Saturday, February 27, 2016

February 27: Silver Eels, Ennui, Amy Uyematsu, "Zumba Gold at 9 AM"

The sentence in Teale is simple:  "On cool autumn nights, eels hurrying to the sea sometimes crawl for a mile or more across dewy meadows to reach streams that will carry them to salt water."  These are adult eels, silver eels, and this descent that slid down my mind is the fall from a long spring ascent the eels made years ago.  As one-inch elvers they wriggled and heaved their way from the salt sea up the coastal rivers of America and Europe, upstream always unto "the quiet upper reaches of rivers and brooks, in lakes and ponds--sometimes as high as 8,000 feet above sea level."  There they had lived without breeding "for at least eight years."  In the late summer of the year they reached maturity, they stopped eating, and their dark color vanished.  They turned silver; now they are heading to the sea.  Down streams to rivers, down rivers to the sea, south in the North Atlantic where they meet and pass billions of northbound elvers, they are returning to the Sargasso Sea, where, in floating sargassum weed in the deepest waters of the Atlantic, they will mate, release their eggs, and die.  This, the whole story of eels at which I have only just hinted, is extravagant in the extreme, and food for another kind of thought, a thought about the meaning of such wild, incomprehensible gestures.  But it was feeling with which I was concerned under the walnut tree by the side of the Lucas cottage and dam.  My mind was on that meadow.

It's a weird sight to contemplate:  silvery white eels wriggling/slithering across land toward the gurgle and rush of stream and river, which will carry them to the roar and crash of sea and ocean.  It's not a migration I would care to witness. I am not a fan of serpents, and there's nothing Biblical behind it.  I just find the idea of eels invading land a little . . . well, creepy.  Intriguing, but creepy.

The world is full of these kinds of sargassum sights.  Creatures that have adapted to survive.  Animals of the sea becoming animals of the land.  Animals of the land taking to the water or air.  Flying squirrels.  Flying fish.  Deep-sea mammals.  My life is fairly sheltered.  I don't witness too many of these wonders.  I have seen albino deer in a blizzard.  I even saw an albino skunk once.  But wonder is something that makes me a little nervous.

Last night, I wrote about a person whose life has sort of spun out of control in unimaginable ways.  That's what happens, I guess.  Just when you have it all figured out, when life is comfortable/predictable, something happens.  Forest fire.  Heart attack.  Car accident.  Shark frenzy.  Whatever.  Suddenly, you're an eel crawling through a meadow toward the sound and smell of salt water.

It's almost fifty degrees outside right now.  The snow piles are quickly dwindling, and the streets are turning to soup.  It feels like everything is shifting from snow to mud.  Tomorrow, there will be snow again.  This whole week has felt like that to me--changeable, unstable.  I don't know why.

It may have to do with spring break at the university, which just began.  Or the fact that I have to take a four-week online class, starting tomorrow.  Or my ennui with work, in general.  There's this blossom of disquiet in my heart.  I want something, but I don't know what it is.

There is no easy way to end this post.  No piece of wisdom to reveal.  There's just a silver eel slithering through the mud, under a silver moon, toward the promise of a wider, happier Sargasso Sea.

Saint Marty has a poem for you this evening.  A poem that makes that blossom in his heart a little smaller, easier to prune.

Zumba Gold at 9 AM

by:  Amy Uyematsu (published in Rattle magazine)

We are a throng of older women--yes, we are silver- and white-haired, or in my case, color-enhanced reddish brown, some with new knees and hips, others sporting flashy neon wristbands to tally how many steps, all of us ready to rumble in our rubber-soled shoes.  Our teacher Yvonne used to weigh 300 pounds.  Now she zumbas and runs, sports a modified Mohawk, sparkly bracelets stacked from wrist to forearm, and pink, lime, or lavender tank tops and sweats.  Her constant command:  "Smile!  This is spose to be fun!"  And it is, though a few in the crowd just don't get the steps, their faces so labored and lost.  Most of us, though, are having the best time we've had in decades, feel like we did in our teens, maybe better since we don't care anymore if we look uncool--heck, no pressure anymore from ogling adolescents or lascivious men.  Now nothing matters more than the way this Latin music pulls us in--our bodies set loose to congas and timbales.  We learn salsa, very New York City smooth, while Dominican merengue is frenzied and almost too fast to keep on beat.  We all like the song where we gyrate our hips, follow Yvonne in an unhurried blend of hula and belly dance, then raise arms and hands to shoo away something toward the sky, all of us joining the chorus, "amor--amor,, amor, amor"--not sure if we're sending love out to the universe or saying goodbye to a lover, our voices rising as one.  But my favorite, as always, is the cha, cha, which we got from Cuba.  I didn't know this in the '60s, when I cha cha cha'd to Chicano and Motown discs, doing it Eastside style with a swivel and dip.  Cha cha feels like I'm coming home, so easy and free, just a zumba-crazed grandma with bad knees--that's me.

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