Focus

I have a habit of sitting on my deck and meditating on the coming light of day, listening, observing the earth come out of darkness wherever I am. This particular morning I noticed again a small dark shape suspended between the deck post and a nearby tree. It was right in my field of vision in that place of half sky half far hillside where I often see first light strike the land at this time of year. I’d noticed the shape suspended there for several days. It appeared to be a spider in the middle of its orb or possibly a wound up insect dangling within a web. I’d intended to investigate the first time I’d noticed it but had forgotten it each day with the brightening sky.

I was distracted by the heavy mist obscuring Bordeaux tower and the clouds floating off across the top of the far hillside so slowly I couldn’t detect the direction of movement at first. Into my reverie on weather and clouds came a small dark shape. The blob I’d noticed for days and forgotten to investigate was no longer still. I watched it from my seat suddenly jog upward with great speed, then return to its resting place. Then it took off to one side. Always it moved within the same area of space and returned to the same spot. Odd, I thought, thinking of someone jigging for smelts through a hole in the ice. Is a spider fishing? I got up to take a closer look.

The sun was not above the horizon yet. It was the time of morning when color and detail are not yet defined. I stood about six feet from the spot where the movement was and could detect no web, no connecting silk between this bouncing thing and nearby vegetation. I watched for some time as it zipped off and bounded back to the same center.

No answers were visible. I decided to wait for full light, but just as this thought entered my mind I heard a sound. It was the tiniest of high pitched buzzing. It stopped and started. I saw it then. It buzzed as it jigged about. The blob must have tiny wings. Not believing my ears I bent a bit closer. Could I see it? Not really. But each time it moved back to the center, the buzzing stopped.

I resolved to sit back down and wait for daylight to investigate more thoroughly. It seemed impossible that such an insect could always return to hover in exactly the same place. And why was there no wing beat when it returned to the same resting spot in mid air? Certainly it could not hover without beating its wings.

A pair of binoculars is never far from my chair, and I grabbed them. They were focused for a distance farther out. I’d been working on recognizing doves and pigeons from their voice. Focusing the left eyepiece in the growing light I saw clearly tiny wings fanning like a hover fly.The blob was in motion and kept zooming out of my field of view. I twirled the knob for the right eye, focusing on the deck post, the nearest object, closing my left eye to check the right. I was only gone from that plane of motion for an instant. When I returned, the insect was gone. I waited some time, searched around the area, scanned the space nearby, but it was gone.

The thing was a gift I figure. I see it as having been suspended there for me to notice, and once I did, its need to be was fulfilled. It was nothing more or less than a reminder of possibilities- the admonition to stay focused on what is at hand, though I might see it clearly with only half my vision.

© 2010 Jennifer M. Pierce, All Rights Reserved

“Where is home?” said the dove.

Home. What is home? Where is mine?

I sit on the deck and hear doves. This morning there is a new voice, that of a mourning dove, or a close relative. Its voice is flat and clear, lacking the guttural roll of the tropical birds and the deep somnolent hoot of the quail doves. The flat clear cooing reminds me of home. As this thought enters my mind I immediately feel a wistful sadness. Not from the dove’s mourning but from my own self, wondering not who but where? Who Whoo Whooo knows where home is.

The birds do not need to ask this question, wired as they are for place and time. The tug of day length, the abundance of forage, availability of water all combine to instruct, inform. The night stars and moon illuminate their paths, the vast magnetism of the sphere on which they alight connects with sensors in their spare skeletons. Somehow they know where to go, when to go.

The earth informs me too, calls me out each morning mysteriously. Without particular sound to alert me I awaken before sunrise, no matter where, no matter the time of year. I am drawn out of sleep, past the remembered dream state, into the coming daylight. I need to be there to witness this, without knowing why. This never stops me from wondering.

Where I live now there is little difference between in and out and I like it this way. My big doors sit open in the night, portals allowing night sounds to enter my home. As I fall asleep or awaken from it I hear the slight fall of rain against teyer palms, the rustle of geckos catching crunchy night flying moths and unwary katydids, the hum of insects, chorus of frog sounds. At certain times a luscious tropical perfume from some nearby night flowering plant drifts in.

I don’t know what combination of things alerts me to the coming light. It may be that I too am like the birds, possessing a place deep in my composition that process everything my senses detect and then something more. Perhaps I feel the cosmic sting of the sun’s first rays, too faint to detect with my eyes. Perhaps these rays enter my body mysteriously as radiant energy will. Perhaps each cell has its own sensor, not yet fathomed by scientists madly unraveling the clues. Whatever it is, my body has awareness. It knows.

This morning, after I walk myself awake on the deck, waiting for the coffee water to boil and soaking up the transitory notes of night sound subtly shifting to morning song, the question comes to me again. Where is my home? Who Whoo Whooo knows.

© 2010, Jennifer M. Pierce, All Rights Reserved

Late Day at Salt Pond

I went for a late afternoon walk at Salt Pond yesterday with a long legged friend who sauntered easily way ahead, leaving me alone with my thoughts. A good breeze from the northeast kept me cool in this hottest time of day when every surface and object on the south shore begins to radiate back the collected energy of the day.

It’s the time of day when the beach empties out and the low angle of the sun infuses everything in the landscape with a warm glow of gold and exaggerates texture. Every element stands out in sharp definition against a deep shadow on its eastern edge. The dry shrub-land and open grassy areas at Drunk Bay and Salt Pond stand out as a rich tapestry in this light, creating the illusion of a soft sculpted wool carpet. Leaves of marin, sea grape, marble tree, caper, ilex all dwarfed and windswept are burnished by the sun. Each leaf, a different size and shape, is sharply defined by its shadow.

Whenever I walk at the cusp of daylight I am aware of this gift of slanting light, as though the sun’s great burning ball of gas has intent, knows its own importance to the things that grow on this harsh land; knows that in the flood of its mid day stream these leaves wash away, appearing to the eye as one great mass of green. This same sun, so apparently malevolent at noon is generous and loving at early light and late, caressing each leaf and stone, each cactus spire.

In the early morning light I think the sun delivers a long soft embrace then moves solitary through its day to that point before darkness when it again takes the land under its gentle arm, to bed.

© 2010, Jennifer M. Pierce, All Rights Reserved

Island Driving

Inside my Caribbean blue Crocs the ball of my clutch foot presses on the tiny nubs of soft polymer. I can feel the friction as I press the pedal down with my hot left foot and nudge the stick shift into second gear. Shifting down, I feel three thousand straining rpm’s drop and the car continues to climb, careening to the left.

The odor of hydrocarbons and hot antifreeze swirl around me for just a moment. A blistering easterly tailwind carries exhaust into my jeep. I am driving up from Coral Bay on the island’s east side, rounding curves and churning uphill at the recklessly insane speed of thirty five miles an hour. My jeep has only a roof, half-doors and a windshield. The air rushing through feels like a hair dryer on high as I climb, the acceleration pressing my back against the sticky vinyl seat. The sun has been cooking the east side since dawn. Now I’m heading west.

I grind up Centerline to the top of King Hill. At the aqua green Smoothie stand, I turn right nearly 160 degrees, then drop down onto The North Shore Road. From the turn it’s all down hill and north to the beach at Francis Bay. I’m hot and going for a swim, negotiating the mountainous roads of St. John in the Virgin Islands.

As soon as I have turned north I feel gravity sucking me seaward. I can feel the tall shadows of the north side vegetation cool the air. I test my brakes and they squeak but hold. The temperature feels like it has dropped ten degrees. I roll northward down the narrow zig-zag miles to the beach.

Sometimes, if I’m feeling really reckless or exuberant, I depress the clutch and coast here, schussing. It’s a dangerous sport. Last year a fully loaded dump truck missed the first hairpin, broke through a three foot high stone wall, mowed down full grown trees, tumbled over, and came to rest upside down on its sky blue cab. The truck looked like a huge overturned beetle, six wheels facing skyward. The driver got lucky and walked away. He was probably going thirty miles an hour.

Wisps of irritating hair escape the elastic of my thick black scrunchie meant to avoid exactly that. My unruly graying hair is pulled back out of my face but finds its way between my sunglasses and my eyes. It sticks to the drying sweat on my cheek, tickling me mercilessly. If I’m parched, I live dangerously, driving with only one hand so I can take a drink. It’s not a good thing to do here where the speed limit is twenty five, where going thirty feels like sixty. My hair blows into my mouth and starts to slide down my throat with the quenching swig of water, but there is no place where I can pull off and fix it.

I used to manage a resort. It was on the southeast side, fourteen grueling miles from Cruz Bay where visitors arrive by ferry. One night a man checked in as I was locking up. He said, “My wife is up there lying on the ground by the car. She’s puked so much she can’t stand up.” He must have seen me raise my eyebrows and added, “She says she would rather die right there on the road in the dark than ride another inch.”

That’s how it is here where you have to drive fourteen miles to go eight and it takes forty five minutes. You can’t go anywhere here without being hurled from side to side.

© 2010, All Rights Reserved, Jennifer M. Pierce