Friday, March 18, 2005

"...endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful..."

Living in the tropics, we are not quite so hermetically sealed from the rest of creation as we are in New England. Although we have screens in the windows, we have no glass (just wooden louvers), no air conditioning, no heat. The membrane between ourselves and the world is wonderfully permeable. In spite of our best efforts to keep them out, the creatures intrude: ants, mice, geckoes, sandflies, mosquitos, scorpions, and now and then a bat moth or hairy spider. If that sounds awful, it's really not as bad as it sounds, and I love the sense of indoors and outdoors flowing together -- the breezes, the sunlight, the rain, the stars.

The hummingbirds at the feeders, the snakes and frogs, the tiny silver fish and barracudas that nibble and pry as we swim, the fish hawks and occasional shark that patrol the shore -- somehow it's all more of a piece than the rather tame petting-zoo nature we encounter at home. One has more of a sense of being part of a web, a seamless tissue of eating and being eaten, a forceful feeling of the irrepressible "oneness" of life of which we are a part.

This must be what the young Charles Darwin felt when he first wandered alone in the tropical forests of South America, and caught a glimpse of life's interconnectedness that guided his life's work.