Friday, November 10, 2006

pattern language

I read an interesting post a while ago (I'll have to see if I can remember who it was) about the abundance of fruit of the mountain ash, the varying stripe in wooly bear caterpillars, etc. that we "read" as predictions of the severity of the winter we are going to have.

That set my thoughts going around and around about the whole topic. We notice, perhaps, if we are close enough to the natural world to see it, or tuned in just a bit, so that we tend to observe it. But I wondered if, in another time, when their might have been less separation of humans from the natural world around them, if the observations humans made in the patterns of life around them, held more meaning. I mean meaning that was understood.

I don't think the meaning has been lost. It's still there. Have we lost the ability to understand the language in the patterns of nature?

Those who live and/or work in the area of southern Ontario between the lake shore and the Oak Ridges Moraine, understand one pattern. One can safely predict that the weather can change dramatically once you get past "the Ridges", as you drive north away from Lake Ontario.

Lake-effect weather can also be dramatic. I remember a line across the highway where the pavement was bare and the snow began years ago when I accompanied my youngest daughter's class on a field trip to the Midland area, to "Sainte-Marie among the Hurons".

I also wonder how our weather and other natural patterns are changing due to global warming. Oh well, since we've pretty much lost our ability to read nature anyway, what does it matter? We won't see what's coming until it's upon us!


Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...

Yes... this is where the "old wives' tales" come from, this observation. Now it has a fancy word to describe it: Phenology.

Interestingly, my friend Dave was telling me about how the master gardeners in his county are participating in a project with OSU to catalog the dates of certain events in their gardens. They hope to build a phenology database and eventually be able to draw correlations between various natural events and what you should be doing in the garden, etc.

11:34 p.m.  
Blogger Kati said...

This is a fascinating area of study. Thanks for reminding me of the term phenology. I have tried planting according to when apple trees drop the blossoms, and when lilacs bloom, etc. Trouble here seems to be that everything occurs in such a rush in the short spring here, I can hardly keep up. I had read that this study would also help gardeners control pests by a more judicious use of pesticides when the bugs might be more susceptible. I'm not big on pesticide use, myself, though.

5:02 p.m.  
Blogger Randa said...

In terms of being aware of the nuances of nature, I was struck a few weeks ago by my observation that 'snow clouds' were out. I was taken by the fact that one can tell a dark rain cloud from a dark snow cloud. Pretty neat.

9:48 a.m.  
Blogger Kati said...

we know. we just don't know we know all the stuff we know just by observing nature! instead we need to pay some technocrat to tell us -- and they often get it so wrong!

10:58 a.m.  

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