Posted by: floridanature | March 17, 2009

River Satori: Rising With the Rocketship Into the Night

And so by late afternoon, I am driving out to a marina-restaurant at the edge of the St. Johns River. Whole idea of doing so came up from the very best of moments—of hanging a bit in Yvette’s book store in downtown Sanford, chatting, and just kicking back. Slow on Sundays, but gorgeous outside, so why not head out for a place where the outdoors can be more fully realized?

Could have launched some kayaks, I guess, or ridden in some fiberglass boat with a big motor on the back, but what, after all, is the point? (The first option has a point; the second has none for me at all except a cheap gut thrill).

And now here we are, at the Gator Landing restaurant, on the top deck that sits out a bit over the river. The sun is settling lower now, nature kicking back a bit her own self. Lots of folks in the big old lower deck a bit down from us, listening to music, and numbing themselves in a satisfactory sort of way.

Funny, but I have always felt good just hanging out with Yvette, not even doing stuff that requires great pretense (good thing, cuz neither of us are up for it). And now, the hanging-out part takes on a whole new meaning. It becomes realized. Yvette’s one of the funniest women I know; and at the same time, one of the least pretentious. And also, yeah, quite beautiful, with a smile that can tilt a horizon. In the best of ways.

We’re sitting at a picnic table at the end of the deck, and a waitress soon arrives and we order essentials, and she brings them to us. The sun is now lower in the sky, close to the horizon, and we are facing upstream on Billy Bartram’s old grand and noble San Juan. Although we are kicking back, my friend is also comforting me because she knows my heart is big, and right now, it hurts. She is very wise about what she says, because her knowledge comes from her heart. And it’s a big heart, one that like all big hearts, has been fully tested by the world.

It’s a marsh here, a big, generous savanna full of room for light to be absorbed by the landscape. And did you know that light is like love? It is not of itself, but can only reflect and absorb. And that, in a tiny little shell, is what all the philosophers have ever told me.

But there is also this from an old Greek: ‘Always Flowing’. He meant that as rivers go, they are metaphors for life. And so what flows next is a coming of a marsh twilight. And then, from around the corner of the marina/restaurant, the arrival of an exceptionally good woman I once knew and loved with a guy I don’t.

They walk up onto the deck, sit across from us, and the entire wooden platform seems to shift a bit. Am wondering if it’s from the uncertain nature of the moment, newly arrived. We chat, in an amiable, superficial way,and that’s that. But of course, real life is never that simple, and a deeply forged love may wane like the moon itself, but—unaccountably—it may also wax, sometimes without adequate warning. For now, all I am sure of is that  the fine new moon overhead is on the wane, and seriously so.

And soon there is some commotion, and people move about. And Yvette is telling me a wonderful story about “transcending the bullshit”. As she does, the Space Shuttle launches itself from the great majestic marsh around us and begins its climb into the sky. I’m not sure the human heart can fully process such moments, and so, we look on in wonder and awe.

A little girl, maybe six, still in a dress she may have worn to church, stands up next to us on the end of the wooden picnic table, and raises her hands towards the light that comes out of the earth, headed into the heavens. And she says to the rising light and the people inside of it:

“I love you, I love you. Come home safely. Please, come home safely.” What she has said is not unlike what my good friend next to me on the bench has wished.

And now, I understand that—like the little girl standing next to us and confessing her love to a golden plume in the twilight sky— that keeping those little primal truths alive takes a courage that embraces all the possible imaginings in the world.

And so it was an evening unplanned, in a place where the earth unfolded to allow a flash of itself to reach upward, and then dissolve into the sky. And finally, to become a star in the early night.



  1. Breathtaking.

    believe in the river . . .

  2. Thanks, Lydia. Yea, but the river and its marsh and swamps are always full of surprises for me. Mostly primal ones—but in this case the blend of future and past was wondrous.

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