Sunday, March 29, 2015

Solving for pattern

Here are the final four, not from the NCAA's March Madness, but shades of green, the final two of which have no definition that I could find. Not having a definition for woodland green I understand. There are many kinds of woodlands. No so much with Vienna, although Range Rover and Benjamin Moore seem to be among the few devoted to that shade.
Over the next month or so, we should be seeing lots more shades of green as grasses green up and trees leaf out. I was surprised to see catkins on a local birch tree yesterday. The fact that I was surprised tells me I haven't been paying enough attention to what's going on around me.

birch tree catkins have emerged
birch tree catkins have emerged
Photo by J. Harrington

Wendell Berry has written an essay titled Solving for Pattern. It's a very worthwhile read as background to many of the challenges Minnesota will face now and in the future. This weekend may, I hope, be the last time (until next Winter) we're faced with the pattern in which the local pond gets ice-covered. At least this morning's precipitation was rain drops instead of snow flakes. We may, or may not, have seen the last of Winter for now, this is Minnesota after all. But the day's keep getting longer, the sun is still moving northward in the sky and, although there may be uncertainty in the timing, the arrival of Spring is as inevitable as the arrival of April Fool's Day and Easter. At least no one has yet conflated the dates for April Fool's and our tax filing deadline. With our political gridlock and shenanigan's, there's an ironic poetic justice in that idea.

fresh ice re-covers the pond
fresh ice re-covers the pond
Photo by J. Harrington

I'm guessing from the weather forecast that the local sap-tapping season may be about over  for this year. Northern Minnesota, which is getting snow today while it rains here, may be able to go another week or so if the sap's good for syrup-making after our current string of above freezing nights. And, don't be surprised if we resurrect Solving for Pattern several times more in the next few weeks as we visit the boom and bust patterns of the mining industry.

Patterns for Arans

By Linda Norton 
We could paint semi-darkness in semi-darkness. And the ‘right lighting’ of a picture could be semi-darkness. 
                                                            Wittgenstein
                                                            from Remarks on Color 

These islands lie off the west coast of Ireland
as if nothing matters.
The people have lived here for centuries
with only a thin covering of soil over the surface.
Great use is made of the seaweed,
the cattle swimming out.

The women here are justly famous.
They weave their own tweed
and make a type of belt called criss.
The heavy Atlantic seas,
the slip stitch.
The difficulty of the patterns
are never written down.

Most impressive and rich, the trellis pattern
and the rope, the tribute to the hardworking bee.
But sometimes their knitting shows mistakes,
with a true Irish touch of nothing
really matters, a careless nonchalance
of the crossing of their cables.

And note mistakes in the simple patterns:
forked lightning or cliff paths,
small fields fenced with stone,
the ups and downs of married life,
the mosses.

The openwork has a religious
significance or none.
Sometimes the clarity of the pattern is
lost through the use of
very fine wool.

Green from the mosses, brown
from the seaweed, grey and cream
color from the stones and pebbles:
many are distinctly over-bobbled.
No matter. They are too lovely
to be lost. Wool and knitting
leaflets can be obtained.

In no case is the whole pattern given.
There are certain gaps and yawns
and part of the pattern is left out
as if it doesn’t matter,
or was too lovely,
so was lost.

Some of the simple patterns
are charming for children’s jerseys.
This one, for example,
would be lovely on a child.


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