freckled — and who knows how?

The Speckled Bibb lettuce seedlings are finally showing a few, tiny, cranberry-colored speckles, so tiny they were difficult to photograph.  These newly marked true leaves made me think of a famous poem, “Pied Beauty,” by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

It’s not my favorite poem, just one that I remember from high school because I happen to be one of those freckled things, myself.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Hopkins is seeing the glory and worth of those things normally not recognized as such.  I can definitely respect that.  I’ve been known to have an unusual conception of Beauty, too.

When I was in high school, my favorite silent game to play during the long, excruciatingly boring purgatory that was homeroom was to try and find the “beautiful aspect” of every person there.  It wasn’t always obvious at first, but there was always something.  And because I played the game over and over with the same 50 people as subjects, I became rather creative about it by the end of each year.

Without even being aware of it, I was developing keener observational skills as a result.  They’ve served me well throughout life.

A few years ago, it occurred to me to wonder, “Why didn’t I spend that time looking for the ‘ugly aspect’ of each person?”  I mean I was a pretty angst-ridden adolescent.  (And show me one who is not.)  It would have been easy to spot the less than perfect among my peers.

At this age, there is no way to answer that question accurately.  I can only make two educated guesses.

One, my ego was already quite busy finding the unsatisfactory in everything 16 hours per day, always ready to find fault or imperfection, perpetually prepared to exploit the tiniest doubt or insecurity, especially within me, and I was getting mighty tired of it.

Two, turning toward beauty was just a lucky instance of following my instincts.  Maybe somehow I knew I’d need practice in choosing to put on the rose-colored glasses when faced with challenging circumstances.

I suspect either way, though, I was one weird kid.  Just call me “counter, original, spare, strange.”

18 Responses to “freckled — and who knows how?”

  1. I have a love affair going with freckled or bi colored lettuces, too. They are so much more interesting than plain red or green. Last year I grew Yugoslavian Red, which looked and tasted lovely. I’d forgotten about it though, having had just a few seeds gifted to me in the early spring, so I forgot to include it in this year’s seed purchase.

    • Granny, I have way more lettuce seed than I could possibly use this season. If you’d like, I will be glad to send you some freckled lettuce. That European variety I featured a few days ago is supposed to grow up to have a red heart among the green, which sounds pretty good to me. I would be glad to send you some of that, too. Just e-mail me if you’re interested. 🙂

      I was tempted by that Yugoslavian variety, but I didn’t get it. Now you’ve made me wish I’d tried it!

  2. I like to look for beautiful things, too – and I love the language of this poem. “counter, original, spare, strange” – I think you are definitely original, Meredith. And I am happy you are you.

    • You also have the unique ability to find the positive, interesting, beautiful or just downright fun details in your environment, Lynn. You bring such joy to the blogosphere — and I’m sure it’s the same with everyone around you in daily life! Count me equally glad you are you. 🙂

  3. They do resemble freckles – how neat! You have a keen eye for finding the beauty in the unexpected and that is a lovely thing to possess. I think, sometimes, it’s very easy to spot the negatives – it takes a lot more practice, and a keener vision, to spot the positives.

    • I’d say you have a poet’s eye, Talon, that sees the both and tries to walk the narrow balance-beam in the middle to head straight for the truth. Which seems to me the hardest path of all, demanding not only clarity but a kind of unblinking sanity.

      Here’s to us both keeping in practice and holding true to our visions!

  4. Nice shot of the freckles! I actually grew one called Freckles last year. There are so many different lettuce varieties I can hardly keep them all straight. This year I have a Speckled Trout lettuce I am going to try. So many lettuces, so little time….

    • Thanks, villager. I didn’t even know there was one called Freckles… I see it in my future. 😉 The variety of lettuces awed me so much when I began to discover the seed catalogs. It makes you realize what a paucity of forms and colors and tastes and textures actually appear in our supermarkets, all in the name of efficiency and profit.

      I can’t wait to see what you grow. I am learning from you, you know, and your latest post on lettuce seedling prep was great!

  5. how wonderful that you spent time looking for the beauty. A friend in high school mentioned that she felt I did the same thing. Interestingly enough, I was also a much angst-ridden teen. Perhaps that’s why we ended up ok. At least on the outside! 😉 Great poem and how fun that you see the speckles and recall the poetry you learned way back.

    • I never thought of it like that, Wendy. Maybe the ones who are the most tortured inside get a free pass in mid-life? 😉

      Actually, I couldn’t believe I remembered it, and I only recalled a few lines with clarity, but that was enough for an internet search that led me right to it. 🙂

  6. What a great game. Good that you could find beauty in every person. Some probably took a bit longer than others, I’m guessing?!! I wasn’t nearly as deep in h.s.

    As far as the violet tubeflowers ~ I bought them to plant outdoors in a container. However, living in Colorado, that will be a while so I am just holding them over in my makeshift “greenhouse” until May. They are doing fantastic in there tho, I must say. I think they are zone 9 -10?? An annual for me but I hope to collect seed.

    • Some took longer, it’s true, and there were people who I didn’t particularly *like* and no matter what they looked like, it always took longer for them. I don’t know if I was all that deep… I still worried about typical teen things, too. 😉

      I want some of those violet tubeflowers! They are gorgeous.

  7. The freckles are lovely

  8. What a clever pastime for an adolescent Meredith … indeed there is beauty in most all things! One does tire of the negative… good to have an alternative… when just looking at things in another way… positive. As always I positively enjoy my visits here! Your publishing GMH’s poem now has me trying to recall something I love about him… I hope it does not keep me awake! I love your chartreuse and chocolate… Oh dear… that reminds me of something else I like!! ;>) Carol

    • It’s so true, Carol. I get tired of the negative very easily. I hope the poem didn’t keep you awake. My favorite thing about GMH is a poem Ray Bradbury wrote and dedicated to him. Isn’t that nuts?

      Chartreuse and chocolate used to be a favorite color combo of mine a few years back. But it’s better not to be thinking of chocolate just now, LOL.

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