An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of September 10, 2017
Issued from Rancho Regenesis near Ek Balam ruins 20kms north of Valladolid, Yucat√°n, Mexico

THE RADIO DIES

This week my little shortwave radio irretrievably broke. It's not a great loss, since shortwave programming has declined to near irrelevancy, the important stations of earlier years having yielded to the Internet and cellular phones.

Detaching from the world's news flow is like it was back in 1967 or so when I became a vegetarian. Back then, at first I felt a great vacuum, terribly missing the husky flavors and odors of cooked flesh, and the tactile experience of taking it into my body. For a couple of weeks I felt a little stunned, or numbed, as if an important part of myself had been hacked away.

But then my taste buds, no longer overwhelmed by steamroller stimuli, became sensitized to a rainbow of new, more complex and subtle sensations. Carrots -- earlier tasting like cardboard to me -- now filled my mouth with a kind of taste musicality. In baking cornbread I could smell green cornfields at tasseling time, and in a glass of milk there was a friendly cow's buttery, ruminative breath on a summer day.

It's not enough to say that I exchanged static and half-heard words for birdsong and the soughing of wind in tree leaves around the hut. George Washington Carver expressed it nicely when he said:

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.

Nowadays Nature broadcasts to me most eloquently in terms of Her lush, irrepressible greenness. Besides the fact that green is simply a peaceful, companionable color, there's the almighty fact that Nature's green is the color of photosynthesis. It's the color of the majesty of sunlight energy being stored for use by Life on Earth, with breathable oxygen as a byproduct.

I receive this message in its green envelope the very moment I peek through the hut's door each morning, and then I take time to sit and reflect on the matter. For example, how about the fact that having a planetary biosphere running on photosynthetic energy, with green plants at the bottom of the ecological pyramid and final consumers at the top, is both an incredibly ingenious way of doing things, and also utterly beautiful?

So, this morning I was thinking such thoughts instead of hearing about Trump's most recent tweet, or the latest environmental or social disaster. But that's not the final point to be made about losing the services of my shortwave radio this week.

The final point is that I feel better when each day the messages I'm receiving are nurturing ones, and not otherwise. And I figure I'm more in harmony with, and helpful to, the evolving Universe when I'm feeling good, than bad.

When I bike into Ek Balam to connect with the Internet and charge my computer batteries, I do check the NPR and BBC websites for a quick review of things, and that's plenty enough, a kind of Middle Path.