the fifth explanation

reflectFewer windows mean you pay less rent. —An elderly couple shopping for a smaller apartment.

It’s the handle that gives you force, not the size of your axe’s blade. —Hiker choosing an axe for his next backpacking trip.

Beauty is the sharpest tool in the box. If you want someone to sit up and take notice, make it beautiful. —Richard Mosse, on war photography.

Hunger changes everything. —Head Start teacher, Room Five.

Horse latitudes are areas of high pressure marked by calm, subsiding air that gets  heated during descent. Ships relying on wind power in such a subtropical zone could stall for several months. How this area earned its name is subject to speculation. Captain Paul Watson quoted in the book, Whale Warriors, explained the horse latitudes earned the name from horses being transported to the West Indies. At times when a ship under sail stalled for  too long, horses were eventually tied to ropes and tossed overboard in an effort to move the ship forward. The horses swam until they couldn’t swim anymore. Periodically I google this, thinking one day this explanation will be disproved.


**Photo by William O’Keefe


About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website:

20 responses to “the fifth explanation

  1. Fabulous, insightful melange of thoughts!

  2. oh my. oh, oh my. touched my heart. just lovely.

    • redmitten

      mm- high praise, thank you. there is a section in the “whale warriors” that touched my heart so much i want to copy it into my blog and share, but really one needs to encounter it in the book. the way whales connect to us and bring with them the past, the present and the future with their (misplaced) trust in man.

      • our sea creatures are captives of our stupidity, such a miserable plight for them. did you want to copy that section into this particular blog? or some future blog?

      • redmitten

        i need to go back and find it, retype it. it involves an encounter between whaler and whale- all of time slipped between the two. i’ve added this to my list of Do’s…

  3. Kerry

    Yes, let’s hope it’s dis-proved.

  4. Scary and beautiful. You did the beauty thing.

    • redmitten

      kathleen, there are those moments in life when we feel out of sorts- often, for me, it is when two opposing forces come together.

  5. horse latitudes…hmmmm….what an image. when in doubt or the world is too much with you, start colouring in. the noise of the world becomes distant music, ribbons in the wind… as you colour, colour, colour, staying in the lines… x j

  6. For the rest of the day, I will have all the war photos I have ever seen and drowning horses in my head. Horse latitudes. Some people read too much.

  7. I love that quote re beauty also.

  8. Interesting, thoughtful. There is so much going on in your head and it leads me to wonder about a friend who is my age that I travel with every year. Four high school friends meet at resort spots and renew and review. This friend has dementia, possibly Alzheimer’s. Very little short term memory. Can’t read anymore because she can’t remember the previous sentence.

    Who are we? What part does the mind and memory play in confirming our identity?

    I’m so glad we can still enjoy each others minds.

    • redmitten

      kass- good to hear from you. and good question- how much of our memory plays into who we are (or who we think we are)…my dad’s mind is most vivid when he first wakes. what swims through his grey matter can fascinate and may have nothing to do with where he is (but he’s always been that way, too). that is such a blessing you and your friends still gather and spend quality time renewing with each other. many things are connected in ways we forget. listening to jazz, for example, with its rough structure showing up in ways we least expect. or collage- with suggestions of, rather than firm connections between. something within each of us vibrates when we sense the connective tissue, even though it isn’t readily apparent.

  9. ah… I have a feeling the horse story is true. Because of other things I have read about ships in the past :/
    I suppose if you stall for months at sea everyone and everything would die on the ship eventually. Horrible to contemplate !
    I am not a fan of cruises. Random thought that somehow seems connected. …

    • redmitten

      katy- i am not a fan of cruises, either. likely for the same random (and not) reasons. 🙂 i think the horse story is true- such a reality is one few of us face anymore, and yet it is still there. what we must do even though, even still. that reality runs through us even as we rarely must face it.

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