Quiet Expectations


Simply staring and observing from one point for ten seconds or so can make the most mundane sight extraordinary.  These leaves for example, young and vibrant, backlit with the bright sunlight, sparkling in clear air.   Or the way that blue sky horizon shades from where it rides over the tree line to the darker hues overhead.  And that is only vision _ given a rest from constant motion and purpose the rest of the senses engage more fully as well.

That is really the great luxury of wealth of any kind:  that you can take the time necessary, whenever you want, to fully appreciate your life.  The poorer you are, the more you must constantly jerk around at someone else’s bidding to do whatever is required.  A wealthy person can enjoy a meal, or a sunset, or a long walk with no expectation of being paid.  Not many of them do perhaps, but at least they have the option.

On Lloyd Neck near the beach, there is a Catholic Church seminary occupying the vast lands that used to be a jazz age estate.  The somewhat eccentric owners held festivals of stage and music in an amphitheater built high on a bluff in the woods overlooking the bay.  These ruins remain, unexpected, and appearing to a startled hiker as far older and more mysterious than they actually are.  Sometimes you wonder if many archeologists are not similarly fooled by their surprise encounters with old structures.

The church wants to sell the land, and multiple developers are slobbering to carve it into as many pieces as possible, each bulging with as huge a fake mansion as local zoning laws permit.  Then there will be no wandering, no ruins, and just more of the same paranoid wealthy owners protecting their sacred lands.  In this case I’m comforted by the fact that it will all be under the sea in another century, amphitheater and all.

Two for one today _ as a point of observation.  A catalpa tree in flower high on a hill is magnificent in its own right, white blossoms against the green, huge and overwhelming.  But we glance at it and think _ oh, how nice, that tree is in bloom.  It takes an effort to get really close and view each individual flower as a perfect little fractal masterpiece.  What could be more rewarding?

Yet, if we were to tire of the purely visual study, we can be amazed at the vast biological web of time and space and connections around this single blossom, one of countless others, on countless trees.  There is a whole support system of roots and branches and trunks and leaves.  There are necessary soils and trace elements and carbon in the air and sunlight and water in the proper amounts, for years and years and years until the tree reaches maturity.  There are necessary insects and birds and pollen and winds for decades before, to assure fertilization of this tree’s parents and propagation of the plant itself.  Finally there are untold eons of time and simultaneous evolution of an ecology to arrive at this one particular moment.  Ah, you may say, only God could have done that _ but for God, time is simply another dimension, as easy to use as your walking over to be awed by the result.



Cereals and grains are ripening now, some wild, some domestics left over from centuries of farming before the land was coated with suburbs and asphalt in the last fifty years.  There are no working farms here anymore, just a few preserved patches of open ground, most of which are quickly reverting to forest as they are no longer worked and head for a new climax ecology.   

I find grasses and their seeds almost as beautiful as flowers.  An entire meadow of waving, ripening tall wheat and weeds is magnificent.  On closer inspection the individual seed heads have their own aesthetics.  And all around them flit the insects and birds that can gorge on the feast from what local humans no longer need (since local humans get all their food from huge insecticide and herbicide drenched killing vistas far to the west, but that’s another thought for another day.)  You can only, sometimes, accept what you find.

Another lie this morning.  I present this fine picture of honeysuckle blooming sweetly on the fence along the roadside.  You may think it is a true sharing representation of a moment of my walk.  But, of course, it is not.  You cannot smell the sweet fragrance, feel the moist cool breeze from the left, squint into the surprising luminosity of the air, hear the approaching pickup truck from the right and the faint roar of a jet overhead.  Not to mention all that I see that this particular framed view crops out and ignores.

But it is worse than that.  Even were you here beside me, experiencing all those things simultaneously, we would both still be in different universes.  My worries about the future are not yours.  Your remembrances of the past are not mine.  The logical trains of thoughts and body kinesthesia of each of us are impossible to know or communicate.  And so on.  This is a nice picture.  That may be far less than it seems.


Solstice!  Longest day of the year!  From now on, we are slowly but surely marching closer and closer to another winter.  It has been so cold this spring that summer hardly seems to have arrived even now, we all have sweatshirts and long pants still, and the beaches are like refrigerators.  Of course, that hasn’t slowed people from wanting their boats _ this is the last one of the throng that were walled side by side here on the marina lot for months.

All of the midsummer annuals are reaching blooming stage, and another certainty is that the meadows will soon fill with seeds and drying pods.  For some reason, insects have seemed scarce _ of course that may just be my perception.  Lately, we are all primed to watch for portents of global disaster in each fall of any sparrow.

A man, a boy, a dog wandering the shore and exploring what might be found.  Except for their clothes (and the trees, and the boats, and everything else) they might as well be native Americans before the overseas invasion.  It’s nice that some activities remain almost unchanged over the eons.  It is good to remember that we are pretty much identical in composition and consciousness to anyone ten or more thousand years ago.

“Futurologists” are excited about pouring the human spirit into eternal circuits, with senses enhanced fractally to infinite huge and unimaginable tiny.  They claim it will be a wonderful, better utopia for thinking beings.  I think they are wrong in mind, body, spirit, and hopes.  Regard these folks along the shore, look into yourself this very moment.  I rest my case.




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