Tonight the weather was in the very high forties "chilly" weather, in which one almost has no need of a coat. Now this oncoming winter seems to flow from the receding Autumn, which in turn rapidly replaced the long-faded summer. The advertising circulars that were just yesterday promoting spring marigolds are now bandying flats of winter-hardy pansies. I planted pansies in the Spring in a terrarium jar. They jumped up into seedlings, and then jumped down into the ground again. I have not planted another terrarium since, although I soon will, if I do what I mean to do.
I drew up my Christmas list tonight, focusing on things I wish to do (a Wodehouse play in Fort Worth, a day hike in the Oklahoma mountains) rather than things I wish to own. There are only so many days in this existence, and there are things I wish to do and see--small things, fun things.
I remember when I was a child, and the entire world was contained for my practical purposes in a small town that can't have been two miles square. Even today, I can take a nephew to his local elementary school and sort fossils and crystals in the gravel on the playground. It's a matter of that child-like vision--it's so easy to lose, and I need a Diogenes to hunt for that wonder again. Truth is indeed elusive--but wonder is truly rare.
All one needs is a straw off a broomstick and an old jam jar and one can make practical magic. Fill the jar up with water, place the straw inside, and put the mixture in a reasonably warm place, with very indirect sunlight. Within days, protozoa bloom in that jar, like a Spring garden, only less fragrant. With a cheap microscope, a drip of water on the slide shows paramecia propelling themselves with their hair-like cilia; euglena photosynthesis-green, and amoebas slowly expanding and contracting over territory. Sometimes a rotifer will appear, looking like nothing so much as a miniature norelco razor on high. Their world is contained in the tiniest bit of water in a small jar.
A butterfly lives only for a few weeks in its adult stage. A guppy lives about eighteen months most of the time, but over the span of a few years of a wild guppy aquarium, one can see generation after generation of random color appear, evolve and disappear.
I have always wanted to go to the eastern Sierras, where the bristlecone pine trees, oldest of the old, live. I am not the archetypal "tree hugger", but I must admit that I sometimes grasp a tree branch, and think "thoughts" at a tree. Bristlecone pines live for thousands of years. I'd grasp the trunk of a bristlecone pine, and I'd ask it "what does the time teach you?". But I imagine that it might say "the Spring comes, the Summer comes, the Autumn comes, and the Winter comes, and eventually all things die".
I believe in life after death, although it is not really important to me what it is that I believe, as time will solve that question.
The question of eternal, timeless life I wish to solve is in this world, where bristlecone pines and I hurtle through something we probably do not fully understand (can't really speak for the pines). I love the last stanza of the song "Amazing Grace", when the narrator explains that even after 10,000 years of living in a shining place, we've no less cause to seek Grace than when we first begun.