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Monday Photo Meditation: Lighting Summer’s Fire

After a few days more gray than not, today is brilliantly sunny and largely clear. What clouds accumulate over the course of the day will collaborate at day’s end with the setting sun, lighting summer’s fire.

Of course, we have fires of other sorts not much distant, the sort that need extinguishing, and soon. But yesterday’s gray skies and cooling rains produced progress on that front, too, and after three days of uncontrolled spread, there is at last some containment.

For now, our small world here smells fresh and clean, the ground at last no longer dusty and the plant life standing just a little taller once again. The smoke will no doubt return later today and throughout the week, but for this moment, it feels like the smallest of rebirths, a spark to quicken the fire of and in the land’s very soul.

The smoke has another effect, too — perhaps a small gift of the spirits to counterbalance its effects on eyes and nose and lungs: It conspires with sky and clouds and light to create some of the most spectacular sunsets the world has ever seen.

Sunrise is beautiful here, too, but at this time of year, dawn tends to be a more modest affair, all pale pinks and blues and silvery light — fitting, perhaps, since sunrise attends the birth of the day. Sunset, on the other hand, is all passionate fire: gold, amber, copper, crimson, scarlet flames twining around each other, fanning outward across the heavens to dance with the greens and blues and purples of impending night.

One of the great gifts of living in this place is the beauty of the natural world, itself an ever-changing, never-ceasing procession of blessings. No matter the other circumstances that attend the day, there is always a moment, or a hundred of them, that delivers a sudden infusion of beauty so starkly powerful that it steals breath and thought and speech simultaneously.

It only lasts that moment, or perhaps a few, of course. The cosmic beauty of this place is as ephemeral as it is ethereal: You may see it, perceive it, but you will never touch it, never grasp it, never hold it. Like the fire it emulates, it is never the same from one moment to the next, always dancing, whirling, in an endless journey of unfettered joy through the summer air.

You may only enjoy it, and be thankful for the evening warmth.

After a day of work in the blinding intensity of the early summer heat, as the dark encroaches and the coole air demands a fire in the woodstove, that is enough.

~ Aji







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