For many years we went camping to Nordhouse Dunes at Lake Michigan, and an episode of nostalgia made us revisit this place one last time before my daughter is off to college & life.
In László Krasznahorkai deliberately cryptic book War & War, the hero György Korin is depersonalized: He just symbolizes a single function of our lives, namely delivering the past into the future, becoming the horizon between the below and the above.
This happens concretely by carrying an old manuscript to New York, a place that the four inhabitants of that manuscript haven’t seen yet. These inhabitants are cryptic, too, bemoaning the loss of the noble, the great, and the transcendent, this causing also the loss of peace, so that the world now consist of only war & war.
Korin realizes however that delivering the manuscript is not enough, he feels the calling to complete it, to find an exit for its inhabitants. There are several attempts for this, one being by writing on water.
This year, the dune grass that so gracefully used to create sand drawings, is now doing this in the water, thanks to water levels two feet above normal. The water itself leaves very temporary traces on the disappearing beach.
Is it maybe the author’s dream that his protagonists keep writing the story?
We have learned simplicity,
we sing in the choir of cicadas
In 2004, the midwest of the USA became the region of the largest outbreak of biomass on the planet. Brood X emerged, the largest of the periodical cicadas, with a life cycle of 17 years.
They spend most of their life underneath as nymphs, going through several instars, and feeding from root juices of trees. Then, almost all on the same day, they emerge, and crawl up.
They molt into adulthood, which takes up to an hour. All this takes place above an abyss. If they fall, the soft wings will not unfold properly.
In the last stage, the wings unfold.
They hide and rest for a few days. This is supposedly the time they are most delicious.
Then, they tumble around, with their poor eyesight and clumsy bodies, causing harm to none, and begin their irresistible mating chant, droning sound patterns that move through the landscape like ambient music.
17 years underneath, for a few weeks of a single song. Who will question the meaning of life?
This has been an extraordinary summer. Weather wise, flooding rain falls were followed by torching heat, and now we are enjoying a dry summer weather that would be more typical for Northern Michigan. Time for a visit to the DePauw Nature Park, whose quarry enclosed space I would avoid on regular summer days.
It’s as green as it gets, promising a gorgeous fall coloring. Everything seems to take advantage of its given time and space.
The abundance of vegetation creates patterns that are unusual for this place.
More typical are the lonely little ones, like the young sycamore trying to make roots in the harsh ground,
or the singular dandelion, gazing into our future.
Most of Indiana was either woodland or prairie, before the arrival of the white man.
Imagine endless fields filled with tall grasses where you can get lost,
where flowers spend all night to get ready
for the morning, and where guest from the South are welcome.
If you come early,
when it is very quiet,
you might even hear a voice from far away: Some mornings are better than others.
The word Steingrund appears in the title of a post that recollects a visit to Desolation Wilderness 25 years ago.
Reminiscing today about a visit to Turkey Run State Park 10 years ago let’s me use another word from the same poem.
The word exposure includes visibility, fragility and presence, and the ominously dark landscape doesn’t seem to convey this, until you notice the cracks, traces of violence that happened here many thousand years ago, unmeasurable for us.
Patient streams have smoothed the rock and created paths that can be walked best upstream, against time.
Trees hold on to the rocks with roots like fingers for decades, while unknown plants seem to be ready to flee any minute.
A few weeks ago, my daughter brought home several of these. A waterplant. Neither she nor I know what it’s called. She says she downloaded it. Language. Reality. 18 years ago I expected she’d been driven me mad with new fashionable forms of body modifications. Our children are there to surprise us.
Let’s have a closer look. The ant is there
to eat to show us the scale. This is the stuff above water. Leaves.
And here are the roots. We first kept the plants outside in the shade in tap water, which they didn’t like. Now they are in the sun in tubs full with rain water, which they seem to love. The roots have grown immensely, making it stay.
They consist of long, pale strands with many smaller, almost translucent tendrils branching out. I had never looked at a clean, delicate root system like this before.
Do mermaids have hair like this?
We return for a last time this year to New Harmony. This time we visit the nearby state park, my original motivation to travel to the southwest corner of Indiana.
The park is rough and unkempt, without must-see spots. Instead, you get largely untouched woodland where you have to find the subtle beauty yourself.
May Apples play with blurred highlights as if they have been waiting for me, and somebody has left a message in the dried river bed. Unlikely, but we can dream.
On this Friday morning a good month ago, I am the only visitor. Below once again the Wabash river, shortly before he finds oblivion in the Ohio.
The landscape doesn’t quite feel like an Indiana landscape anymore. This is already the South. The wonderfully braided bark of the Pecan tree cannot be seen much further north.
There is somebody else, after all. Patient Cassiopeia, waiting for the years to pass.