23 January 2007

The Moulton Journal: semiotics & first tracks

Crossing the old dairy meadow at dawn this morning I paused to marvel at an epic sunrise worthy of Homer. The colors built to a marvelous crescendo of reds and orange and deep gray, then faded gradually as bright sunlight spilled over the ridge and poured down upon the hills. No, of course I didn't have my camera.

Skied Yankee Boy and Little Nipper and was surprised that someone else had been on part of Yankee since Paul groomed Saturday. For some reason not many folks ski this trail . But no one had skied Big Nipper/Widow Maker, and I had the pleasure of first tracks.

Tracks: In semiotics, Pierce's representamen, "the form which the sign takes" (Daniel Chandler). Tracks are an indexical mode of the sign, they connect directly the signifier (form) and the referent (object/concept).

When RTD puts her nose to a certain track she knows that it was left by a fox. The semiotics of tracks have left the referent immune to postmodernity's "death of the author"

From where stems the deep satisfaction of making first tracks down a hidden cirque in the backcountry or even along a groomed trail dusted with fresh snow? First tracks embrace all the hopes and dreams of beginning an essay on a fresh new sheet of paper, or (I suppose) of making the first brush strokes on a clean canvas. Or maybe it is more like performance art? We inscribe the world, mark it so as to define its meaning even if that inscription lasts only until the next snowfall, or only until the music's echo fades. Not an act of possession. It is an act of marking time, pressing our not-so-indelible meaning onto the world. If the mark is beautiful, we appreciate in and for the moment. If not, then the world will forgive our imperfections and give us another chance.

As a last sentence and scatological period on the morning's performance, a moose ran through the willows below the Moulton Reservoir then paused to eye RTD & I with disdain as she dropped a load of pellets.

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