block photo

Dear Editor, 

What we see, how we see, involves many things. 

Before long (hopefully), the trees will bloom. Some people will be able to identify trees on distant hillsides by color.

Then trees will leaf out.  (That landscape is what we mostly remember – that and autumn color changes.) 

Autumn: Leaves drop. Oaks will hold their brown leaves longer than others, so we see where the oaks are. 

As leaves drop, you can notice other things: not only the shapes of trunks and limbs, but you can see much farther through the trees.  See well locations and hunters’ cabins.  See where trees end and there’s a meadow or pasture (or even a house) on a ridge. 

Weather changes disclose still more: 

Snow on the ground in the woods highlights some things. 

Then as snow melts, it can last longer in clearings and on logging trails, making them stand out. 

Heavy snow clinging to trees on hilltops and ridges, but not below (besides being beautiful) shows temperature is lower up there. 

As interesting as this may be, it’s even more valuable as metaphor: 

One look at something will seldom tell us all we need to know.  Looking again later and later yet, may improve our understanding – and our realization that there are often things behind the surface. 

Some decisions need to be made on what we know at that moment.  Other decisions are improved by waiting for more information. 

We see more walking than driving.  (Trying to see more than we should while driving can be dangerous!)  But if we only walk, we won’t get far from home to see what’s there. 

We can’t know everything. 

It can happen that a single view makes such a strong impression that it is locked in our minds for the rest of our lives, and we throw away the key that could allow us to consider other things. If someone makes us another key, we throw that away.  (If we make a key for someone else, they may throw it away.)  There are none so blind as those who will not see (as the old saying tells us). 

We have to make decisions and take actions based on incomplete information.  Allow for the limitations of that, seek ways of offsetting the gaps in our knowledge.   Be bold as necessary, cautious as possible. 

Jim Lowther

Auburn, WV