An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of January 28, 2008
Written at Yerba Buena and issued from a ciber in
Pueblo Nuevo Solistahuacan, Chiapas, MÉXICO

SAVORING THE SENSE OF LEAVING

I've decided to leave Yerba Buena. As soon as this newsletter is issued on Monday I'm strapping on my backpack, catching a bus, and the next newsletter will begin at that point.

Knowing that I'm leaving, this week everything around me has brightened, sharpened, quickened with the fact of my pending departure. It's astonishing how quickly one grows accustomed to hearing Tzotzil drifting through the forest, and the Brown-backed Solitaire's bubbling, mellifluous, haunting song accompanying me each dawn as I jog, and finding a new orchid blossoming in a tree next to my dwelling. How I'll miss these things!

I've left Yerba Buena after long stays before, so I know what it's like. In times past, within half an hour of entering the bus I was already so far downslope that instead of the cool, pine-scented air I'd grown used to gushing through bus windows, it'd be hot, heavy, wet air smelling of diesel, rotting fruit, mud and pig manure. Despite all of Yerba Buena's problems, it's always felt as if I were leaving behind a kind of Shangri-La glimmering high in the sky.

So, consciously I've been savoring these last days. As I walk from town one of the young, free-roaming horses permanently living along the road passes me and apparently just because he feels so good he starts galloping, bucking and kicking out his hind legs. Nothing less than a Universal-Creative-Force chuckle, this! A dirty-faced little Tzotzil kid wearing nothing but a Tweety-Pie T-shirt grins broadly from his hut's door and waves, as he always does, and I'll miss that kid. How prettily the clouds tumble over the ridge where the cloudforest is, and how I'd like to be up there right now as cloud-fog billows among big tree trunks, and gleaming dewdrops coalesce on bromeliad blades.

It's too bad we all don't have our senses perpetually sharpened by such a sense of leaving, all the time. For, we are all leaving, whether we admit it or not. Relative to "eternity," we're all here for a moment less remarkable than an eye-blink. We are all ephemeral, all in passing, everything is slipping away. The potted plant in the window merits our passionate attention and affection right now. And the world beyond that window, even more.

A butterfly flits by, as butterflies have flitted by every day since I've been here, but now each of its wingbeats detonates sparks of being alive right before my eyes, right there, right now, and when it passes it leaves behind in mid-air a trail of poignant being-gone, good-by and I stand there dumbly looking after it, missing it mightily.

I hold my hand out, leathery red skin, wrinkles, blue veins, brown blotches but the forest beyond is green and wind blows through the boughs, so much life there, so much promise.

Yellow pagodas of male flowers dangle from oaks and pines almost more alive than I can stand. Facebook Icon.