An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of December 24, 2007
Written at Yerba Buena and issued from
nearby Pueblo Nuevo Solistahuacan, Chiapas, MÉXICO

CLOUDS IN THE VALLEY

clouds in the valley

Most mornings nowadays when I jog at dawn a cloud layer fills the valley below me, to the west, as shown above.

Often as I run I remember how fogs and clouds have imprinted their moods on many other mornings of my life. For example, this time last year in Querétaro's Jalpan Valley, each morning thick clouds clogged up the valley so that sunlight bathed the highlands all around while we on the valley floor spent our mornings in chilly somberness beneath a dark, low-overcast sky. Back in the Yucatan often my breakfast campfires took place in thick fog as Turquoise-browed Motmots owhh-owhh-owhhed melancholically from niches among the hurricane-ravaged ruins.

So, this year once again I have a valley that clogs up with clouds, as back in Jalpan, but this time I'm above the clouds. As soon as the sun pops over the eastern ridge the sky grows painfully blue and the sunlight shows itself as crystalline and pure. On chilly mornings it's quite enough to just sit in the sunlight warming and looking around!

Here, sometimes as I run, feasting my eyes on the cloud-clogged valley below, I wonder how many people have been born, lived all their lives, and died in that valley, leaving this Earth convinced that mornings are typically cold and dreary, and that warmth and cheery light are strictly half-day phenomena?

The same question can be applied to people who have always lived just one kind of life above, below or inside metaphorical clouds. Often as I run I remember all the times in my own life when I myself almost got stranded below, above or inside clouds.

All this leads to the thought that, in the end, we can choose where we want to live with regard to our local clouds. Moreover, to me it's clear that the vast majority of us do need to relocate. Especially for the sake of Life on Earth we need to move from consumption-focused habits to simpler, more sustainable lifestyles.

I began my "New Year" on the Winter Solstice last Saturday, the 22nd. As I write this I am still imbued with an exciting sense of starting over yet again.

During this upcoming new year, I tell myself, I shall be even simpler than last year. I shall aspire to being the least materialistic of all people I know. I want to be like water seeping into the Earth. Now that I've lived below the cloud, inside the cloud and above the cloud, I aspire to be the cloud itself, to dissipate as the sun rises over the eastern ridge.

I'm not intimating that I'm about to leave this world. Remember that water seeping into the Earth enlivens land downslope; clouds dissipating into thin air charge that air with life-giving moisture.

When one withdraws from the physical world of needs and wants, one blossoms into another world entirely. Facebook Icon.