Summer to Fall is full of God’s creation and mystical caring in fine detail. Dana Wilde loves Thoreau’s scientific approach, quotes Emerson, thinks in connections on the page. He shows, with exquisite detail, patterns in nature’s unfathomable abundance of species, and her lack of personal caring for anything but her own. Occasionally he cautions about nature’s lack of personal caring for humans: He rounds out his superb book with mythic Nature’s profound godlike jealous hauteur over her fathomless domain. It’s important to understand this if you live on the edge of the wilderness or take up temporary residence in Washington DC in stewardship of policy. Dana Wilde, however, makes no explicit suggestions regarding the latter. All is submerged in the story he tells us of Maine’s creatures, Maine’s creation. We may not see Artemis in a human-shaped body. But we see her in everything else. Here, in Wilde’s book, mythopoeic possibility abounds.
He watches the flowers and stars, researchers what he’s looking at but never quenches mystery with scientific detail. He enhances it. His deck and yard, his lane walks yield abundance in scent and seeing — the universe is available in these goings and glances. And his mind’s fullness is shared in the most humble of ways — the scribbling of a pen or placement of tiny characters on the screen, full of that strange encoding we, in our language, call words.
Sometimes he calls attention to this. The word, I mean. It’s mysterious captivity, movement, flexibility, and light. Yes, he calls attention to the fact (or belief as you may see it) that light was brought into being by words.
It’s a thin book full of chapters about two or a few pages in length. A few pages each on flowers and stars, butterflies, dragonflies, spiders, visibility, cosmology, “botanoluminescence,” angels, the martins, grace, and howling darkness. These chapters almost always end energetically, drawing up and tightening the psychic glance, focusing on the Numina — that indefinable something or someone we know by this word is just there — no there, or — where? Where did it go?
His reliance on scientific naming and detail will flesh out this Numina, while secretly subverting or contradicting materialism. In spring, the most direct “sign that the world — at least the one I live in — is teetering into the perennial delirium is the appearance of shadbush blossoms.” (P. 20).
In a page or two of “Stars and Flowers,” he confesses to being a star-crossed flower-lover, unable to rid his mind of the similarity between flowers and stars. The mind of Wilde is excessively bordered with goldenrod, fields and reams of it. He takes time and words to assure us this flagrant wildflower of multiple species is not responsible for allergies commonly called hayfever. Nope, that would be green flowers, the hideous ragweed, containing (in my definition) almost no beauty. And for Dana Wilde it’s goldenrod — “intoxicating.”
All these natural things, strangely, are caught up in the Numina of Wilde’s swift turns and powerful endings.
North Country press in Unity Maine puts out Dana Wilde’s book, Summer to Fall: Notes and Numina from the Maine Woods. The title is precise for this beautiful book. I’ve been reading in hopes of a Maine relevant blog entry or an essay. But also I want to return the favor of the Maine Metaphor mention in his column, Off Radar.