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Monday, March 6, 2017

Signs and Portents

Here's a quotation I've never used before:
"...what portent can be greater than a pious notary?"

No idea what it means.

It comes from the novel, Romola, by Geo. Eliot --whose real name was Mary, a name I have always been fond of since I knew Mary the horse who never stepped on my head.  Geo. is my name too, so I get to use the quote. Portents weren't strictly considered warnings of calamity when the book was written --as they are now. They could mean a sign of anything wonderous. I will comply with modern usage and look for a wonderful sign.

Here, I will show you wonderful. Norma went out this morning between spring showers and photographed raindrops in her garden. Here is the first, a study of  refraction and reflection on a broccoli  leaf:
It consist of liquid jewels contrived to attract our attention. In fact, you can see a spot of dark in the upper leftmost drop. That is Norma and her lens. It comprised a promise, a portent she pursued to the brussel sprouts, which have rounder, more deeply contoured leaves.  Raindrops ran together there into a sign. A heart.
Nature is the language of the universe. In this instance, it left a sign we associate with love. The heart means the universe wants us to grow, thrive, treat each other --and ourselves-- with compassion.

If you wish to find out what else Eliot wrote on page 16 of  Romola,  her next sentence was "Balaam's ass was nothing to it." This a reference to the Old Testament Book of Numbers (22:21-39), where the ass got to talking coherently but was interrupted by humans who drummed themselves dopey with portentous political paradiddle.

Best to seek subtler signs --even if you don't like brussel sprouts because they look like little heads, and they do, you know.


33 comments:

  1. What I particularly like about your posts, Geo, is that I never know where you're going until you get there. But the journey is always interesting, amusing and thoughtful. This morning's is just lovely; so much from something apparently so ordinary. That in itself is extraordinary. Particular thanks to Norma.

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    1. Thanks, Tom. Following our brains around to surprising places is part of the fun nature affords us. Conveyed your compliment to Norma.

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  2. Norma takes beautiful shots..she has an eye for finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. You should most definitely keep her. As I go about my business today I shall look for signs and portents. The universe is a great talker if we only listen to her.

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    1. Delores, after 48 years I'm still trying to convince HER to keep ME. Making progress.

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  3. Geo, I love your paragraph that begins, "Nature is the language of the universe. It is so beautifully written and tells me, although I have known his since I found your blog, what a lovely and loving man you are.

    I remember reading Silas Marner in school many years ago. I loved the story and recall our teacher telling us that the author was a woman but had to take a man's name to get her stories published. The unfairness of it stayed with me.

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    1. Kind Arleen, the unfairness unfortunately remains in much of our world --but generation by generation--there is progress.

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  4. Given we have no leaves yet, nor anything green poking their nose above ground, I'll have to settle for some wicca thing, look for portents in the entrails of a sacrificial lamb, perhaps, then invite people for a nice rack of lamb.....
    Cheers,
    Mike

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    1. Sounds like a good plan, Mike, but we must still be alert for green things --especially in mutton. Rack of lamb always gets my favored attention.

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  5. It's been a long time since I considered a raindrop a thing of beauty - but Norma's unique photo has resurrected my enthusiasm.

    The last time I encountered George Eliot, I was 16 years old in high school. We were forced (by pain of lynching) to read The Mill on the Floss and I hated it. I avoided Eliot ever since.

    Perhaps it's high time for me to find her again....?

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    1. Must agree that Norma's photography --done with an inexpensive device-- captures my enthusiasm too. Relayed your nice compliment to her. Eliot's writing can seem cumbersome when we are teens, but later I liked the unhurried cadence of it --somewhat like 19th to 20th century music.

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  6. Love Norma photos. And your linking them to hope and good will.
    Loathe brussel sprouts though. My mother cooked them to a soft grey hell and I cannot get over it.

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    1. I share your suspicion of brussel sprout's character as a vegetable. Sauteed lightly with garlic and olive oil, they are palatable so long as I don't look at them.

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  7. In other words the ass was making sense and was drowned out by the cacophony of the humans. Happens every day. The Norma photos are outstanding. She certainly knows her way around a raindrop.

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    1. Relayed compliment, Norma glowed. As you say, sense seems to be drowned out all too often these days. Who invented the cacophone anyway? Wasn't donkeys.

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  8. Those are beautiful photos. I DO like Brussels sprouts, especially with lots of heavy cream and butter.

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    1. Thank you, Lori! Cream and butter,eh? I will try that.

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  9. Microcosms, and cosmos. This post has it all. Lovely photos and contemplations.

    I like the part about the donkey being smart; at least I think that's what it said :)

    Brussels sprouts look like little heads, yes, and they are something I have only come to appreciate in recent years as the taste buds wear off my tongue. Can you believe it, since they are not grown locally I had no idea until a couple of years ago what they looked like before they got to the freezer bag :)

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    1. O Jenny, I wish all people could be as smart as Balaam's uh donkey --to see cautions and be cautious where humans are oft oblivious. And yes, the little brusselbuds crowding up their stout stalk are a delightful garden event.

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  10. Dear George,

    The heart is extraordinary.

    -moi

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    1. Dear Suze, It certainly is, as are you. Our appreciation and thanks.

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  11. Geo,
    Thank you for another thoughtful and lovely meditation. The photos are wonderful. The heart is a beautiful portent or sign. However I wonder about the reference to Balaam's ass. I wish it were a sign. But I fear we are afflicted with an ass that makes no sense in his prodigious rantings and tweets.

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    1. Kind Tom and true, I agree we can calculate the character of an ass by the sounds it makes. Early days yet, and hopefully cooler heads in congress.

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  12. Oh for a world in which an Ass could talk coherently...

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    1. Sage, asses must understand each others' braying. Let us bray for a better world.

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  13. I agree with Tom. I had no idea where you were headed when I first started reading this post, but as always, it was a delightful journey. Norma has an artist's eye. It's a talent to appreciate the beauty in the ordinary, and a sure ticket to contentment, as well. You guys make a terrific team.

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    1. Thank you, Susan. Will read your compliment to Norma. She is the strong, quiet one in this marriage --my partner and stabilizer. She knows everything that is worth knowing. I know the rest.

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  14. So green! Oh, I miss green. So much white on the ground right now...

    The universe wants us to grow. I can definitely groove with that.

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    1. Spring is subnivean yet. Just glad we had some weather here. There are 10-year-olds in this state who've never seen a rainy winter until now.

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  15. Exquisite photos! And what a delicious phrase: portentous political paradiddle! The sound of our contentious time. I had to look up "paradiddle." Not much drumming in my background. But then I'm always looking up something in your blogs ~ must be why I thought you were an English professor once upon a time.

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    1. Thank you, Blue! "Paradiddle" is one of my favorite words but there's little occasion to use it. I would have made a poor professor of anything because of a tendency to wander off outdoors.

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  16. I love brussel sprouts which have never reminded me of little heads but will going forward. I'll name them as I eat them and roar like a giant. It will be fun.

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    1. Chicken, I will try your method when next faced with brussel sprouts. The world can surely accommodate another roaring, head-eating giant --what fun!

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