- Now night becomes longer than day, warmth is lost not only because there are extra hours to radiate into space, but also because at these upper latitudes light rays hit with diminishing force. Ancient peoples in the Northern Hemisphere mythologized that evil demons were eating the sun. Now with fire and electricity people conveniently ignore such superstitions and logically move indoors to enjoy the benefits of science.
- We have our own mythologies: that an individual can control his fate, that a culture can ignore environment. Hermetically sealed people dismiss climate and relentlessly concentrate on what matters _ wealth, power, entertainment. If descendants survive our orgies of destruction, they will no doubt look back with a wiser philosophy and wonder about us _ the demons who wrecked their world.
All days are lovely, if I take the time
Moods generate beyond known bounds of space
Internal visions, filters finely honed
Each tame my world, force it as I wish
Cast a spell _ enchantment or dark curse
If all were gone, still I my universe
Could build, project, imagine as I dare.
When I am gone, entire this infinite
Must also vanish, swift as fragile thought
Meaningless as bubbles bursting free.
I love and care and know that this must be:
That nothing else can e’re exist as me.
- Went to the city yesterday, and toyed with the idea of taking a picture or two. But with the Pope and UN and President all arriving later this week, there will surely be more than enough pictures to satisfy anyone. New York City is filled with people, Long Island is filled with people, Huntington is full of people. There are people everywhere around here _ it’s one of the most densely settled places on the planet _ even though this blog attempts to give some impression of solitude and lonely meditation in its pictures and thoughts.
- But the question rises to mind _ how often do we consider seven billion others just like us (alive at this moment, the dead would double that number.) How many of those have I heard of, even to remember a name? A few thousand but no more, were I forced to list names. We each try to excel and be important in our little circles and tribes, but looking at the larger picture we vanish like protozoa when the microscope is no longer available. That is not to claim anyone is unimportant _ just that fame is irrelevant beyond our immediate environment. I need such humbling thoughts once in a while.
Wayne and Joan sitting in the park after lunch in Northport. Cool breeze, warm sun on an early fall afternoon. Brilliant colors, many dogs, almost no children who are in school until a little later.
“Oh, look, there’s a cute one,” says Joan. “I wonder what type that is?”
“Smallish, brown, four legs and a tail,” answers Wayne. “That’s all I know or need to know.”
“You’re impossible. Not a Pomeranian, but,” meanwhile her thoughts wander as they often do to her poor little companion, dead these three years now. None of these as cute or nice as my little angel. Wish he were here so I could show them a perfect pet.
“Look at that beautiful boat,” he points to a colored sailboat swinging in to the large dock. Oh here we go again, on and on about the dog. Why doesn’t she just look around and enjoy the day?
“Maybe I should get a new one.” Of course he could never be like my little angel and you never know if it will turn out nasty. But at least a little dog would pay more attention to me than my husband does.
“If we got a boat it would be something like that, but of course I don’t want a boat,” continued Wayne stubbornly for the hundredth time, trying to change the subject. Well, I guess that’s what we old people do, chew the same old cuds over and over out here in the pasture.
“Like you say, though, it would limit our travels and does take some care.” But, on the other hand, we hardly ever seem to do anything exciting anyway.
“That sun and the sparkles are just perfect for paintings.” The trouble is, it never stays a dog but turns into a little child that requires all kinds of effort and can never be left alone. Well, no use creating waves. I’ll just enjoy being here with so many fine vistas.
And so it went, for an hour, two streams of conversation barely registering, two streams of consciousness in alternate universes. The trouble is, as you get on in years, you tend to stay in a comfort zone with a few people, and all those people tend to tell the same stories and topics over and over again. The advantage, of course, is that we all forget conversations almost as fast as they occur.
- Scenes are distant, but near is important. Shells marking the tide line along the sand remind that although we are part of a grand vista, we are also just little fragments of flotsam washed up by endless waves.
- I try to marvel at near as well as far. Closely inspect the petals of a flower, take pains to study a seed or leaf. Often I fail, in too much in a hurry to bother. The tiny as well as the large surround me with miracles, and I am the poorer for not recognizing them each moment.
- Obviously, everything changes. Yet we assume there is an underlying solidity to the universe. A rock will remain an inert rock, a tree will grow, water will stay in an ocean. That seems simple truth, and we frame our thoughts to accommodate the pattern. Such simple truth is wrong.
- Matter is not solid, but a strange blend of forces in tension, leptons leaping in and out of existence, nuclear forces pushing or pulling other forces to form atoms, atoms ignoring a hurricane of neutrinos and other subatomic “particles”, once in a while interacting with a passing photon. The earth does not simply go around the sun, it is in a precarious balance of gravity pulling one way and inertia another. What seems to be equilibrium is the result of contrasting forces, each forever ready to break the current illusion of stability.
- Life is even more so. Our bodies do not maintain a steady temperature _ certain processes raise heat, others carry it off, and when it goes too far wrong we die. Likewise with countless biologic “norms” that we take for granted, but which are almost magically balanced _ until they are not and we are no more. Processes build on one another to larger cycles _ hunger, sleep. Everything changes, but much changes within certain boundaries.
- All these discoveries are recent and counterintuitive. Our concept of society has yet to catch up with what has been learned. Economics, government, religion still assume natural balancing states rather than uneasy and temporary accidents of countering vector forces. Yes, we know about equations for supply and demand, and checks and balances for rulers. But supply and demand, for example, are not solid in themselves, but rather composed of infinitely and indeterminately fluctuating energies.
- Amazingly, we still accomplish great things, plan and deal with problems, get by with little more than our intuitive understandings. Perhaps, at this point, we should trust that intuition more than quasi-scientific logic.
- Final trio of showy wildflowers are goldenrod, asters, and Montauk daisies usually blooming last. A few stubborn blossoms remain on other plants, ragged and scattered, especially the annuals that have now mostly dried to stiff brown. Even these daisies show significant damage from the extended and deep drought this summer.
- Cultivated gardens will continue to show color until the first frost, when the final performance will be given by maples and hickories and beeches. But we all know that this is just a matter of time, and pretty quickly advancing time at that. Already in the evenings I can be tempted to turn on the heat, and it’s nearly frightening how dark early mornings have become, and how quickly late afternoon shadows transmute to night.