a little below the surface, from which the snow had been removed. Upon entering some of those igloos, passageways were found cut through the drifted snow, so connecting the huts as to give the appearance of an underground village. The people are not destitute of the art-sense, but have an inborn love of sketching, and are proficient in carving. Good models of kyacks, animals, and birds in ivory are made, especially on the north side of the strait, where the artists vie with one another in trying to make the smallest models. The art of drawing is confined for the most part to describing figures on the level surface of the snow, either with a piece of stick, or in larger figures with the feet. In several instances correct drawings of their own people were made by slowly moving along with the feet close together, and afterward dexterously adding details with one foot. Perspective was a great mystery to them; and even those who were accustomed to look daily at the pictures on the walls of the author's house could not understand it. Involuntarily their hands would steal up to the picture and feel for the objects that seemed to project; while other persons would shift their heads to look behind screens or doors in the picture. Amusements are few, and only one or two excite interest. Throwing the harpoon has the greatest attraction for the men, and wrestling and running are occasionally practiced till the weaker side loses interest. Foot-ball was played with the blown bladder of a walrus covered with leather. "Men, women, and children all took part in it, and no quarter was allowed. Here a woman, carrying her child on her back, might be seen running at full speed after the ball, and the next moment she might be lying at full length with her naked child floundering in the snow a few feet beyond her. A minute later the child would be again in its place, and nearly choking with laughter she would be seen elbowing her way after the ball again. Boys make small spears and throw them at marks; and girls have dolls and keep them till they are married, and they play at housekeeping and going a-visiting just like United States girls.

 

The Otter at Home.—The otter, as he may be seen sunning himself on a tree-trunk, looks like a large cat which has been thrown into the water and crawled out. Some people think that the fur of the otter throws the water off like the feathers on a duck's back. That is not the case; his fur protects his body in a different way. Any one who has seen a water-rat come up on a bank after a dive will have a good idea of the general appearance of the otter's fur. Now he gives his coat a shake and combs his fur a bit with his short, webbed feet. His head looks for the moment just like that of an infuriated tiger in miniature, as, with ears drawn close to his head, he snarls