In the afternoon they came unto a land
In which it seemed always afternoon.
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Man looking into the sea,
taking the view from those who have as much right to it as you have to yourself,
it is human nature to stand in the middle of things,
but you cannot stand in the middle of this;
the sea has nothing to give but a well excavated grave.
Twilight. Quiet. Good. This was yesterday.
I stood in the small yard behind the modular dwelling that has been home now for two years. Not the sea, not a grave. I stand, content more or less, at the top of a gently tilting coarse, small patch of bahia grass where the dogs can probe. It is good. I am fortunate. There are no dogs now, just me. I prefer the soft lawns of the north. But this is Florida, longed for and embraced by thousands monthly; escapees. It has been colonized; it has organized our discontent.
I should be feeling at home by now. But, I’m still a visitor. That’s my choice. Let’s face it. Where to now?
A Tuesday evening, Florida October. Two years. Some peace here, in this quiet moment.
Those two years dissolved rather than passed. The pandemic worked to blunt the rejoining of old human connections and block new ones. It was the same for all.
As for the years, the same with the two before. Gone quickly. In that, the years were like, not the sea, but like standing water in a gutter. Here, then gone. Evaporated.
I think of Sanibel, the beaches. There is wild, coarse beauty here among the steel projectiles and concrete jutting up.
You can stand in the middle of nothing. Make a sea of it.
I have been north recently; cool air, leaves dry and ready to turn. Another world. It’s not better or worse. It just is, like this world. Okay, better while you longed for the return of the moment you chose, for whatever reason, to try Florida again, fearing it was the geographic cure — again. Thinking maybe you’d reconsider.
It’s all — the world.
But it felt better up there. A little more permanent, more real. It felt closer to home, wherever….It felt familiar, but almost too familiar. I realized, with a sinking heart, what it is that made it so easy to flee to the south; to believe it would be different, even better. That it need not be forever.
But forever has drawn closer, like a serpent in the grass.
Here I am.
The air, finally, was once again, as happens eventually this time of year in Florida, cooler. Less humid. Not the scorching and sodden semi-tropical miasma that envelops the peninsula beginning in mid-May. I’d never noticed it so much in the past. But there was more of a future ahead, more time to think this was only temporary. I must still think that. Sorry, but I must. Yet I’m in no hurry…why? Where is it that much better? It could be worse.
Autumn, such as it is, is upon the southern world. With its autumn thoughts. I usually run through these thoughts in September. Late onset this year.
Things, actually, seem to be standing still.
It was the early onset of twilight and the western glow brightened, high up, even the breast of the west-facing mockingbird sitting silent and solitary on the overhead wire that runs the length of the yards behind these vinyl and metal homes. I loved it that that bird was there. Usually, the mockingbirds chorus unceasingly and wildly, talking almost. This one was silent.
Maybe,come to think if it, it was a dove. A young dove,.
The Brazilian pepper, green and full, has risen up and begun once again to push heavily against the tilting , weathered stockade fence. They obscure the chain link fences and the warehouses and garages and blacktop beyond. Yes, they are invasive and unruly but on this evening, they masked those ugly roadside realities, leaving, just beyond them, the sunset gold., just barely visible. Far, far overhead, large mauve-tainted scattered clouds were floating, brushed pink underneath, catching the setting sun. They were beautiful. It were as if rain clouds had broken up.
Gone, at least on this Tuesday, were the mountainous clouds that often bring sudden, violent storms during late Florida summer afternoons. I actually love those clouds, too. It’s just the heat….that heat. And fear of violence.
But it’s going. The year is going.
I was by the grill, cooking chicken. There I was, and here I am.