Bracketing

---Maybe it was the warm weather, or maybe spring was set to replay its timeless script; I'm not certain. But we saw birds in the woodlot, my friend and I. And we heard them, playfully, cheerfully, whimsically flitting between the stately sugar maple and majestic oak.

She had read my philosophical writings and so, I wanted her to get a sense of the things that awoke my imagination. She had especially sought the “well” which I had poetically described, but alas, as I feared, we could not find it. I guided our walk to as many natural objects as I could. But, I wanted to avoid merely listing the trees, animals, and snow, like material possessions. I wanted to share the wonder of a prickly hawthorn, the chorus of sparrows, or the way in which the receding whiteness reveals frozen berries.

Yet, in the woods only with another person can you have the question, “Why do the leaves turn red?” answered, discussed, and reflected upon; or a prophetic interpretation of Shelley’s Frankenstein explained by the hindsight of scientism; or the paradoxical use of words: as data and metaphor.

In this way, on a rosy-eared February afternoon, you wonder if the relationship between persons must be grounded in an ecological context. Does it complete the community, the vision of humanitas; for is this not ecology?

Solitude is what results when community is bracketed. In this, the “other” affords to the reflective primacy of “self,” practical experience. The beauty of a singular spider, precariously tight-roped, is meaningfully experienced alone, but shared, evokes empathy. It is all too easy to lose the intimacy with nature grasped by solitude, with spoken words, but a subtle glance restores the dreamy imagination of being seven again.

 

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Taken on February 24, 2011