Camping these past few days on a island in Lake Champlain, the kids and I were biking back from the south end in the dusk when a crimson full moon appeared over the horizon, startlingly beautiful.
A 100 years ago, this mile-long island was farmed by tenant labor, sending out vegetables, dairy, wool. Now, those once-upon-a-time farm fields run rampart with goldenrod and stinging nettles. Sumac trees branch over paths for enchanting tunnels. The mighty lake, like so much of our world now, is polluted, but even so, the beauty of water and sky, singing cricket and chorusing frog, blue heron and turtle, is mesmerizing.
The next night, the children and I canoed into the dusk, and then walked out on a rocky jetty as dark filtered in. We perched there, watching the moon rise over the horizon. I’ve been reading Howard Axelrod’s The Point of Vanishing, a book about his two years in Vermont solitude, and I kept thinking of his line near the end: you are human. Not solitary, not a discrete entity, but part of the moving, changing landscape, in all its infinite beauty.
I wanted to see through all surfaces and to see through myself, but I wasn’t a transparent thing. I was bone, sinew, skin. If I lost depth perception when it came to life, if I removed every line so there was no difference between near and far, I’d never survive – maybe as a ghost or as a cipher but not as a human being.