freckled — and who knows how?
Tags: "Pied Beauty", angst-ridden adolescent, freckled things, Gerard Manley Hopkins, growing seedlings, Heirloom American lettuce, homeroom as purgatory, lettuce seedling, observational skills, Speckled Bibb lettuce, unusual conception of beauty
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:
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.”