Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Observed on one of the green hills of the blue and white marble we call Earth


Everything is exploding in green now, including this tree I passed on my noon walk. As I looked up, the phrase "The Green Hills of Earth" -- title of the famous old Robert A. Heinlein science fiction story -- tugged at me with its old siren song. It often does on this sort of day, like a jingle I can't get out of my mind. I feel a bit self-conscious about it, almost embarrassed. The story no longer seems all that great (although it's a science fiction classic), and Heinlein's Kiplingesque attempt at poetry is, well, Kiplingesque.

So why does this insistent phrase keep rattling about in my mind as I see another spring breaking out around me? It's some sort of marker for my youth, sure -- but why this? Maybe it's because when I was a kid, I perceived the world around me mainly through the lens held up to it by the science fiction I read so avidly, like Heinlein's blind spacer living in his imagination. Today, nature itself seems far more marvelous than any science fiction.

Heinlein wrote the story long before the photos from Apollo 8 demonstrated that the Earth doesn't look very green from deep space, but rather like a blue and white marble, and that as seen from the moon, the green is only a metaphor. But down here it's real enough.

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