Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Go. Go and See.


Go and see.

I went to see the redwoods.

I saw them before, of course, as a boy. In photographs, and on the television. Ancient men standing at the foot of an even more ancient tree, the men ten abreast and still not able to span the tree’s diameter.
And then I went.

And I took pictures, but they are wasted. My memories of the trees – their vastness, their quiet; the banana slugs hanging like poo on the brush at their feet – fades. I will look at the pictures I took and know that I was once there, standing at their feet.

Photos do not do them justice.

I had to see them with my eyes. Feel their bark and stand in their shadows and stare up at them as the sun filtered through the thin smoke from nearby wildfires. Perhaps they, too, would burn and I, explorer by right of presence there with eyes to see, would be the last to see them alive.

And yet.

A month after the visit, a grand cataclysm. Fire brought by drought, and many of the trees I saw died.

So I came to Iapetus.

I was a lad when Pluto went from a point of light in patient Clyde Tombaugh’s photographs to a worldlet filled with glaciers and mountains and canyons and cliffs and dunes and drifting atmospheres of nitrogen.

I saw the photographs and knew I could not appreciate Pluto unless I visited.

Iapetus, perhaps, a stop on the outward-bound journey, to test my mettle. And the Carcassonne Montes are as appealing as the Cthulhu Regio in its blackness on the verge of Pluto’s white heart.
Go. Go and see.

If I were to be remembered by any words, it would be those four.

Sally is riding in her little green car.
Dick is following Sally in his red wagon.
Jane is following Sally and Dick on her tricycle.
Where will they go? What will they see?

An ancestor, a Dutch farmer, traveled in an automobile for the first time, shortly after the end of World War II. He went a mere twenty miles from home and declared “I never knew the world was so big.”

And I understand him.

The trees thrust from the earth and anchor to it as they seem to wish to reach the stars blazing above and to stretch taller in order to see what lies beyond the horizon. Some trees cast branches, themselves even, to the ground and the waves take them into the ocean and they bleach and lose their leaves and bark but they explore the ocean and wash up on some distant beach to collect with the other driftwood where crabs clamber and dogs sniff and chase after the dead-playing seagulls. And children from the mountains frolic in the waves and collect rocks that were once on the cliff-side or the bottom of the sea and, too, have come exploring.

Even the jellyfish, washed up on the shore to be buried in the sand, with their dying twitches exclaim “I have left the water and touched dry land!”

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