How does Welty's description of Phoenix's appearance, speech, and behavior identify her with nature and with time itself in "The Worn Path"?

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In the story's opening paragraph, Phoenix Jackson is described as "very old and small" as "she walked slowly in the dark pine shadows." She is further described as "moving a little from side to side in her steps" like the "pendulum in a grandfather clock." In this way, Jackson is identified as a person of advanced age and moving in a way reminiscent of increments of time passing. This motif is further emphasized by the tapping of her cane, which could be construed as her marking time as she walks.

Jackson is also identified with nature; as she taps her cane along the ground, the narrator likens it to "the chirping of a solitary little bird." The old woman does not follow a road; instead, she cuts through a natural landscape with thickets and woods and even balances on a log to cross a creek. She walks among denizens of the forest, unafraid and unmolested—if not entirely at home. She talks to the animals, saying "Out of my way, all you foxes, owls, beetles,...

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