And here is where the wind changes direction: such are the pontifications, but who will sweep the snow before it turns to ice?
This morning I was talking to a friend about a gem I discovered of Abbot's The Ramblings of an Idler. I had triple pleasure reading two chapters this morning: imagining him wandering land of natal significance; enjoying his love of nature; marvelling at his writing style - this very sentence is a nod to his: Nature loves the number three. She trinitates in more ways than one...
I spoke of the American tradition to return to nature, in Emersonian fashion, when dissatisfied with current affairs. How Abbot writes that failure "rouses the inborn energies" particularly if one goes: "Back to nature and sink self to its proper level." How Abbot's illustrations are taken from nature - which do not work for those modern audiences so concerned with scientific veracity that every allegory is broken by counter examples from nature: fixation with fact blinds readers from being inspired by the figurative meaning which brings a grander view.
Abbot writes that many say, "If you fail, try again" to their children - but the birds need no such instruction: the flycatcher naturally tries and tries again until it has caught its prey. But, my friend countered, what of those animals that make no effort to sustain their meals? I objected that the point of such paradoxes - and there are always paradoxes in figurative language - is that one ought know when the allegory applies, like knowing which medicine to prescribe. The same medicine can be restorative or deadly, depending on circumstance. To deny allegory is to refuse that medicine altogether. Much can be learned from nature.
"Like birds know to make nests for their young that will sway," he said. I parried, "Except for doves, whose nests are flimsy," - before realising that I had been led into a trap. So, I banished myself to my distorted image of Diogenes, with my barrel containing wine instead of wisdom.
It's a joke because I get light-headed on lofty statements like Abbot's: Our goal is a direction, not a fixed point in space. But in all seriousness, I wonder at how long it takes to practice what is preached. So I take my boat out of the bottle - and put that message in it. And post below a picture of a badge I made of "nothing" - of but doodads. Just like I hope my words here will one day come to "something".
Badge in photo made in variation of this tutorial, using cotton threads, ribbon, zipper, sequins, beads, a bit of turquoise and tiger's eye as, I later realised, wrong-coloured leaves. Or right-coloured autumn leaves?