Sunday, January 16, 2011
I used the above title recently for an article I wrote for our school's newsletter. In this blog, I'm often writing about the interconnectedness of things and referring to people like John Muir and DaVinci, not to mention those polymath Founding Fathers Franklin and Jefferson. While the writings and biographies of these people influence me a great deal, I was not particularly aware of their lives when I was in high school. Yet, I think the notion of the interconnectedness of all things did occur to me at that young age. A few minutes ago, I found the source. On one of my bookshelves I found a hand-made volume, The Notebook of Elbert Hubbard. Hubbard has been described as a "home-spun" philosopher. To me he was a true Renaissance man, and not just because he was an acquaintance of my grandmother. I highly recommend that you do an internet search on this fellow. I hadn't looked at this volume for quite a while, but it felt good in my hands, the personal craftsmanship by the Roycrofters Society was quite apparent. Inside the front cover I found my grandmother's signature, done with a crowquil pen and every bit as elegant as John Hancock's famous signature. I turned the page and found my father's signature. "To Joe , from Dad, 1987," in a hand every bit as elegant as my grandmother's. Dad was to die only four years later and he gave me this book the last time I visited him. It is my most treasured gift from him.
Paging through the volume for a few minutes, I came across the following quote: "An educated man is one with a universal sympathy for everything and a certain amount of Knowledge about everything that is known, and who still is on the line of evolution and is learning to the end." The spirit of that quote has driven my quest for knowledge throughout my life. I'm not sure I qualify as an "educated man," but I definitely plan to be "learning to the end."
The above two photos are of pages in my current nature journal. The top photo is my attempt to emulate the watercolor paintings of John Muir Laws in my favorite field guide. It's of a ladybug found around these parts called the "Nine-spotted Lady-beetle," Coccinella novemnotata. The bottom photo is my drawing of a wild turkey, patterned after a photo I found on the Internet. I drew it in response to having seen a "herd" of wild turkeys recently in a place where it was not safe to stop and try to get a photo. Whenever I think of wild turkeys, I think of Ben Franklin and how he suggested this bird should be our national symbol. Bald Eagles certainly make for impressive imagery, but have you ever smelled their breath?