Friday, August 12, 2005

A day of wild contrasts in the city in the trees

Yesterday was indeed a day marked by a broad range in the little enjoyments to be had at this time in history and this place in the world.

At lunch time, I decided to take a quick jaunt to a wilderness park not far from work. On arrival, I changed into light clothing and set forth on one of those barefooted forest hikes of which I'm fond. In the course of it, I came upon a lovely, inviting spot. For a quarter of an hour, I sat on the cool, moist forest floor, cross-legged and naked, nestled in the embrace of the upturned roots of a fallen giant, staring up through the leaves and branches as the sky, eternal and dispassionate, rolled above me with the most magnificent calm. The warm breeze brushed over my body, scented with pine, and evocative of Christmas morn.

Half an hour later found me once again clad in business casual, standing in a cramped, air-conditioned kitchenette, waiting for a metal box to issue me a cup of what a friend of mine lovingly refers to as "machine urine"... you might know it better as coffee. I'd certainly like to, at any rate. But at least it's free.

A further half hour; I was in the parking lot of the building, rollerblading with co-workers, passing a ball back and forth with a hockey stick. Where an hour earlier had seen me pressed to the soft, natural body of the Earth, I now hurtled over the unforgiving charcoal roughness of the cement, bristling like a porcupine at every stumble.

Ten hours passed, and again I was to be found in the forest, this time in the company of a friend. We had ventured to a broad river plain not far away, sheltered from the lights of town, in the hopes of photographing the Perseids as they streaked across the sky. Unfortunately, it was the first overcast night in many days, and there was nothing to be seen or recorded. So, instead, we stripped and spent over an hour wading in the river, graced now and then by a gentle rain... marveling at the velvet of the silt beneath us, listening to the insect symphonies on the banks to either side of us, talking about our friends, movies, and the lousy seeing in the sky on such a rare night. The water was delightful; the temperature of any unheated municipal pool, rolling past us like silk. At last we decided to leave, and having no towel, simply elected to air dry as we walked along the path, undisturbed and forgotten, it seemed, in the depths of night. It was as though we had somehow stepped aside from the ordinary world into a pocket one, some twilight universe with us as the only inhabitants, until at last we climbed back into the world of light.

And so twice in the course of the day I was in the forest as any of our remote ancestors might have been; unprotected and natural, a part of nature myself instead of apart from nature. And in between, swathed in synthetics; enclosed in polymers, glass, and steel that hurtles faster than natural man ever ran or even fell; closed in spaces of precise straight lines where heat is banished and darkness outlawed. And for all that, still, the clouds could deny the stars; now, as then.

5 comments:

James said...

Half an hour later found me [...] waiting for a metal box to issue me a cup of what a friend of mine lovingly refers to as "machine urine"...

You're friend's familiar with the words of Paul the Samurai, eh? :)

Polt said...

Hey, Primate, that sounds like a great day. I don't really get to leave the confines of the "box" for lunch. Man, going to the woods, naked, at lunch...geez, I LOVE Toronto! Thanks for checking out my blog by the way. And keep posting the good stuff here, I'll be checking it out!!

Lone Primate said...

You're friend's familiar with the words of Paul the Samurai, eh? :)

Yeah, kilt-boy from my recent posting at wmtc. :)

Lone Primate said...

Man, going to the woods, naked, at lunch...geez, I LOVE Toronto!

City in the trees. You gotta love it. :) Truly, it's a blessing. I know most people wouldn't indulge, but it's there for us.

BTW, the guy I was wading around with last night was one of the friends I e-mailed your Dukes of Hazzard review to. He thought it was brilliant. My cousin, on the other hand, is a huge NASCAR fan, so... I spared him the embarrassment. :)

Polt said...

My cousin, on the other hand, is a huge NASCAR fan, so... I spared him the embarrassment. :)

Primate, anyone who is a huge NASCAR fan is deserving of embarrassment, dont attempt to spare him anything! How will you get him to change if you don't point out how wrong it is? :)