Write nature

On a white sheet folded in half, a list written by a child’s hand: “A giguère maple. Green and white trills. Moss on a rock. A tree with jade and gray bark. » There were other notes, too, “we were bitten by mosquitoes”, “the stream is running” and, lower down, “mission accomplished”.

It took me a while to identify who was responsible – the sheet was in a box at the back of a cupboard, under other boxes filled with old packaging and cushions eaten away by mice. But one of the drawings stored with the sheet bore the dedication “To Grandma”. A house surrounded by trees, a big yellow sun in the sky, blue birds with yellow beaks and clumsy writing: my nieces had been there.

They had first occupied themselves by spying on the adults, as demonstrated by detailed reports also found in the box: “Grandma is talking on the phone, Rafael kissed his boyfriend, Dad is drinking a beer, Grandma and Rafael are arguing.” – I recognize us there. The adults, no doubt tired of seeing two little heads appear behind each armchair, must have tried to distract them in other ways, and someone had the idea of ​​sending them into the woods around the house to note down what they saw. there.

I suspect my father had a bit of a hand in it – although the girls were curious and keen, “giguere maple” and “jade bark” are not part of the vocabulary of 9 or 10 year old children without any real naturalist inclinations.

As for the selection of the elements described, on the other hand, it is quite certain that there was no adult intervention. I can see the girls, a brunette and a blonde, frolicking around the house and deciding, for reasons specific to childhood, that a particular stone deserves to achieve immortality. Running between the trunks of countless beech trees, they agree that the gray of this one is worthy of mention. My father, not far away, tells them that it is a steel gray, they note “a steely chest”.

The list is very pretty, fundamentally poetic, even. Beyond the description of a place, it is a child’s gaze that dances between the lines, through the letters attached by a small, diligent hand. There is no judgment, no hierarchy and, above all, no deliberate attempt to isolate what would be more easily “aestheticized”. Nature is rarely looked at, and almost never written, with this complete openness, which does not seek to make it beautiful in order to make pretty sentences, but to welcome it simply for what it is, a maple in Giguère, a piece of bark, a tiller of trilliums near a stream.

A grace that I have lost for a long time, somewhere between reading and writing, between the landscapes of Chateaubriand and the desire to create beauty on a blank page.

Nature was first a pretext, an invention intended to dig “formidable glowing canyons” or to make “the crystalline laughter of clear and wild waters” heard. The French language is generous to those who want to show off. I discovered a bottomless well from which an almost infinite quantity of clichés, rolling meadows and other emerald foliage could be drawn. After immersion in waters so rich in flowery epithets, we should have taken a step back and returned to the essential, that is to say, to nature itself. But still there, still today, my gaze is a trap, a mold in which a tree becomes a refuge, a magician, a symbol.

Sometimes, the image blossoms as it should, far from metaphors and colorful qualifiers, a small portrait of nature correctly transcribed, without coquetry. I carried around this idea for a long time that writing about what is beautiful necessarily resulted in beautiful texts. This is sometimes true, but it is undoubtedly no coincidence that some of the most beautiful lines about nature are not the work of writers, but of biologists or zoologists, people who know how to put themselves at the service of nature rather than believing that it is nature which is at the service of the text. Big deal, as far as I’m concerned.

So I keep the list of girls not too far away, as a little source of inspiration that has stood the test of time. I hold mine, barely older than my nieces were at the time, encouraging her to look at the landscape, and to give all the space to what she sees. A flock of starlings, a wave under the ice, the shadow of a branch on a stone. ” Mission accomplished “.

What do you think ? Participate in the dialogue

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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