I long to reach
out and know the texture of cloud, aware it would be the hazy kiss of
fog – but frigid – yet wanting it to be something more. In
my youth I often soared up here in moonlit fantasy, perched on the rim
of the watertower at the edge of fields near our neighborhood, the cool
night air of Venezuela full of the promise of flight and the possibilities
of imagination. As with this current passage, I was not, in my adolescent
reverie, buffeted by icy wind, but part of wind, surfing it and creating
it with my motion, a coccoon of calm wrapped around me, formed and released
continually. I commune now as much with those distant dreams as with the
present reality just outside my window.
It occurs to me to think on how all this “cloud” came to
be up here. I have struggled with the numbers, that these visions of translucent
solidity represent many tons of water. Water. Which lies heavy on the
land, sinuously seeking that common lower level it itself has defined
by the shorelines of its dominating oceans, themselves fully water down
to miles of crushing depth, where the weight of that water would implode
our frail bodies. We who are mostly water, and count ourselves heavy.
Yet here, an equal distance above that equilibrium plane of ocean surface
as the deepest depths are below, are tons of water, floating around. In
Perhaps “rock”, if I may be allowed such a dismissively catch-all word, is the prevalent material of this planet, with “air” second over still-abundant “water” (at least as measured by volume). But the fourth mass is also the first to transcend that elusive, defining boundary of “life”. That being plants. Only a third of this orb is dry rock, and even some of that is again covered by frozen water. But of that which is not, save for some admittedly enormous deserts, almost all is covered by plants. Below me, patterns of green and yellow lie like paint upon the forms of red and brown and yellow earth. Whether “flat” grasslands or soaring jungle, plants are everywhere, as crowded together as their design permits. The more I look, the more I realize just how much “plant” is out there.