Living in an Equatorial World

Suddenly transported to a different land, we are confronted daily with the new. Certain phenomena can be examined, tested, toyed with, maybe integrated. What do we do with the jar of raw milk from Johnathan’s cow, or the lump of soft queso fresco? How do we convince a singularly stupid and/or near-sighted chicken to go into her coop? And when we had a gift of a bag of organic red beans right off the trees, still mixed with the pebbles and pods and dust of the harvest, we amused ourselves trying, gringos that we are, to wash them enough to resemble the nice, easy beans that magically appear in the supermarket.

Other elements cannot be questioned, only accepted. There is much to observe, and to realize we cannot assume. One never thinks about the sun being different, for instance. But it starts getting hot here even before sunup somehow. The heat of the day is exactly midday, which surprised me but really makes good sense, as we are equatorial, unlike further north where it’s hottest in the late afternoon.

In this different world, even plain-shaped birds seem to have been, for no reason I can tell, dipped in the Sixties. Yellow Submarine colors. At the end of the driveway, I looked up to see a small bird of blue, chartreuse, and stripes, and later learned it has the fabulous name of Violaceous Trogon, which J. says sounds like a four-year-old named it. Things grow extravagantly and with alarming speed, which is also how they disintegrate. A strong entropic force (tropic entropic?) pulls beings both once-living and inanimate (shoes, tools) back into the earth. The vultures wait in the trees, the worms wait in the mud, the rust and mold hover in between. A dead horse, bones and all, will be gone within three days, so we hear.

But most disorienting of all: the stars are not the same. The familiar constellations are on the other side of the sky. Where is Orion, and the Great Bear, and Cassiopeia?

At the same time, what possibility! Momentarily ignorant of how the lines are drawn, we are free to make them up as we please.

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