Sunday, October 25, 2009

Laughing at clouds

My day was about pretzel-ing into my sporty but low-slung Miata, extricating myself to pump gas and push a wobbly-wheeled basket through a supermarket. It was all about ho-hum until I took the magical sunset hike.
The sky fairies spun cotton-candy clouds, and I laughed.
Because when I see pink clouds I remember my friend, Kevin, who died too young. After one of his many surgeries he told me that he stood on a wind-whipped cliff and gazed at a pink cloud and laughed in delight. We should always laugh at the gorgeous silliness of our world as if we had bought just one more day.

As I hiked, the sun sunk deeper beyond the horizon and the mountain silhouettes turned slate-gray and then black. Coyotes ripped in high-pitched hysteria from the river bottom. Have you ever noticed how frenzied they sound compared to the haunting howl of wolves?
The sky became so saturated in color that it reminded me of a character I wrote for a story that never got finished. So I'll give him a little spotlight here:

A man appeared with skin the color of rainbows. Around his waist was a belt with hooks that held a clattering skirt of paintbrushes in all sizes and shapes.

"Now that's a sky worthy of Tiepolo or Veronese, although, you know, I taught them how to do it," he said to me.
I was too astonished to ask what he meant.
He dipped a brush into pigment, using himself as a palette. Then he lifted the brush, which grew so long it reached the sky, and he dabbed a swath of coral, hot as the Caribbean across the clouds.
"Where do you get such color?" I asked, finally more curious than awe-struck.
"It's all around! Purples from amethyst, teal from amazonite, emerald-green from diopside. For blues, there is lapis lazuli or azurite. Malachite gives deep green. Did you know I can make superb storm clouds from blue apatite and forests from the green?"
I shook my head, watching his paintbrush gild the edge of a cloud.
"You don't see skies like this too often any more. Mostly, they've faded," he said, his brush hand dropping to his side.
"How can that be? You are painting this one."
"I was drawn by your desire to see the setting sun. There was a time when people honored sunrise and sunset. They held ceremonies. Their shamans chanted. They burned sweet herbs and played music. There was the miracle of a new day and of its close. But now, people barely notice. It's as though they've lost their connection to the cycle of days, to the wonder of it. Nobody cares anymore, and so it is fading."
Okay, that's the snippet. I've got no more. So what do you think--have we lost our sense of wonder? Or are we the ones to keep it alive.


Tess said...

I think we are the ones who keep it alive. It's all about choice.

what we choose to see.

what we choose to value.

Beautiful thougths over here today, Tricia :)

Unknown said...

So lovely! And I think.... it's a balance. We can keep it many things alive in many ways.

YOU keep the wonder alive in this post.

PJ Hoover said...

Ditto what Tess said. And the pictures are gorgeous. I love enjoying nature.

Tabitha Bird said...

Beautiful pictures and the words match the wonder :)

Bish Denham said...

I love your snippet, I love the idea of a painter using his body to paint the sky. Beautiful. And I think on a certain level it's quite true, that we are the creators of the world, of what we see and experience. If we do not pay attention we miss a great deal.

Linda Kage said...

What beautiful, flowing writing. I like.

Tamika: said...

You've made me long to never want to miss another sunset without giving it the due attention it deserves. The perfect canvas of the sky is one I cannot even depict with words, you have do so marvelously.

storyqueen said...

Love your snip...and your post!

About the snippet, it really makes me want to know more, love Tiepolo and Veronese!

About the post....yeah, we forget. At least I know I do. Thanks for posting and nudging me into remembering.

Natalie said...

Beautiful writing! My kids helps me keep a sense of wonder. They are often fascinated by a leaf or a rock, and sometimes I take the time to look too.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Tess: Choice. That's brilliant. It's amazing what delights you find when you're open to the world.

Suzanne: Balance. Yes, life is a balancing act, I really believe. Thanks for your belief in me. :)

PJ: Thanks! And guess what? I shot them with that amazing phone camera again. So easy to take on a hike.

Tabitha: Thanks. That's wonderful to hear from you whose words are awesome, always.

Bish: Oh I'm so glad you agree. We do create from ourselves, and the more we become aware the more creative, I think, we become.

Linda: Thanks! :D

Tamika: This world constantly amazes me. I'm glad what I wrote struck home with you. Thanks! And welcome!

Shelley: Your encouraging words may send me back to this story. I created several very unusual characters for it and then shoved it away for some other toy.
I fell in love with Tiepolo and Veronese and many other painters when I visited Italy. What a place for art!

Natalie: Kids do have that sense of wonder. It's why I like to read and write MG/YA. The world is full of possibilities.

Davin Malasarn said...

Having a young nephew, I've had the privilege of rediscovering the world through his eyes again. It is so refresh to realize that the magic in the world doesn't fade with any one individual, even if the individual doesn't see it anymore. Beautifully written!

Unknown said...

Yay! I loved, loved, loved this. I want to meet that painter. :)

Sherrie Petersen said...

The sky fairies spun cotton-candy clouds...

Love that! Yum!

MG Higgins said...

Another beautiful post, Tricia! I still have a sense of wonder, but it requires time and a certain mind frame, or some thing or event so out-of-the-ordinary that it shocks me out of my mundane thoughts and makes me focus on the here and now.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Davin: It is magic to spend time with children and see through their perception. Hmmmm--that might be a cool writing experiment: write a scene through adult eyes and then through a child's.

Karen: Hey, I'll tell him to look you up. ;)

Sherrie: Glad it was tasty. :D

Melissa: Thanks! You know what? When I look at your art, I see all kinds of wonder.

Robyn Campbell said...

No jokes today cuz I'm in tears reading those beautiful words. :) Dang, my friend! You have gone deep. The man using himself as a palette--EW GREAT STUFF! :)

Thanks for this FANTASTIC post. :)

Donna said...

You write like a visual artist . . . I'd love to find that painter character in one of your novels.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Robyn: Didn't mean to make you cry, but thank you for the lovely words.

Donna: I think he is due a story, yes. Thank you for the awesome comment.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Oh gosh, I hope I haven't lost my sense of wonder. I think it's all about stopping and being still every once in a while to really enjoy what's around us. :)
Beautiful pic!

cleemckenzie said...

I love the idea of the natural rhythm and the wonder of it all. You've expressed that idea beautifully.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Welcome Jennifer! Thanks for stopping by. I've been taking my photos lately on my phone camera. I'm truly amazed at the quality I'm getting.

Lee: It is a natural rhythm, I think, that draws me. Thanks!

Susan Berger said...

Thank you for reminding me to laugh at clouds. I also dance with them. I am a charter member of the sunset club. MY favorite getaway is the Inn on the Beach in Ventura, CA. From my balcony ther is nothing between me and the sunset but thiry feet of sand and the curling endlessness of the Pacific. I see other people come to the beach drawn to the sunset. we watch in silence. Sometimes, if the sunset is particularly breathtaking, we applaud. I like that.
What I loved about you story snippet was that is reminded me of my son. One day when he was four, I said, "Christoper, look at the sunset." He replied. "Thanks mom, I did that." He spun me a story of getting a long ladder and helping God paint the sunset. I was enchanted. Thanks Tricia for reminding me

Sarah Wylie said...

Okay, I'm late, but this is beautifully written! Love it.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi again, Susan! How lovely to hear the story about your son. I humbled to have been the reminder spark. I'm fascinated, too, by the sunset club. I'd dance with you any time.

Sarah: Oh you can come to my party any ol' time you like. :)

Yvonne Osborne said...

I'm later yet, but this is great! Most people have lost their wonder in the natural world. Few people take the time to notice the sky or the clouds or a tree. Most people barely notice anything outside of their "rush here, rush there" mentality. Most people, but not writers.

And thank you for reminding us.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Yvonne: You are masterful at reminding us. I am awed by your ability to write movingly about nature.