My concentration in the last few days has been upgraded from fruit fly to fruit bat. I'm grateful for the improvement, but disconcerted by the problem. I'm used to certain difficulties -a lack of self-confidence, a tendency to avoid necessary confrontation, occasional bouts of a bleak world view- and have developed habits over the years to address them. Paying attention? Focusing for longer than a nanosecond? Being able to read a freakin' book? Those are not problems I'm used to having. I suspect things will improve as the weather cools. I love Autumn.
The weather last week was close to perfect for me. Yesterday and today we're wearing the wet velvet body suit again, as some tropical storm threatens to come through. It's too soon to be Ike, so I'm thinking this must be Hannah coming back for encores, or there's some other tropical storm I've lost track of. I'm not quite Mr. Crankypants, largely because he requires more energy than I have, and I have had the good fortune not to have to do much this weekend.
While I wait for my brain to return to normal function, I've been musing on the idea raised by Birdie and the Midnight Gardener, that I addressed in the previous entry. Looking back through my collection of photos, I realized that enticing paths are a favorite subject. This set me to wondering what makes a path enticing, exactly? I have been down most of these trails several times, some of them over more than thirty years, yet looking at these images still conjurs a sense of excitement and mystery for me. I know perfectly well what lies ahead in most cases, but that doesn't stop me from heading down them again, each time wondering what might surprise me this time.
So, here are my beginning thoughts as to what makes a path enticing.
1. You have to be able to see ahead, but not too far ahead. It can't be too short a distance either though; I wonder if the range of distance varies from person to person.
2. Hidden curves and changes in elevation help a lot.
3. What you can see needs to be beautiful, but there has to be a suggestion that it gets even better further down the path.
4. For me, a dirt path is usually going to be better, but occasionally paved trails can still sometimes conjur the magic, if enough is going on.
5. To bring the greatest sense of mystery, the path should be flanked by something that is too dense to see through, so the path constantly draws the eye.
6. Forks in the road are almost always intriguing, but one trail will usually call a bit louder.
7. Extremes of light and shadow always make things more mysterious.
8. So does dramatic weather, especially wind, or the threat of a storm. Different types of forests make different sounds when the wind blows through. Pine forests sound like the ocean; forests with lots of oaks or maple trees will sound like rainfall.
9. Water in various forms will conjur the spell, especially if it's heard before it's seen. Just running alongside a river or creek will usually do the trick. Crossing over water always does.
10. Many paths don't need the help of light, shadow, wind or water.
11. Strange sounds, and appealing scent can be very powerful draws. Finding the source of the sounds is usually disappointing; finding the source of the scents is usually a pleasure.
Those are my first thoughts; I'll write more if inspiration hits. What would you add?
Further thoughts: Java and Birdie reminded me that temperature can be very evocative as well. Like Java, I tend to prefer shade, but there can also be something magical about walking along in muggy heat and suddenly stumbling into a pocket of cold air. I guess most sudden, unexpected changes can be very appealing.