I think I saw a jaguarundi this morning. It is best to awaken just as the stars fade, to maximize exposure to pleasant temperatures… and to wildlife. It is a second childhood in that everything outdoors is new. The toddler exclaims over a dandelion, a house cat, a stone. The Costa Rican equivalents of these commonplace encounters cause the same awe and joy in a gringa fresh off the plane.
I walk the same jungle road daily, sometimes drowsily, and always something is there, if I will pay attention. I nearly missed the black, long-tailed creature, looking instead at my feet as I descended a hill of unstable gravel. Only at a scraping sound ahead did I look up. It was gracefully sliding down the branchless trunk of a tree full of oropendola nests, and leapt into invisibility within the foliage below. It could have been a coatimundi, which is like a raccoon, but it seemed more elegant and sleek. I don’t know. I recreated it in memory with a dozen varying details. It is surely too wise to let me see it again, a dream to which I cannot return.
Unlike the common brown wren. For a week, I puzzled over the chirping dart that sped away whenever the screen door of the cabina opened. It seemed to come from the door itself. But finally, while hanging laundry, I saw it return. It slipped between the folds of a bunched-up green tarp wadded in a crossbeam just to the side of the door. I hadn’t known the purpose of the tarp, but now I do. It accidentally contains a twig nest, a mama wren, a tiny speckled egg that likely will not open, and several wriggling gray chicks. Sometimes a bird abandons a nest that has been discovered, but the wren flitted back in as if we weren’t sitting on the steps and talking two feet from her chicks. For her nonchalance and nearness, I love her as much as the rainbowed toucans, the exotic monkeys, the maybe-jaguarundi.
The last dreams are because, so close to the equator, there are always twelve hours of light and twelve of darkness. Though it’s never completely black (fireflies, moon, stars, heat lightning), we usually head indoors by six. Add to the dark hours those during which it is too hot to move. (We who once hiked 20-25 miles daily now rest in the shade, staring, after each three minute walk from the cabina to the chicken supply barn.) This totals plenty of time to read, write, and contemplate our uncertain future. J. is reading the Humanure Handbook cover to cover, rekindling our desire to live off the grid. I alternate between a novel and various wildlife guides, trying to identify butterflies whose markings confound and resemble others. In the afternoons on sunny days, we lay in bed, the mosquito net pushed aside, or sit in the kitchen hoping for a breeze and sucking on sugar canes cut from the plant. Inert, yet we are moving toward our future without firm plans, due to recklessness or enlightenment, who knows which, as if the air is heavy with invisible tapa de dulce, as if we move at the pace of dreams that exist apart from time.