An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of August 7, 2011
issued from Mayan Beach Garden Inn 20 km north of Mahahual
on the Yucatán Peninsula's eastern coast just north of the Belize border,
in the state of Quintana Roo, MÉXICO

TENTING

The other night I pegged my tent on the beach not far from the northern rocky point, about ten feet in from the waves. As I put the tent together, stiff wind off the water kept ballooning it out, dragging me into a downwind Icaco bush. Pegs stuck in the loose sand hardly held at all. Weighing down the tent's corners with driftwood, eventually it got built.

The moment I pulled myself inside the tent I knew it'd been worth the effort. Here in the tropics it's hard to ever feel "snug," but sitting cross-legged gazing through the netting of the tent's entrance, a wave of peaceful snugness swept over me.

It was dusk and out over the Caribbean seven well defined thunderheads lined up on the horizon, all drifting shoreward, and most with lightning flashing below them. Waves broke right before me, white foam rushing up to the door. The tent's nylon sides flapped explosively in roaring wind. Cozily cocooned inside the tent, the world around me seemed to tingle with a sense of anxious expectation.

Once it got dark, the fast-cooling air flickering with electricity, I laid back on the tent floor. Sand beneath the floor was hot from a whole day's glaring sunshine. As dark, chill, wet air washed around and through the tent, my body seemed to float atop a solid, glowing bed of shimmering warmth.

Suspended between the air's chill, impersonal commotion and the Earth's own warm, nurturing radiations I reflected that the sand's heat was stored-up solar energy, yes, but also the seven approaching storms similarly were packets of solar energy poetically releasing their energy as rushing air, rain and lightning.

In fact, there inside the tent between two dancing vocabularies of energy transfer, it grew clear that I myself was a transient expression conjured by something aiming to facilitate energy flow: For me, it's food-energy in, then that energy is lost during thinking, feeling and moving.

These very thoughts you're reading, then, are my own lightning, my own upward billowing cumuli, my own shimmering warmth.

At dawn the next morning, cross-legged facing the sea with its towering columnar cumuli red-edged with the sun behind them, all around me crabs confidently and unthinkingly returned to their holes in wet sand. But, I had to consciously compose and analyze the illusion of a man with a tent needing to be vacated, before I could get up and do just that. Facebook Icon.