06 June, 2014

Friday Ramble - On Summer Shores Reflecting

Feeling vaguely restless, one goes for a walk along the lake at twilight with camera in hand and a field notebook in her pocket. She is searching for something, and she knows not what that something is, or rather, what it will turn out to be.  She reckons she will recognize it when she sees it.

She stops on a favorite swath of beach.  The setting sun paints a trail across the surface of the tarn, and the ripples at her feet offer up a dazzling reflection in return. There are wide vistas, islands and magical archipelagos floating in the limitless expanses of sky as Helios drops out of sight for another day - a sense of fine cloud drifting adventures too. Down below, loons drift on the current like little boats, and there is at least one heron in the shallows nearby.  Bulrushes and fronds of pickerel weed fringe the margins of the lake, every stem swaying and sighing and casting  a fey reflection of its own.  The scene is one of joyous untrammeled reciprocity - no reservations, no limitations and no holding back, just exquisite buttery light and deep shadow, the inky shapes of trees, the tuneful cadence of waves as they arrive on the shoreline.

The word reflect has been with us since the fourteenth century, rising from the Old French reflecter and the Middle English reflecten, thence the Latin reflectere, all meaning to bend, bend down or bend back. During the fifteenth century, the common usage had to do with diverting things, with turning things aside or deflecting that which is undesirable. Somewhere around 1600 CE, we began to use the word to describe processes of thought and quiet contemplation. When we use the word in conversation today, we are usually musing about deep thought processes, matters of light and mirrors - anything and everything except bending and/or turning.

There were no deep musings as I stood by the lake a few nights ago, and the thoughts entertained were probably closer to the original meaning of the word reflect than they were to anything else.  I watched the slow flush of this dear little world at sunset, the intense colors moving across the water, and I felt like bending in a deep reverential bow or gassho.   I could manage a bow of sorts that evening, but anything more was out of the question.  So be it.

Nothing I ever capture on a memory card, nothing I sketch or write down here can do justice to such moments. All my fumbling clumsy efforts are a mere soup├žon, a shadow, an echo of the Great Mystery - just reflections and a few bars of what the legendary Celtic warrior Finn called “the music of what happens".  The music is the earth's own wild and sweet music, and it's the finest music in the world.