Friday, November 26, 2010

Don't Fear The Reaper

The moon had risen late and still hung in the heavens as a beacon to the followers of the stars when the orange sun sprayed its first rays of shimmering light over the surface of the gulf waters with such immediate blinding intensity that even the early birds gathering their morning beetles and pulling worms from damp crevices beneath the soil swooped for shelter amongst the shade of tall pines and luxuriant banana trees.
I was taking a vigorous walk along the sandy beach and felt only the faintest breeze of crisp morning air coming in from the calm waters off the far edge of the peninsula to remind me it was autumn in these northern latitudes.

Beneath my feet dew had settled on the thorny plants that spring from the earth during the late season nights, and I crunched my way down the path to the rocky outcropping at the end of the strand.
Jack Kerouac coined the phrase ‘rainy night in Georgia’ in his book 'The Dharma Bums', and from the couple of years I lived in Georgia and South Carolina, on the Atlantic coastal island of Hilton Head and the city of Savannah, I know well the tremendous storms that winter brings. I experienced these same deluges on the island of Mallorca – and had been told to expect them through the winter in Turkey. However, I haven’t seen rain for a long time, though a few threatening clouds have passed over coming inland from the wide blue water that reaches a thousand miles out to meet the ocean currents.

I sat watching the sunrise across the deep water beyond the harbour where the shrimp boats and trawlers moored, their nets pulled high and fluttering silently in the sea breeze like the wings of butterflies trapped in gigantic spider webs.

I cast my mind out across the sea and thought of distant windswept lands where once I had struggled through snowfalls and sleet to rush from here to there in anticipation of this escapade we call living.

I recalled the line from John Lennon’s ‘Beautiful Boy’, a song I would sing nightly to my infant son Gabriel before he slept, “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”  I felt sadness for lost time, I felt weariness with the constant expectations of something more, I felt joy in my current circumstances and calm in recognition of that inner contentment. I watched the sun lift into the cool blue sky, and with peace in my heart and a smile on my lips strolled back along the dunes to breakfast on fresh fruit and honey.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in America. A time when families gather to share the bounty of another year in the pursuit of happiness, and praise the health of those who live in the knowledge of the freedom to seek their destiny among like-minded individuals. With a strong will and the promise of a full belly at the end of the day, people can achieve anything.

Whenever I consider the holiday event of Thanksgiving I recall the joke my friend Tina, a full-blood Sioux Indian from South Dakota, would never fail to tell me whenever we would meet. “The anthropologist came to the reservation and asked the people, ‘we call this land America, what did you call it?’ 
‘Ours’ they replied.”

Autumn is a season of reminders, as we tuck into the harvest feast laid out on the table as the survivors’ reward from a benevolent earth, we huddle against the tide the transformation of age sweeps upon us. However, we all remain aware that continual change is the only stable force surrounding us, and embrace the progress of life in sure and certain hope of the betterment of living through striving to achieve the dreams we hold true.

I love to travel, discovering new spaces to tread and revisiting old places where once I trod with eagerness for the future. I’m always looking forward – I can’t imagine a life in one location, land or town forever, the very thought sends shivers of panic down my spine.

 I am a wandering spirit in this world, and I gladly accept that status, and feel a mild passing pity for those who call only one place home – though every person makes their decision and I respect the difficulty each has faced to be where they feel they belong.

However my heart is free, my mind is ever seeking challenge and my soul craves something more than a paved street and a mortared box to live in. There is so much to learn, and the world is vast with so much culture to explore; we are blessed with little time to waste trudging along the same grey road everyday.

I especially enjoy meeting people and making friends everywhere I go. I like knowing that my network of fellows in life are scattered as seeds in fertile ground each growing the fruit of experience according to their taste and kind. A few days ago I saw people bent over high stalks in the fields picking ripe cotton, knowing it would eventually be woven into fabric.

Earlier, I spoke with a couple of fishermen as they laid out their night’s catch for trade along the harbour. I ambled through the market selecting a few choice items for my Thanksgiving meal, and of course made acquaintance with Charlie, a friend’s beautiful cat, and only one of the local predators.

Lacking perfect sight, but with a peculiar acuity for darting flight when locating prey, the bats that flurry around the veranda at night are uniquely skilled in catching the moths that hover near lamps.

Dragonflies skim the surface of the pond in an autumn mating dance while grasshoppers nibble leaves from vines growing along the fence irregularly separating field from road.

Occasionally a praying mantis can be seen awaiting a morsel to feed upon as brightly coloured butterflies tremble, seductively alighting on the extravagantly clothed flowers, while honeybees work through the dense vegetation, finding the sweetest nectar for the queen secreted in her hive.

Insects are generally not a particular problem for me, and are more interesting than annoying. Several people have complained to me of unseasonably irritating mosquito bites, they don’t seem to bother me. I put this down to a particularly awful episode when, as a child in America, I was swarmed upon by so many of the nasty little bloodsuckers that I was left feverish for days – I don’t think I’ve been bitten since and feel I have immunity now, like some fragrant chemical warning to the blighters that tells them: stay away!

It seems local entertainment isn’t restricted to the banjo, whistle and guitar, as I had to send Buddy away with a morsel of meat a few nights ago after his howling rendition of an old classic. This furry little fella takes great pride in his fame and quite frankly, I’m not sure how deserved his reputation is.

Finally, I meandered once more out to the promontory; the harvest sun was setting across the still waters that reach out across the southern sky to form the endless line of the horizon. I sat on a rock near the edge of the field and pondered the mysteries of life – knowing that all secrets are only knowledge yet to be revealed. I looked up and awaited the first glimmer of a star amongst the uncountable constellations as a compass needle pointing me toward the next destination on my route, knowing there was another place I had to return to soon ..

I wondered what I would see on the road, who I would meet, whether old friends or new, love or heartache. I anticipated simply another episode in the story of life unfolding as a flower opens its petals to catch a glimpse of the sun, and I smiled within at the magic of every moment of being.

*     *     *