• Justin Key

Behind the Title - Rover

"Rover" - by Jethro Tull

A contemporary photograph of the Costa Rica rainforest canopy from below showing off the variety of leaf textures in the jungle in a near black and white fine art print.

I'd slipped my chain and was off again chasing down my lovely rovette who'd had a few days head start on me in Costa Rica. The idea of either of us exploring the world without the other is a hard pill to swallow in both directions so a what the hell plane ticket sent me blazing through the jungle eager to find my waiting lady of the meadows.


Time was short and Costa Rica offered an abundance of thrills that infected me with a panic knowing the wonders that would remain unseen. Once the wheels started rolling through the vacant dirt roads toward a jubilant reunion with my wife a devil may care attitude started navigating and the mourning of memories that would never be ceased. Joy for the moments to come and the fortune to have them at all kicked up a little more dust, closing that gap to my girl.


My love of travel is built on the promise of discovery. With one day reserved to get my fix, the rainforest became my target. I'd covered my fair share of posterboard in elementary school with photos of lush foliage and diverse wildlife but had yet to build a catalog of that glorious biome for myself. Costa Rica bound, I'd caught wind of a cloud forest in Monteverde, I could feel the cool mist on my arms as the itinerary was locked in.


Kids in a candy shop are robbed by their lack of mental maturity to savor the occasion. The inevitable sugar rush leaks into their veins at the very thought of the sweet sensations available to them. This high clouds their consciousness as, the idiom suggests, the experience would trigger a crazed shopping spree. Drunk on fortune they burn out the experience and relish the fruits rather than the rare opportunity that bankrolled their future sugar comas. That being said, I can't think of a better way to describe my experience in the rainforest just with that aforementioned mental maturity and zero stomachaches.


The diversity of life in the rainforest heightened my awareness like a life or death game of Where's Waldo. Green stretched from the forest floor to the canopy and clung to every surface available. Every inch produced a new shape, size, and arrangement of leaves, and where there were gaps, vines hung teasing the possibility of swinging monkies. The rain portion of its name was absent that day despite the shellacking of moisture so thick it was actively dripping as if the Garden of Eden had just stepped out of a bath.


My head continuously bobbed from floor to canopy after a sloth sighting early in the hike. With so much left to discover on a future trip, I wouldn't dare leave this forest without a complete survey of every leaf and limb. I found more allure in the canopy than the underbrush. The textures in each species were highlighted against the overcast sky as if x-rayed by the atmospheric cauldron of mist and fog above. Without the threat of drowning the camera, it found itself pointed vertically quite often which is how I found "Rover".


Jethro Tull is my go to when it comes to naming forest photos. The instrumentals take the lead in a lot of their songs often with a folkish sound that paints a natural scene. Their use of guitars adds a whimsical feeling that pairs with my perception of being in the woods. In "Rover" specifically, their use of flutes mimics the sound of the small resident birds I often saw fluttering through the branches and chippering in an otherwise silent setting.


The band's lyrics, while poetic, can be used sparingly in many of their songs, if used at all, leaving those instrumentals to define the song. In "Rover", however, they do help tell the story behind the photo as well. It begins as an ode to a travel companion that is the muse for the narrator's exploration.


"I chase your every footstep

And I follow every whim.

When you call the tune I'm ready

To strike up the battle hymn.

My lady of the meadows,

My comber of the beach."


The verses are beautifully constructed to bounce and hang like leaves in the wind. It simulates the flighty path of the rover type before slowing down slightly into the chorus. A few well-placed pauses create a sense that the narrator is ready to settle finally before my favorite lines in the song lead to an airy build-up and the rover scampering away onto the next adventure.


"So slip the chain and I'm off again

You'll find me everywhere.

I'm a Rover."


Costa Rica was far from my last adventure and despite the trip coming years ago my desire to roam has not wained. In fact, writing this has brought that pot to a boil now threatening to overflow. The Rover in me is often anxious, it craves the unknown, and the memory of the Costa Rica expedition has left an itch for a new adventure. Where shall I go next?