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In the Wind, In the Storm, In the Light

We awakened this morning to a wall of sunstruck lapis clouds in the west, a tantalizing harbinger of the accuracy of today’s forecast. Now, Father Sun has concealed himself behind their ranks, their iron-gray bases having moved overhead to deliver the first few drops of smoke-scented rain driven on a hard west wind.

We can certainly use it: Our soil here, usually rich, feels dry as ash. More to the point, however, the lands forty-five miles to our east need it to help tamp down a completely uncontained wildfire that has grown to more than thirty thousand acres in fewer than three days.

There are other fires in the larger area, too: four scattered up and down the western side of the state, all of which have been burning for some time; one slightly above us in western Colorado; and this morning, what appeared to be a new smoke plume spread slowly behind Pájarito Peak to the southwest, before being shrouded by the storm. If the last one is a new fire, it has yet to be announced officially. Given this drought, the worst in more than eighty years, we could see the worst fire season in at least as long.

It’s a sobering thought. So, too, is the fact that today’s storm could very well turn out to be more curse than blessing: high winds to whip concentrated flames; lightning to spark new flares. Over at Ute Park, the sky has been dark for days, blackened with smoke and ash and soot; today, the earth needs the winds to slow, to deliver the clouds to drop their own payload, and then to part to let the light in once again.

When we think of the powers of the Four Winds, we tend to think of them as they manifest today: strong, spiraling, stormy, a quartet of irresistible elemental forces. But the winds have many more sides than that of the storm, capable of bringing warm air and cool breezes, of bringing the rain and then subsiding so that it may do its work.

It is the latter that we need today — and today’s featured work embodies these many-faceted powers. From its description in the relevant section of the Bracelets Gallery here on the site:

The Four Winds Cuff Bracelet

The Four Winds move and shape our world, within the storm and without. In this cuff, Wings honors their elemental power with this return to one of his own informal signature series and an old classic, traditional Native style of silverwork. It begins with a beautifully simple band of heavy, solid nine-gauge sterling silver, hammered by hand on both sides in the old way, with hundreds of strikes of a silversmith’s hammer, to create a spectacularly refractive surface. On the inner band, a long line of directional arrows traces the length of the center, some consecutive, others reversed, still others pointing outside their slender line, representing the wind’s own changes of direction, sometimes capricious, sometimes intentional. On the band’s surface, its sole adornment consists of four square bezel-set lapis lazuli cabochons set next to each other at the center, each stone lightly domed and the brilliant cobalt blue of deep waters and stormy skies, each represent one of the winds of the Four Sacred Directions. Ends and edges are all filed by hand, with each end rounded and smoothed, also by hand, for comfort. The band is 6″ long and 6/16″ across; each lapis cabochon is 6/16″ square (dimensions approximate). Side views and a view of the inner band shown below.

Sterling silver; lapis lazuli
$1,675 + shipping, handling, and insurance

And as I write, the rain has stopped. The winds have whipped around, no longer from west-southwest but from east-southeast, driving a wall of brown dirt before them a quarter-mile down the road. The change in wind direction may momentarily help firefighting efforts at Ute Park. For now, we are safe, but we must be watchful; at this time of year, fire is far from the only elemental danger.

At this moment, there is a slender swath of blue sky visible in the west, flanked by lines of silvery sun. Today,  we walk in the wind, in the storm, in the light.

~ Aji









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