Kiss the Sky

Composite of Sierra Nevada mountains in California with New Mexico morning sky.

“Ghost” image of the Sierra Nevada mountains to the west combined with morning sky taken in New Mexico headed east.

 

Dramatic dark sky taken in June in Duncans, Trelawny, Jamaica - W.I.

Rain threatens the Jamaican coast in June creating a dramatic dark sky.

Unforgettable clouds create a painterly image of the Florida sky

Beautiful clouds above the Atlantic Ocean taken on a July summer’s day from a Jupiter Island home.

A perfect Florida sky reflects in the still waters of the Indian River amid the mangroves

A peaceful scene taken from the red bridge on Harbour Island, a private garden sanctuary on Jupiter Island, Florida.

Driving through North Dakota heavy fog dissipates as the sun pierces through the mist

A strange image of the sun reflecting through the fog in North Dakota – early morning.

“The sky and the strong wind have moved the spirit inside me till I am carried away trembling with joy.”

This quote is attributed to Uvanuk, a female (shaman) of the Greenland Inuit. It is thought that Knud Rasmussen the Danish polar explorer and anthropologist, captured her thoughts in the early 20th century. The legend of Uvanuk is that she went outside her dwelling to urinate and a ball of fire (maybe a meteorite) fell from the sky and hit her. When she revived her consciousness she began spontaneously chanting a poem:

The great sea moves me, the great sea sets me adrift! It moves me like algae on stones in running brook water. The vault of heaven moves me! The mighty weather storms through my soul. It tears me with it. And I tremble with joy.”

Whenever she chanted this song Uvanuk was said to have psychic powers and could tell the misdeeds of people in her presence. (From the book Mystical Experiences: Wisdom in Unexpected Places from Prisons to Main Street by Jack Farrell).

Under the great sky even the mundane can become magnificent. One can only imagine Uvanuk’s experience of the sky in a vast wilderness of ice and snow. There the sky and horizon become one. My experience of the sky is more as a constant companion with a changing temperament.

When driving I’ve come to anticipate the dawn and dusk and the changing colors so filled with light and subtle energy. The morning sky is especially welcome after a night of darkness when I must fight sleep. But always the intensity of colors and light is a gift for the eyes and the spirit.  In the United States, to the east and to the west as the sun rises and sets, the light changes by the minute and one learns to savor the quick moments the sky takes on personality at once calm and bright and then menacing and unforgiving.

Dark clouds become heaven’s flowers when kissed by light” said the poet, Rabindranath Tagore. Storm clouds and the sudden darkness of a summer’s day is welcome in Florida where rains come like blizzards in the summer. Those of us who live in the tropics like Jamaica or Florida know the summer brings the rain and sometimes lightning too – a dangerous combination. The purity of the air after these rains is to be remembered always.

The spring sky is filled with the movement of birds migrating north. Too long they have been away. They come with sudden, unexpected bursts into view and then are gone. What does it mean to “kiss the sky” like Jimi Hendrix said? Embrace the sky, taste the sky, study the sky, glad it’s blue, red and velvet. We haven’t even talked about the night sky. Another time…

The Language of Trees

“Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven,” said Rabindranath Tagore.

“God is the experience of looking at a tree and saying ‘Ah’…” Joseph Campbell.

Travel necessitates the experience of being encased in metal and steel: cars, planes and for me, eighteen wheeler tractor trucks towing trailers across America. Instead of walking barefoot in the sand of Florida’s or Jamaica’s beaches where I have homes, I find myself in dirty parking lots stained with oil and usually strewn with trash. My heart yearns for the natural places I love. It’s no wonder the images I most enjoy creating are of trees, nature, ocean and sky.

Lately I’ve been thinking about aging yet know we are immortal beings having a human experience. As a 21st century woman it is slight comfort, we who have been brainwashed to value our worth on youth and looks. The battle of the ego over true self is the task of life and I’m a dedicated warrior.

In the truck I listen to audio books and music as I drive.  I get most of the books from LibriVox an organization that provides audio books that are in the public domain.The books are free and have been recorded by volunteers.  I’ve been listening to Hans Christian Andersen, a favorite author known for his fairy tales and highly revered in his home country of Denmark; most people are unaware that he was a accomplished traveler. Wikipedia says “Andersen took heed of some of the contemporary conventions about travel writing, but always developed the genre to suit his own purposes. Each of his travelogues combines documentary and descriptive accounts of the sights he saw with more philosophical passages on topics such as being an author, immortality, and the nature of fiction in the literary travel report.”

Andersen’s stories are mythical fables woven with magic, tenderness and a universal view of humanity. He conveys a mystical understanding of the depths of human kindness and benevolence contrasted with our demon nature when we are overtaken with greed and striving.

As I planned to write this post I knew I wanted to share images of trees and I remembered the story by Hans Christian Andersen called “The Old Oak Tree’s Last Dream.” It is the story of a grand oak tree that finally “dies” in a winter storm being torn up by the wind. Before this, the tree has a magnificent dream, reminiscent of a stellar acid trip or cosmic moment when the one is united with the many and the universe is perceived as a speck of dust and all eternity united as one.  One part of the story is an interchange between him and a “May fly” – Ephemora, a species of fly which lives for only one day. They speak about the relativity of their life spans – the tree, “thousands of seasons and the fly, thousands of moments.

These musings prompt me to encourage each of you who has taken the time to read this post to give thanks for this moment and plant trees whenever you are able.

Stunning poinciana trees in bloom are enjoyed throughout Jamaica. This beautiful specimen graces the road to the pristine public beach in Duncans, Jamaica.

A stately Poinciana in bloom overlooks the road to the beach in Duncans, Jamaica. It is always a welcoming sight for both locals and tourists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This artistic expression of young trees in Oregon depicts their "bones" in the dead of winter.

A group of young trees taken in winter from the highway in Oregon.

 

 

 

 

 

A birch tree amid fall colors in Sundance, Utah.

Fall colors at Sundance in Utah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taken in the neighborhood of Spicy Hill - Duncans, Jamaica the Tamarind tree has a sour fruit.

Tamarind tree at dusk in Duncans, Jamaica.