Who can know these and, other myriad children of Chaos and old night, who can know the awe the horror and the majesty of earth, yet be content with the blue sky alone. Not I for one. I love the love lit dome above, I cannot live without mine own particular star; but my foot is on the earth and I wish to walk over it until my wings be grown. I will use my microscope as well as my telescope. And oh ye flowers, ye fruits, and, nearer kindred yet, stones with your veins so worn by fire and water, and here and there disclosing streaks of golden ore, let us know one another before we part. Tell me your secret, tell me mine. To be human is also something?
~ Margaret Fuller
(Meditations of Margaret Fuller: The Inner Stream)
The tendinous part of the mind, so to speak, is more developed in winter; the fleshy, in summer. I should say winter had given the bone and sinew to Literature, summer the tissues and blood.
The simplicity of winter has a deep moral. The return of nature, after such a career of splendor and prodigality, to habits so simple and austere, is not lost upon either the head or the heart. It is the philosopher coming back from the banquet and the wine to a cup of water and a crust of bread.
“Nay, nay,” said a nuthatch, making its way, head downward, about a bare hickory close by, “The nearer the bone, the sweeter the meat. Only the superfluous has been swept away. Now we behold the naked truth. If at any time the weather is too bleak and cold for you, keep the sunny side of the trunk, for a wholesome and inspiring warmth is there, such as the summer never afforded. There are winter mornings with the sun on the oak wood-tops. While buds sleep thoughts wake.”
Blue Jay by Mdf/Wikimedia Commons
“Hear! hear!” screamed the jay from a neighboring tree, where I had heard a tittering for some time, “winter has a concentrated and nutty kernel, if you know where to look for it,” and then the speaker shifted to another tree farther off and reiterated his assertions, and his mate at a distance confirmed them; and now I heard a suppressed chuckle from a red squirrel that heard the last remark, but had kept silent and invisible all the while.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Journal, November 28, 1858)
Childhood is a mystery: the soul is timeless, the body new, and the world complex. What a conjunction: the great unfolding in the small.
Childhood asks us what reality really is, what the world is, and where it came from. Childhood asks where life came from, and where it goes. Does the soul exist? Where was the soul before birth? How many realms are there? Are fairies real? Do ghosts and spirits exist? Why are some people lucky and others unlucky, why is there suffering? Why are we here? Are there more things in the innocent-seeming world than we can see? These are some of the questions that the state of childhood asks, and which perplex us all our days.
Childhood is an enigma, a labyrinth, an existential question, a conundrum. It is the home of all the great questions about life and death, reality and dream, meaning and purpose, freedom and society, the spiritual and the secular, nature and culture, education and self-discovery.
Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Whatever the vexations or concerns of their personal lives, their thoughts can find paths that lead to inner contentment and to renewed excitement in living.
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.
~ Rachel Carson
(The Sense of Wonder)
Native to New England, swamp rose mallow grows along the salt pond near our beach and blooms from July to September. It is tall, reaching 4 to 7 feet high, and the lovely pink five-petal flowers are 4 to 7 inches wide. This sorrowful summer, when I’m in town, we go down to the beach nearly every day, sometimes twice a day. Enjoying the sight of these cheerful flowers en route helps me find those reserves of strength and healing Rachel Carson wrote about.
A sparrow or a deer knows much more of nature’s secrets than a man but is less able to utter them. And those men who know the most can say the least.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(The Journals & Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, August 1, 1835)
Satellite in my eyes Like a diamond in the sky How I wonder Satellite strung from the moon And the world your balloon Peeping Tom for the mother station
~ Dave Matthews
♫ (Satellite) ♫
Avery Point Light, Groton, Connecticut
We speak of the beauty of the moon when we are speaking not only of its pure round whiteness in the night sky, but also of the mysterious influence it exerts. We also imply its strange magnetism, its mesmeric hold on our imagination, and the inexplicable way it affects our bodies, our sleep, our moods, and all nature. When we gaze up at night the moon unifies our world-view. It is a mirror, reflecting the light of the sun, but in its own unique consistency.
The moon is more than what we see. Its appeal is cosmic and beyond the mind’s full conscious comprehension. It is as deep in us as it is far above us. To see it is to resonate with a thousand invisible forces and feelings.