"Crystal Waters": A Meditation
I might not finish this piece tonight. It’s hot, really hot, and the wind is rising outside with the rising storm. There’s a squall line of sorts on the way, and the TV weatherman was talking about penny-sized hail. It may not be wise to leave my computer on.
It’s a pity, because I want to think some more about the song. It’s by a friend, an excellent musician active on the Tallahassee folk/old-time scene. He’s a funny guy, whose humor belies his intelligence, and his witty lyrics have made me laugh out loud more than once. But this song wasn’t like that. It just told the truth.
It wasn’t my truth, exactly—Craig’s a Florida boy from the get-go (as we say here in the South) and I’m a transplanted Canadian, so when he was learning to eat mullet fresh from the Gulf, I was chowing down on pickerel from Lake Superior. But the wind-twisted pines of Lake Huron and the aromatic Jack Pines of the Haliburton Highlands have their cousins at Destin and Navarre and Fort Walton Beach--cousins that fringe the Gulf like a living green tassel wherever that famous pure-white Pensacola sugar sand—so curiously squeaky under your burning bare feet as you trudge, tote bag and folding chair underarm, toward the tidal zone—gives way to the forest or the swamp.
So what he sings still sounds sympathetic tones in my heart. Like me, he’s burned his share of imported gasoline, zipping around to and from classes that had to be taught, shopping lists that had to be fulfilled, jobs that needed to be done, even hikes and beach outings and canoe trips needed to bring little pieces of the soul back from the wild, like postcards. We’ve fired up guitar amps and stereos and microwaves and electric lights and vacuum cleaners and room heaters and power saws.
We’ve lived normal lives, more or less. And neither of us is beating ourselves up; the choices we made were limited in significant ways. A person does what he or she must, and few of us transcend the “musts” too much.
But I’m sitting here in my old shorts and a pair of disreputable slip-ons and not much else but a light film of perspiration, wondering: how much of this heat belongs to me, personally? There’s no telling really—everything you could calculate would depend on multiple assumptions.
Say I’ve put about 70,000 miles on my current car: that would be about 2,800 gallons. Each gallon weighs about 6.3 pounds, according to www.fueleconomy.gov, and produces, when burned, about 20 pounds of CO2—since most of the mass of the CO2 comes from the oxygen in the air. So that would be 28 tons of CO2 I’ve put into the atmosphere in order to get where I needed to be over the last few years.
Figuring the other way, the Department of Energy says that’s about 1400 barrels of oil, or a bit more than a fiftieth of what the Deepwater Horizon leak is thought to be putting into the Gulf daily. But clearly that’s just the beginning.
Already I’m tired of this exercise, and I think I hear some distant thunder over the drone of the insects. I want to go out into the cooler air and see about the storm. I guess I like to see what’s coming. So does Craig.
So here’s his song.
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