November 1st, 2007

new year

Every step is on the Way

Here I am at the public library again, returning a big pile of Louise Erdrich books, and picking up the next... what did I order? that remains to be seen. But I was walking and that of course brings things up.

I was cutting across the grass between sidewalk and parking lot, to the post office drop boxes, which reminded me of the conversation Mr S and I had on the drive out to Spring Green last Sunday. When I told him one small observation from one of Erdrich's books, and he immediately recognized it. This Erdrich land I've been immersed in is always leading into the bush. From the two-lane highways, the scenic drives, like familiar highway we were following, we turn off onto smaller roads, and then onto unpaved tracks, and then smaller tracks, that dead end in a clearing where only smaller paths and deer trails lead on. In our part of the world we don't get out that far from town too often, you have to head there on purpose, and even up north by Eau Claire it's hard to get more than five minutes lost from some drivable track you could follow back to civilization.

What Erdrich pointed out is that when you really get off the trail, in the woods, then you have left that construction of reality by humans entirely behind. There are rocks and brambles. You stumble through the undergrowth. The only way you can follow is that of nature. You can only follow groping according to your own nature. Everything you see and feel is growing in accord with its own essence, tumbling through the seasons.

You can learn something from that. I was going to upload some of my photos of the Nature Conservancy land we walked that day, and tell you about it. Today I cut through the zoo, where not only paths but most of the ground is mostly blacktop, and I wondered at how lost we can be as natural beings in a world so carelessly paved over. Head down, with a load of books on my back, there was still a creature guide that came under my nose, which was a pair of black swans. Beauty surrounds us, even the dark kind. There's treasure everywhere.