Sunday, March 15, 2009

Morning Moons and Early Tomatoes

Like the first page of a toddler’s sticker book – "This is a circle. This is yellow." – the moon is pasted dead center on a purple-black sky. Just the faintest trace of blue cheese veins creep across its face and the lemon light that spreads past its clean edge is pale and luminous, the only thing that suggests the circle might be three-dimensional.

A morning moon. Infinitesimally close to full. Teasing me into wishing the day away so that I can sit on the deck, the work day satisfactorily over, and breath in the scent of almost-spring, marvel that the earth’s personal satellite has made it all the way around one more time.

Morning moons, early tomatoes, three-year-olds who read. Not aberrations exactly, but phenomena just different enough to be phenomena, to elicit surprise and, then, wonder.

Rachel Carson, the marine biologist and writer who is credited with drawing the first serious attention to the environmental movement in the 1960's, said, "If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life."

I have my doubts as to whether the good fairy was present to bestow that particular gift on me, but I do know that sense of wonder – the one that makes me pull over to the side of the road to watch a hawk try over and over to lift a rabbit from the apron of the highway, the one that lures me to lie on my back on one of the mounds at Ocmulgee and feel the rhythm of a passing train in my bones, the one that calls me out in the middle of the night to bath my feet in the salt water of the sea – is mine and it has lasted. Lasted longer than childhood, longer than the years of trying too hard at everything, longer than my fruitless efforts at finding a cause for every effect.

That sense of wonder has had me dancing barefoot in the front yard under a chuppah of stars, burying my face in a slice of watermelon too big to hold, staring down a sunset that sets a lake on fire. It has made me braver and stronger and more content than anyone has a right to be.

I’ve been asked quite often of late from whence come the images that end up as words for other people to read and each time I am embarrassed that I cannot explain. I want to explain, but there is no explanation. Who would believe me if I told the truth, if I said, "It’s magic."?

The best I can offer is to say that it’s something like alchemy, the transformation of common metals into precious ones. That one must watch carefully, constantly and indiscriminately and, in the watching, become a part of what is being watched. That one must see not just with sight, but taste and smell and hearing and touch. And that in the watching and becoming, words will appear and take on a life of their own.

I could offer that as an explanation, but, then, who really believes that copper can be turned into gold?

Not long ago someone who knows me well laughed at some silliness that erupted quite unbidden from my mouth and said, "You really are still twelve years old."

Why, thank you. Thank you very much. It is, in fact, my goal in life to remain twelve (or younger) until I’m at least 80. It would appear that I’ve done a pretty good job so far. And for that I credit morning moons, early tomatoes and the good fairy.

Copyright 2009

1 comment:

Lynn said...

I remember a sunset in Jax that we shared -

Your sense of wonder is what makes you WONDERful!