Sunday, October 9, 2011

"Look at you, surrounded by 'Nature'"

On what promises to be one of the last tastes of summery, sunshiny days in Decorah, I took my "American Literature to 1860" students' essays, a thermos of hot water, and my mate on a bicycle ride along the Upper Iowa River and out to Twin Springs Park. A picnic table smeared with juniper berries sat in the middle of a leaf-strewn area next to the stream, where I could enjoy the watersonics and grade.
Several people walked past during my work, but one couple stopped, turns out they were from Atlanta and just driving around the country to visit different relatives. As they approached, one of them greeted me by saying, "Look at you, surrounded by nature, everything you need and just doing your thing." For a fleeting moment my memory spun up a sample of Paul Simon's "Boy in the Bubble" and I saw myself enclosed in a hermetic yet invisible container, sealing me off from the "Nature" in which I had apparently trans/planted myself.
Next, she asked what was that thing on the table. I explained about mate and invited them to try it, so I took about 20 minutes off from grading to enjoy a little spontaneous community and shared infusions. During their visit, I referred back to her greeting to inquire where I could identify the line between me and the "nature" surrounding me and the conversation morphed from concern over boundaries to identification of ash, maple, and other trees, which turned out to be an apt dissipation of bifurcations.

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