The Piggly Wiggly.
“Do you know what my dad called the Piggly Wiggly?” I asked my friend Volene.
“What? The Hoggly Woggly?”
“Yes.” We chuckled. “He used to say things like, ‘Your momma’s gone to the Hoggly Woggly,’ or driving past he would say, ‘I wonder what’s on sale at the Hoggly Woggly.'” We chuckled again.
The Matter with the Weather. Conversations from two weeks ago:
“Well, it’s the weather. It just ain’t right. Something’s wrong when it got cold and then got warm and then days of warm rain, and still warm temperatures, and moulds grow all over the place, and we breathe them in, and we have respiratory problems. It’s not right for weather to be like that.”
“My grandmother called it pneumonia weather.”
“Well, pneumonia weather, bronchitis weather, bad cold weather, flu weather, whatever it is, I’m sick of it. It ain’t right for it to be like this in November.”
In My Front Yard.
Sanders, the red maple, stands bare, as does Annabella, one of the crepe myrtles, the red-blooming one. Mary, the pink-blooming crepe myrtle, is slowly disrobing, not in a rush to shed the most beautiful foliage in the town. Erik, the willow oak, tells me that he will stay green longer. He has just a few leaves changed in color. Song, the ginkgo, is showing an old-timey color change, rich yellow tinged with brown on the fan-shaped leaves, not brilliant gold like some ginkgos. I must trim the rue plant; caterpillars ate many of its leaves, leaving some branches bare. Its light green-blue-ish leaves, turning a light butter color, will look good with the plant trimmed up. Perhaps as I trim it, it will tell me its name.
Notes on Reading. Nonfiction. David George Haskell, The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature. Penguin, 2012.
Haskell marked a circle a meter across in a forest in the hills of Tennessee. He visited often and at all times of day. He observed what was in this area for a year and wrote his observations and reflections in this book. The chapters are arranged by month, from January through December, and we learn about plants and animals that are in or which visit the area of the circle. Included are lichens, chickadees, deer, mosses, salamanders, wildflowers, snails, fireflies, snails, fireflies, katydids, cicadas, vultures,hawks, raccoons, various trees. We learn biology. Some of the discussion recalls high school and college courses, and we learn about geology, ecology, chemistry, and evolution. It’s an interesting and informative book.
He often begins his reflections with a description of the animal or plant and then gives a scientific look. For instance, he describes sunrise and considers the birds that sing then. He then explains the physics of sunrise and the mechanics of bird song. He writes, “When wonder matures, it peels back experience to seek deeper layers of marvel below. This is science’s highest purpose.”
He succeeds in showing us the marvels at which we wonder and the marvels given by the scientific explanation. Give yourself a gift Buy it and read it. Give copies to others. It’s grand.
Quotations from The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature by David George Haskell:
[after observing squirrels playing] “. . . there is a danger in an exclusively scientific way of thinking. The forest is turned into a diagram; animals become mere mechanisms; nature’s workings become clever graphs. Today’s conviviality of squirrels seems a refutation of such narrowness. Nature is not a machine. These animals feel. They are alive; they are our cousins, with the shared experience that kinship implies.”
“Seen closely, the snow is a tangle of mirrored stars, each one flashing as its surface aligns with the sun and my eye. The sunlight catches the minute ornamentation of each flake, revealing perfectly symmetrical arms, needles, and hexagons. Hundreds of these exquisite ice flakes crowd onto one fingertip.”
“. . . to love nature and to hate humanity is illogical. To truly love the world is also to love human ingenuity and playfulness. Nature does not need to be cleansed of human artifacts to be beautiful or coherent. Yes, we should be less greedy, untidy, wasteful, and shortsighted. But let us not turn responsibility into self-hatred. Our biggest failing is, after all, lack of compassion for the world. Including ourselves.”