Wednesday, May 16, 2001

The Land of Flowers

“Un, uh, uno - taza café - noir - uh - negro.” With these halting multi-lingual words, I placed my first ever order in the United States to a waitress who spoke no English. This was at a McDonald’s in Mission Beach, California, where English is kind of like a rumble seat - quaint, but not very useful if you really want to go anywhere.

Another trip, this time to San Diego, La Jolla, Tijuana, Tucson, and other assorted points. Best memories were of the cliffs at La Jolla and the Kielbassa seals lying about fifteen feet away from the wild photographers behind the fence at the Children’s Pool.

I Had no idea which flowers were native, but there are probably more flowers there than I have ever seen anywhere else “ . . bowers of flowers . . . bloom in the smog. . . ”.

At the beach, above it really, $15 breakfast problems now were blown away on salt-scented breezes. Memories become bent, and distort into shapes that belong to another world. Clouds come off the ocean, teasing and imploring the Torrey pines which already seem crossing from land to sky, ready to be the first tree to fly, waving their great cumulo canopy of rising needles and only one slender, twisted foot still tenuously reaching to touch the earth.

The zoo was good, and it wears on one, although I confess I felt very sorry for the animals. I know some of them keep their species alive only in zoos, nonetheless. it is a repository of just bodies. How can one live in a world with no sense of discovery, challenge, curiosity, or mystery? Can a soul survive without mystery? And in a world without decay there is not even that hope of final escape. (You just become – nothing? ) Then, what about the morphological impact? What kind of kinks are being twisted into the habits of the universe? Here is an area for Sheldrake to study.

Best exhibit? Polar bears; next, the gorillas; third, the pandas. All three of these had significant protection against the constant man-made noise that overwhelms the zoo.

Worst thing about the zoo? The noise. Weedeaters, lawnmowers, blowers, kids shrieking, prams squeaking, interstate traffic drumming and pulsating, horns, sirens, telephones ringing, back-up beepers all constantly sounding while hamburger wrappers and cellophane bags swirl past the bewildered animals.

There are lots of surfers and kayakers in San Diego and La Jolla; everywhere you look people are drifting by - like the fast-food wrappers at the zoo. I stopped at the Torrey Pines Glider Club to watch people flying parasails and hang gliders, all at very close ranges. They and the torrey pines seem to sum the entire message of California: “Why Stay Rooted?” Problem is, once airborne, there is nowhere to go - you leave California, you get back in the muck - so there’s a lot of hovering going on out there.

Copyright John Womack, 2001, All rights reserved.


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