Love the turn of of phrase here:
Without noticing, I slip into a light yet lingering malaise. Not a depression, more like a fascination for melancholia, which I turn in my hand as if it were a small planet, streaked in shadow, impossibly blue.
On Smith’s father’s “mathematical curiosity” — his own system for handicapping race horses. It’s the image of the book that I love. (His personal obsession and treasure wrapped in jeweller’s cloth.)
A journal wrapped in jeweller’s cloth, noting wins and losses from imaginary bets, kept in the left-hand drawer. He never spoke about his system but he laboured over it religiously. He was neither a betting manor had the resources to bet. He was a factory man with a mathematical curiosity, handicapping heaven, searching for patterns, and a portal of probability opening up onto the meaning of life.
The found compass:
If I got lost along the way I had a compass that I had found embedded in a pile of wet leaves I was kicking my way through. The compass was old and rusted but it still worked, connecting the earth and stars. It told me where I was standing and which way was west but not where I was going and nothing of my worth.
Leaves are vowels:
A sudden gust of wind shakes the branches of trees scattering a swirl of leaves that shimmer eerily in the bright filtered light. Leaves as vowels, whispers of words like a breath of net. Leaves are vowels. I sweep them up trying to find the combinations I am looking for.