…ignorance is the natural state of mind for a research scientist. People who believe they are ignorant of nothing have neither looked for, nor stumbled upon, the boundary between what is known and unknown in the universe.
What we do know, and what we can assert without further hesitation, is that the universe had a beginning. The universe continues to evolve. And yes, every one of our body’s atoms is traceable to the big bang and to the thermonuclear furnaces within high-mass stars that exploded more than five billion years ago.
We are stardust brought to life, then empowered by the universe to figure itself out – and we have only just begun.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
Some afternoons the clouds gather densely on the Mississippi Delta horizon, appearing for all the world like a mountain range – distant but in clear enough view to make my heart leap and butterfly in a funny way that’s hard to explain. “It looks like a mountain day,” my son will say, reminding me that we are small, and the world large all around us.
Like me, and like his father, and like my father, my son is a mountain person, drawn at a visceral level to rocky peaks, where things are crisp and clear, grounded and stable.
I crave the mountains. Right up until the minute I set foot on a beach.
The beach, where the world seems slow, suspended, where the landscape is constantly being rearranged by wind and water and looks entirely different from one day to the next. Where we plant our aluminum chairs atop what used to be part of the Appalachian peaks, eons ago, and is now a deposit as bright and fine as spun sugar.
The mountains are the spine, the beach a trillion dendrites.
What better place than the beach to watch the miracle of how bodies move and birds dive, to sift through wet sand in search of nothing more (or less) than a shell, to let the mind wander and seek, to be still.
To marvel equally at a pristine sunset and raging tropical storm.
To walk, laugh, cook, sleep, investigate, drink coffee, draw, and jump in the waves, no two of them ever just alike.
A launch pad from which to escape first to Tofino then to Maine, later stumbling into Constructed Worlds, which had been waiting since January for discovery. Then, the pièce de résistance, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, a lovely gift best opened when one isn’t in the least bit of hurry – say, sitting peacefully under an umbrella, on the beach.
Where one day things are sharp-edged and high contrast, the next all foggy and shrouded in mist.
Some mornings the clouds swirl pink in the clear blue sky over the flat Mississippi Delta landscape. “It feels like a beach day,” my daughter will say, reminding me that the world is full of possibilities.
Food | Week of June 26, 2017