Discover more from More Beautiful Than Necessary with Tresta Payne
What You See
If I am writing about how the world is, I will tell you this: I write from my bed at 6:21 a.m. this morning and the world is lovely.
I need new synonyms for “beautiful” because it feels worn thin by overuse. It is beautiful, but this is how: Two dogs snore gently on my down comforter. One window is open to the world and various winged creatures are warming their throats. A crow. A red-winged blackbird. Our rooster who can’t tell time. Dawn was an hour ago but he must have slept in. The cattle are literally lowing—ours, and then the neighbors’ in reply. They stretch their necks out low and straight and reach their fat pink cow lips forward for delivery, and they low. Our red heifer born last spring is all-out bellowing now, panic-stricken, running to the fence line for the morning greeting. She thinks she is missing out on something, and the cows all congregate for some kind of social intimacy on the edge of their boundaries.
The yard out my open window is shaded and the sun sifts through the trees on the hill surrounding us. We are low in a shallow canyon and the day is dripping down toward us. The grass is damp and my yard is its most verdant at this point in the day, un-hazed and deep with green life. Stars shine in the ornamental grass. Cobwebs shimmer. A fly is inside the screen and will never return to the wild unless I let him go; but I probably won’t.
I will enjoy the world this way. I will write about how it is: A downy woodpecker drills on the metal gate keeping my son’s steer separated from the rest of the cows. He is ferocious, and his brain must rattle in his little red head, vibrating from beak-tip to cerebellum.
Bellum in Latin is the noun for “war”. I tried to connect that with cerebellum somehow but all my resources tell me it only means something like “small brain”. The word also roots down to connect with “understanding”, which this woodpecker does not seem to have. Bird brain is derogatory for a reason.
Bella is a Latin adjective for “pretty, handsome, charming, pleasant”. My kids were never as surprised as I to see this similarity between the Latin words for war and charming or pleasant. In some forms (plural nominative or accusative of “war”, and nominative singular of “pleasant”) the two are the exact same word—bella. I am shocked at small things, I suppose. I sometimes struggle too much for meaning. The words are similar in form but otherwise unrelated, like the metal gate mistaken for a bug-laden tree.
I make mistakes when describing things. I want to call everything “beautiful”, and sometimes the world is more like a war than a charming and pleasant paradise. The bright breasted robin stalks prey on my morning lawn and yanks the earth(worm) to pieces, at the same time the red-winged blackbird pours his liquid song from the fence post. The dogs warm in the first light of day and keep shifting to the best patches of sunlight, but later I will grumble about dog hair.
The sunlight reveals all the dust.
The forest is littered with garbage.
People are lonely and mean.
The more people you love, the more you stand to lose.
There’s no way to understand all the world but at 7:17 a.m. I can tell you: It is pleasant and warring, lowing and bellowing, shaded and lit. It’s mostly a matter of how you choose to see it.
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