Man is wise and constantly in quest of more wisdom; but the ultimate wisdom, which deals with beginnings, remains locked in a seed. There it lies, the simplest fact of the universe and at the same time the one which calls forth faith rather than reason.
In a painful time of my life I went often to a wooded hillside where May apples grew by the hundreds, and I thought the sourness of their fruit had a symbolism for me. Instead, I was to find both love and happiness soon thereafter. So to me [the May apple] is the mandrake, the love symbol, of the old dealers in plant restoratives."
Some people are like ants. Give them a warm day and a piece of ground and they start digging. There the similarity ends. Ants keepon digging. Most people don't. They establish contact with the soil, absorb so much vernal vigor that they can't stay in one place, and desert the fork or spade to see how the rhubarb is coming and whether the asparagus is yet in sight.
Autumn is the eternal corrective. It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity; but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance. What man can stand with autumn on a hilltop and fail to see the span of his world and the meaning of the rolling hills that reach to the far horizon?
Catch a vista of maples in that long light and you see Autumn glowing through the leaves.... The promise of gold and crimson is there among the branches, though as yet it is achieved on only a stray branch, an impatient limb or an occasional small tree which has not yet learned to time its changes.
You fight dandelions all weekend, and late Monday afternoon there they are, pert as all get out, in full and gorgeous bloom, pretty as can be, thriving as only dandelions can in the face of adversity.
A root, a stem, a leaf, some means of capturing sunlight and air and making food - in sum, a plant. The green substance of this earth, the chlorophyll, is all summed up in the plants. Without them we perish, all of us who are flesh and blood.
There are no idealists in the plant world and no compassion. The rose and the morning glory know no mercy. Bindweed, the morning glory, will quickly choke its competitors to death, and the fencerow rose will just as quietly crowd out any other plant that tried to share its roothold. Idealism and mercy are human terms and human concepts.
If you ever wondered why fishing is probably the most popular sport in this country, watch that boy beside on the water and you will learn. If you are really perceptive you will. For he already knows that fishing is only one part fish.
Listen to it, and you are hearing the mighty currents of the air rushing down the latitudes of the earth, currents from the Mackenzie and the Athabasca and the Saskatchewan, and from the prairies and the white Tundra. It is a homeless wind, forever on the move.
For all his learning or sophistication, man still instinctively reaches towards that force beyond. Only arrogance can deny its existence, and the denial falters in the face of evidence on every hand. In every tuft of grass, in every bird, in every opening bud, there it is.
Consider the wheelbarrow. It may lack the grace of an airplane, the speed of an automobile, the initial capacity of a freight car, but its humble wheel marked out the path of what civilization we still have.
To see a hillside white with dogwood bloom is to know a particular ecstasy of beauty, but to walk the gray Winter woods and find the buds which will resurrect that beauty in another May is to partake of continuity.