West of the Fields

A tropical ecologist reporting from the field. Musings on life and art, botfly extractions, tropical plant identification, beer, parrots, machetes. Etc.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Back in the temperate zone

I’m a little more than 35 degrees of latitude away from the place where I last posted, and it seems I can feel every single one. On the flight from San Salvador to Dulles a week ago, I fell asleep to a backdrop of green mountains and palm-lined beaches. I woke up maybe three hours later over lifeless trees, frosted fields, and rivers glinting in the manner of nearly-frozen water. Though it was close to noon, the sun hovered close to the horizon, looking faint and somewhat hesitant through a blanket of low clouds. I wondered briefly whether I had fallen, like Rip van Winkle, into more sleep than I’d bargained for. But the day continued as before, with local time only an hour different.

It’s been warm here in Maine, for December; the lakes are still totally open and the ground is hardly even frozen. It’s cold for me, though, and I find myself still struggling to adjust to the temperature. Yesterday I helped my mom and stepdad clear out brush and cut some trees that were shading the solar panels. In the evening we invited friends for our annual solstice party, to dance around the fire and eat and drink to welcome back the sunlight. I felt like an overstuffed doll in six layers of clothing, my mittened hands blunt and strangely unarticulated. Adjusting to the language is strange, too; when I’m tired I find myself slipping into Spanish without warning.

It is lovely to see my friends and family, and lovely to have a piano at my disposal again. Still, I feel sometimes torn in two, as though some figment of myself might still be out there in the endless rain and red mud, measuring trees, listening the to toucans and oropendolas cackling in the leaves high overhead. And there is something else. Lacking words of my own sufficient to the task, I turn to a writer I respect above all others: “...the strongest motive throughout had been a personal one, not mentioned here, but present to me, I think, every hour.... Active pains and joys might fling up, like towers, among my days: but, refluent as air, this hidden urge re-formed, to be the persisting element of my life.” Gracias, amor. Si dios quiere, nos vemos.


Post a Comment

<< Home