Page 53. " Sam said, Like Little Leroy, the cabin boy. George said, Ah, he was a cautious little nipper! "

This half-told tale was a shared bond between George and his grandson, Sam. It is also Harding’s fond reference to his grandfather, with whom he had  close relationship. They often spent time fishing and hiking in the Maine north woods, and his grandfather would entertain him with bawdy sailors’ limericks – never divulging the ribald punch lines.

The limerick form was popularized by Edward Lear in his first Book of Nonsense (1845). This kind of humor is also reminiscent of the “Bert and I” collection of stories and recordings, set in “Down East” Maine.

Page 54. " The true essence, the secret recipe of the forest and the light and the dark was far too fine and subtle to be observed with my blunt eye – water sac and nerves, miracle itself, fine itself: light catcher: But the thing itself is not forest and light and dark, but something else scattered by my coarse gaze, by my dumb intention. "
There are many references to transcendent aspects of the natural world, reflected in the lives of Howard and his father.

The American Romantic and Transcendental movements were popular in the mid-nineteenth century; they were a reaction to neoclassical ideals of order and reason. Transcendentalists believed there is knowledge beyond what humans can see, hear, feel, smell, touch, and taste; that an individual is capable of achieving moments of direct insight into divinity through an immersion in the natural world. They rejected tradition and convention especially in matters of doctrine; and believed that spirituality was innate, not the product of formalized ritual and churches.

Authors, poets, artists and philosophers of the time included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, as well as American romantic landscape artists, including Asher Brown Durand and Frederic Edwin Church of the Hudson River School.

Page 55. " Crepuscule Borealis "

Crepuscule comes from the Latin creper, meaning dusky or dark.

To Howard, this was the best part of the afternoon, when folds of night mingled with bands of day.

Also called twilight, dusk, eventide, the gloaming, the Blue Hour, Alpen Glow and the Belt of Venus, this period between daylight and darkness has a rich history in literature and art.  Cinematographers know that objects filmed in the “golden hour" before dusk are often suffused with an unpredictable golden glow. Twilight is the magic hour when ordinary objects undergo an almost spiritual transformation, a heightened meaning.  In Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, twilight is the time for waking-sleeping dreams, and the mingling of the everyday and supernatural.

Page 55. " Another incredible clock of which the author has had the delight to hear is the clepsydra given by the king of Persia to Charlemagne in 807 A.D. "

In the second passage from Rev. Kenner Davenport’s The Reasonable Horologist, he reflects on man’s early attempts to capture time more precisely.  Clepsydra refers to a water clock (its Greek translation is “water thief”) which measures time by regulating the flow of liquid from one vessel to another.

In 807, Emperor Charlemagne was sent a brass clock by the Abbasid caliph, Harun al-Rashid in Baghdad.  According to the Emperor’s biographer, it was a “marvellous mechanical contraption, in which the course of the twelve hours moved according to a water clock, with as many brazen little balls, which fell down on the hour and through their fall made a cymbal ring underneath. On this clock there were also twelve horsemen who at the end of each hour stepped out of twelve windows, closing the previously open windows by their movements.”  HistoryToday “Charlemagne’s Elephant”, Richard Hodges, November 2000.

Page 56. " Let us name him, even: Ctesibius of Alexandria, and allow him the credit of constructing an engine which was the ancestor of that given by the Arab to Charles the Great to drip away the moments of his last seven years. "



Ctesibius was a Greek inventor and mathematician in Alexandria, Egypt (285-222 B.C.). He is credited with a number of inventions, including a water pump, pneumatic catapults and a more precise water clock.