Thursday, November 1, 2012

Autistics Speaking Day 2012: My Ode to Dapples

                               Pied Beauty
Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim. 
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.
                                                 --Gerard Manley Hopkins 

Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of my very favorite poets because he seems to get as happy as I get about things like this. Dappling, especially light dappling in my eyes, fills me with a kind of joy I cannot express properly without sort of singing about it.  And probably still not even.  But let me try now, a bit.

This is what I am talking about, a little, doing my best for now.  Walking through a fairly thick forest, and the sun comes through, and you see those things I call God Stripes because photographers always put them behind scriptural quotes.  And you walk right through that, and don't look directly, and the light changes rhythmically through your eyelid and eyelash dappledappledappledapple as the leaves go in and out of shading the sun.  Sometimes there is wind, and the rhythm is surprising, as a slip jig or some Arabic music or anacrusis, dappledappledappledapdapplepledapple.  And the light fills you with a feeling of light and lightness throughout you, you can breathe the dapple.  You can do this in a train or car with the sun at early morning or late evening.  You can do this walking by a chain link fence if you know how.  The rhythm is different, steady and more like a high-hat.  You can do it with your eyes wide open looking at a body of water as the light skims over what the wind is doing.  dadadadapppppple, ahhhhhhhhdadadadadapppppppple.  That is a lazy part of the river, but many readers maybe knew that.  Dapple on a lake on a cold windy sunny static electric day is exciting, almost like speedcore: DAPPDAPPDAPPDAPPYEAHDAPPDAPPLE.  The ocean changes its mind a lot depending on the day or time or location, like an accomplished studio band with classical training but a feel for indy and worldbeat and ironic soundtracking.

Spinning things, things that twirl, they create their own light dapple, some you twirl yourself with your hand, and you can also do the light thing with your hand alone.  You can make this thing happen with your eye that fills your body with that kind of delight just by spinning a quarter and looking at it properly.  You can sometimes put the light in your eyes by listening to something that sounds the right kind of twirly and dappled.  And your body fills up with light and warmth and a bit of a tickle, but not a horrible tickle, it is a good tickle, a tickle like love, a reminder of love.

In proper light like a ray of sun with floating slowly whirling dust motes, you can see wind patterns that also do this if you have space and time to watch properly.  It is rarely true in life that you have space and time to watch properly.  Sometimes, people accidentally come upon me when I am doing these things and ask me what I am thinking.  I say "nothing," but this is not the rhetorical "nothing" that people say when they just erroneously say they are thinking "nothing" because they do not want to say what they are thinking.  This is the truth in a literal sense, because the thing that I am doing is not a thing that is thinking or has cognitive content.  I am seeing, and the seeing mixes with a sort of hearing and feeling and breathing, even though the hearing is not a listening hearing, and comes only from the seeing, often.

I am being.  I am being happy.  I am being light and love and joy.  Glory be to God for dappled things, and also to Him thanks for giving me the gift of being able to notice them as they are.


  1. I pulled over head my blue flannel nightgown, one exactly like my older sister's and my younger sister's, except blue because that was my assigned color. With my face washed and teeth brushed, I lay my glasses on the tiny table squeezed between my twin bed and my sister's twin bed. I slid down the hall in my sock-covered feet and lay down near, but not too near the Christmas tree. I looked up, vision fuzzy without my glasses, and stared at the lights. Fuzzy balls of dappled light, green, yellow, red, sparkling, receding, fuzzing larger, smaller.

    To this day all I have to do is take out my contacts or squeeze my eyes nearly closed and peer through my lashes to bring up those warm feelings of anticipation, excitement, magic.

    Love this, Ibby. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for this. I just stopped and turned toward the little fan on my desk, blades slowly turning, filtering a stream of light.

  3. What a great post. I studied that poem for A level and had totally forgotten it until today.
    My son loves to play with dust motes in sunshine! His preschool helper told us if he seems totally engrossed in nothing to get down on his eye-level and share what it is. It's often a light and shadow pattern we can't see standing up.

    1. How delightful that you share them with him now, that you can see! That makes my day!!

  4. What a gorgeous post! I felt happier and happier as I read it. Other people shake their heads at me as I am rather constantly distracted by light and how it's shining on something, how it illuminates, and how the shadows fall. Now I see it's not so much a case of "Ohh, shiny!" with me... it's more of an "Ohh, dappled!"

  5. Love this! It brought back the memory of the first Australian Shepherd I ever saw. He was the color they call blue merle, but to me he was dappled silver. When I finally adopted my own Aussie, she was mostly blue merle with some copper face and paw points, and I named her Stormy, for her many-layered-cloudy sky appearance, only after reluctantly abandoning the name Pebble, for the water-dappled bottom of a mountain stream.

    Don't get me started about horses....

  6. Thank you, Sweet Ibby, for this...........dappled bliss ❤❤❤❤❤

  7. I love this. Finding beauty, and joy, and happiness in the simple things. And I'm sorry but I love the heck out of the term "god stripes" and am going to make that a part of my vocabulary.