Metaphors

Edwin Way Teale, increasingly forgotten and unread nowadays, wrote many wonderful books. In 1966, Wandering Through Winter, the fourth in a series of seasonal travelogues, won the Pulitzer Prize. Both naturalist and photographer, he was in many ways a brilliant predecessor to those of us involved with iNaturalist. For instance, his Circle of the Seasons: The Journal of a Naturalist's Year (1953) collects his written nature observations for each day of one entire year.

Interestingly, his entry for this day, January 4th, refers to the common image of the new year being a blank book yet to be written. He continues, "Nature's year is also a book to be written." From the perspective of midwinter, the year's entire story is yet to come. Extending that metaphor, the previous year has been printed and bound, and these sparse winter days stand equivalent to the blank pages between the end of the text and the back cover, a little quiet space for contemplation, a pause.

I like the idea that the end is past and that the beginning yet to come. Standing near the center of a frozen pond at the still point of the turning year, the temperature at mid day exactly zero degrees, I pause momentarily. Like a hand clutching many different sized rings together, this particular point in time arrives at a unique convergence of many natural cycles—diurnal cycles, seasonal cycles, climactic cycles caused by solar orbit wobbles, and so forth. I might even be standing at the cross that marks the very center of some great unregistered infinity sign. I move on. My attention drawn back from the music of the spheres to the surface of the pond, I follow a line of fox prints toward the shore. Whether it was a Red Fox or a Grey Fox can no longer be determined; its presence both recorded and erased.

A number of years later, Teale would improve upon the idea of the year being a circle, a simple lap to be run, when he published A Walk through the Year (1978). The metaphor becomes a little less abstract, richer in detail and surprise whether we envision a simple daily walk or an extended journey. Of course there are other metaphors we might consider. The year might be considered to be a labyrinth, where we enter get lost and, with any luck, find a way back to the start. Or the combination of circles and time that creates spiral- or helix-shaped years. Or the motion of waves—crest to trough to crest we might drift through the years. Take your pick.

Publicado por scottking scottking, 05 de janeiro de 2017, 04:46 AM

Observações

Fotos / Sons

What

Canídeos (Família Canidae)

Observador

scottking

Data

Janeiro 4, 2017 01:27 PM CST

Descrição

Fox, tracks
(the track length is about 2 inches)
Cowling Arboretum
Northfield, Minnesota

Comentários

This time of year does spawn metaphors if little else. My father once tried to loan me his copy of Wandering Through Winter but I passed. Wish I'd taken him up on it now that he's gone and all his books disposed of. I need to find ways to tolerate if not actually enjoy winter if I'm going to be stuck here a while longer where it insists on coming around each year. Maybe I'll seek out Teale's book for guidance.

Publicado por driftlessroots quase 5 anos antes (Sinalizar)

Mark, I do recommend seeking out Teale's books; he was a very fine writer. And besides, one of the tried and true ways to weather winter is to sit inside where it's warm and read, especially books of natural history.

Publicado por scottking quase 5 anos antes (Sinalizar)

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