Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Immersed in the Inhuman


Miami dominates the tip of Florida and around it thick and vast lies Dade county. Both are aggressively vibrant expressions of the modern and the human. But just a few miles south and east, in the Florida Keys, extends the ocean, coral reefs, and shores thick with wild-life, mangroves, pines, palms, and, here and there, the vivid colors of the bougainvillea. For us it was a family gathering in Marathon, FL, a patch of summer punctuating winter: three generations briefly reunited. Such events have many aspects. One of them for me, early mornings, evenings, nights, was temporary immersion in the inhuman, that word used not in its usual negative sense but to designate a vast, virtually limitless expanse, beginning there, on the shores, but extending up and outward, including the planets we admired every evening marking the ecliptic, Mars, Jupiter, Venus, and even Mercury—visible just above the horizon—and beyond: Orion bright above, Canis Major to the left, topped by brilliant Sirius, and (this was a special thrill for me) even Canopus visible dimly lower down. And this great, shimmering, moving, every-changing, colorful, windy world was by far the dominant impression. Well, that is now over; we are back. I’d planned to write posts marking our stay; I made a beginning, but I made all posts labeled “Florida notes” after our return from notes scribbled in the shade, and in the wind. That other world drew me far from the computer. I spent my time watching birds at low tide, admired sunrises, sunsets, and watched palm trees grimly enduring a very strong wind while their coconuts sullenly ripened.

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