Tropical Cancer—Moonlit Nights, Silent Days and Zippers

Moonlit Nights, Silent Days and Zippers


An unfinished parody of the song Misty.


Look at this
It’s as soggy as a mitten in iced tea
and I feel like I’m clinging to a mold.
I can’t understand,
It gets musty just being around.


“…it was the age of foolishness…”


I didn’t see moonlit clouds in the US very often. Forget about Los Angeles. San Francisco was mostly foggy, and Silicon Valley was not unlike Los Angeles for any cloud in general—that is to say, those places have a whitewashed, nondescript and what I’d call a generic look. Blasé, if you will. New York City was the best place for moonlit clouds. When you’re perched atop a 30-story apartment building the sky is a gorgeous sight. As I sat on my deck one night transfixed by the crescent of a quarter moon I wondered what Calcutta would look like under such skies. Then I wondered why I wondered that.

We’ve had moonlit nights with soft music in the background. We’ve danced a little, and performed kabuki on the crawling mist. We’ve watched our variegated green, golden-lit-between-steamy-shafts-of-tropical-mist landscape change before our eyes while sipping lattes over a breakfast of fresh eggs, pineapple and toast. There’s been quiet daybreaks, each one with a new face on it. I slide open the tarp in the morning and breathe it all in as if for the first time—hoping I won’t wake up from this dream and have to go to work.

We have new friends in our life committed to making our community a fun, happy place. Helpful people who pull us out of the mud when necessary, or take us by the hand into the bank in order to be told we don’t have the necessary papers for whatever it was we intended to do. There’s parties, dancing and poker nights. There’s sharing of washing machines and showers for those of us who run out of water.  The coffee is ridiculously delicious, the Ticos are gracious, beautiful people and there’s a political common sense in Costa Rica you won’t find in the US.

All that considered, I was happy to let Babe suck a wasp nest into a vacuum cleaner in order to make the temporary inconvenience of “luxury camping” more palatable.

There are days of silent testimony to the power of the jungle. As the tropical mist rises, the low clouds slide overhead like a lid on a pressure cooker. There’s a slight breeze and the sun is hot. No bugs are squeaking, clacking, buzzing, clicking or otherwise whining this morning. The monkeys are on a banana break. The birds drift on noiseless auto-pilot. If a butterfly flew by I’d have to tell it to shut the hell up. The fans are off, as is the air conditioner which sits outside the canvas tent on a shaky step ladder. There’s no background music playing to the subtle dance of the elements. Even the refrigerator and ice maker stand mute.

It’s so quiet you could hear a snake drop.

One of our cats pads across the deck and I ask her to Keep it down, willya. I think I hear leaves sprouting on the hibiscus. She looks at me as if to say the feline equivalent of Blow me and keeps walking.

All this can only mean one thing: the power is out, again. Were it not for the fact we have a propane stove I might be tweaked in a negative way about this, but I can still make coffee so it’s alright. It’s even welcome, in a way. The silence goes with the landscape like tapa dulce to my java. It makes me feel metaphysical, though no life-shattering cognitions come to mind. Perhaps that’s the point of silence—to not have any thoughts whatsoever, but to simply Be in the present.

I can do that, but I gotta have coffee nearby.

Dear Lord, I prayed, would it be possible to have power and water on the same day?

More silence for answer. I stifle a sigh when I realize I’ve left my butts in the screened tent. No big deal for an ordinary citizen who doesn’t live inside polyester, plastic and canvas but it means I have to squat to the floor to unzip the tent, squat again to zip it up, grab my lighter, squat to unzip, then squat again to zip up. It’s the bugs, of course, who make me do this. Sometimes I can’t help thinking that, in the final analysis, the bugs win the battles and the writing’s on the wall as to who will lose this war. Frodo Was Eaten Here.

The days start by climbing out of the tent. Squat/zip open screen door, step outside, squat/zip close screen door. Damn, I forgot to let Lucy out. Squat/zip open screen, squat/zip close screen. Squat/zip, let cat out. Squat/zip open screen, squat/zip close screen. It’s a little chilly this morning. Squat/zip open bedroom tent, squat/zip close bedroom tent. Grab shirt. Squat/zip open bedroom tent, squat/zip close bedroom tent. It’s no wonder my back is tight.

Where the hell are my butts? All I have is my lighter—the butts are still in the screen room of the other tent. Squat/zip, squat/zip. Grab butts. Squat/zip, squat/zip. Fucking bugs are making my back stiff and laughing at me from the rafters. Bastards. I grab my racquetball racquet, sit in the lounger, and wait. Sooner or later a waspy thing will hover too close and I’ll ping the shit out of it. I smile and chuckle. The last one went clear down to the next lot.

Ping! Ha-ha-ha! Beat the crap out of him with a backhand winner. Pura vida this, bug-holio!

…teach that sucker NYC hombres ain’t to be trifled with…

At the four month mark most of our clothes need to be replaced. If there’s not clay stains, or food stains from eating in a lounge chair rather than a proper table, then there’s mold. Even the cats are getting moldy (I tell them to keep moving). Holding up a pair of fuzzy green pants that should be white, I tell Babe: “It’s just stuff,” all of it replaceable. She Hmms.

Beats workin’! Don’t go there. Concentrate on the good stuff. The view from our property, for one thing. A steaming cuppa joe over-looking the Pacific and the unbelievable wildlife all around us. I should drag out the laptop and make a list.

Squat/zip open screen tent, squat/zip close. Grab laptop. Squat/zip open, squat/zip close. Fuck, I forgot my glasses. Squat/zip open, squat/zip close, grab glasses, squat/zip open, squat/zip close. The call of the six-foot zipper pierces the heavy stillness. Toucans are becoming annoyed.

Where the fuck’s my coffee? Augh! Squat/zip open…


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