In Transition

I’ve been in transition these past few weeks, moving from the US Virgin Islands back to Maine. It’s quite a jarring change, reacquainting myself with black flies, cold rain and frigid east winds. I miss my afternoon walks by Leinster Bay, and the warm volcanic rock where I sat to digest my day as the sun went down behind Mary’s Point. In seven years, I never did catch the ephemeral green flash.

I’m focusing on the chill night sky now, the big dipper hanging low in the north-west, filling my bedroom window. I feel certain that one of these nights I’m going to hear the great horned owl, and see the sky illuminated by the Northern Lights again.

It’s the glass that bothers me. This separation between the indoors and out. I’ve grown accustomed to living with all my windows and doors open day and night, with no sense of separation. This is hardly possible in Maine. I feel like I may suffocate at any moment.

This move back to a place I lived for over twenty years is forcing me to reevaluate my own expectations, my needs and desires. Until I moved to the amenable climate of the Caribbean, I took struggle to survive for granted, closed doors and windows never bothered me.

I grew up in the Northeast. You could freeze to death or starve in winter if you weren’t careful, didn’t plan ahead. Like a squirrel, I put up firewood a year in advance, stocked the freezer. So much more. On St. John, I lived in the day, except during Hurricane Season, when an eye was held to the forecast.

I’ve unintentionally opened myself to a whole new theme for personal essay. I am embracing that. One day, perhaps, I’ll even turn the thermostat here to something lower than 72—when my blood thickens again.

Erosion

This is a poem I wrote quickly last May. It seems fitting to posit if after phone conversations with residents of St. John, and looking at some news photos of Coral Bay after Otto’s rains have washed down the hills.

Rainstorm Where Man Has Been

Oh the agony
of a simple rain storm.
The gut
runs wild with pleasure
among the boulders
unaware
carrying bits of earth
seaward
runs earth stained
and soil saturated
seaward
engorged with the flesh
of the hillside
where this small gash
and that one too
has bled out
revealing
scoured wounds
in the gravel roadbed.
Even the trees shiver
and weep  for the lost earth.

© 2010 Jennifer Pierce

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

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