HERE IN THE RAINFOREST, 2010

February 17, 2010

Will the party ever end? Close on the heels of the celebration of Christmas, New Years, and a special holiday to celebrate the victory of the Dominican Labour Party, this year’s Carnival has come and gone. And despite the languishing state of the economy, it was a good one.

Initially there was much talk about changing the date of  Real Mas because there might not be enough time to for calypsonians to prepare their material after the election. Never fear! Corruption, lack of transparency, bribery, and general bobol  provided a wealth of material for the songsters. It’s interesting; people down here generally tend to take what they get without much thought of revolution or rebellion. Calypsos, however, provide a traditional, entertaining way for the populace to express social protest without getting into too much trouble. During Carnival, lawless lawyers, embarrassing ambassadors, and dishonest politicians have no choice but to take their verbal blows.  Through the popular language of Calypso, important issues are addressed, names are called, and judgments are pronounced all in the disguise of fun. Even those who voted for Labour found themselves jumping up to catchy tunes like “Looking for their Pocket,” “In de Garbage Bin,Dr. Finger,” and “He’s a Boy.”

But eventually Fat Monday’s joy dissolves into Ash Wednesday’s hangover. And trust me: a good portion of Dominicans are suffering from the kind of brain damage which results from drinking too much rum in close proximity to the loud speakers of the Carnival band. I suppose that’s why the Catholic Church created Lent. Those that misbehaved will have to behave  themselves, at least until the next scheduled official holiday, Easter Monday.

Oct 13, 2010

Today is my birthday. Last year a great dog died and a twelve- year human relationship came to an end. Sad, but not disabling.  Indeed, life goes on. The question now becomes how to pursue one’s passion without falling in the trap of reinventing past memories. Hmm. Should I buy a new car? Install solar electricity? Have more puppies? Get a new boyfriend? The first two items were accomplished with the help of a loan from the good old U.S. Bank, my Ridgeback dogs were more than happy to help me out with number three, but I think I’ll pass on number four for the time being.

As I get older, I sometimes reflect on  what caused me to decide to live in such an innocuous corner of the world in the first place. Was it my choice or my destiny to leave the green fields of Ohio in order to migrate to the Caribbean to watch the full moon sink into an electric blue sea? Was I born to worship the magnificence of the tropical rainforest and the rush of the crystal clear river instead of the movie stars and sports heroes of my own culture? Is early morning birdsong truly more inspirational than rock music on the radio? Is it possible that swirling schools of tropical fish and leaping dolphins are more entertaining than anything I’ve ever seen on TV? Could there be more beauty in the sinuous curve and subtle shading of a double rainbow than in the most famous piece of architecture or art?

There is a word in Sanskrit: Antevasin. It refers to a person who lives on the edge; one who leaves the hustle of the worldly life behind in order to seek spiritual guidance in a natural setting.  Perhaps that’s what I’ve been doing here in Dominica for the past eighteen years. What will eventually become of an oddball like me? I will leave the books I’ve written behind, and then, like everybody else, I’ll rise into the air or sink into the sea or settle into the dust to nourish those who come behind me.

December 21, 2010

Did you see it?  The total eclipse of the full moon? No matter how many times I study the scientific explanation for this phenomenon, the information passes through my brain like a sieve. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not interested. Why else would someone rise at three o’clock in the morning on the Winter’s Solstice?  As I stumbled from my bed out onto the veranda, the full moon was fully shadowed and glowing a rich copper umber. Crickets and frogs had ceased their nightly chorus, but the air was extra-sweet with the scent of honey suckle and jasmine. I thought about those who had to bundle up and brave the cold to view this magical event. Barefooted, I settled into a wicker chaise with a cup of homegrown coffee and my binoculars wearing only cotton pajamas, lucky me.

Although I had missed the waning part of the eclipse, I witnessed the entire restitution. As the sun and the full moon and the earth did their once in every 372nd shortest day of the year tango, a multitude of stars blazed in the clear, darkened sky. The Big Dipper pointed resolutely to the North Star, which strangely is much more visible here than it is up north.  The gigantic constellation Orion lifted his arms in salute. The “Star of Wonder” twinkled brightly, still westward leading. All the while a meteor shower called Ursid performed luminous miracles.

As for the moon itself, it was perfect: Perfectly dark, perfectly light, perfectly round, perfectly beautiful. It shone with such silvery intensity as the shadow slowly receded that it was impossible to imagine the Universe had plans for anything but a bright and positive future. Yet there are those who believe in the negative–that the world as we know it will end on the Solstice, December 21, 2012. All I can say is that I’m grateful it wasn’t tonight.

 

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