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Stare the Miles to the Elizabeth Islands.....

.....and I remember it well....

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, July 27, 2005.

Stare the miles to the Elizabeth Isles across the dark sea. It’s almost dawn, the gulls are silent and black in the eastern sky, Nazgul on the run. Menhaden start jumping as the striped bass come to feed. Epicycles of wind swirl and play the stays like a instrumental bow and send increasingly large waves against the hull. Fix coffee, get with it. But the moment is nice and you know you’ll recall it always.

One of the things I find myself missing in the Colorado summer, along with air that doesn’t flash fry your lungs, is the reassuring sound of the ocean that I grew up with. The slap, slap, slap of water against a hull in the evening at anchor. The soft swallowing noise of the ocean in the morning when the sea is as glass, and sounds from areas well inland are as crisp and audible as halyards gently snapping against the mast. And if on the beach, the lazy wave of the incoming tide as it slurps its way closer to your chair or, in your previous years, a recent white granular construction. And then, when the tide receded, the hiss and sibilance of the sand. I do miss that. It’s the one soundtrack you cannot get out of your head. We’re hard wired to it. Wind, water, sun, and sand, the music most ancient to us, came to our attention while thinking of other things.

We may be in the throes of Global Warming, but you can’t prove it by me. We just had a period of record sustained heat in Colorado, but then we had, the next day, record lows for the date. And when you look at when the records we broke were made, they often enough go back a century. And actually, that’s the only benchmark we have. It isn’t enough to judge whether or not the temperature and the earth’s weather is changing.

But melting ice caps and vanishing glaciers are. Antarctica has shed so much ice from the Ross Ice Shelf that huge state size pieces are drifting into the ocean. So much has been made of this, you’d think the ocean would be measurably increasing in depth, and our lands already under attack. I haven’t heard proof of that, and wonder if the South Poles disintegration is due to the weather per se or to increased volcanic activity that provides much of the mechanism for the glacial flow. It is suspected that the weight of the ice has capped volcanoes in Antarctica, and that if lava flow ever became common, it would melt the entire continent, which then would subsume the volcanoes under the ocean. Then ice would form, the oceans recede, the cycle starts again. Sorta. Hard to say how this would affect us. Other than not well, I mean.

The North and South Pole are the key features here. For if the North Pole cycle of melt and freeze is seriously disrupted, the currents of the great oceans are messed up, food chains altered if not utterly destroyed, and we don’t know what will happen. We don’t know at all. We have proof of catastrophic events in the past, but life seems to have overcome it, and we have proof of events that should have been catastrophic, like Krakatoa and Tunguska, and nothing much outside of its immediate area was affected. We simply don’t know.

We do know there are far too many people on this planet. I have no doubt that religions like Hare Krishna are correct, and we could feed everyone if thus and so were done, but the thus and so would require the total subjugation of the wild world independent of humans and the collapse of even a pretend frontier. We could eat, we could live, we would have no reason to do either. But that’s the opinion of a western mind.

The big difference between eastern and western thought is that eastern thought is cyclical in nature and western is linear. Reincarnation and all that is spiritual recycling, ecological reprocessing to improve an individual soul. Westerners tend to think in terms of beginning, middle, end. This distinction is found in the music of the two hemispheres, because the western musical staff, the first mathematical graph, precludes much interpretive spirit, but allows musicians to be more successfully intricate and unique when playing together, albeit with fewer notes. In the East, formats exist for improvisation, but it’s hard to claim they are more technically adept or more spiritually expansive. In the West the composer is often all. In the East, previous to its exposure to the West, it was the moment and the musician. What seems terribly unique to current western ears often fades as we have more experience with eastern music. At least, what we know of it.

And this may be true – may be – with how we look upon the planet in ecological terms. Is it more accurate or profitable to favor the cyclical, the current view, or is it more accurate to view as having a linear time reference. As with everything, it depends where you draw the baseline for consideration, and having said that, an easterner doesn’t draw baselines.

Like I say, I’m a product of western thought, even though this morning I stare the miles to the Elizabeth Isles, and the sweet coffee has the taste of the salt air about me.