Part of the pleasantness of this season in the Yucatan is that in early morning everything is covered with dew. Most mornings are cloudless, so during the days' first hours herbage everywhere sparkles, each dewdrop a prism potentially turning ruby, silver, gold, jade, or amethyst, depending on the vagaries of breezes. The air itself smells utterly fresh, with mingling undertones of crushed herbage and moist earth, and breathing it in, the nostrils tense with chill. Snag a foot on a vine twining into an overhanging tree limb, and you get a friendly cold shower.

Another very agreeable feature of these first days after the Winter Solstice is that while orange-picking season is ending, tangerines are reaching their peak of lusciousness. What a pleasure seeing the fruits' perfectly ripe, grainy-green husks tinged with orange hanging among shadowy leaves, and to pick whichever fruit you want. With knowingly applied thumbs and fingers the husks almost pop off, but if you're clumsy then juice squirts out, but that's OK, because glistening streaks of sweet orangeness arcing through the morning air is something good to see. And then the tang of the tangerine's juice, both sweet and acid, and the absolute freedom to have another, and another...

Both morning dew and tangerines, then, are accompanied by specifically configured constellations of natural things, events, situations, and feelings and thoughts. So, what happens if on a certain dewy morning -- purposefully and with the intention of being like an artist blending colors to come up with something new, more complex, textured and nuanced than the two begining elements -- we enter the citrus orchard, pick and eat a dew-covered tangerine?

Here's what I'm getting at: With regard to finding joy and fulfillment in the world of reality, which is Nature, Nature Herself does most of the work by providing near-infinite pleasing things to experience, think about and have feelings for. Yet, we can know and feel even more exquisitely by consciously and systematically using our minds to have ideas on how to blend or at least juxtapose the things of Nature into ever more gratifying experiences.

For example, this essay is called "Dew Tangerine." But what if its title had been "Tangerine Dew?" Something in the English-speaking brain feels more comfortable with "Tangerine Dew than with "Dew Tangerine." "Tangerine Dew" implies a close relationship between a tangerine and its dew, but our minds don't know what to do with "Dew Tangerine," since it's hard to see how dew can be much affected by or have much to do with tangerines.

Naming the essay "Tangerine Dew" would have been the conservative approach, the title most comfortably easing into people's preexisting, tested and proven mental pathways. But, "Dew Tangerine" obliges the mind to search for obscure relationships and, finding none very obvious, to invent them, and experiment with new concepts involving dew and tangerines. I believe that by participating in such an artistic process, we ourselves grow in flexibility, perceptiveness and general magnanimity.

And I wonder: Isn't the spirit of "Dew Tangerine" as opposed to "Tangerine Dew" the same spirit with which the Universal Creative Impulse evolves forward the Universe itself, and its more interesting subsets such as Life on Earth? Begin with one thing, then fracture and evolve the ever increasing number of parts toward ever more gorgeous and meaningful diversity, interrelatedness of parts, and always with a general trend toward more profound feeling and awareness?