You may have realized that my other half of the Double Touble, cherished columnist and friend Joe Boyle, and I decided on a short summer break recently, but now we are back with more takes on shared topics, which we call Double Take. Joe actually inspired us both with some photos of skies shortly after the latest blanket of wildfire smoke had lifted. But I wanted to show off my own pictures – because only the other day I had been contemplating one of them.
Sky is that seemingly incorporeal, colorful thing that is hanging over us constantly. Every morning at 4:15 when I’m getting up, my first steps are to the window in our front room to check the sky. In the summer, I can already make out the first rays of light at the horizon and figure what kind of day it might become. In winter, the clearness implies the temperature outside – mostly confirmed by hoarfrost on the roofs or on the grass. Just by gazing at it, I get a weather forecast.
It is also the sky that determines my daily attitude. I only realized it the other day. If you hope for sunshine, but it rains that is equally disappointing as when you expected rain, but the forecast was off. It’s rubbing you the wrong way somehow, and you have to work harder for your emotional balance. Plans might have gone awry. You cannot go outside without gearing up in rain clothing, or you worry about not watering your garden enough. Your hike is not going to happen. Or you can’t start a camp fire due to the dryness of the surroundings.
But there is so much more to skies because they always change. Sometimes within only minutes. The other day, my husband and I were caught inside a rainbow! Can you imagine what it feels like when all of a sudden, the forest, the mountains, the lake you are looking at are bathed in all these nuances of colors they usually don’t have? It was a first for me, and I felt as if we had struck on the legendary pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Another day, my husband and I were boating all around beautiful Harstine Island in the South Puget Sound. It was a mellow June day, and there were fantastic clouds in the sky, all white and fluffy. You could see the Olympic Mountains in their gorgeous majesty on one side, and Mt. Rainier on the other. But the most amazing thing was, that the sky enwrapped us! Because the water was smooth as glass, and the same clouds above us were beckoning us from the water. And in between, everything seemed to be hovering, a slice of earth between a sky above and a sky below.
Only last weekend, we drove over to Ellensburg. We had tickets for a concert in the Gorge that was postponed, but we had kept the motel room anyway. Why waste a perfect opportunity to explore?! Of course, we traveled right into the smoke. It was especially thick on the banks of the Columbia River. You couldn’t make out any vistas. You couldn’t see the sky. But the next morning, the smoke had been blown out, and we drove up a hill. Through the clouds in an otherwise clear sky, the sun broke. Its light streaked the landscape below like a fan brush. There was an almost Biblical quality to this sky we had hoped for after a week of smoke. It was elating.
Sky – I have to admit that it can alter my level of happiness. It never fails to make me marvel. Whether it is leaden gray and feels like a downy duvet between you and the blue that you know is somewhere above. Or whether the quality of a cloudless sky tells you that summer has turned into fall. Or a thunderstorm brewing over the Olympic Peninsula, racing towards the islands in the Sound, and already shedding some rain here and there, this dramatic quality of gray nuances in swirls and bold strokes.
Sky is never boring, for sure. We often take it for granted as long as we are able to see it. But it is a surprise package day after day. And even if it doesn’t hold all the gifts we might expect at a specific time – we might as well make the most of it. And surprise ourselves.
Care to read Boyle’s Double Take? Click here.
Joe Boyle, author of the Suburban Times’ column “Westside Story”, and Susanne Bacon, novelist and author of the Suburban Times’ column “Across the Fence”, are sharing their thoughts about a variety of topics in their joint project of double features called “Double Take”. Comments are more than welcome, as they know that the world has more than their two angles – the more the merrier.