An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of August 14, 2011
Written at 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

ON THE MEREST HINTS
OF SCENTS & HUES

What a curious thing to be on a tropical beach during the rainy season with vegetation maximally rank and green and the ocean eternally churning and spawning howling squalls, and sometimes have the merest hint of a scent or hue of something stun me with nostalgic feelings reminding me of Augusty woods and fields of my childhood rural Kentucky.

Yellow butterflies among salt-sprayed Seagrapes yank me back half a century to August goldenrods along country roads; Cicadas droning in mangroves evoke the same feeling as cicadas in bottomland swamps once did; this great, swirling, turbulent ocean imparts feelings like those I used to feel beside big, lustily photosynthesizing, whirlwind-swept cornfields.

The mental states I'm talking about aren't merely pleasant memories or yearnings to return, but rather instances of my internal world being thrown into a low-gear, deeply plowing, sweet-feeling meditative mood. Why is it happening?

Here's my theory: It's happening because as we age we lose sight of basic truths clearly seen and understood when we were younger -- truths such as the importance of family and local community, the beauty of simple pleasures, healthily functioning ecosystems, and of things simply being themselves.

Thus, given the merest cue, we are programmed to recall truths and beauties of which we were vividly aware as kids. Fragrances of certain flowers, mockingbirds singing at dawn, the roar of waves breaking on a distant reef -- all help us recover that clarity of mind and intent we once enjoyed. Facebook Icon.