Being born

He not busy being born is busy dying…

It’s that time of year again. Swamp-like humidity in the morning, burning off in just a few hours. Sticky yellow residue of sex everywhere, gumming up wiper-blades and making it hard to see. My car needs a shower, it’s getting really funky.

But then there’s the green. A thousand shades of it, bursting out everywhere. There’s something special about this time of year, because the black trunks are still visible behind the subtle shades now decorating the spidery network of trees. I accept myself as a metaphor-making creature, and I’ve been thinking about how the color of this state is truly green, in every sense of the word. It’s a big change from where I’m from.

The dominant color of the Great Central Valley of California is brown. Green occurs in the patchwork fields, since most of the fruits and vegetables for the country come from there, but it’s mostly monolithic, non-variegated patches of a single cash crop in the fields that can afford to pay for the water it takes to grow them. What sticks out in my mind are those empty fields, the stretches of brown sandy dirt, seldom impeded by a stone put there by nature. Instead, the fixtures are concrete, and often covered with fading graffiti. And the people turn brown too, as they work in those fields. It is truly a land of dirt, dust, and brown. Infinitely variable shades, really. It takes a long time to become acclimated to them, and to develop a language akin to an arctic tribe, that need not really have a thousand words for snow, but instead endless variants of modifiers and types to describe the state of the snow. In California, what matters most is the state of the dirt, not the individual crops placed in it; most of what grows is not wild, but transplanted from somewhere else. When plants are transplanted, there is often a shock, and leaves turn brown.

I now live in a land of somewhere else. It’s green. It’s green with envy, as one of the poorest states in the union. It’s green with naiveté, as they still fight the civil war over race issues oblivious to the fact that one day they, like the rest of the country, are likely to be overcome by brown. But it’s also green with brilliant underbrush, in a million shades, covering the blackened underside of trees that once rooted in the brutal clay soil, refuse to give way. Every spring, the green comes back. It seems so miraculous, so beautiful, and above all, so wet.

Aristotle wanted to blame everything on moisture. Moisture, however, is where life springs from. I like living in a wet world; I don’t mind taking a shower to wash off the residue from time to time. While you’re being born, it’s bound to get messy. It just seems, well, natural. Ah, I get it now, that’s why they call Arkansas the natural state.

1 thought on “Being born”

  1. I surfed into your blog, and I wanted you to know that I really enjoyed today’s entry. Your imagery is very rich and poignant. I will have to make your blog one of my regular reads!
    wow that was bloody brilliant!

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