Monday, March 16, 2009

Simple Pleasures

In 1816
the
Scotsman
Sir David
Brewster
invented
one of the
most
fascinating
curiosities
ever.
He named his curiosity in three parts, the Greek word "Kalos" for beautiful, "eidos" for form, and "scopos" for watcher. Thus, the "beautiful form watcher" was born, known to us today simply as the Kaleidoscope. American Charles Bush came along in 1873 and made improvements on Brewster's Kaleidoscope and the form we see today benefits from those improvements. I think on a rainy gray day waiting for Spring to arrive, there may be no greater pleasure than to lie flat on one's back, eyes to the light of a window, Kaleidoscope in hand, turning the dial on the end of what appears to be a simple tube, exploring the endless variations in an explosion of color. As with many simple pleasures, my favorite Kaleidoscope is one that costs practically nothing. It is made by Schylling, a simple metal affair, loaded with nothing more than beads that couldn't be sold for a penny apiece. But when placed together at the end of our scope, magic happens. One day this winter we were having a little knit together and the conversation turned towards the Hubble telescope. I find this, too, to be mesmerizing. One thing lead to another and the conversation ventured into snowflakes. There was a theme here. Like beads at the end of our Kaleidoscope, outer space and the precious snowflake, have infinite possible combinations. Each time you look, it is something totally different. The children grasp the idea of the Kaleidoscope, and understand to a degree the changes in the night sky, but it occurred to us adults that perhaps they didn't know what a snowflake looked like up close. We quickly brought up an array of snowflake close ups on the Internet, a moment when technology is at its best. How to explain those intricate designs that no human could possibly recreate. The children said, it's just like the Kaleidoscope when the beads all fall into place and stick into a picture. Well now, indeed it is.


2 comments:

Jaime said...

Oh fun. I do so love kaleidoscopes. Magical.

Lisa said...

Beautifully written. You have a gift.