Thursday, October 29, 2009


     Humanity is never quite in step with nature. We think that the leaves fall and that is the end of it, with nothing but bare branches left over. But when we look at things over the course of time (several decades will suffice) we see what is left over on those bare twigs; what they have for character and personality. If we just start with the bark, which is purplish-read on the bunchberry, green on the broom, yellow on the willow, white on the birch, silver-gray on the beech, and on top of that we have brown, cinnamon, ocher, black, smooth, taut, shining, rugose, furrowed, scaly, sticky, peeling--every branch gives away what has grown on it, each has the character of the whole tree or bush. And that is not even mentioning the brachiation and the structure of the crown--the dictionary does not suffice to find us expressions for each growth pattern and composition of the branching. There ares forked branches and perpendicular ones and crooked ones and tenaciously thorny ones, firmly and tortuously affixed to larger branches, others lightly and fluidly sticking up as though teased out with a comb, or others shooting straight up into the sky, others spreading, others hanging down, stretched out, whip-thin or luxuriously thick, muscular or emaciated like a skeleton or resembling long locks of hair, flexible and fleshy, or hard and dry like dead wood. Every shrub and every tree does it differently, according to its cultivar and species, so even when the leaves fall we can still in due course regard the full and unceasing multiplicity of nature, and best of all when the frost comes.

     And I haven't even mentioned the roots, of which there is an amazing and peculiar distinctions in color and growth, what sort of hirsuteness, woodiness, offshoots and expanse; one cannot overvalue them enough and perhaps even the Creator looks upon them with favor and praises them, saying what a beautiful cluster of roots has this tree or that bush has. What a beautiful subterranean country there is.

     We look at this all in a very human way, which is to say fallibly, when we say that nature dies back in resignation, and similar nonsense. First of all, nature does fairly well for itself, because in the simple majority of cases it does not die at all, and second of all it does not give itself up to any such sentimental weakness as resignation. On the contrary, there is something resolute and active in it, as though its opinion was: Enough talk, we must prepare for this and mobilize all of or strengths to defend ourselves! It will not happen without sacrifice, we must give up all of our foliage, tighten our belts transforming ourselves, and stash our sugars, starches, and other chemical necessities into our roots. Let's go, let's go, whining and moaning will not help us at all, it could come upon us at any second, and it must find us with matured and capable wood to survive this, but also capable of blossoming and flowering when this damned winter passes us by. We've got to make hay while the sun shines, that is our motto.

     As you can see, if we describe something as autumnal, there is no resignation in it, but rather a stout exhortation.

     And one night a harsh and sudden gray frost falls. The bare branches suddenly gleam with an unaccustomed and beautiful clarity, which we have not yet noticed; how everything is at once frozen, severe, and austere, so much so that it is a wonder the do not ring out like iron bars or rails. Everything is prepared; each one of those bare, hard branches is an armored line protecting the life behind it. We call them bare branches, and meanwhile it is vegetation in a coat of armor.



(d64 gave me fifty-five lines to do today, and this piece was fifty-four. A decent coincidence.)

No comments: