Nature and natural

“God is subtle.  But not malicious.  Nature conceals her mystery by means of her essential grandeur, not by her cunning.”

Albert Einstein

Sublety.  Nature is full of it.  We’re just in the middle of more of it.  The splendor of the Scarlett Macaws, Toucans, capuchins, deafening cicadas, all are just there.  Invisible until they move ever so subletly.  The slight change in shadows, colors, just a nudge of movement among all of the movements.  Visible because of subtle movements not extravagant displays.

Now-you-see-em, now you don’t.  Emergences, submergences, in-and-out.  Against a grand background of endless sea and tropical forests.  Permanence and impermanence constantly changing, borning and dying, in a state of perpetual sameness.  Nothing stays the same while it never changes.  Only the individual pieces.

We are individual pieces.  We move about the board while the game remains the same.   Pyrrhic victories, temporary setbacks, the appearances of straight lines.

Amid this show, we have had a chance to collect ourselves.  5 most incredible years of any in a lifetime of incredible years.  Not that exceptional over the decades except, perhaps, how condensed it has been.  Absent TV, radio, news, the “latest” in politics, fashions, music,  and all the other things to be concerned with and concerned about, we have a chance to reflect on ourselves and all those things we are concerned about.  What is our responsibility?  What is our role?  Imponderable ponderables.  What is enough?  When is enough?  How much do we have of each?

So as we grapple with these small matters, we are appreciating more fully what the toll has been—our own post-traumatic stress.  Our own incredible highs.

Against a backdrop of song birds unfamiliar and the strains of an invisible neighbor in the jungle playing beautiful classical music on a piano, where do we fit as her invisible neighbors (assumption here from the manner she touches the keys–subtly)?

Costa Rica is doing that and we are doing that with her.  Evening sunsets impermanently transcending the seemingly, now, pure blue to white to orange to redish orange-blue-white, only to finally catch fire and set the whole horizon ablaze.  Even the locals have to stop whatever they’re concerned about at the moment to attempt to absorb it.

Heat lightning, we called it in Wisconsin.  Slowly extinguishing the horizon’s fire, deep dark blue-black clouds bring the “silent lightning” that ignites a new fire between the clouds, never touching the ocean below.  The fire doesn’t diminish until dawn’s light moves the clouds further out on the horizon.  Silent, the noise from the thunder is so impermanent that it is gone before it reaches shore.

The “squeeky-wheel” bird call, as Bunny calls it, starts with us at 5:30AM.  For the first time in my life, I like waking at 5:30.  Outlandish in this otherwise subtle jungle, it goes about this call almost continuously all day…. Eventually bringing some temporary annoyance.

The third loudest call on earth penetrates the air mostly in the early morning and early evening, but it does not ignore the rest of the day.  It doesn’t just bark, it genuinely howls.  The aptly named Howler Monkey doesn’t emit a loud deeply bass toot.  It reaches the horizon.  If you can hear me, you’re too close.

The tiny capuchin monkey is almost exactly the opposite of its cousin.  They are here, right above us in the trees around our deck.  You can periodically hear their rustle in the leaves.  Otherwise, you wouldn’t know who or what is making that subtle rustling until one comes out of the tiniest twig across to the tiny twig in the tree next door.  I remember when they used to sell these monkeys jammed into a teacup in photo ads at the back page of comic books….. just clip this coupon and for $4.95, it’s yours.  My, there has been some progress.

I am somewhat surprised at how few photos I have been interested in taking.  Too static perhaps.  I am reminded of my favorite author’s notes about “Seeing”.  Once one becomes too tied to photos, one sees the world through that lens.  I am trying to maintain a wider field of view.

We have been exploring—jungle communities, human communities, and our own community simply exploring together.

We have been to Costa Rica before separately and together.  Always with good experiences.  Beauty, wonderful people, unbelievably good food.  And in this impermanent world, no COVID here in our base:  the Southwestern town of Uvita.  Nevertheless, the considerate people wear masks indoors and out without regard to whether they are making a statement beyond: “let’s all take care of each other”.  Refreshing.  Somewhat strange to be in this environment consciously aware of the need to wear a mask.  It’s that renewed feeling of strangeness when we first started wearing masks in Marin—“only” about a year ago.

Any nation that refuses to have a standing army is going to approach all aspects of life differently.  And Costa Rica is.  I don’t want to oversell it, but the cleanliness, relative lack of desperate poverty, relative respect for each other and all other cultures, apparent respect for the indigenous people’s cultures, the environment, and more.

Instead on spending money on bullets, the functioning democratic process chose to spend it on education, healthcare, and the environment.  And they are ahead of most places on all fronts.  Costa Rica: the “rich coast”.

Of course, Costa Rica has many and major challenges.  There is poverty.  There is high unemployment.  There is over dependence on tourism.  Like any developing country, infrastructure is weak.  More than a mile off any “major” road and it all becomes ugly.  Our 4-wheel drive completely broke down trying to get up a hill a few days ago.  Stranded in the pouring (warm) rain, trial after trial, no movement.  Notably, the expats all drove on.  Notably, the Costa Ricans did not.  Even a tiny woman on her 4-wheeler quad stopped and tried/wanted to help.

4 drivers tried and none could move the car.  One eagerly called the rental company and negotiated on our behalf toward a solution.  Finally, the manager of the house on top of the mountain came down and lifted us to the house…. Leaving the car sitting in the middle of the single lane road (we did get it as close to the edge as possible).

Four days later we got a new car which is working perfectly.  We were left to stay where we wanted to stay: our house, pool, and wildlife.

Anyway, in the global race to address the challenges faced in one form or another, I believe Costa Rica has a head start.  The kind of leadership that they have had for the last 70 years will make mistakes, will falter, will succumb to fake promises and illusions, but the direction that they have charted, the commitments made, the cultural adoption are all working favorably.

Tomorrow we’re off to the Osa Peninsula, rated by National Geographic as the most diverse biological region on the planet.  5 days there for day and night hikes in the rainforest, kayaking in the coastal flooded areas, and snorkeling after a boat ride to Cano Island.

To get to the Aguila Lodge we have to abandon our car, happily, and take a boat for hours through coastal rainforest, out into the ocean, and jaunt to Drake Bay.  The Aguila Lodge, among other things, has gourmet chefs for every meal.  We’ll enjoy that.

Stay tuned.  Guy & Bunny

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