Musings on Today’s Walk
When I go for walks, I try to pay attention to things that get overlooked.
Moss. Dead leaves. Blooming flowers. Wilting flowers. Raindrops. All sorts of small and seemingly unimportant things.
And, yes, I stop to smell roses and to pet moss. My hands like the feel of moss. It’s like botanical velvet. A carpet for fairies. I touch bark, feel the roughness. Like a child, I pick up leaves and pretty rocks and take them home. Is that because I never grew up?
As people get older, they too get overlooked and dismissed as unimportant, with nothing to offer.
I’m hardly the only person who has discovered the beauty of small, overlooked things, but the faster the world goes, the faster time flies, we forget to stop and look. Stop and to touch. To listen. And think.
Writers notice even the smallest details and describe them. Walt Whitman watched “A noiseless patient spider” and compared the filaments it casts to his soul, flinging gossamer filaments, hoping they’ll catch on something. Another soul. Another heart. Some of us cast gossamer filaments that never catch anywhere or catch on the wrong thing. Because of Whitman’s spider and Charlotte, I’ve never looked at spiders the same way.
Robert Frost noticed “A Considerable Speck” scuttling across the page where he’d been writing. How easy it would be to drown it with a drop of ink. The speck is so tiny it seems to have no room for feet, let alone a brain, yet it moves with purpose and seems aware of the threat represented by Frost’s pen. Of course, the poet doesn’t drown the speck but lets it go on its way. I no longer drown or squash specks. Most of the time. Fruit flies don’t count. Spiders do.
I fell in love with Japanese culture when I was in high school. I can’t remember if it was in my creative writing class when I discovered haiku. I was enchanted by the three-line, seventeen syllable poems. Or maybe I fell in love with Japanese culture at the Seattle Asian Art Museum while gazing at netsuke, tiny exquisitely sculpted fobs that fastened inro boxes to an obi. I love how the artists often depicted tiny creatures, frogs or beetles, in remarkable detail.
A Noiseless Patient Spider Walt Whitman - 1819-1892 A noiseless patient spider, I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated, Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding, It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself, Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them. And you O my soul where you stand, Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space, Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them, Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold, Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul. (This poem is in the public domain)