remember when fractals were about to explain everything? if not, you didn’t go to school in the 1980s. i haven’t thought about them for years, but i looked at this forking palm leaflet, and suddenly imagined it branching in a self-similar and infinitely regressive blossoming. then i feathered my hair back on both sides, drank a bartles and jaymes wine cooler, and pulled on my moon boots to walk home through the snow to the split level owned my divorced dad who voted for reagan twice. good times.
these are strange times. normally i would look at these shells and think about the evolutionary forces that made such an awkward shape so common: “how could there be 313 varieties of auger snails in the world, when they all look top heavy and awkward?” but, in fact, my first thought was about this year’s american election of all things. where the choice is between perhaps the most exaggeratedly male candidate, and the first female candidate, in history. between masculine power and feminine power. between anger and craft. between the urge to dominate, and the urge to integrate. between towers and villages. between the phallus and the womb. between, historically speaking, and to put it delicately, the augerer, and the augered.
auger shells (terebridae)
la plage de l’espiguette, camargue, france
this little lantern was the closest we came to pumpkin carving this halloween. in fact we had forgotten all about halloween until a group of village kids rang our doorbell last night, and sang for candy. because we hadn’t bought any candy to hand out, we looked at each other, and, like good americans representing a grand tradition in our home country, hid in an upstairs bedroom until the kids moved on to the next house.
physalis alkekengi (chinese lantern)
the grape harvest is behind us. hunting season is well underway. mushroom season is just beginning. and the chestnuts are falling everywhere. they have waited their turn very politely, and are now quite insistent about their place at the front of the line.
chestnut tree limb with leaves
lamalou-les-bains, languedoc, france
today the three americans from autignac blundered up to the forêt des écrivains combattants. that translates as “the forest of the writer-soldiers.” a whole forest dedicated to poets and authors who fought for france. there is perhaps a pertinent lesson contained therein about which members of a society should properly be remembered. writers and soldiers. not a bad group to honor. also, it so happens that somewhere near the highest point of the forest of writer-soldiers, there are a few paths lined with mixed firs and chestnut trees, and that scattered along these paths are occasional colonies of chanterelle mushrooms. we were surrounded all day by the sounds of native french mushroom hunters calling to each other, while we amateur americans silently pinched off the stems of a basketful of chanterelles. please don’t tell our neighbors. we don’t want to hurt their feelings.
fôret des ecrivants, lamalou-les-bains, languedoc, france