Wednesday, September 16, 2015

How It May Be We Arrived

Sunset over the field of tulips.
Animate flesh-eating corpses aside, skeletons riding giant spiders aside... this island is not a wholly unwelcome experience, I must admit. It's quiet, untamed and natural. All my needs are provided for.

I would rather great tracts of land about me, the better to stretch my legs in a healthful exertion. Half of the island is a sand bar, the other half is good loam for my garden and some several trees. There is also a variety of Dutch tulips, if I'm not mistaken, displaying a palette of gentle hues. Their mere presence is calming and even cheering, but it is of late my practice to perch beside my palisade and watch the sun go down beyond the ocean, aligned with my field of flowers. It truly is a sublime luxury, not gotten with gold or labor—it's simply there. It always was.

It's interesting to note that one end of the island is home to large oak trees, while the other end seems to harbor some thriving birch. I wonder which came here first, and upon what vesper their seeds were borne? Was it the labor of some diligent swallow, to carry the seeds in some desperate pitch across the ocean, to this small speck of an island it could not (outside of unknowable animalistic intuition) have been aware? The coincidences are too great. I reckon it likelier the seeds have simply drifted across the vast, featureless expanse of the ocean and, with decades and decades to play itself out, happened to wander close enough to the soil to take root.

That's what I think, as I stare at the trees. I've planted a few myself, mind you. I have an steel ax now, to replace my stone ax, which was an upgrade from my original wooden ax. Yet initially I tore my first tree apart with my bare hands, another astounding trait to this realm: one may punch a tree with unguarded knuckles and strip it down to its components. Thrashing about the leaves yields the seeds of the tree and, rarely, in the case of the oaks, may produce an apple. I'm always sure to plant the seeds I find—however, rather than Nature's designation, I measure and regulate the spaces between the trees, to maximize wood production vs. limited terrain. And within a day, hey presto: a new tree emerges, wholly formed.

This concerns me, for what it says about the physics of this realm. Water to grow the tree is never exhausted; the nutrients remain in the soil to nurture a seemingly endless chain of trees; yet with each iteration and with no diminished resources, I'm producing quantities of wood. Matter out of nothing, and a practically inexhaustible supply of it. Given time and inclination, could I not build another island entirely out of wood? I could cover this in soil as well, start a larger garden and a larger tree farm, and there would be nothing to stop me from continuing to construct this flotilla all the way to another island or, God willing, a continent. And if I never find one, why, I'll have made my own.

What I wouldn't do for a cup of tea right now.

Now I listen to my leathern shoes crunch over the sand, and now I hear them thud against the soil. Once again I stroll the perimeter of my curtilage, here a small hike up a hillock, there a sloping decline nearly to the water's level itself. There are no waves and no gulls, none of the usual sounds one expects at the end of the world. I'm relieved to be aware of this cognitive disconnect, to stand on the shore and have my body physically jarred by the absence of the surf's dull roar or the cries of those hovering scavengers I now rather miss. I pick up a rock, hurl it as far out as I may, and the water dutifully gulps it down with a polite splash.

If the author hasn't named his home island,
how much likelier is he to name his food?
The cows low behind me, the sheep bleat, the pigs snuffle and grunt, the chickens cluck. My fence largely pens them in, though occasionally I spy a hen paddling in the ocean, staring at me with dull incomprehension. I'm sure I have no answers for it. As the water shimmers before me and the sand gives around my heels, I have to wonder how, too, the animals made it here. The chickens have already displayed their propensity for wading, and I know the bovine, ovine and porcine swimmers can manage for a while.

Inasmuch as I can read animal expressions, they seem unphased. They plod to and fro, as though it were completely natural to have less than one hectare to explore. Their food is inexhaustible, it seems, and they tolerate the rains well enough, so I suppose they have few cares in this world. That is, mainly they wander around in search of a fresh piece of turf, but once in a while they huddle by the gate. They've seen me come in through it, and they've seen me leave by it, and they too seem to want their return to the island at large, but I really can't have the last mate of a species go drifting off the island. It does cause me a pang of a little guilt, I admit. Space is so dear on this island, and I've confined them to a quarter of their former ambit, solely for my own convenience in harvesting their wool or milk or even to bereave them of their meat and leather.

I suppose everyone needs someone to look down upon. Even as I feel sorry for myself, isolated, cast aside from anything reasonable or familiar, I have still these wretched creatures dumbly awaiting their demise in that crude corral. That should make me less a pitiable figure and more one to be held in contempt, but in light of sensational events, I question whether there is still a Maker in the sky to judge me or anyone, if anyone else there still be.

No comments:

Post a Comment