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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Nature As A Second Language

Now that the election is over with --or is it?-- it is time to turn our attention to nature --yes, that area between the front door and the car. Norma sent me coverage:
"Hello there, what're you?"
"You're the dominant species. You tell me."
"Off hand, I'd say you're an Agraulis vanillae."
"Typical arrant pedantry, up with which I shall not put. I'm a Fritillary.
"Not the same thing?"
"From Latin, human, it's a long way to Fritillary." 
"You can learn from Latin."
"What?"
"Publilius Syrus said, 'An angry man is again angry at himself when he returns to reason.'"
"But I'm a butterfly, not a man. Look!"
"Where'd you go?"
"Put your glasses on and look carefully. I only turned sideways."
"Oh, there you are! What are you trying to teach me?"
"Look in your mind. What do you see?"
"Well, butterfly, this surprises me. I see my 1830 edition of Whelpley's dissertation on the importance of historical knowledge, A Compend Of History, open at illustrations of Fabricius and the Elephants and Cornelia's Jewels."

"And what similarities do you notice?"
"Good heavens, the book-spine and your head, thorax and abdomen..."
"My wings?"
"Your wings and the book's pages..."
"Constitute what, human?"
"Information systems of identical construction!"
"Indeed. Each butterfly is a four-page history of butterflies."
"Dear butterfly, I have been reading since Eisenhower took office but realize I have barely begun!"
"Learn the language, human. Learn the language!"

26 comments:

  1. One thing that strikes me is how little the word 'compend' is used anymore. Another, as I finish my glass of Malbec after a dinner of 5 spice duck with wild rice, enjoyed with a friend, how little discourse, civility, whatever we want to call it, is left in the world.
    I'm as much to blame as anyone. There are people I have no patience with, with whom I suppose I'd greet with civility were I to meet them in the street. Such is modern life.
    The next years will be hard, Geo. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure politeness, restraint, apologizing when we think we offended them is going to work, in terms of solving the issue.
    The recent, fairly reliable polls, tell us it's racism that decided this election. As much as the other side of the vote would deny it, it's so. It ain't obvious, it ain't painted on the side of their bus, but it's there.
    I'd like to say I'd get through this, and we could comment on the other side, but more I'd like my kids to say, in 4 or whatever years, that they like this better.
    Cheers,
    Mike

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    1. Dear Mike, politeness and restraint are always good measures. Our kids'll be alright. What we need to work on now is the method of tabulating votes. Those advocating Electoral over Popular vote are doing everyone an injustice --excusable in the 1880s but not in this technological age. It's like that quote, "Those who cast votes decide nothing; those who count votes decide everything" -Josef Stalin --and we all know what a sweetheart he was. But my current hope is that Mr. Trump lets campaign boasts be bygones and settles in as a squared-toed centrist.

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  2. I often think that I would like Nature's language to be the universal one.
    And, bless her heart, she as dangerous as she is beautiful but she doesn't lie.

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  3. Dear EC, I do believe nature is the language of the universe, composed as it is of tremendous operations among planets and subatomic quanta where time and distance mean nothing. What we hear in windy treetops and breaking waves began among the stars.

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  4. To read a butterfly would be a great adventure. They have pretty much disappeared with the cooler weather but I will definitely try to read more net year.

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    1. If this idea gets enough momentum, Emma, we'll have Butterfly Of The Month clubs and reviewers chasing their material with nets.

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  5. Butterflies, beauty, history. These are wonderful antidotes this season.

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    1. Tom, these things serve as distraction from our quadrennial toxins in a world bigger than one election.

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  6. I did not see one single butterfly all summer. There is a message in that..one we need to read carefully.

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    1. Indeed, Delores, butterflies depend on spring thaw to signal their return north. Many other cues are also disrupted as the planet warms. So much still needs to be learned.

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  7. I love this post. A have a book called "The Hidden Lives of Trees" by Peter Wohlleben about how wild trees communicate with each other. When I ordered it, thought to myself, I need to let Geo know. It seems like it might be your kind of book. Maybe this is the right time. You've probably already read it but just in case you haven't, I'm mentioning it.

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    1. Thanks! I didn't know about Peter Wohlleben's book but will now be on the alert for it. The incredibly complex language of nature is essential to our well-being and the more we learn, the better off we are.

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  8. Butterflies get carried away on desert winds here.

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    1. I believe the Santa Ana winds are an autumn force, and that's an especially important time to butterflies.

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  9. A presumed dead butterfly found in a box of old paper startled us all only yesterday by flying vigorously at a sunny window. We didn't think to read its wings, but I'm certain it was a hopeful tome. This post is hopeful too.
    It was a Red Admiral (Vanessa Atalanta) by the way x

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    1. What a colorful surprise! I trust Vanessa did not have to open the window by herself. Some butterflies show appreciation with an extra aerial convolution as a little wave.

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  10. I'd much rather listen to Nature than most any human these days.
    Delightful, as always!
    x

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    1. Most kind, Laura. And yes, Nature must be nearly supernaturally compassionate just to include us.

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  11. "Nature - that area between the front door and the car" - I do love this line. What a gorgeous butterfly on an equally gorgeous flower. Very striking.

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    1. O Jenny, Norma's flowers are much prized by the insect world. Some think they look good enough to eat --and do!

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  12. Geo - I'm so sorry to hear about your recent trip to the hospital and I'm glad you're back home. Hopefully you'll have a peaceful and enjoyable Thanksgiving. Take care!

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    1. Kind Jon, it turned out to be mainly a need for medication adjustment but they kept me a day for observation. I'm ok and looking forward to a simple holiday. You enjoy yours too!

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  13. Nature offers the perfect antidote to most of our troubles. Must be Mother Nature offering some good old-fashioned mothering, eh?

    This is a lovely post. It's like a gentle smile. :) I like the way your mind works, dear dude. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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    1. Thanks Susan. I like the way your mind works too!

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  14. Dear Geo., I love the quote of Publilius Syrus, 'An angry man is again angry at himself when he returns to reason.'" Well, lets hope that reason dominates.
    (Sorry, at the moment I am not much in Blogland because of work and travel - not because of not being interested).

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    1. Dear Brigitta, Glad to hear from you! You are certainly an encouraging online presence --especially appreciated after a contentious election. I hope my country has not lost its reason.

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