Small things that are everything


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A 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. 

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About seasonalight

Ginny Battson, Wales. Writer, Getty Image contributor ~ ecology, enviroethics, intrinsic value of biodiversity, geodiversity, ecoliteracy. Currently studying MA Applied Philosophy.
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4 Responses to Small things that are everything

  1. Sophie says:

    This post has brought me back to mySelf Ginny, thank you. The exquisite delicacy of awareness you display and the mastery over language with a clarity of expression is breath taking. Thank you. Sophie

  2. radicalhoney says:

    I completely love this in every way and have begun to purr like a cat having read it! Thank you. Tweavelet is the perfect word x

  3. sarah says:

    Oh my. I found this post via twitter and am so glad, I love it. And tweavelet is a wonderful word! Thank you for sharing such beautiful thoughts.

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