In the spring, when the trees are blooming, the wind carries their pollen around and gives us allergies, but can the wind really be said to carry anything? Does it take a mind to carry? Perhaps the wind has a mind of its own, and when it hoists a pollen grain into the air and carries it from tree to tree, perhaps the wind is doing something we cannot understand, and so we pin a label onto the wind. The natural world does not use our labels. It takes them, or so we think. We are pinners of labels, and we carry our labels with us as we carry our histories, and we pin our histories onto the new and foreign things we come across, in part to know these things and in part to shield ourselves from ever knowing them fully.
One time I moved from Indiana to England, and I carried an odd selection of items with me, my pepper grinder among the oddest. My pepper grinder traveled the ocean among my clothes, my trivet among my pains. My friend laughed about my pepper grinder and could not understand, of all things, why I would pack and carry a device to grind dried berries. Did you think there would be no pepper grinders in England? I shot back, Do you think that it took up that much space in my luggage? There were surely many pepper grinders in England, but none of them were mine. None of them had been in my hands when I stood in my difficult kitchen; and though I was leaving Indiana and would never return, I wanted to carry some of its difficult things with me. And besides, I said to my friend, this is a nice pepper grinder. Why spend the money on a new one? My friend took me out for a beer and listened to my stories, listened to me carrying on.