December 10th, 2002

abstract butterfly

Vivid life

"So love me leave me do what you will
who knows what tomorrow might bring?
Learn from your mistakes is my only advice
And stay cool is the main rule"--Bryan Ferry

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abstract butterfly

time out of mind

"tonight when I face the dragon, the water will change to cherry wine, and the silver will turn to gold"....Becker/Fagen

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.