Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Things that creep and writhe

The water meadow along the Path is pocked with frog spawn, a scum of bubbly goo that one can scoop up in the hand, a-throb with incipient life.

This is the stuff that Donald Culross Peattie called the "most unutterable thing" in evolution, "the terrible continuity and fluidity of protoplasm, the inexpressible forces of reproduction -- not mystical human love, but the cold batrachian jelly by which we vertebrates are linked to things that creep and writhe and are blind yet breed and have being."

It can be a little frightening to attend to our kinship to the slime, but to do otherwise is to ignore the bipolarities that anchor our lives in meaning -- the individual and the collectivity, birth and death, generation and decay, beauty and terror.