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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pathetic fallacy

My rant last week about the lack of raspberries this year is fallacious, although it remains to be seen how pathetically. There are a reasonable number now ripening and there's even the beginnings of a path through the canes, a sure sign that the experts also believe. The only question now is the sweetness and length of the season. Samples today were a touch sour.

The walk with the dog also included a display of tumbling in the middle of the lane. Out of the woods ran two juvenile squirrels (I'm assuming they were still young by their size and by the not-yet-red color of their fur), and they proceeded to roll head over heels in play right in front of us. It was a tangle and a tango, somersaults a due, a dance that might have been violent if it weren't so much fun. After a minute or so of tearing around on the tar, they chased each other back into the woods.

I see I'm wrong again. The words I used to describe that scene are humanoid, anthropocentric. Who can say if squirrels play? Have fun? Tango? I should try to use more neutral words, try to convey the excitement of this encounter sans sapiens. Do we really need humans in the middle of the raspberry patch?

Nature - and nature writing - doesn't need the human touch (or hammer, or earthmover, or stretched simile). Indeed, it seems to me that I am most human at two points anent any particular experience: during the act of watching that teenage squirrel-ness (or eating that raspberry), and while working as hard as I can to remove pathos when telling it for others.

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