Saturday, February 5, 2011

Idle Thoughts in Winter

"Of many Arts, one surpasses all. For the maiden seated at her work flashes the smooth balls and thousand threads into the circle, ... and from this, her amusement, makes as much profit as a man earns by the sweat of his brow, and no maiden ever complains, at even, of the length of the day. The issue is a fine web, which feeds the pride of the whole globe; which surrounds with its fine border cloaks and tuckers, and shows grandly round the throats and hands of Kings." - Jacob Van Eyck, 1651.

Jacob was writing about lace-making. I was inspired to Google-investigate lace by looking at deciduous trees in winter. Their intricate tracery – the complexities within complexities that in summer are hidden beneath shades of shimmering jade – is wondrous.

If trees did not lose their leaves in winter, would lace have been created?

Well, probably. Recall spider webs and the skeletons of autumn leaves, frost on windows or even the pale blue patterns of veins on human hands.

The patterns, when you look for them, are everywhere.

But why lace? It is not a necessary thing. Our ancient, ancient ancestors had no need for such foppery.

Still, from the first emergings from Africa’s primordial valleys, we have sought embellishment for the garments that protect us from heat and cold. Even Neanderthals decorated their animal skin clothing.

Perhaps lace and embroidery and much of art is both an echo and a tribute to the patterns within patterns within patterns of the entire web of life.

Idle thoughts on a winter afternoon. Or, appreciations.

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