Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Be Here Now

The webcam is pointed into the Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park; this morning steam is rising from Old Faithful, Giantess, Beehive, Lion, and Giant, among several other thermal features visible in this capture. I really can't complain, I will be in the park by Friday this week. It's been a long and exceptionally wet winter, things are just beginning to green up, and the wildlife, especially the top-of-the-food-chain predators, has been abundantly visible. I can't wait to get home!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A bit from my bio

At the request of a cousin, some months ago I started writing my autobiography. It's been a tremendously interesting exercise, though it is going slowly. But I think it might be fun to post sections of it here. The following is from my very early years:
In 1954, my parents took me on the first of several summer retreats to Martha’s Vineyard, when it was as yet undiscovered by many but well-to-do black Americans. As an interesting side note, I was entirely oblivious to that historic fact, in spite of several return visits as an adult, until only perhaps 10 years ago. A neighbor and friend, a distinguished executive of African-American heritage herself, happened to mention her acquaintances who had a home there. She expanded a bit, and eventually I understood that black doctors, lawyers, educators, and businessmen have been the builders and occupants of many of the stately homes on that attractive dot in the ocean off Cape Cod over the last hundred years. The TV movie, The Wedding, with Halle Berry, is set there, more or less contemporaneous with my family’s visits. Happily, children, (and, apparently, some adults), are color-blind.
We went again in 1955, 1956, and in 1959. It was during those halcyon summers that I discovered Nature. We rented a little cinder-block “cottage” owned by a man named Sisson. It sat among a couple of others at the end of Shirley Road (this latter information is thanks to Google Maps, 2008; it was gravel and very sparsely inhabited in those days, and it would not be surprising if it had not yet been named then) in poison-ivy-filled woodlands adjacent to the Lagoon. On the shore of the Lagoon was (and still is) the State Lobster Hatchery, freely open to our explorations. It delighted me to see the Brownian flagellations of millions of hatchlings in small, smelly concrete tanks with their churning bubblers. Also for my viewing pleasure were a couple of adult specimens of gargantuan size or with especially bizarre claw deformities.
The Lagoon was Nature-made, resplendent with sea life. Every day we found washed up on the little beach live horseshoe crabs and dried compartmentalized strings of conch egg cases, with a thousand fully formed miniature shells inside. In the water itself, and in the brackish wetlands behind the Lagoon, were healthy scallops with neon-blue eye-dots and blue crabs that blithely came to eat the chicken legs my father tossed into the water on strings, only to be scooped up in his net and boiled for dinner by my mother. Elsewhere on the island were tiny wild blueberries, and on the unprotected Atlantic side, below the spectacular cliffs of Gay Head, dangerous Portuguese-Man-O-War jellies washed up on the beach, tempting curious little girls to touch, or at least to throw rocks at them. In 1954, hurricane Carol made her way up the coast and, besides terrifying my mother (whose experience with hurricanes in Puerto Rico informed her fears) lifted the pleasure boats and those of lobstermen alike onto the sidewalks and the docks, and caused much other memorable havoc.
Unfortunately, whether because of the interference of man, or because of Nature’s whims, the last time I saw the Lagoon it had changed extremely and was no longer the fruitful cradle of the 1950s. The outlet under the bridge was silted up, thus the source of fresh seawater and nutrients was choked off.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day to Eleanor Lawton-Sebeok, March 10, 1912-January 24, 2005. I'm thinking of you, as I often do.

Monday, May 5, 2008

And I quote...

A student who works for us brought me a little souvenir mother-of-pearl bookmark from his home country of Korea. It's quite sweet, very pretty, and comes with the following helpful description on the back of the package:

The product which it sees bites Korean tradition and ocean it is beautiful the color which the materials is brilliant with the product which it manufactures with mother-of-pearl lacquerware technique the nature which will wind to express like that

I have to say, the spelling is impressive, it's just the punctuation that seems to be lacking.