Gifts from the Tree

On Sunday this dogwood tree was festooned with small red berries.

On Monday, bluejaws flew back and forth having their fill, squawking at the just-as-hungry robins and the more timid wrens and sparrows. “OUR TREE! MINE! MINE! MY BERRIES!”

On Tuesday the robins moved in.  They tussled with one another in a whir of wings, to and fro, to and fro. It was marvelous.  I went out to try and photograph the berry frenzy but it wasn’t possible.  So I simply stood on the patio and watched in delight while the robins ate one, two, three, four berries at a time before flying to parts unknown and their winter troves. It was marvelous seeing Nature take care of itself. From blossoms to berries to bird sustenance.

On Wednesday the tree’s entire crown was bare of berries and by afternoon the only ones remaining hung from the bottom-most and lightest branches. By now the sparrows and wrens had joined in, sneaking away the ones on the ground. They had to tussle with the chipmunks a time or two, but it was rather civil. 

This morning the tree is nearly bare of berries. My heart is full of wonder and gratitude. The memory will feed me through the winter.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

My son and daughter-in-law have a list of family values that are intrinisic to the raising of our granddaughters. One of them is, “We don’t give up.” 

Elliot related a recent conversation he had with four-and-a-half-year-old Olivia.  She had hit a stumbling block of some sort and was growing discouraged. 

Elliot (my paraphrasing): You know Olivia, one of our family values is that we don’t give up.  We try again. And then if that doesn’t work, we try again until we get where we want to be.

Olivia (verbatim): So what you’re telling me is we don’t succumb.

Yep. You can bring your jaws together again.

Olivia’s words have taken on a deeper meaning in this month following the high holidays and this period of reflection, repentance and renewal. “We don’t succumb” applies to more than goals and determination.  “We don’t succumb” reminds me not to succumb to my own petty, and not-so-petty,  inclinations. It reminds me not to succumb to negative thinking, to useless worrying, to all those mark-missing behaviors that I vowed so recently to work on.

I’ll leave it here for you to mull over. Perhaps it will become a new family value for us all.

 

 

Full Spectrum by Adam Rogers

Yesterday my review of Adam Rogers’ fabulous book, Full Spectrum: How the Science of Color Made Us Modern, was one sentence from completion. I had shared the span of history, biology, geology, commerce, physics, light, and more that he wove together in his exploration of color.  I had written about the other books about color on my shelf: Catherine McKinley’s  Indigo in which she traces this marvelous color from the dye pots of ancient Africa to the runways of 21st century Fashion Week and Simon Garfield’s delightful Mauve, the accidental invention of which by 18-year-old chemist William Perkins in 1856 gave way to mass-production of color by marrying chemistry and chroma. 

I’d written about Rogers’ clarity in explaining complex theories and even more complex science and how he managed to edge in humor as well.  He called the brain “think-meat” and offered up sentences such as, “The oscillation between seeing and learning is a steady hum in the background of human history.” There was also this sentence which I offer you the next time you are at a coktail party (remember those?) and want to impress: “A material’s refractive index is the ratio of speed of light in a vaccuum to speed of light as it moves through that material.”  I wrote how Full Spectrum arrived full of mystery. A deliver from Amazon with no note from the sender.

You know where this is going, don’t you? One sentence from completion my review fell victin to that sickening sleight of hand we all know too well. My review disappeared. Into the ether, over the rainbow, off the canvas for evermore.  So instead, I give you what Rogers says of Full Spectrum: “This book will roughtly folloiw the back-and-forth of color beetween — to be reductionistbout it — physics and mind.”  It is not a fast read, but it is a fascinating one.

 

PS Turns out my son saw a review of the book and thought I’d enjoy it. He was spot on.

PSS Also turns out that back in June I had tucked away in my “To Read” file a WSJ review of Full Spectrum. I love it that my son and I remain on the same wavelength.