Wednesday, March 07, 2012

ripples on my life

I have said it before.  I will say it again. 

Steve Cotton is not a person of place. 

I have never been the type of guy who claims a bit of soil as The Place Where I Belong. The sentiment is a bit too funereal for my taste.

But we are all a tribe of contradictions.  And that lesson came home to me yesterday.

Since my return from China, I have spent a few afternoons on the shore of the laguna pulling out vegetation.  Mainly water lilies.  Their stems are strong enough to restrict the underwater movements of the crocodiles.  Green anti-submarine nets.

But there is plenty of other flotsam to be hooked out of the pond, as well.  Water bottles.  Beer cans.  The occasional pelican skull.

The most difficult are the coconuts.

The Spaniards brought the coconut palm to Mexico from The Philippines in the 1500s.  For plantations.  So they thought.  As far as the palms were concerned, it was a great new land to colonize.

And colonize they did.  Spreading like dandelions.

Some of the coconut palms around the area are cultivated.  But there are plenty of volunteers.

The trees spread through an amazing nut.  The seed is covered by a thick husk that is water-resistant.  Water-resistant enough that the nuts can travel long distances on water.  That is why there are coconuts on some of the most isolated Pacific islands.

For the cleaner of ponds, they present a problem.  I could just leave them bobbing in the water like some reminder of a tropical Titanic.  But they do not fit into the Monet landscape.

My usual vegetation remover is a pitch fork.  And it is not the best tool for coconuts.  Think peas and fork.  Same issue.  The nuts just roll off of the implement.

And once I successfully toss them on shore, they have a tendency to do as nature intended.  They roll back down the bank into the water.

Yesterday, I managed to fish out the last of the coconuts.  Exhausted, I wandered into the garden to sit down and bathe in a nice shower of hubris.

No more than thirty minutes passed before I heard splashes in the pond.  My first instinct was that one of the crocodiles had nabbed a feline snack.  But I was wrong.

Standing on the shore of the pond were two teenage girls.  Tossing the coconuts into the water.

My first instinct was to admonish them.  Until it hit me.  The pond is theirs as much as it is mine. 

I can hear the economists amongst you.  Smugly mumbling: “Ah, yes.  The Tragedy of the Commons.”  And that would be correct.  Whenever something belongs to everyone, its responsibility belongs to no one.

But my error was more basic.  I have come to think of this portion of the laguna as mine. 

It isn’t.  The public pathway around it is proof enough of that.  The work I do is not merely for me.   It is for everyone who passes this way.

And so the pond teaches me, as Walden taught Thoreau, that we are mere sojourners in this world.  We enjoy.  And then, like the Moving Finger having writ, we too move on.


Andean said...

I'm sure it was great fun for them to toss them in but even teenagers can be taught coconuts have no place in the laguna. As they mature they might appreciate the lesson and even realize the beauty that pictures a Monet lanscape.

Steve Cotton said...

 There seems to be something natural about tossing things into water.  Every guest I have had has done it.  Look at the pond.  Pick up something.  Throw it in.

And, of course, I have no right to tell anyone what they can do with the pond.  It belongs to them as much as it does to me.  After all, it is their country.

Mexican Trailrunner said...

Is the croc still around?

Steve Cotton said...

 Both crocs are still around.  They show up mainly at night.  But the smaller one was watching me at a distance while I was hooking lilies.

Kim G said...

Coconut palms aren't much of a nuisance here in Massachusetts.

Kim G
Boston, MA
A short drive from Walden Pond.

Steve Cotton said...

You could outfit the cast of South Pacific with coconut shell halves floating in the pond. For some reason, I have trouble imagining Thoreau on the backs of my pond.

Jwp_007 said...

I saw some one on the melacon swinging a big rope the other day - figured you were trying to lasoo a croc or practicing for the rodeo

this morning a group of elderly tourists were in the exact spot throwing stuff into the lagoon.

Steve Cotton said...

Maybe that is what gives the laguna its character.

Andean said...

Thinking Thoreau's quotes can mean different things to many people, I do so imagine him by the laguna...

Steve Cotton said...

I suspect he was a bit too stiff-necked for our local crowd.

Andean said...

hmm... how we can all see a different light in the dark.

Steve Cotton said...

 I suspect was one of those guys who could bring down a dinner party before the soup course was over.