Carl Wernicke: There Is Pleasure In Routine

Aug 29, 2017

When it comes to movies and books, there are two kinds of people: those who like to reread, or rewatch their favorites, and those who prefer something new. Personally, I fall into the read or watch it again group.

Now, it might seem silly for this divide to occur. I mean, people who like tennis wouldn’t put the racket down forever after one game. And steak lovers would never finish a great ribeye and declare edamame the next frontier.

Of course, I enjoyed my one and only skydiving adventure, but one time jumping out of a perfectly good airplane was enough.

Still, I believe much of the enjoyment in life comes from knowing what you like and enjoying the experience over and over. And the full enjoyment comes in learning more about it as you go.

One thing my wife and I have long enjoyed is watching the full moon rise, which I have talked about here before. We recently made a trip to the bluffs on Scenic Highway to watch a moonrise, and were only somewhat disappointed when clouds mostly obscured the event.

Because while we went to see the moonrise, it became about everything else.

Sitting on the bluffs as we counted down the minutes, we became aware of the constant chatter of seabirds, carried to us by the light breeze off the bay. We realized we were hearing the birds roosting on the structures of the Pensacola Bay Oyster Co. farm that sits right off the shore. Just as birds have claimed ownership of the rock breakwater off Project Greenshores downtown, they have taken to the oyster farm, one more instance of man and nature aligning in unexpected ways.

One of the drawbacks of sitting along Scenic Highway in the night is the steady stream of noisy automobiles with bright headlights. But on that night the passing lightshow illuminated a large spider building its nightly web between the lowest branches of a small oak and the grass below. The spider methodically climbed a previously laid thread to the oak, and then rode a new thread to the ground. Eventually it began to lay down cross threads, seemingly oblivious to us and the passing cars. It seemed like an awful lot of work, but I figure the spider had nothing better to do, and it had all night. It no doubt finds this to be highly rewarding work.

It was also a busy night for aircraft. We guessed the low-altitude lights were military helicopters on night-time training missions, and the higher-altitude lights were airplanes, mostly small ones except for the big airliners that angled in to the airport. On clear nights you can catch satellites, marked by their steady, unblinking glow; aircraft always show blinking lights. If you do happen to spot low, fast-moving lights that don’t blink, call NORAD; maybe Cuba finally decided to attack.

As often happens on Scenic Highway, a train sped noisily past, unseen on the rails  below the bluff line. You can tell the different kinds of cars by the changing sound of the wheels clacking on the rails. But this time we were surprised when the breeze suddenly blew a puff of hot engine exhaust past us, carrying the whiff of diesel.

And then, just when we thought the only thing our moonrise-watching trip would not include was the moon, the orange orb rose through a gap in the clouds, showed itself full and round, and then climbed back into a cloud bank.

So it was a good night for us, and I hope the spider had a good catch.