“Relax, you’re here!” goes a local slogan, and “Just another day in paradise.” Truly the weather has been gorgeous, the green vegetation relaxing, the flowers beautiful. Logical thinking and planning is banished as the mind concentrates on the possible patterns of randomly breaking surf, the interesting jiggles of various lumps of flesh, the happy laughter of folks of all ages. The biggest question each day is “what will we eat for dinner?” and the greatest plans involve avoiding painful sunburn or hangover tomorrow.
Shallow Randian conservatives fear such wallowing in lethargy, believing people must be lashed to do great things with striving driven by harsh necessity. Vacation provides a necessary antidote proving we are also pure animals, with happinesses, experiences, and appreciations that are incomprehensible to words and logic and plans.
I sat on the warm balcony and watched the expected sun rise, through clouds, as we prepare to return home tonight. Tomorrow there will be no balcony, no warm breeze, but certainly a sunrise. Our lives are filled with expectations we scarcely notice _ the sun will come up, the airplane will get us home, the house will be fine, electricity will be on. For that matter, an expectation that I will wake up tomorrow to deal with a driveway that has apparently been covered by a developing glacier since we left.
It has been nice, for a while, to let go of the expectations and plans and worries and just take each moment as if there were no other, wasting time watching the water go nowhere, sifting sand through idle fingers. It will, I suspect, be equally nice to start doing what has to be done once more, with expectation and outcome and consequence. All part of the balance of things. Right now, we have a few hours to enjoy so we shall do so.
Jets take us thousands of miles in hours, from one climate to another. Barefoot in the sandy shore in the morning, home to snowbound landscape at midnight, looks like a foot of heavy cover.
I marvel at the convenience of energy all around and used promiscuously _ the jet, the lights of Ft. Lauderdale under us as we left, the car getting us back from the airport on plowed roads, the house warm and well lit. I’m too soft to survive as an aborigine, too old to have made it as an Iroquois in this landscape some five hundred years ago, and I am grateful every time I accept the bounty of modern convenience. I know our usage of resources has consequences, all profound, some unimaginably horrid, but can I stop? Would I even want to? And, if I did, what would it accomplish beyond making my life experience immediately miserable?
Settled in and with some effort back to normal, when we are hit with another storm. Beautiful this morning, fresh white on branches. No doubt more magical to those who have been away from it all for a month.
Only last year did I give in and get a snowblower, reasoning that hiring a guy to plow the driveway had changed economics significantly _ at today’s rates three heavy snowfalls pay for my machine. I knew I could no longer do it by hand, the back had begun to hurt a little too much afterward, and massive unusual exercise could become scary itself. So I join in my little bit of making our neighborhood unlivably noisy. Guilty _ I actually enjoy using my new toy.
Snow just keeps coming _ although a respite is promised soon. Those who have lived through a month of this are very very tired of it. The novelty of fresh white on everything can wear off pretty quickly, especially if it makes doing everything else more involved and difficult. Yes, it’s beautiful, but….
I’m amazed at my adaptability. Three days ago it seemed normal to watch the sun come up as I sat in pajamas on an outside balcony, to walk a sandy shore barefoot, to sweat on hot palm-lined streets. Yesterday seemed normal also as I cleared the driveway of its seven new inches, or this morning as I wandered in down parka to get the morning paper. It can be almost frightening to become aware of the massive changes I take for granted, day by day and over the years.
With the coldest February since 1934, the harbor has frozen significantly. Old timers insist it is still less solidly blocked then when they were young _ probably the ocean water is much warmer now. Compared to recent winters, however, this is pretty unusual.
The sun shines brightly now, melting ice even when the temperature is in the teens. A slight change in wind patterns and the great thaw begins. Some of spring should be pretty rapid this year _ my mind is certainly ready for it. Already I anticipate the Andromeda, snowbells, and red leaf shoots. Running a bit too far into the future, but equinox is only a few weeks off.
Sunset and sunrise occur everywhere regardless of climate or season. If not too obscured, they are always beautiful, even in Siberia or the Sahara, if there is anyone to see (whether anyone will notice is a different matter.) Cosmic realities are far beyond the trivial worries of whether it is cold or warm.
As all philosophers eventually discover, cosmic truth has little to do with individual daily life. Whether it is warm or cold does in fact matter a great deal to me, and a lot of other “minor” things too, such as if I am decently fed and happy. We may try to transcend this mortal shell, but mortal fragile shell it remains, and it reminds us constantly. I try to remember to pause and appreciate sunset, for it is good to do so, but not at the expense of ignoring the everyday mundane world that I inhabit each moment.