Forests really do change, and quite quickly, despite how long specific trees themselves can last. Some of those old trees die, new trees spring up and the ground cover is in constant flux. The changes in a forest are far more dramatic than the changes in Heraclitus’s river, where what we see is fresh water and some new — but largely unseen — fish.
But Heraclitus had more on his mind, and said “No man ever steps in the same river twice. For it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
Gather ye rosebuds, Henrietta. This moment’s forest will miss this moment’s Henrietta, too.
While over at They Can Talk, we get a much more pragmatic view of the notion, given how active beavers are in changing not just rivers but the land around them. When a beaver dam backs up a creek, the resulting pond spreads silt and nutrients over the flooded land, so that after the beavers have moved on and the dam has collapsed, what is left is called a beaver meadow and offers a fresh start for all sort of grasses and bushes as well as trees.
We had beavers along the stretch of the Connecticut where we walk our dogs, but they denned in burrows under the riverbank rather than try to dam that colossus. But they took down a fair number of beech and aspen and changed the pine/deciduous balance in the forest there, before they’d lowered their food supply to the point where they decided to move on.
Of course, the huge beeches remained, and drop beech nuts each year, plus some small saplings were not of interest, so the mix continues to shift and, like Henrietta, we cannot walk through the same forest twice.
And we’ve all changed, too, even the dogs. One of them just turned 13 a few weeks ago. She’s the last of a crew we used to call “the hooligans” because their rough, hilarious play intimidated other dogs and we had to keep them off in a different area of the park. She’s mellowed out and slowed down since those days and surely isn’t the same as that rambunctious youngster.
I suppose the beavers change, too, though they don’t have a lot to learn: They’re born with an incredible set of instinctive skills.
Now we switch from Greek philosophy to Roman history, as Christine Mi plays with the legend of the founding of Rome. The legend of Romulus and Remus is more complex than just the part where the abandoned twins were suckled by a wolf, and this Wikipedia article says the histories didn’t particularly dwell on that part, but, then again, most of us are more familiar with Washington chopping down the cherry tree than with the text of his farewell address.
Of course, Washington didn’t chop down that cherry tree, but he still existed. I hesitate to doubt the existence of Romulus and Remus simply because I doubt the story of the wolf.
Cut to modern times with yesterday’s Between Friends (KFS), which poses an issue that, no doubt, goes way back beyond Rome and Greece: The degree to which women fix themselves up to attract men, or to impress other women, or simply to please themselves.
I’m not foolish enough to make some ruling on this, except to point out that when women live in purdah, out of sight of men, they still take care to look and dress well, and I’d (cautiously) add that, given the familiarity of those small, constricted groups, it seems unlikely that they’d continue to do that simply to impress each other.
What I will say with some confidence is that there is an interesting disconnect between what men assume is vanity — and what would be vanity in men — and what women consider a normal sense of self. Not to suggest that vanity doesn’t exist in women; just to say that men often see it where it isn’t.
Back to the dogs, with The Other Coast (Creators), and another thing I’ve long noticed, which is that, first of all, you get better pictures of dogs and people if you just take candid shots than if you line them up for the camera, and that, as in the comic, you get the same face every time if you keep asking people to pose.
The comic is right on target: If you call the dog’s name, you’ll get that head-tilt and quizzical look, and, if you keep interrupting your child to take pictures, you’ll get the same smile they’ve learned to paste on for the camera.
And they’ll keep that self-conscious smile for the camera throughout their lives.
Which puts me in mind of this ancient Pearls Before Swine (AMS). If Rat were real, Olin Mills would have to seek an order of protection.
Since the beavers thinned out the beech and aspen, we don’t get as many senior photo shoots at our park in the fall. Circle of Life or Balance of Nature or something.
Anyway, I’ve stopped carrying cucumbers when I walk the dog.
If you prefer your graphic philosophy served straight up, you should know about Sufi Comics, in which the point is to bring Sufi wisdom to a wider audience. These are the latest from Mohammed Ali Vakil, and seem more like posters than comics, but you’ll see more range of cartoon styles at his website.
Sufi wisdom is quite accessible, though I strongly suspect that those of us from outside the culture are only skimming the surface, which is generally true of all cross-cultural exchanges.
But mental tourism is as good as physical travel, so long as you’re not one of those people who spends a week in Germany and comes home an expert on castles.
And it doesn’t have to be deeply religious or philosophical. Opening your mind with a little musical tourism is fun, too.