Tuesday, June 02, 2009

summer has reached its finest point here; the last couple of days have been hot and sunny but clear, with variable humidity. as the summer goes on, and it doesn't have to go far, that variability settles into a stifling 99%, which rain or no rain, becomes the way summer is, well into september. but for now, the sun is almost so hot and clear, it sizzles off the dew and settles into a burn before the morning is half over. i myself experience it only when i go out for my fourth, fifth, sixth cups of coffee; the first few are at home before i even leave. it's a frantically busy time. five days before leaving for d.r., my presentations are unfinished; and a long way from finished. my twenty hours, with its large writing class, rumbles on with frantic intensity, and i have to prepare also for the twenty i'll miss when i'm in the d.r. finally, summer plans somewhat unfinished; i'm trying to buy a plane ticket to seattle for a teenager, at the same time i'm sending him off to camp, and spend some time with a college junior, home from kansas, sleeping in a bit and getting a little restless to get on with his life.

underfoot, the two younger guys make a huge racket. school is letting out; the first grader moves on to a new one in the fall; the 4-yr-old faces some adjustment too. on campus, e-mail switched over to g-mail, thus stranding over a thousand of my e-mails in a mail program that is no longer functional; the problem was compounded for people like my wife who actually use mail programs on a day-to-day basis, and can't imagine switching their whole operations. it's interesting how everyone is stuck in their own habits & ways, loss of e-mail a huge cyber-disaster like a derecho or inland hurricane. i grade until my eyes are popping out of my head; 1200 e-mails stuck in my mail program are the farthest thing from my mind. i do, however, toy with rhymes like "e-mail/female" or "male program" & wonder what i could make of it. those 1200 aren't really lost; they're just a little harder to go do anything with them.

deep in the middle of the dominican republic, my plane will land in a highlands town called santiago, a regional center in a well-populated but rural valley. not far to the north, the caribbean sea spreads out north; i'm not sure if it's resorts up there, or remote, or what. there's a town up there called sosua; this town at one time took in 800 jewish refugees from germany and austria, at a time when, remember, florida passed them up. these refugees made a cheese factory which stands to this day, or so they say at least. having travelled extensively in mexico (my spanish is that of a very old mexican who has forgotten all his words) and married into a jewish family, the cultural exchange here i find quite interesting, kind of like the cuban-chinese restaurants on the upper east side, which had their own version of their own food. if i get a chance, i'll go for sure. but, it's the sea, that sea is the most beautiful i've ever seen, by far, and i don't care if it's full of sharks, or gold bullion that has rusted for four hundred years. it's of no consequence. it's like 1200 lost e-mails. they aren't going anywhere, yet. if the computer crashes, i'll lose them for sure.

the city here has settled with a few of the huge stumps; some of them aren't going anywhere, in any big hurry. some of the houses aren't being repaired, or are being repaired so slowly, nobody would notice. they promised to haul away our brush on memorial day, but that came and went, and some brush is still out there. now that it's hot, people want to go to the beach; our beach is a small, family beach, with gentle cliffs right across the lake, and plenty of sand running down into the water. haven't been yet; i've been too busy. almost went the day before mem day, but it wasn't open yet.

a benefit looms; it's a concert of all the local folk musicians, benefit for an organic farmer who is suffering from cancer. i'll get to play my train song, for sure; i also will ramble around on the fiddle, and point out that i'll be playing less than a couple of blocks from my own home, in the unitarian assembly. they have quite a nice building there, but it rises in pyramidic shape up to a kind of glass skylight where music kind of gets caught being reflected into infinite harmony. you get the impression that it's all very beautiful and harmonic up there, in the light, but you never know, because none of the sound ever makes it back to earth, where you can actually hear what's happened to it. my mind will be elsewhere; already, in recounting some of the details, of my trip and my week, my mind is drifting off to caribbean months in years past, the dry tortugas, the wide shore of cancun and isla mujeres, the sun setting on key west. from santiago we'll go to santo domingo, capital, home of merengue, place where i'm certain, there is history, culture, secrets. i am but a visitor, a fiddler, a banjo picker, i come with my eyes wide open; i actually am not a ed-tech savior, more of just a guy, from the land of obama, come to exchange culture, maybe see the place where columbus landed, and found an arawak language, and a wide beach, and a turquoise sea. i'll not make it to dominica, or martinique, or haiti, or cuba, but i'll be close enough, and it will do, for now. i'll be sleepless, i can see already that i have enough to do to fill my evenings, from here on through, and just hope i'll have handouts, something to say to dominican teachers who come to hear me. trust, i'll tell myself, trust that they'll learn something, and be grateful. i certainly will- but, it's not about me. i will be catching the sea breeze, delivered from a june that turns here, turns in a direction i'm not fond of.

so a friend caught me, outside the door of my building, and when i told him about the d.r., he told me about a plane that had disappeared off the coast of brazil, the bermuda triangle certainly. when i finally found the map, i wasn't so sure, but there it was nonetheless, hundreds of people, trying to cross an ocean, and nothing left of them but a few lifejackets in line. it's a far cry from the days of columbus, yes, there was not a sign of scurvy or those diseases you get from lack of fruit; still, i remembered a time, in a sailboat, nothing but the clear blue sky and a miami radio station, the gulf its blackish grayish evil, in contrast to the turquoise eyes of the mujeres and cancun. don't know what the sea will look like. last time i went to new york, i noticed that the sea there was bluer, as is lake erie, lake upon which i was born. it happens, stuff cleans up; the earth turns.

the stack of papers keeps on coming, article after article, about such topics as vegetarianism & carbon footprint, refrigerant gases, and the role of zoos. these will be published; you'll see them; they're public record. good or bad, a certain amount of language will pass by, much like the gulf stream, sometimes it's somebody else's history. it's a big wide sea, and to say it's all the bermuda triangle, well, that's not really accurate. but then, we were stuck near the dry tortugas, a little pocket of shrimping boats that stood there at the key west of key west, the final key, the one that is actually still under water. why i had to stay there and contemplate that spot for several days, i'll never know. the miami radio station kept playing b-b-b-b-b-benny and the jets. the sun rose and set with dazzling intensity brought on by nervous refusal to eat, at least on the part of my shipmate, who was less stable than i was, for sure. is there a plan, that life brings you to a spot such as this, at such a time, so that you can contemplate, what, the place where so many boats crossed paths, and gold fell to the bottom, and pirates went home for dinner? I have no idea. vaya con dios, they'd say to me in mexico, travel with god, does that mean, never forget god, or, does that implore god never to forget me. my guess is, the shrimp are gone. the gold has settled, and animals are living on its rust. the treasure i'll carry away, besides maybe a sea shell, much more ephemeral, maybe a passport stamp, the taste of plantain, a souvenir nina, pinta, santa maria...i'll write some poetry, maybe. and if i make it to the north coast, i'll put it in a bottle. one reaches out, into the wide blue sea, and, yes, sometimes it never comes back. and sometimes that's ok, what would one do with it if they actually found it, be disappointed perhaps, that here was a bottle, but nothing to drink in it, but some poetry.

that triangle's got nothing over me. here's to the brazilians, the parisians, the irish, and their families. vaya con dios...there is no explanation, or, maybe if it is, that information would be somewhere in a mail program, on a hard drive, waiting for what they apparently call in the g-mail world, migration. btw, in g-mail, you can chat with people right on your e-mail; you can also see them. they sit there and look at your image as you're opening your e-mail. and this is just the way it is, a brand new day, hot and sunny, the dark turbulent waters of history washing by, virtually unnoticed.

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