or Building Character
After a howling beast of a windstorm Thursday night and a fussy, festering day on Friday, Saturday morning gave us a snowfall, the first (and for all we know, only) one of the season. It was just an inch, but it fell beautifully, and its .11 inches of moisture helped to offset the desiccating effect of the earlier winds.
Offset, but not negate. The snow didn't compensate fully for those drying easterly winds any more than it returned the two inches of fallen leaves and four inches of pecan shell mulch that used to protect my garden beds. The wind scoured them down to bare dirt in places, and I have no idea where, this side of the Grand Canyon, all those pecan shells ended up. Perhaps the next time a west wind comes along it will return them, but that may be a little too much symmetry to ask for. (And may I just say, it is really exasperating to lose 240 pounds of mulch the very week that the cold weather hits.)
The snow didn't return things to neutral. It didn't right the balance, but then, I'm not really sure we had a balance to set right; a lack of equilibrium is what gives New Mexico its character. The relations between earth, air, fire, and water are normally out of kilter here, heavy on the first three and light on the last, and this year water has been nudged almost off the scale altogether. The snowstorm helped it hang on a little longer is all. We're just happy that it settled the dust—and oh, it smelled so fresh.
On the sand lovegrass (Eragrostis trichodes), the water droplets dwarfed the tiny seeds they haloed or came to rest at odd places along the symmetrically branching stems. They reminded me of a hanging mobile, all delicate weights and counterweights and wires that are just unbalanced enough to move at a light touch, to create a new shape every time they come back to stasis.
Generally speaking I'm a confirmed—nay, obsessed—symmetry fiend. I don't mean to be; it just happens that way. So there's a certain irony in my singing the praises of unevenness and imbalance, the way they give rise to character and beauty, the way they bring particularity into the foreground. A talk with a friend today and other bits of happenstance recently, though, have reminded me of the joys of letting a passion throw your life out of balance—or put another way, of finding an idiosyncratic balance among out-of-kilter elements.
It will either build your own character, or the characters of everyone who knows you...