Earth abides: M’sippisea–beautiful waters of our childhood
I stand in the gondola of a dirigible moving through the air, understandings entering my mind in sequence. I am inside myself, in the gondola, and outside myself observing everything including myself standing there, both at once these two perspectives, which is not so unusual here in the third decade of the twenty-fourth century.
The flying dirigible carries us on our long journey, these men and I. Without crowding the large gondola accommodates as we fly standing beneath our great airship. Outside in the sky it is bright sunny day, blue and beautiful this day’s sky, cloudless but for distant approaching cumulous in the southwest.
Through the out-leaning windows I see the ground so far beneath my earth-bound feet, a quarter mile down, and more—a frightful distance up—but never more than half a mile, someone murmurs. Though in truth every altitude while flying seems very high, a never-released acrophobic reminder of the distance separating ground from thin floor whereon we stand. But then how good feels this high panoramic view. We enjoy together that feeling of shared wellbeing.
Down below there, the earth floats slowly past like a green scroll endlessly unrolling in front, slowly blending into the distance behind, a deceiver making us seem unmoving in the sky as old earth rolls below us. Forest green is there, vast and seemingly unbroken to every horizon, few the fields or roads apparent. Ample the time to observe and consider features down there on the ground long before reaching them, long after they pass.
Remembered from those rare previous times when I then too so fortunately traveled by air, this leisurely pace is quiet, peaceful it is, as customary for the great dirigible beneath which we hang, as if by miracle we fly-ride to a far distant place. Yet how soon it covers the ground. We take it for granted this way of travel, by air, if one needs must go a great distance, more than a tiresome horse ride, say. None who have done so disagree—these great dependable airships are a good and preferable option for long travels in our world, long freed from that Old World’s dependence on the poison oil. Popular lore recalls “the crude death,” curse of the ancients’ insane addiction. Such things can only be imagined, and only with difficulty, when such profligacy comes to mind at all.
The ones who keep our history say full two hundred year and perhaps more have passed since they burned the poison oil, daily they did, transporting people and goods for trade. Poisoned everything, themselves too. Those old founts of poison oil were all drained, all used up. Meager remnants now are rare commodities, extremely valuable though still dangerous stuff—burning them as mere fuel would be unthinkably wasteful. Taught as children, we are, how many kinds of carriers and many ways of powering them have been tried. Some of those remain in use for community travel, for special purposes beyond a community’s outer rim. The electric vehicles are nice, but then recharging them places such disproportionate demand on our supply of electricity, the supply so limited because there are so few of us. The economy of scale doesn’t work out right, say those who know.
And so for those relatively few whose Life Purposes require periodic long travels, nothing ever worked as well as dirigibles—economical, efficient, dependable, beloved big old sausages. Long before my own borning had dirigibles proved themselves the standard for journeying great distances by air. As indeed we are doing this moment, in this spacious, well appointed gondola so securely slung beneath the belly of our mighty blunt-ended sky ship. Forgetful of the good fortune of it, we who at times must travel afar sometimes take for granted its availability, for bellies full satisfied why would we not?
Barely discernible those spaced openings in the great forest below, and similarly taken for granted, our occasional villages and towns, the surrounding fields sustaining them, so visible from our skyward perspective up here, so reassuring. Notwithstanding our excellent view, seldom are they obvious until the ship draws near. Roadways and the trails connecting them are seldom obvious this high up. Seen at angles the world looks all-green, no towns or fields seeable from afar. But it all feels reassuring, normal.
That Old World, we are taught, had great sprawling metropolii—all now long gone like the old lizardy megasaurus—along with their citified multitudes who, our history keepers say, populated their centers, their outer edges, even out onto and covering up the sustaining fields surrounding. It seems unbelievable. It seems unbelievable too that they ate the seed corn that would be needed to feed their children the next year, that they could do such a thing—but they did—and told the children now they must die. So sorry.
People alive now, we know, are fewer indeed than were they in that Old World. Across the whole world, they say, we number more than a hundred million, which seems a great many—how do they know? Gone too are their great connectors, those old wide innerstaits on which they burned the poison oil, journeying far, they say, even when it was not needful. Even so, when encountered from above as we are, the eye can still yet trace their old innerstait paths as great lines, abnormally straight, where the forest looks different. Overall though, such exceptions are few, for all the world below is our beautiful and green old forest.
Our dirigible flies southeastward, passing now over that ancient land called Kentuckee as it has been called, like old Rome, for a thousand years and more. That more northerly land beyond the beautiful great river, whence we embarked this morning, is old O’hoio, like the beautiful river so named. Our ship will cruise its southeasterly direction until, by tomorrow morning perhaps, it carries us beyond Kentuckee’s bounds to our destination in Apalaisha, the part called Wesvirginniya, where our business carries us.
Many places bear different names than the old names by which they were long ago called, we know, but no one knows the Old World boundaries any more—except for the rivers, so clearly dividing the great forest. It doesn’t matter. Those old names belong to the times before the great troubles and the storms of death, of which we are told. No, these changes do not matter, for we have now the world we have. It is a good world. All this I know, and it is normal and good.
The great forest comes to an end not so far from here, toward the westward sun, perhaps the whole of a hundred miles, and there the green gives way to blue. There lies the shore of our great sea. It is a good sea, bounded east and west by what was then—in that Old World—a fertile land called “Middle America,” as they called it before they ruined it.
From Gulfamexeo, so known in those old days, warmed waters roll northward over the vast center of that old America land, into and far across old Canada too, until there in the northland they meet the great water of Hussonbaey, where the waters yet serve the people much as they serve us here. Our sea fills that old Greatplain where once flowed, they say, a mighty river M’ssippi. No more. Over drowned lands and immense old cities, they say, its waves lap peacefully, a thousand miles across in places. It is calm, our beautiful water.
The people have ever called it M’sippisea. It is a pleasant sea, smiled upon by God, and I am most favorably disposed toward it. I love its salty waters, they feel so very normal to me, an at-home place I have known long and well over the whole span of my life, now in my third decade. Sun shines sweetly there. Even as far away as our O’hoio community lies distant from M’sippisea, I know its watery fishy riches help to sustain us. That, and our verdant fields, so well mulched year after year, sustaining and renewing us…
I recall nothing more, the dream ends and only its memory remains to wonder me. And what wonders you? Heed well, gentle spirit, for the dream is autobiography and I somehow know you were among those with me there, in the gondola. Yes, I know. Have you not dreamed it yourself also, yet?
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