• Small things that are everything

    by  • January 10, 2015 • Living, Wilderness

    ginny2A few words about words. Philosophical thinking is enhanced by a fine use of words. Clarity is an honourable goal. Yet there are still some things in nature, and the spaces in between, which are yet to be granted an English name.

    The Welsh use a wonderful word, hiraeth, which has no direct English translation. Its meaning is quite profound: Homesickness and grief for a lost time, a whistful yearning, nostalgia for a homeland which is no longer the same. Hiraeth says it all.

    No English word exists for the particular shine between wet pebbles. There’s no word for our mental well-being gained from connection to nature. Look for a single word to describe small leaf bundles snagged around riparian twigs at high flood, and you will not find one.

    Language of any kind has great value to those that use it. When I’m out along the river and I see a small leaf bundle snagged around a twig, I understand what it is and I imagine how it was formed. A long tailed-tit alights upon it, a bird so delicate in its search between the leaves for insects to eat. The small leaf bundle is of great value to the bird, and to the insects that are hiding, should they succeed in avoiding the bird! When eventually the leaves degrade and fall down into the water, float on the surface for a while before sinking, they become part of the organic material which gives life to the river. The small things are everything.

    So I’m naming this small bundle of leaves, which snags on riparian twigs during floods, a tweavelet. I hope the long-tailed tit and the insects will not mind, nor the tweavelet, for they are my kin. It’s for all of us to look for the small things that have no name. And the spaces in between. Perhaps we should give them names, for often they are everything.

    Ginny Battson lives on the Welsh Borders. She is a Getty Image contributor with an interest in ecology, enviroethics, intrinsic value of biodiversity & geodiversity, ecoliteracy and rivers. She is currently studying MA Applied Philosophy. You can read more on her lovely blog Seasonalight

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