I’ve been trying to find the words to describe the sky here. On the whole, the climate is inhospitable. I struggle to stomach the amount of time I spend inside. High winds cancel classes. On my mile walk to school I get bullied by the wind — pushed from behind and stiff-armed into stopping in my tracks. There is no green— no grass, no trees. There are no mountains in the distance, and even standing seaside is dimmed by the all-encompassing grayness that sits on this town. Daylight is short: 9am to 5:30pm and it continues shrinking.
Most days, the sky is blanketed with what appears to be one cohesive cloud. It’s on these days that I understand the answer I sometimes get when I ask, “what did you do over the weekend?”
“I just laid in bed.”
What I am realizing, is here, all the action happens in the sky. I find that when I take pictures I perpetually tilt my camera skywards — forgetting about the landscape. I have made up a cloud narrative in my head. I think they come from all over. The clouds in Nairobi, Dublin, Auckland, and Tokyo heard rumor of the flat lands in Tierra Del Fuego and bustle their way here. They come because it’s as if the grasslands are laid out in waiting for the cloud’s staining shadow to spread lazily across their surface. Molecule to molecule they gossip about The Tierra del Fuego, The Land of Fire—the place they are allowed to hang down low — peering at their condensing shape as a narcissist creeps ever closer to the full-length mirror.
I applaud their color shows. One time, on my way to work, I texted my friend Leo (he prefers to be called Shin, but it’s pronounced “Sheen”):
Sarah: [ Go Outside!!!!!! The world is on FIRE!!!!!! ]
I had walked down my apartment steps and encountered the world on fire. I tried to hide my awe. My eyes stretched wide as if I’d just seen a Khanki waiter turn a pile of rice into an erupting volcano.
But just like hot griddle tricks, if you’ve seen them countless times, your eyes begin to adjust to the magic. And so my friend Leo, who is known for his Eeyore-like ways, responded with:
Leo: [are you high?]
Some days, I walk through town and I’m certain we live within a snow globe. The light pours in as if from a sweet tea pitcher. Maybe it’s because there are no trees or because the terrain is devastatingly flat. The sun splashes down on the hastily constructed Rio Grande roofs and soaks them through with heaven shine. The nuisant* wisps of my hair which never make it back into my ponytail crowd my vision — desperate to match with the gleaming roofs. Maybe it’s the tilt of the earth. Maybe it’s the crisp air— it waltzes in chemical slo-mo with the UV rays before entering my light-less pupils. My mind files it with the light I see on movie screens.
The sky is multiplicitous. The vast scape is big enough, wide enough, full enough to include clashes of light and dark—terror and beauty. I am embracing the sky-ness in me. Allowing myself to be contrary, to change, to darken and lighten in rhythm with the world.
* warning! made up adjective
Home is in North Carolina. But, I take seriously Wendell Berry's imperative, "Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction."