Thursday, June 30, 2011

A question of crows, and rocks

I woke, or was awakened, at 4:15 this morning, listening to crows. That's also a good time to listen to questions, and rather than do the hard work of trying to reproduce a fuzzy state of mind, I quote the following section from my book Saving Maine

"I don’t mean the questions you can look up on Google, or even those that some specialist scientist probably can answer, but the kind that might require mystery along with the facts. I also don’t mean the big questions, the meaning of life and the existence of God, for people are struggling to understand how to live in this world, and not any other. Those answers may be impossible to find, and any time put into the exercise seems wasted. We leave those questions to fanatics, and teenagers.
I do mean questions about the natural world. A crow in the spruce tree in front of my house hops up towards the top, branch by branch. Why does it do this? Why does it preen, stop, move up a notch, preen some more? Why this particular tree all the time, and why do other crows join it there? Many things about the crow are known, why it preens, what its multi-various calls signify, but do we know what makes it move, at what point it moves, why it moves, when no food or danger is in view? Things that move, like weather and wildlife and the human heart, have mystery, and are forever fascinating to the post-religious. All I want, and perhaps you, is to earn my place in a place by fitting in.
That’s where the things that don't move, like rocks and trees, provoke the deepest questions of all. They just are, and what does that mean? They belong to a place, as I now do, as the restless 21st century does not seem to. That’s the answer I know. I might understand the workings of a crow, given enough study. I might never understand the rocks of a beach, unless given eternity."

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