We start with the weather.
The weather situates; the weather explains. From there, we extrapolate the human. The world stretches anciently over the crust of the earth; humans quiver briefly on its skin.
From the quivering human, we extract explanations; we extract descriptions. The earth will continue to stretch, to recycle, to copulate, with or without these descriptions. But descriptions are useful to these humans. Description allows them to abstract themselves away from the darkness (the cracked crevice of wild reality). They don lab coats like the robes of a high priest (let there be light), bullying chaos into small corners, conquering with category: genus, species, subspecies, breeds. And that is just the beginning. This naming is a violence against reality. It is also necessary (is violence ever necessary?) But since we can't sit silently, let us speak.
Firstly, the weather. The morning is sensationally blue, holding white snowflakes in atmospheric suspension. The flakes have dusted the wooden outdoor chairs, have wetted the concrete porch. It's some time after 5, because Sophie is awake and pattering around in her favorite ballet tights, now banging on the porch door, asking to go outside. I comply as a means to pre-verbal communication. The cold blazes from the concrete into her thinly covered feet. "Cold," I emphasize. "We go inside," so I scoop her up and hear a scattering of birds before sweeping her into the warm apartment.
"Winter birds," I google, instead of glancing through the blinds. I realize the infraction immediately; I have outsourced my brain, bypassing the right to discovery. Is easy knowledge cheap? But a) there is no new thing under the sun (King Solomon wrote these words thousands of years ago) and b) the internet has done nothing but emphasize that ancient truth. And here, it has already supplied me with a list of winter birds: colorful, small, and cheery, I can imagine them bouncing from naked branch to branch like puffy ballerinas. And I am sad, suddenly, that now my discoveries will be second-hand, if I ever see one hopping about. This isn't likely, I remind myself, as I must take the toddler everywhere. And a walk means chasing her away from passing cars, not observing puff-chested birds.
So I close my laptop and knead a pile of bread dough, preparation for a meal with friends. I notice the wooden bowl full of fruit, and I stop kneading to feed Sophie, slicing a blood orange which bleeds magenta. She loves this, devouring the triangle segments like small jewels. Discovery is time-bound. Time gives it newness. Many have discovered blood oranges, but Sophie? Never. And besides, who will see what she sees? The juice is filtered and contextualized through the small arsenal of her unique memories. Humans are not recycled, not whole-cloth at least. Earth is renewed by passing through our bodies.
We say something about this at dinner- some of my most brilliant friends, convening on a feast. Bread, camembert, garlic oil. We say things like: "We eat the earth and the earth eats us." Or rather, the Aztecs said it (for whom God was bloody and fleshy like us) and we repeated the words at the dinner table, resurrecting dead language bodies in order to dissect, analyze. Arugula, canary yellow tomatoes, leaves of basil. We say things like, "Grace is the language of God." What God? "Maize," says another. "Maize was literally their god. Nothing abstract about the shucking of corn, the chewing." Goat cheese, lavender salt, and balsamic vinegar. Nothing abstract about the defecating, one might add. Theology isn't sane without a clearly marked EXIT sign, without a safe space for shit. Nothing is sane without its limits.
Strange how eating with others, laughing, makes food-sharing an event, and one which elevates the uncaring winter to something cared-for, to something seen (is the meaning in the seeing or the being seen? Is it somewhere in between?)