Thursday, November 12, 2009

on big waves, clear nights, and life on the edge

the stars are beautiful here. its a perfectly clear night, after a rainy day, the air is clean and clear. the trees are gently dripping today's water down into the ground, where it will be absorbed into the soil. we caught a lot of water off the roof of the community center today, and all the other buildings, all pumped into the big cisterns underneath the community center. we checked out a swale today, a big ditch carved on a contour of the hillside that collects water in a heavy rain and gives it a chance to soak back into the soil, irrigating all the trees and crops downhill. i decided to move my tent from its beautiful location at the bottom of a river valley, that incredible cave of trees and vines with its mysterious and busy insect life, to a more strategic location in the bamboo uphill a ways. i sat on the pond on a little raft and watched the tiny white butterflies fly from flower to flower, floating gently on the wind. around here they call them cruzan snow, because thats as close to snow as it ever gets around here. they are quite beautiful, but theyve got nothing on the real thing. ive been playing the flute a lot, and its really fascinating to me. just breath and melody, all the notes you can make, the subtleties in the vibrations. i love feeling the vibration in my fingers. i really like to just play one note, as long as i can, and play with the subtleties of it, change the intensity, the tone. ive been playing it to give thanks to the trees and the animals, playing a song to a particular place or tree, giving it as a gift in gratitude for their presence, the work they do here on the land. everything gardens, as they say in permaculture. ive also been enjoying the exotic tropical fruits. the passion fruit packs a deliciously sour punch, and is a great burst of energy midday. mangos are always great, especially when they grow in abundance in your backyard, although were coming to the end of their season here. starfruit is another good one, kind of jelly like in texture and very sweet. noni is supposed to be a very powerful medicine, anti-carcinogenic and all kinds of things, but it smells absolutely awful and i have yet to taste it. the fruit looks like the egg sac of some strange alien, ready to burst open and divulge hundreds of small face sucking creatures. its very popular on island as a general health tonic.
yesterday was by far the most adventurous, hands on learning weve had so far. we went down to the annalee tide pools, a very sacred spot where maroons, slaves who had chosen to leave their captivity and live in the bush, gathered and created permanent communities that may have existed for over a hundred years without being discovered. when we got to the beach, it began to rain pretty hard. the beach is amazing, right at the bottom of a little valley, with big steep hills going up on either side. its made of dark, smoothly polished rocks, of many sizes and colors. the waves there have polished these hard stones until they look like jewels, very beautiful. we all tried to crowd in a little shelter of palm thatch and a tarp that someone had built up in the rock a bit, but it was no use. we all got soaked, and most of us decieded to make our way to the tidepool, where the water would be warmer. the waves were quite large, and i was skeptical about the safety of the journey, but our guides seemed to think it was safe, so i followed. it turned out not to be that difficult, and well worth the effort. this tidepool is tucked in behind a ridge of rocks, completely enclosed by this circle of rocks. inside, the water is warm, heated by the sun all day, much warmer than the rain outside. it was so nice to be in that warm water after being soaked and cold in the rain. its deep too, and you can swim and dive and look at fish and all kinds of life that cant live anywhere else but in that protected spot on the edge of the ocean and the land. its really quite an epic edge there, because the island of st croix is really the tip of an enormous undersea mountain, 20,000 ft tall. the water is 3 miles deep 3 miles out, which is the deepest water closest to land on earth. in this powerful spot, at this powerful time, momma ocean was giving us a glorious display of the kind of turmoil and turbulence that occurs on such an extreme edge between two systems. every few minutes, a set of big waves would come crashing over the wall of rocks, a rare event according to our guides. the first time it did, we were all caught totally by surprise. i can remember the looks on everyones face as this huge wall of water comes down on them, just totally dumbfounded. no one was hurt, because the water was deep enough that you had plenty of room to fall over without hitting any rocks, and we could get back far enough where the waves wouldnt even reach us. after the first wave hit, we all came out of the water laughing our heads off. it was such an adrenaline rush, to be inside that incredible event. we had class in that tidepool, a lesson about the power of the edge and the importance of creating edges in your design where elements can interact and create change and growth. it was amazing, to be learning in that kind of environment, really experiencing the lesson with our whole bodies while we heard the explanation, which was interrupted periodically by gigantic waves crashing over the edge. we all managed to get out safely, and got in the trucks for the long ride home to lunch.

No comments:

Post a Comment