Little By Little

There's a fairly universal observation among children that drinking milk is strange. "Who in the world," the child wonders aloud, "ever thought of squeezing the underside of a cow... and then *drinking* what came out?" After a few more moments of reflection, he might add "Grody!" as an emphatic afterthought.

I was a fairly calcium-deprived kid. But I loved this joke of mine, and was certain I had yanked the cover off one of the great mysteries of our time.

Eventually, of course, we learn that drinking milk is perfectly natural, despite any lactose intolerance we may develop, and that the first person to attempt it wasn't especially daring or depraved, just observant: baby cows drink cow milk; baby humans drink human milk; why shouldn't humans drink cow milk?

It's unfortunate when such basic lessons in survival and animal domestication are accompanied by the realization that your jokes suck.

So what else is nature showing us? Since the whole dairy fiasco I've been paying extra-close attention. So far I've got this:

Nature is patient.

No matter how much encouragement we offer, the trees Penny and I planted in the backyard refuse to grow faster than a few inches a year. And when they shed their leaves in the fall, it would make raking a lot easier if they'd do it all at once and save me an extra trip out there, but they won't. And though we can trick ourselves by flying to South Florida for a few days, Spring won't come to central Indiana for several more weeks.

Jerky Spring.

So I'm trying to appreciate gradual progress. I try to bear in mind that the natural world's exasperatingly unrushable pace goes along with one of its better qualities: persistence.

As I type this, the sky is lightening from gray-blue to blue-gray, and the sun is coming up. I can't see it yet from the view through my back doors, peering here through the naked branches of a twelve-foot maple, but I know it's coming. And today will be warm, warmer than tonight was at least, and probably warmer than yesterday. Not much, but a little.

Maybe I'll see the first few rows of orange and yellow before I'm done writing. Perhaps if I ramble some, or think of something else to say about the patience of nature and what I might draw from it, I will.

Either way, though, it's coming, and I will wait. The sudden and giant things may make for better stories, but the slow and small movements come much more often. So today, I will type here, one letter at a time, and glance out the window one glance at a time, as the world turns me toward the light and the words I write accumulate on the page and cover the white blank space, gradually, gradually, and I will wait.

Me and the cows.

1 comment:

Don W said...

Just don't stop. It always makes me think.