Keeping The Magic Fresh- Doug Irvin

Keeping The Magic Fresh- Doug Irvin

 

One of the sad state of affairs we humans have to put up with is that when we grow out of childhood, our imaginations are stunted. It’s like the loss of milk teeth triggers a drying up of our sense of wonderment.

It doesn’t have to happen that way.

In fact, for some people it doesn’t happen at all.

The best part of childhood is looking at everything through new eyes. As adults, we tend to treat a new wonder as so much ho-hum by the eighth day. That’s very true, even for children. I have a three year old grand daughter who managed to hack her mom’s smart phone and would call me every morning. She doesn’t know how the magic works for calling, but she’s utterly used to using it.

Fortunately, it is possible to train yourself – even starting from adulthood – to regain the sense of wonder.

I call it recapturing the magic.

As we grow and mature, our minds are forced into narrower and narrower channels of thought. For some, though,  even as they learn the lessons needed for adult pursuits they still manage to retain that sense of newness.

The writer/philosopher C. S. Lewis who wrote a fantasy series called the Chronicles of Narnia, understood the process of recapturing magic. It’s a matter of looking beyond mere details, to what might be called the meta-data. Not ‘what is it?’ but ‘what is it about?’ or maybe even ‘why is it?’.

This was demonstrated in a scene from Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The crew members have landed on a far away island, where they find men caught in an enchanted sleep. They finally meet the owners of the island, who are pressed for sailing details for the region beyond the island.

*****

“And are we near the World’s End now, Sir?” asked Caspian. “Have you any knowledge of the seas and lands further east than this?”

“I saw them long ago,” said the Old Man, “but it was from a great height. I cannot tell you such

things as sailor need to know.”

“Do you mean you were flying in the air?” Eustace blurted out.

“I was a long way above the air, my son,” replied the Old Man. “I am Ramandu. But I see that you stare at on another and have not heard this name. And no wonder, for the days when I was a star had ceased long before any of you knew this world, and all the constellations have changed.”

“Golly,” said Edmund under his breath. “He’s a retired star.”

“Aren’t you a star any longer?” asked Lucy.

“I am a star at rest, my daughter,” answered Ramandu

“When I set for the last time, decrepit and old beyond all that you can reckon, I was carried to

this island. I am not so old now as I was then. Every morning a bird brings me a fire-berry from

the valleys in the Sun, and each fire-berry takes away a little of my age. And when I have become

as young as the child that was born yesterday, then I shall take my rising again (for we are at

earth’s eastern rim) and once more tread the great dance.”

“In our world,” said Eustace, “a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.”

“Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of.”

*****

Eustace had been one of those tiresome people who strive for adulthood by ignoring and disdaining anything considered childish. Fortunately for him, this trip managed to work a new sense of possibilities into him.

We are fortunate indeed if we can find a sense of newness again.

There is magic everywhere around us.

I don’t speak of the arcane and mystic arts as portrayed in Harry Potter or any of the urban fantasy stories prevalent.

I’m talking about the glory of a soap bubble. When you can see one, and even knowing the mechanics of making one you rejoice in the brief existence it has, then you are on the path of regaining your childhood magic.

I know scientists who yet have that magic. They see a rainbow, and though they can explain the physical properties in how they form, they still smile at the beauty – and maybe even hope for a pot of gold at the end.

When the magic is sucked out of a life, the body may breathe and move, but the real life is missing.

I tried to instill a lasting appreciation for magic in my children. And I’m proud to say that in at least one case, they continue that with their children.

When you have the magic, the world is full of possibilities. There may be giants, but they are friendly. Dragons wait to have their heads patted. What others see as a swarm of dragonflies, you can see their inherent faerie nature.

You can know the mechanics of reality, and still rejoice in its unknowns.

You can see the star is a huge ball of flaming gas.

But you also know that star has a personality that perhaps you can come to know.

If you have the magic.

 

 

 

131 responses to “Keeping The Magic Fresh- Doug Irvin

  1. This is a lovely post.

  2. “My father says almost the whole world’s asleep. Everybody you know, everybody you see, everybody you talk to. He says only a few people are awake. And they live in a state of constant, total amazement.” Patricia Granamore, Joe Versus The Volcano

  3. Neat!

  4. I have lost and regained the magic so many times it’s hard to count. I hope the last time I recapture it I will hold on to it for the rest of my life.

    • Watch the world through the eye of your little one … I know that doing that with The Daughter helped to refresh the sense of wonder for me.

    • Every now and then it sneaks up on you and reminds you it’s there. The truly amazing moment is when you realize that it never really left. The wonder was just waiting for you to catch up with it.

  5. I guess I’ve never understood the people who appear to think that having a ‘scientific’ explanation dispels the magic….but I run into them all over. They say “These things are because of evolution” and put the idea down. And I think “What a neat tool for the Creator to use! Much more impressive than carving everything out of clay!”

    aside; you can’t tell me that the giraffe isn’t somebody with the universe’s Sim Planet software, playing with the sliders on the evolution tool.

    They say “The Magician flips this, turns that, and does the other, and that’s the trick.” And I say “That’s a skill. A difficult sounding skill. I bet YOU couldn’t do it.”

    • I once talked with a creationist (in a scientific major!) who said he could only respect a God who made the world in six days. I replied that I found it far more respectable that you could get a God who started with a single cell and got humanity billions of years down the line.

      • Which is more impressive, tapping the cue ball six inches to tip a ball into the pocket or a called shot involving three bumpers and two intermediate balls?

        • SheSellsSeashells

          All things considered, I’d say it’s more like three bumpers, two intermediate balls, a minor earthquake and a cat walking across the table. 🙂

          • Don’t forget the temporal spin on it.

            • According to the doctrines of my faith, Orthodox Judaism, we believe that the Torah as written is literally the Word of G-D.
              However I learn science and it doesn’t usually conflict with my religion.

              • *chuckles* Given how hard you have to think to convey something to somebody of the same time, same culture and same country as yourself– is it any wonder that Himself explaining stuff to a General Audience would pick rather different words than, oh, a scientist in X field explaining it to a same-background scientist of X field?

                • I forget the name, but there was a famously atheistic astronomer who underwent a “deathbed conversion” about a decade ago, having concluded that the Genesis account of Creation closely approximated the Big Bang description of the origin of the world to the non-scientist.

                  My best search engine efforts produced this, which may well not be the person whose identity I sought …

                  How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind
                  EDITOR’S NOTE: For the last half of the twentieth century, Antony Flew (1923-2010) was the world’s most famous atheist. Long before Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris began taking swipes at religion, Flew was the preeminent spokesman for unbelief.

                  However in 2004, he shocked the world by announcing he had come to believe in God. While never embracing Christianity—Flew only believed in the deistic, Aristotelian conception of God—he became one of the most high-profile and surprising atheist converts. In 2007, he recounted his conversion in a book titled There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. Some critics suggested Flew’s mental capacity had declined and therefore we should question the credibility of his conversion. Others hailed Flew’s book as a legitimate and landmark publication.

                  A couple months before the book’s release, Flew sat down with Strange Notions contributor Dr. Benjamin Wiker for an interview about his book, his conversion, and the reasons that led him to God. Read below and enjoy!

      • I think I have zero respect for a god who makes a world in just six days; we have enough god wannabe’s in politics and government bureaucracy. Frankly, I want a God with a long range view of things!

        • I have zero respect for a god who needs my respect, but I have great affection for a god who needs my love.

          • If there is a god along Christian lines, I think it’s not that He NEEDS respect. Rather, he is due it. One would respect the power of an erupting volcano, too, unless one was brain dead.

            • Yes – if you fail to respect Him that bespeaks a flaw in you, not Him.

              See: the Dunning–Kruger effect

      • That belief is called (or was called) the Clockmaker God. Popular in the late 18th century (Father was a History of Science professor).

        Every year he taught at Iowa State, in his survey class, he would get at least one Creationist. And he would ask them “Why do you want to cal the Revelation of Genesis a theory?”

        To his mind, Genesis was an explaination of Creation aimed at a people of herdsmen. Accurate for the purpose, but non technical. He didn’t see a conflict, nor do I (though I’m agnostic, not Christian).

        • Genesis as the Non-Technical Executive Summary.

          I like it

        • Taken literally, the Genesis account is rather more closely tied to ancient Middle Eastern cosmology than most people realize. This rather diminishes its scientific value in even a Ptolemaic world, let alone a Copernican one. However, if the primary purpose is taken as theological instead of scientific, it would seem to establish a belief among the Hebrews that the phenomena of nature (sea, mountains, sun, moon, stars, animals and plants, and even men) were creations of God, not gods to be worshiped. This is in contrast to the beliefs of neighboring cultures such as the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Greeks.

        • Once you realize that science is downstream from philosophy (or theology, depending on the religion) it’s all good.

          • *snickers*

            Reminds me of an example in high school science class, went something like “in the late 50s they thought that sperm moved with decisive action towards the egg, now we know they move at random because we looked at a petri dish with hormones in one corner and interpreted their movements as random”–
            made me wonder, whose “interpretation” was right, since the video evidence for it was….cells flopping around like they do. Even the ones that we are pretty sure are getting signals, and area headed places…..

            • Save it to .mp4, slice it into progressive images, fire up your favorite analysis package, and you can tell whether the movement is random or not.

              • Problem being it’s still in a dish, with their GUESS of the triggering chemicals, and with sperm there’s a very good chance that a lot of them are broken. (Just on basic observation of malformation.)

                I seem to remember they mentioned a “surprising number” found their way to the egg spot, which would kind of suggest that it is non-random….

        • I’m Catholic, and we’re allowed to do textual criticism. 😉

      • “Here, again, time scale confuses us. We can choose which we see: a slow glow into burning, like the coals of a fire burning hotter as they’re blown on — or (from the Galaxy’s own viewpoint) a burst of celestial fire crackers, life leaping into being, light born and blazing in the time it takes to speak a word…. ”

        Spock’s World, Diane Duane

      • created in their causes, as a Thomist would put it.

    • There is a developmental stage in which children of a certain age delight in debunking, cannot wait to be the first to assert that there ain’t no Santa Claus.

      Utter nonsense; of course there is a Santa Claus, and if you need that explained it proves you’ve never outgrown that very silly stage.

      • Santa Claus? Mythical, perhaps, but that’s not the same as false. I ought to know. Now, as for the “sanity clause”.. well, it’s more and more obvious all the time that Chico Marx was right.

        • SheSellsSeashells

          When my kid was little we had what amounted to a sliding scale of reality, which ran from mermaids (unlikely, especially the scaly kind) through unicorns (possible with several decades’ more genetic knowledge), Santa Claus (historical with accretions) and God (realer than me). It seemed to work reasonably well. 🙂

      • When Athena figured out Santa Claus, the way I explained it to her was that Santa Claus was real, oh not the guy in the red suit, but as a personification of that part of the human heart that gives for no other reason than to see joy in someone else’s face, the part of us that delights in making others happy. It’s easier to put a face on that when you’re young but the idea, the concept, the heart of Santa Claus is very real indeed.

        As it happens, I’m listening to The Hogfather on audible at the moment. I haven’t gotten to this scene yet, but I’ve seen it here and there:

        “All right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”

        REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

        “Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—”

        YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

        “So we can believe the big ones?”

        YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

        “They’re not the same at all!”

        YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME…SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

        “Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”

        MY POINT EXACTLY.”

        • So very, very true.

        • My favorite quote from the Hogfather (and possibly the whole Discworld series) was “+++ All Things Strive +++”

        • I figured it out based on logistics young enough that I thought it was sad when a classmate in the 1st grade hadn’t figured it out yet. I was sworn to secrecy to keep from ruining everyone else’s Christmas, and was told that Santa Claus was a representation of the spirit of giving. Looking back, I think it would have been more accurate to say it’s because a drawing of baby Jesus doesn’t look cool on a box of menthols.

          I really felt conflicted about this with ours, I never told them, and only made a big deal about it once. They started putting it together about the same age, too. One Christmas after everyone else had gone out of the room, our oldest said “Daddy, where did this come from?”

          “Do you really want to know?” I said.

          Our oldest said “No,” and I left it at that.

        • From the get go, even when she was very small, we did Samaritan’s Purse because, as I told her, “We have to be Santa Claus for these people.”

          “But on T.V. he–
          “Sweetie, TV always gets important stuff wrong.

      • Though I initially liked some of pterry’s books much better, I keep coming back to Hogfather. I’ve read the book a couple of times, listened to the audio version at least three times, and we’ve watched the movie every Christmas since it came out.

      • My seven-year-old’s take on Santa Claus: “I think he’s dead and other people are pretending to be him.” Which… okay, I’ve been very clear on St. Nicholas of Myra (who is still somehow not the patron saint of pugilists), but I had to laugh at her pithy description.

        • Psst. Santa Claus is really a spirit that occasionally possesses people and tries to help them do good things. But be careful of what you wish for, you might get it. And wishes are terribly dangerous things.

      • Sometimes it goes into the “ooh, ooh, I know something cool!” area, sometimes…it’s the same impulse that will send them charging through another kid’s sandcastle.

      • I don’t remember believing in Santa Claus as an anthropomorphic entity. Christmas presents were from individuals. I do remember the growing realization that Santa Claus is real in that we are him.

        That’s why I like the ELP song I BELIEVE IN FATHER CHRISTMAS, which ends with the line “The Christmas we get, we deserve”

        You want a Merry Christmas? Get off your rear and make one!

        • Same here– although I had some rather sleepless nights when some adults would insist he was totally real, because that’s rather scary. If something was “From santa,” it meant we didn’t have to write a thank you card– although we’d probably still verbally thank whoever gave it.

          • I was pleased to announce when I was two that there was no such thing as Santa Claus, Mommy and Daddy brought the presents, there was no strange man barging into MY home in the middle of the night.

            And, of course, one of the great influences was the stories about St. Nicholas giving presents so he could not be thanked.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              I think that I got a “clue” about the existence (or non-existence) of Santa Claus the year that he didn’t come Christmas Eve but showed up Christmas morning.

              It seemed that me, my sister and two cousins were bedded down in the room (at Grandma Howard’s house) where the Christmas tree was.

              Well we were talking so late that he didn’t get the gifts under the tree until we left the room for breakfast Christmas morning. 😉

              • There was a Christmas where people were snowed in an airport. They got a Santa to show up and explain that he had delivered the presents where they were going so that they didn’t have to carry them over the snow.

            • I WISH I could remember how my folks conveyed the idea that sometimes you want to give a gift in a way that there cannot be an obligation coming from it.

              *sigh* It’s kind of like that Japanese word for a favor you didn’t want but that you are now obligated for. Either you get it, or you don’t….

      • Nicholas of Myra, bishop, lived in the 4th century, passionate foe of the Arian heresy.

        He knows if you’ve been bad. He knows if you’ve been good. He knows if you believe in the eternal generation of the Son.

    • Platypus. Proof that the Great Author has a truly wicked sense of humor. “I’ll just leave this there and see what their reaction is…” *sound of eternal giggles*

      • I think there’s a joy to creation, where a lot of things work on multiple levels– “ooh, this is COOL! It’s neat enough when you just see it, but when you see it in all these other contexts, that’s cool, too–”

        My kids are in love with rainbows; my son is only four, but knows full-well the rainbow comes from light being shattered into different colors. The idea of shattered light, like rainbow sparkles, is notably not lacking in cool…..

      • There is a lot of nastiness in Nature. Many wasps are just flat out unpleasant, with the whole ‘lay the eggs on paralyzed food’ thing. And a lot of people look at the nastiness and say “this is proof that there is no benevolent God.”

        But we are told by many religions that this world is trivial compared to the next. This world could be amtraining exercise. And any serious soldier will tell you that training isn’t pleasant.

        I think the Creator played a lot in this Creation, amd some of it is just nasty. But even if a bug has Spirit, maybe its life here isn’t important compared to what comes next.

        • One can also point that there are created beings superior to us in abilities and also possessed of free will, so that some of them are malevolent — and can have malevolent effects on the world.

        • Depends on which creation myth you consider most saves appearances. The Christian & Jewish one accounts for entropy and (as a corollary) your wasps. No special pleading needed.

          • More importantly, creation was corrupted by the Fall. The beauty you see is not what it was because of that corruption. Pain and suffering are all throughout creation because of it.

            One of the things that gets my sense of wonder really going is pondering that the new creation will be even better than what we currently see.

            • And some of the ‘oh wow’ moments are /all the little things God worked into the world, in advance, to let us cope with the consequences of the fall/. There are so many ‘they’re going to need this, though it may take them a while to figure it out’ bits in the world from simple things like acetylsalicylic acid in willow bark. All the way to our medical ability and our body’s abilities to adapt to diseases and deal with injury. All built in from the word go… because we were going to need it some day.

  6. We are fortunate indeed if we can find a sense of newness again.

    THIS.

    The sense of magic you describe, one that can know about stuff, have some understanding of how it works, but can still marvel at the workings, that is most precious. With it comes joy and from it arises hope.

  7. I know scientists who yet have that magic. They see a rainbow, and though they can explain the physical properties in how they form, they still smile at the beauty – and maybe even hope for a pot of gold at the end.

    There’s a scene in Niven, Pournelle, and Flynn’s “Fallen Angles” where the heroes are walking across the ice sheet and their breath forms rainbows in front of them. An explanation is given and one of them says (paraphrased from memory) “Some people say that science destroys the magic. Well, I think that millions of tiny ice prisms is even more magical.”

    Richard Feynmann, in addition to his physics, was also a rather capable artist. In his autobiography he said that he wanted to learn to draw so that he could tangibly represent some of the beauty he found in physics.

    In Heinlein’s novel “The Number of the Beast”, “Slipstick” Libby (now in convenient female package) would express delight over numbers and mathematical relationships that she considered beautiful.

    Far from taking away from the beauty of the world, math and science add whole new levels to it. We can find beauty in relationships that most people don’t even know exist.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Indeed. There’s a great deal of magic in reality, if you know where to look. I am an ape-descended hominid whose atoms are made from the remains of a long dead star. If that ain’t magic, I don’t know what is.

  8. “I’m awake! God help me, I’m awake!”

    – ‘Little Joe’ AI, “Destination: Void” by Frank Herbert

    “Raj,” he said. “We’re not conscious.”
    “What? Huh?” It was Timberlake rousing out of his sleep, rubbing his eyes, staring straight out at Bickel.
    “We’re not awake,” Bickel said.

    – “Destination: Void”

  9. “Know all the questions but not the answers,
    look for the different instead of the same.
    Never walk where there is room for running ,
    and don’t do anything that can’t be again.”
    ~The Changeling.

    Also? Look up! You might see a Whangdoodle 🙂

  10. “Can’t be a game” ***sigh**

  11. I defy anybody to drive through rainbows and still not find anything magical about that. (I didn’t know that was possible, but we’ve done it more than once.)

    • Wait, what? *fascinated* If you’re up for describing this more I’d love to see it.

      • Once driving across Cherry Creek Dam in Denver and once (multiple times) on the windy bit of I-5 along the Klamath River just south of the Oregon border. I don’t know the exact mechanism aside from not-quite-fog mistfall and a nice low angle to the sun, but yeah, get the conditions just right and you get a moment of driving through the prismatic effect. Really makes me want a dash cam, though, because when you’re driving you have to drive.

    • Drive through… that’s very interesting as all I’ve encountered seem to recede when approached. And an aerial view shows a circular rainbow. But I’ve also seen what might be described as a sort of anti-shadow from the air, too (I presume there is a diffraction explanation, but I’ve not gone looking).

      • I saw double-shadows once, just a wee bit past dawn. I was driving my car down a nearly-deserted highway and it was casting two shadows, in slightly different directions. I’m not entirely clear how or why – the moon or some sort of cloud-based diffraction or reflection of some of the sunlight were my only guesses (besides aliens, of course).

    • I’ve flown through them.

      I still find wonder at looking down onto a rainbow as you fly over a cloud.
      (That’s not the only thing, but it’s relevant here.)

      • Yes. There really is magic in flying into a glory, especially if you pop through the cloud and discover a second glory racing to meet you. That was a wonderful [in all senses of the word] flight. 🙂

        • If you don’t like Coldplay, turn off the music – but the views, ah, this makes me homesick for snow on the mountains and the golden sunlight that gilds them.

        • And while this is instructional in nature, it’s also excellent at the sheer beauty of backcountry. *sigh* Must go fly more!

          • Aha. A pilot. Y’all are crazy, I’ve been told. But it explains how you yearn for mountains. I live in Entish paradise (“..a land where both our hearts may rest”) Plenty of mountain, but not what you’re missing.

    • As I drove north up the interstate, I saw the rainbow ending on the car about 80′ in front of me; and it stayed there for a couple of minutes.

    • Anyone else ever seen a triple rainbow?

  12. ‘In our world,’ said Eustace, ‘a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.’

    Considering the latest pronouncements emanating from Hollywood and the athletic fields, I must confess a new appreciation for applying that appellation to their most notable performers.

  13. Every morning a bird brings me a fire-berry from the valleys in the Sun, and each fire-berry takes away a little of my age.

    Sigh. Fire-berries give me gas.

  14. Magic? I don’t know. Wonder? Yes, definitely. I have a new decoration on my desk, one of those plasma globes. I bought the thing for a Halloween display, but may leave it on my desk because it’s way cool. This morning I was changing out a couple of fluorescent bulbs in my office, then went “Hmm…” Brought the bulbs next to the globe, and, of course, they lit up. Then noticed they lit up only from the point nearest the globe to where my hand held the tubes. That’s wonder there.

    This weekend I was accused by one of ours of having an outlook like a middle grades boy in wanting to try impromptu experiments like this. But not all that long ago I heard the eldest complain how some were bored being outside during the eclipse, while only one other besides they and the teacher thought it was so cool.

    • There are a lot of very silly (and very dull) people in the world. They need us Oddities or they’d bore themselves right into a coma or something. Meat-robots. Sheesh. Yes, *ox* say that.

    • There’s a lot of very cool science and technology models from the late 1700 through to the late 1800s. Steampunk Lives! The trick is to find a way to avoid the killer London fogs, and the coal dust and soot coating everything.

    • Experiment? Bah! That’s the “huh, did you notice that? Was it real?” checking thing.

      *makes a mental note to look into plasma globes. When things are a bit less shattery*

  15. “WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF YOU HADN’T SAVED HIM?
    “Yes! The sun would have risen just the same, yes?”
    NO
    “Oh, come on. You can’t expect me to believe that. It’s an astronomical fact.”
    THE SUN WOULD NOT HAVE RISEN.

    “Really? Then what would have happened, pray?”
    A MERE BALL OF FLAMING GAS WOULD HAVE ILLUMINATED THE WORLD.”
    ― Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

  16. forgot to click the box

  17. Imagination plus science is tremendous power. Consider geology and plate tectonics, stellar evolution, lambda calculus or just a yagi-uda antenna. Wondrous things to take joy in, play with and blend with each other!

  18. Maybe there’s something to world-building (for stories and role-playing) that necessitates some measure of wonder at how things go together. It keeps me interested in planetology and astronomy and oodles of other things.

    As to magic, I’ll recount just Saturday:
    Pulling up some butterfly bushes (so I can replace them – they’re old and not filling out like they used to), I partially unearthed a snake. Turns out it was a ring-neck snake, about as big around as a pencil. When I unearthed him, he squirmed backwards, deeper into his hole. I let him be – then went inside and looked up what I had found.
    I also had a butterfly visiting me – this late in the season. Don’t worry, he can still drink from the coral honeysuckle next to the former bush location. (The honeysuckle has overwhelmed the trellis and formed great big loops as it went out and back on itself.) So I stopped for a few seconds to watch.
    I also had a lantana plant that had grown up amongst the bushes. It had formed berries. So I had to go look that up (and what it was – I didn’t know it was a lantana) and find out about it.
    I marveled at the mulberry tree that continues to keep growing up under my fence. If only certain people had that sort of resiliency.
    I pondered the proliferation of mint.
    I wondered at the difference in size between my cayenne plant and the jalapeno and serrano plants next to it. (I’m never gonna be able to eat that many cayenne peppers! But I’m gonna try.)
    I heard the kids laughing down the street, and stopped what I was doing for a moment, just smiling and wishing them a good life.

    Magic sure can slow down your work. But not in a bad way…… 🙂

    • The butterflies are making up for lost time down here. I would not be at all surprised to go outside and find them ripping the enormous buddleia by the driveway out of the ground and carting it off as carry-out.

    • “I’m never gonna be able to eat that many cayenne peppers!”

      Dry ’em.

    • I love having time to occasional get the dirt and loam under my fingernails. Maybe it’s the genetics of generations of farmers on my mother’s side of the family. But then something needs to balance the generations of engineers and techno nuts from my father’s side of the family.

    • Butterflies– did you know they’ll visit marigolds? I’d never seen it, but we’ve not only got a couple of pretty little yellow butterflies, we’ve got a HUMMINGBIRD that hits the marigolds!

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        I’ve a vague recollection of hearing that there’s a specific butterfly that is the only one with the specialized enzymes to handle the Marigold’s pesticides.

  19. My sister with two teenage children is trying to install an appreciation of beauty and/or nature, so she’s doing something similar to Mr Irvin but different. There are a lot of angry people out there who seem to not like anything, can’t get out of mindset and it’s not healthy.

    Seeing the beauty in colourful flowers, for instance, can help raise your mood when you sad while other people can never give up their anger.

    • My grand daughters far and near are always happy to get a visit with Grandpa – even a video one.
      Totally makes my day. I have grey hair, but I’m the fun one.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I had a great dislike of the outdoors instilled by some similar efforts. Imagine a child in not to great physical condition following at the pace of an adult with more endurance, and an endless enraptured fascination with the outdoors. I was later diagnosed with quite severe allergies, which may have been troubling me outdoors my entire life. I’ve no interest in museums for similar reasons. (Well, that and ones that didn’t challenge me intellectually, or were excessively PC.)

      • The moral here is that you not only have to have good intentions for kids, but also good attention to the results.

      • Sounds like when my parents decided I spent too much time reading in my room, and needed to “go outside and play.”

        I got locked outside in 110F summer…

        “Parenting Tips from TV” for the fail.

  20. analytical-engine-mechanic

    “When the world is always new, how can anything be a surprise?”
    — an (unnamed?) Time Lord, in/from Dr, Who, “Planet of the Spiders”

    I’ve always thought this quote (which should be word-for-word or nearly so) was very much the same thing as what generations of SF readers, writers, and editors have been pleased to call “a sense of wonder.” As so variously and magically reflected here already.

  21. Big balls of burning gas?

  22. One more column we all wish had never had to be written, and none wish it more than its author (although I expect many families equal her regret it is so.)

    The Las Vegas Shooting and the Attack of the Carrion Crows
    By Sarah Hoyt
    When I was fourteen or sixteen – pardon me, but I don’t remember precisely, nor did these things make any impression in the international mainstream media – mom and I went to what was probably an illegal demonstration in downtown Porto, Portugal.

    No, I am not sure if it was illegal, or even honestly what the demonstration was for. Around that time it might have been for anything, including in support of whatever was the most right-wing candidate available. (Don’t get excited. It was never further to the right than social democrat, and at one time it was the socialist candidate.)

    What I remember of that demonstration — one in a string of them — was the shots from above.

    If my memory serves me (and understand that after these many years things run together, but be patient, there’s a point to this) the demonstration was in Avenida dos Aliados, which despite the name is a plaza, hemmed in between tallish, nineteenth/early twentieth century stone buildings. I’d guess from memory four or five stories high.

    The shots came from either the upper windows or the roof of one of these buildings.

    As someone in the crowd, what I remember is people startled, starting to move, eddies in the packed multitude, and then someone ahead of us going down, bloodied.

    At that point, the running started.

    [END EXCERPT]

    • *cough*

      CBS exec streamlines the route between internet outrage and unemployment

      CBS fired a legal executive Monday in what may be the fastest a person has received a pink slip following outrage over comments they made online.

      Fifty-eight people were killed this weekend at a country music festival in Clarke County, Nevada, and hundreds more were injured.

      The former CBS legal executive, Hayley Geftman-Gold, responded to the deadly attack by suggesting on social media that the victims got what they deserved.

      “If they wouldn’t do anything when children were murdered I have no hope that Repugs will ever do the right thing,” she said in a note on Facebook, likely in reference to the Sandy Hook massacre. “I’m actually not even sympathetic bc country music fans often are Republican gun toters.”

      Her comments were first reported on by the Daily Caller, and things for her went downhill quickly. And by “went downhill quickly,” we mean she was fired in a matter of hours by CBS.

      Not long after Geftman-Gold’s Facebook post was reported, her now-former network released a statement announcing they had let her go.

      “This individual, who was with us for approximately one year, violated the standards of our company and is no longer an employee of CBS,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “Her views as expressed on social media are deeply unacceptable to all of us at CBS. Our hearts go out to the victims in Las Vegas and their families.”

      Geftman-Gold’s remarks were indeed outrageous, but what’s particularly interesting is how much we’ve streamlined the process of someone being fired for saying something obnoxious online.

      It used to take a few days for the eventual pink slip. But a few hours? That’s impressively quick.

      Also, as a closing side note, it’s worth mentioning Geftman-Gold’s comments this weekend are only barely the worst thing that someone formerly employed by CBS has said this year about a mass shooting. Honestly, her remarks are only marginally worse than when former anchor Scott Pelley suggested this summer that Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., sort of had it coming when a gunman nearly killed him during congressional baseball practice.

      “It’s time to ask whether the attack on the United States Congress, yesterday, was foreseeable, predictable and, to some degree, self-inflicted,” the former anchor mused, clearly impressed by the sound of his own voice.

      He added, “Too many leaders, and political commentators, who set an example for us to follow, have led us into an abyss of violent rhetoric which, it should be no surprise, has led to violence.”

      If nothing else, blaming the shooting victim deserves some points for creativity.

      • So In other words. anyone who disagrees with me deserves whatever violent thing that happens to them? You are denying the humanity of your opponents. This leads to Stalinesque purges. This view is corrosive to a constitutional republic. Of course these are words, not actions. However I would say that it is a poison in our republic.

      • What? CBS fired her?.
        Blinks.
        Well. I didn’t think they had it in them. I might have to revise my highly negative opinion of them.

        • Maybe by half a skosh. Subject to further events. Timelines may apply.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Legal executive. They were paying her to keep her mouth shut where it could get them into trouble. If Paddock was a leftist nutter, and there was another leftist nutter, the subsequent leftist nutter’s victim’s families could have potentially sued CBS, or tried to get them prosecuted for incitement or solicitation. If CBS is deliberately playing with fire stirring things up, they’ll be very attentive to the level of personal risk that they plan to tolerate.

        • When you’re actually falling into the pit, all but the dimmest can see it. It takes slightly more acumen to realize you’ve been on a greased slide for some time, and figure out how to get off it.

        • Ditto.

          And they did it QUICK– Hubbs read the original, talked about it to a co-worker inside of…I think he said an hour of posting… and she was already fired.

          That’s straight-up decency, not nearly enough time for it to be outrage.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      It’s time to face the fact that we need to pass common sense Democrat control legislation right now. For too long we have permitted the mentally ill and criminals an excessive amount of access to ordinary drug free law abiding Republicans. This is also a healthcare issue, as the Democrats refuse to permit the public health measures which are the only proven means of substance abuse treatment, and which will lower our medical bills. The Democrats also stand in the way of the mass murder of Mexicans, Russians, Chinese, Indians and various other nationalities, which is the only practical and feasible means to control the risk of human caused climate change. Stampede emotionally to your federal legislators and pressure them into passing the Comprehensively Unconstitutional Fully Flawed Enforcement Measures Act of 2017.

    • “And that’s not counting the people saying it’s okay because those people were likely Trump Voters. Those people have willfully cut themselves from the human race and made themselves a species of hyena far more repulsive than real hyenas — who are after all only animals who can’t help their behavior.”

      Just remember: these people hate us. And as Lazarus Long told Dora about the thieves who stole Buck’s headstone before trying to kill him and his wife: “Had I known this, I would have given them NO chance. Vermin like this should be killed on sight. The trick is to identify them.”

      Donald Trump is providing an invaluable service because he’s getting them to identify themselves.

    • Rhys and I watched video taken by people present at the shooting. They didn’t run – not for several minutes. They stood there, gaping, and you could hear the gunfire very clearly going on.

      It wasn’t until some people were seen to start fleeing that the stampede began.

      • Gunshots echo nicely off flat surfaces like buildings. It probably wasn’t obvious what direction the fire was coming from; so it would be hard to tell which direction to run from. Or to. Or even if there was more than one shooter, like in France.

        • Apparently, people thought they were fireworks.

          I come from a country where fireworks go ‘rat-tat-tat-tat’ and they don’t sound the same. Living near the Lavarracks Base in Townsville, it was also interesting to listen to the live-fire exercises echoing off of Mt. Stewart and wondering how I ever thought fireworks and gunfire sound the same.

          But I’ll grant that perhaps, after listening to loud music for a while, one’s ears would’ve been a bit dulled.

  23. You should read C.S. Lewis’s short essay with the unfortunate title “Talking about Bicycles” in his collection Present Concerns. It’s about how we have an enchantment with something as children, a disenchantment as an adult, and a potential re-enchantment.

  24. I’ve noticed that the Harry Potter style magic is often very hard to press into a sense of wonder. something about its use as a tool, and the necessity to give it rules enough so that the reader will believe in its use without wondering why it doesn’t fix everything.

    I think the high notes of magical wonder in the series were in Prisoner, where Harry’s Patronus astounds him with its form, and in Hallows, with the silver doe leading him through the woods — where, you note, we only discover it’s a willfully cast Patronus until rather much later.

  25. Pingback: Seeing the magic around us – JHJ Writers Guild