“I see trees of green, red roses too. I see them bloom, for me and you. And I think to myself… what a wonderful world. I see skies of blue and clouds of white. The bright blessed day. The dark sacred night. And I think to myself… what a wonderful world.” Lyrics excerpted from “What a Wonderful World”, circa 1967, performed by that immortal American trumpeter Louis Armstrong (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971). Composed by Bob Thiele (George Douglas) and George David Weiss.
Anytime a writer opens with those classic pop ballad lyrics, one can easily assume where things are headed. It’s either a cop-out opening in song, for a literary reiteration of all the beauty encompassed in the world around. Or — a bit of sad sarcasm attributed to what the human race has done to it, set to ironic tune.
If you overlay it with scenes of nature’s splendor, it’s the former. Apply a backdrop of mankind’s contributions it becomes the latter. Both are deceptive in their conception. It’s neither/nor. Because it’s all middle ground.
Twisted metal vines climb to the peaks of dead tar-coated trees. Illuminated when darkness falls and halogens come to life to drive it away. And yet it seems to draw in so much more.
Butterflies of the night flit about the artificial glow seeking warmth. Nocturnal “birds” shriek in on leathery wings to snatch them away. Disgusting creatures, some may say, the original source of medieval terrors. And yet… we call our children to watch them swoop about in awe.
Below, their flightless kin scamper about. Unwelcome to our dwellings, unless in cartoon or stuffed form. We relish a chance viewing, the arrival of the night’s sharp taloned apex predator. The majesty of the sorcerer’s noble companion, the silent killer of those who scurry below. Its enchanting presence is welcomed, but with far less screen time and entertainment value.
Worried not are the trash pandas, whose bandit masks conceal their identities, whilst they steal from what we discard. Such a mess they make as they emphasize how much we waste.
All scatter with the arrival of nature’s po-po. A black and white is on the scene. Stench precedes and confrontation stinks, but it’s just passing through.
Beneath abandoned structures, daylight eyesores become occupied tract housing. Within decrepit cinders varied species are willing to share ground floor apartments as nature’s night shift retires.
Shafts of light waft through derelict barn walls, the stuff of photographic inspiration. Atop dilapidated rafters small gatherings of straw and string find luminescence and life. Feathered heads rise to welcome the encroaching dawn with song.
Soon it is joined by busy chittering and chattering from high above. Long bushy tails are unfurled and groomed for balance preceding a race down limb and leap of faith. It may seem nuts to us, but then again, that’s what’s being sought.
This growing harmony carries across the fields and meadows to receptively raised ears. The uncut clover will wait till dusk. With a twitch and bound, cottoned tails disappear into the underbrush.
Shadows disperse as the air slowly fills with warmth and illumination. Our shared star’s radiance spreads across our piece of the world lighting the path for honeys and bumblers to spread life for us and for all.
The blue sky stretches out above. The green earth below. And there, smack dab in the middle we are. Each of us, all of us. Equally significant in the grand design, as well as insignificant in the grand scheme, as the other.
And there, cautiously breaking cover, a herd of whitetails enters the grove. Fallen apples and orchard grass their quest. A doe approaches her young. “Look there. Over where the grass is short. Do you see them?” Wide eyes gaze at a quintet of creatures the likes of which she’s never seen.
“What are they, mother?” the child inquires. “Those are people,” her mother replies, “in their natural back-of-yard environment. We mustn’t disturb them… they scare easy.” Together they watch the strange animals run noisily about. And though they are weird and can’t use their forelegs properly, the faun thinks… they are some kind of beautiful.
“I hear babies’ cry. I watch them grow. They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know. And I think to myself… what a wonderful world. Yes, I think to myself… what a wonderful world.”
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Hope to hear from ya, until then try and stay focused! See ya.