Garden breach

Summer solstice. The robins are on their second brood; mulberries are ripening, and the bluebirds have arrived for the feast.

Fifteen years ago, we set up my garden to be as impregnable as possible from incursions by deer, groundhogs, and rabbits. We accomplished this by digging a narrow trench on the perimeter, lining the trench with wire mesh fabric, and filling the trench with gravel–after setting the steel posts and putting the steel wire fencing in place. The strategy even deterred weeds for about three years.

But rain and snow and air and therefore rust, along with ground heave and the occasional bump by lawnmowers, have had their way. While deer still ignore the plot, this year, bunnies have breached the fence. It’s time to find a new way to keep them from the edges.


I have previously written about how fringes and perimeters can be boundaries or places of activity and fluidity, so it seems I am a hypocrite for keeping my rabbits at bay. Maybe I ought to find a balance? Living with their denuding of my carrot tops?

–No, they’ve plenty to eat in my lawn and in the meadow. The balance goes both ways.

Their persistence interests me. Their movements are both awkward and graceful. Their ears are translucent in the early morning sunshine. I don’t mind having them around as long as they stay out of my vegetable patch, and they feed the owls and hawks, whom I also enjoy.

All along the edges…


Curious information note of the day:

According to neuroscientific studies, less than 0.1% of the information carried in the optic nerve at any given moment passes through the visual attentional gateway (“bottleneck”) after the attentional gateway recognizes a cue; the cue evidently serves as a gating mechanism to regulate the flow of image data.*

What this implies (I think) is that the bunny I manage to spot under the leafy tomato plant in my garden gets processed as “bunny” once my saccadic eye movements, taking in the huge quantity of data from a day outdoors in summer, recognizes something in the shadows that signals “rabbit?” and then filters out other, distracting data from my view.

At which point, behavioral habit kicks in and, like Mr. McGregor, I dash after Peter with a hoe.


*partial quote/paraphrase from “Dynamic Routing Strategies in Sensory, Motor and Cognitive Processing,” Van Essen, Anderson, and Olshausen 1994 MIT Press Large-Scale Neuronal Theories of the Brain, ed Koch & Davis.


Intention and Inattention

de Bolla on Glenn Gould and the attention/inattention we bring to listening to music:

Inattention vs attentiveness, and a riff on Intention

In his book Art Matters, which I’ve been reading in my not-copious spare time, Peter de Bolla talks about a deep introspectiveness necessary for complete attention. In a fairly long and typically convoluted philosophical passage–clear enough to philosophers but harder to read for the uninitiated–he suggests that when we really listen carefully to music (music-as-art rather than music-as-background-noise), we must first prepare ourselves for attention and, paradoxically, move ourselves into a state of inattention. He uses Glenn Gould playing Bach for his example, and what follows amid the philosophy-talk is an interesting “take” on how we experience music and why critics are divided on Gould’s decision to blend recordings in order to construct his own particular perspective on the best interpretation of, say, Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

Spoiler: de Bolla essentially defends Glenn Gould. I’m not a music critic, so I withhold judgment on that issue.

I’m also not going to reiterate de Bolla’s argument statement by statement in this brief post; I am going to mention that the paradox of attention/inattention reminds me a good deal of Zen practice. In addition, I enjoy the potential wordplay possibilities of attention, inattention, in-attention (de Bolla’s addition) and the Buddhist concept of intention. If we listen with in-attention by preparing ourselves to experience deep attention, are we also listening with intention?

If we then let go our attentiveness in order to give in to the full experience of the music (or any other form of art), are we truly experiencing art? Or are we experiencing “Unfettered Mind,” which is also a Zen-related experience?

Consider “The Unfettered Mind” by Takuan Sōhō.   Takuan was a circa-16th c. Buddhist monk whose works interpreted martial arts through a Zen philosophy. Or perhaps vice versa. So far as I can tell, his most-quoted aphorism is in the form of a poem (I cannot seem to identify the translator):




Is a somatic art-encounter experience a form of unfettered mind?

Meanwhile, my daughter is vaccinating full-grown sows, and Lesley Wheeler is reflecting on how the brain case empties, or seems to, under the load of extraneous work, deadlines, children, and…YES…attention. See the October 3, 2011 post on The Cave, The Hive.