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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