Wednesday, December 29, 2010
A sock is a pocket for your toes...
Elizabeth Garton Scanlon
When something resonates with us, or inside of us, we are often moved to act in response; and that "something" can be a simple or complex object, a place, a person, a sound, maybe just the way the day looks out the nearest window. Thirsty Stork
For the first many months of walking in my neighbor woods, I didn’t think one way or another about pockets. Either my jacket had them, or it didn’t. But recently, that changed. Pockets became near as important as shoes. And, suddenly, without a pocket, I just didn’t walk as well.
Seeing begets seeing. Most things in the forest are connected to other things, literally, and I wouldn’t break any such attachments. But some things have become freed from their hold—the pine cone has fallen from the tree onto the path in front of me—and a few of those call my name.
First, I picked them up for a closer look, then placed them back on the ground. That was sufficient. Until it wasn’t. Looking and touching the forest’s bits and pieces, its flotsam and jetsam—eggshell, rocks, portable boughs— wasn’t enough. I began wanting to take small emblems of nature home with me. To remind me of where I’d been on days I couldn’t go? Yes, and I wanted to do something with what I found, to interact with nature—visually, texturally. That’s where the pockets came in.
I can’t walk the whole way, whatever way that is, without bending down for something, though hardly does something come home with me most days. The passenger seat of my car is covered, much of the time with any number of things, but beneath them is that which clings to whatever I pick up, a nice layer of soil from the forest’s floor.
The first two things I brought home from the park were an almost whole eggshell from a small bird (too tender for a pocket; that was carried in my cupped hand) and a heart-shaped rock that, at first, I mistook for a child’s fallen sugar cookie. My pockets have carried many things, flower and fauna: feathers—dove, hawk, flicker, and I don’t know who else’s; pine cones, whole or split open or crushed and splayed like an toothful mouth; a thin piece of bark, veneer like, rolled up; two men’s handkerchiefs, both found on Lower Ridge Road—one plain white and the other with a machine embroidered “B” in a corner; a thick red hair tie that I sometimes wear as a bracelet; lichen; sticks; dried honeycomb and other beehive parts; lots of litter, including an empty, miniature “sweet tea” liquor bottle and, most recently, an empty pack of “foil wrapped cigarillos.” As my mother would say, “It takes all kinds.”
My father is the person I know best who bends down for things he might want to take home. Often it’s the shiny objects that attract his raven eyes. The other day, I bent for something shiny, thinking it was an insect’s wing, missing the rest of itself. But no—a teardrop of hardened pine sap that caught the light. At least, I’ve come to this avocation honestly. Though my Pop’s slowed down an awful lot, the other day when we were out, he bent down, came back up with a bright penny, said, with a mix of pride and relief, “I can still do this!”
I’ve begun to make things, little interactions between nature’s imagination and my own, with the found objects. Two nichos: a brown one with clear glass door keeps dried pine needles; a muted silver nicho holds an array of lichens, sans door. I put an acorn atop a small rusty wagon. Might a little toy deer pull it back into the woods? The ideas are burbling. They rise whenever I’ve got something in hand. Might this be part of what it means to be friends with these woods?
My sense is that the forest doesn’t mind my taking little bits. Its given me no indication that it does. Not that it would right away; the earth is like that. But I hope it’s okay. I’m driven, uplifted by curiosity. I like holding hands with the forest, want to bring it up close to others, to say, “Look at the cornucopia of what’s there!” Having some of the woods at home with me, I feel closer, when away, to the whole of the place.
Posted by Patrice Vecchione at 6:16 AM