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An Illuminating Fire

I missed the sunrise this morning; when I awakened, the world was already wash in golden light.

But I already know that we can look forward to the gift of a fiery sunset.

This is the “sunset season” here in our small corner of the world. It’s tied directly to three factors, two of which are virtually guaranteed. The third is not so welcome, but it is upon us with a vengeance this year.

The first two factors are entirely natural, although their form and shape and the nature of their existence is now being driven by anthropogenic climate change. First is the dust, a product of our fierce spring winds. They are typically at their most ferocious in March and April, but now they increasingly blow all the way through the official end spring and into the early post-Solstice days of summer. In a year such as this, when drought has left the soil as dry as ash, they have much material with which to make mischief, sending walls of dust and spirals of dirt racing across the land. Even once the winds die down — an event that no longer occurs on its once-customary early-evening schedule — the dust remains aloft in the sky, drifting slowly at the square of the sun to filter its descending glow at angles red and gold.

The second factor arises with the birth of the monsoon season. They will tell you it has not arrived this year, but that’s not accurate: The rains have not arrived, preferring instead to part company before reaching us and only coalescing again on the far east side, but the monsoonal pattern s, complete with their customary phalanxes of thunderheads, have been here for weeks already. And it is the clouds that make the sunset — their deep violet mass sets the twilight sky aflame.

But this year, our broader region is battling flames of a more literal sort:  Wildfire. This is the third, less welcome factor. I say “less welcome” rather than flatly “unwelcome,” because as our ancestors knew so well, fire helps to keep forest land healthy. But where smaller contained burns are useful, conflagration of this sort rages both indiscriminate and deadly. Even so, the smoke from such fires, that which makes breathing so difficult during the daytime, conspires with the sun to produce a spectacularly beautiful dusk.

The Ute Park Fire forty-five miles east continues to burn, although firefighters are beginning to bring the blaze to heel. To our northwest, the 416 Fire in Durango still burns unabated, and the four existing fires up and down the west side of our state have now been joined by smaller conflagrations. We will have no shortage of smoke.

So, too, will the clouds collaborate in a twilight of pure art; they have been building on all sides virtually since dawn, and now the thunderheads are boiling over the peaks. It is one of the peculiar gifts of this place that storm and sun should work so closely together to create an illuminating fire. And it’s a motif that manifests in today’s featured work, one of Wings’s newest pieces. From its description in the Rings Gallery here on the site:

The Square of the Sun Ring

The sun is no more square than the stone, but both make it possible to believe in a world with four corners. Wings summons the spirit of this ancient light in this ring, a sharply angular, yet high-domed rectangle of blood-red carnelian set upon a band of hammered silver light. The band is cut freehand in his signature scalloped design, then hammered by hand to give it a shimmering vintage look and feel. The carnelian cabochon, glossy and slightly translucent, hints at hidden depths as it rests securely in a scalloped bezel. The band is 1/2″ wide at the widest point and 5/16″ across at the narrowest point; the stone is 3/4″ long by 1/2″ wide (dimensions approximate). Sizeable. Other views shown above and at the link.

Sterling silver; carnelian
$525 + shipping, handling, and insurance

It’s hard for folks from elsewhere to believe, but the bands of color in our summer sunset skies are every bit as deep and intense as the carnelian in this ring. The rays of pure sun that limn them, that under- and backlight the banks of clouds, are the same shimmering shade of silver as that of the hammered band, too. Wearing it is bit like wearing a small sherd of the twilit sky — an illuminating fire that glows like the purest of night lights.

It feels as protective, too: like the  flames that keep the dark at bay. That’s a gift in any season.

~ Aji









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