Slow Times Flying


This does look like a shot at an aquarium or from a nature show on television.  These fish are all about a foot long, and part of a huge school of multiple thousands thick in a narrow, shallow, dead-end inlet on Mill Dam road, which I saw almost by accident as I walked to get the Sunday Times.  I suppose these are oily “bunkers,” more or less worthless to humans except as bait or fertilizer, chased in by voracious bluefish from the deeper sound waters.  I suspect many will die by tomorrow of oxygen deprivation, as often happens around here in the hottest parts of late summer.  Smells are due.

As Darwin and Malthus noted, nature is profligate, and doesn’t care how many die as long as a few live.  That is so contrary to our modern notions of morality and meaning as to almost seem blasphemous, and is certainly so cold and horrible that it is little wonder many prefer more comforting religions where each individual matters.  I sure as heck like to believe I matter and am not merely trapped and doomed as most of these fish here.

Absolutely the right mood – beach all ready, sun sand sky, boats, obviously fantastic weather, and an intimate table and chairs just waiting for some couple to have a picnic with bread, cheese, and wine.  And, typically, nobody there to take advantage of it.  Too busy, no doubt, with more important issues.

I know how it goes, I’ve spent much of my life working on what are, after all, very important things like keeping my family fed and housed and clothed.  Our culture provides great benefits, but requires great sacrifices of our meditative and reflective inner selves.  The most unfortunate occurrence of all, however, is when people internalize the cultural requirements so that they think that work, instead of being a necessary evil, is somehow connected with meaning and purpose and experiencing the infinite wonders of the world.
Wed –

Exhibit of a changing world _ pretty much the last of the once innumerable lobster traps piled around here.  In spite of lobsters apparently thriving in great harvestable numbers everywhere else, here they have irremediably died off in the ‘90’s.  Great catches and baymen’s livelihoods are things of the (recent) past, although nobody is quite sure why or how.  Year by year, piles of old steel frames disappeared from the shore and boats and moored docking rafts.  Now as antiquated as an old whaling harpoon.

Somehow, that school of fish survive and even thrive, clams and mussels are bumping along, oysters may even be making a comeback, but local lobsters are apparently gone forever.  Mysterious.  The only moral I take from this is that the world is more complicated than any of our simple rules and understandings would indicate.  We forget that at great peril.

Final summer flowers now making a mighty effort in a race with time.  The days grow perceptibly shorter, and the vegetable world is mostly well aware of it.  The seeds and fruits on the perennials are all completely ripe or getting there fast.  Only the cultivated annuals of m
an _ blossoms, vegetables, grains _ are chugging along regardless of celestial influence.

It all seems so timeless, if not as a moment at least as part of an eternal cycle of the seasons.  Yet a minute ago, in geological time, this was all ice, year round.  That’s the trouble with geological time.  It may be true in some fashion, but it is not true of my particular life, and so, like a weed, I wonder if I should concern myself with it at all.

Bright berries almost hidden in the tall reeds.  Even ignoring the infinite quantity and form of microscopic life that we can not see, each cubic foot of roadside (or any other surface) rewards long study with thoughts and meditations, if we wish.  Of course, there is never enough time.  And we always remember that such thoughts and meditations are merely fleeting electrical signals in our brain _ the berries certainly do not care how we judge them or their meaning.

We are so used to our strange duality _ self-declared important lords of all, but ignored by everything else _ that we accept the contradiction without question, and even consider it silly to question its existence.  Of course I am meaningful, we cry.  Of course I am meaningful, I tell you.  Of course.
Sat –

Strange spiky berries on the Japanese dogwood set off the long slope to Long Island Sound, lying beyond the harbor inlet.  Somewhat cool for the season, but otherwise a perfect day, filled with sun and scents and insect calls and butterflies and swallows swooping about the lawn a foot off the grass.  Ah, if we could just bottle this to pull it out in the depths of winter, when we need it most.

Oh, wait, that’s exactly what we do with our memories, isn’t it?  If we take care to be in this moment fully, to try to experience as deeply as we can, will we not be able to recall it well even when snow falls thick and the wind howls defiance?  That’s a marvelous, almost magical, gift, and one I too often take for granted or waste remembering bad times instead of good.  Carrying happiness within does require a little discipline and training, even on a lovely morning like this.


Spartina flowers are not very large, magnificent, or even attractive, but they seem to get the job done.  Tidal grasses are intricate habitats for the health of the littoral ecosystem, and we rightly worry that they are disappearing with rising water, global warming, and heavy pollution and development.  Still, they’ve been around a lot longer than our species has, through lots of eco-catastrophes, and in spite of what we may think of their flowers I’d tend to place more bets on their long-term survival than that of homo sapiens.

Of course, cosmic thoughts about cosmic time is as useless to me this morning as dreams of winning a lottery or being declared king.  What I have in front of me are interesting flowers and plants, beautiful scenery, and the late summer sun providing melancholy hints of winter to come.





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