Beauty, Truth. Truth, Beauty | Part Three

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Closer. Closer. Closest.Parts one, two and three bring us to the truth, you might say, of this vagabond beauty, wild Forget-Me-Not discovered along Nameless Creek this week.And I will confess, until now I had missed the lesson, knowing only this plant family, with its uncoiling blossoms, pleased me. The AHA! comes from slowing down enough to see the pattern: the grand design in the apparent chaos of rampant growth. This plant displays the Golden Mean, Beauty manifesting Truth.

There is so much to say in this, more than I can find words for before first light on a busy day. But in the end, the lesson from this small flower and a thousand thousand other tiny teachers will be something like this: we need to move from anesthetic knowledge back toward aesthetic wisdom. Truth is more to be found in Beauty than in Efficiency, more needed to save our world than Power or the Knowledge of least things.

Make a point of finding one thing beautiful today.

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty, — that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” ~ John Keats

“Sweet is the lore which Nature brings; Our meddling intellect misshapes the beauteous forms of things: We murder to dissect.” ~ William Wordsworth

“God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please, you can never have both.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Forget me Not — Part One

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On a sandy spit of temporary island heaped up in last winter’s storms, blooming in profusion between foot-wide rivulets of Nameless Creek, we discovered a sea of pale blue flowers. (You can see a bit of red barn roof in the background.)While we had never seen this plant before on our place, I recognized it, drawing from some seldom-visited recess of plant-taxonomic memory, as a member of the Borage Family, characterized by just the kind of infloresence–or flower-growth arrangement–as we saw here in miniature. Lovely, and all the more so for being so unexpected a find on a routine walk: forget-me-not, Mysotis scorpiodes.

But more about this plant tomorrow and Friday.

Friday SHoRTs

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&tc… This has been a difficult fern to make look nice, because unlike yesterday’s featured pteridophyte (Osmunda cinnamomea) that had feather-duster distinct spore-producing separate stalks, this Interrupted Fern (same genus) looks like it forgot what it was doing, interrupting the leafy sterile frond for a few iterations of spore-producing pinnae, then resuming its green photosynthetic tasks.

&tc… Funny how time heals–even very tiny wounds. I’d almost forgotten. In the garden this week, I’ve been so intent on my planting I haven’t dwelt on the stingy itchy spots down next to my scalp and on my arms. I just remember to wear a cap and a long sleeve shirt and go on. But it occurred to me yesterday: hey, these are not your plain vanilla gnats. I’ve only one or two years before felt that invisible irritation, but never before the middle of June: Noseeums. Biting midges so small you can fit three on the head of a pin. Dang global warming.

&tc… Places of Our Lives: a Visual Essay. That’s what I’ve tentatively titled a program I’ll be giving twice in October. The plan is to take three “makes a point” essays and illustrate them with digital images. The chosen pieces are (1) Child’s Play: Addressing Nature Deficit Disorder; (2) Calling Them By Name–that encourages folks to learn to identify trees, birds, wildflowers etc as a way of gaining appreciation and respect for our personal environments); and (3)Where I am Married–that talks about sense of place, particularly mine for where we live our lives.)

&tc… I plod with the iPod. Personally, I’d ditch iTunes if I could. I’d expected more of Mac. Even so, I’m manually adding and deleting now, and it’s working okay. Yesterday I loaded an mp3 book-on-CD (not exactly a streamlined process but it works) and with my new Sony Earbuds purchased at BestBuy in South Dakota, I’m happy. I also found most of my lost music library on CD’s hidden in the wardrobe. I used to take these to work years ago–Beatles, Lettermen, lots of classical stuff, Harry Nilsson. NeoLuddite wife Ann still gives me grief, which I accept, having had lots of practice.

The Seldom Scene

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I have a few *pterible images from that Blue Ridge Parkway meadow full of ferns I discovered a couple of weeks back, and will post one or two of my favorites.

As with wildflowers, the first blooms (as if ferns had them) are most attractive. Ferns, in addition to their lacy leafery, often have this seldom-seen “fertile” stage, as in this Cinnamon Fern, when they are busily producing spores by the millions for dispersal in the wind.

As I’m sure you remember from biology class, those spores, against all odds finding favorable soil, can produce a gametophyte, a little heart-shaped leaf that will produce either an egg, or a flagellated, swimming sperm.

Given the necessary film of water between the two (understand why there are no desert ferns?) the multi-tailed sperm swim to the egg along a chemical gradient (they “smell” the egg, in a sense) and voila! a fertilized egg (the sporophyte phase in this “alternation of generations”) begins to elongate into what will become a fern frond–either a “sterile” leaf-only frond, or one these fancy feather-duster-looking arrangments (or some variation on the theme generally not as gawdy as this) that is “fertile” and spore-bearing.

Now. You may expect a pop test on this at our next meeting. Do your homework.

*Pteridology is the study of ferns, so if I’m having a pterible day, it means I’m seeing lots of them!

Beginning of the Beginning

We are poised in our time between humanity’s proclivity for self-indulgence, arrogance and short-sighted self-destruction and a time of healing, cooperation and sustainable relationship with each other and the planet. Some of you understand. You feel revulsion and you feel the possibilities to do better–far better–for the sake of our children’s children, and because it is the RIGHT thing. The problems are many. So too may be the solutions.

“But what can one person do?” we hear so often, perhaps from our own lips or unspoken thoughts.

While working in the garden yesterday, mending the fences from last year’s deer damage, feeling more than a little discouraged about the state of the world, I listened to Paul Hawken describe our collective understanding about our place in the grand scheme of things, and encourage his listeners wisely in ways we CAN and ARE changing the way we do things to each other and the planet–perhaps, even in time to avoid paying the consequences of where our bigger-hammer approach to commerce and politics seems to be carrying us.

sustainability environment Hawken McKibben economics resources I encourage you to pull this thread. If you could use some encouragement, some hope, and a vision for a brighter future than the one we see at first glance in the media, take time to visit at least one of the links below.

Read the advance endorsements of Hawken’s Book, Blessed Unrest by Jane Goodall, Barry Lopez, Bill McKibben, Terry Tempest Williams, David James Duncan, David Suzuki and others.

Watch the short video where Hawken speaks at the Bioneers conference describing this “movement without a name” that may already include more than a million like-minded organizations and 100 million people. If you think you’re alone and powerless, watch.

Buy the book. Give to your children.

And finally, visit Natural Capital, and read about WISER, the World Index for Social and Environmental Responsibility. Let’s find out where we fit best, each one of us. We all have strengths, skills, gifts, experience that can be used toward the healing of injury–environmental, political, and economic. Maybe it’s NOT too late, after all. Perhaps we are at the beginning of the beginning, a time of blessed unrest–and not the beginning of the end.