We are in another heavy smoke period. The legendary Sperry Chalet burned to the ground in Glacier National Park and the western half of the Park was just evacuated. There were heart-breaking photos of flames bursting out from a second floor window and when it was all over, only the rock walls were left standing. It looked like the old church remains we saw on the Aran Islands of Ireland. Every few hours I check the incident reports online to see what new fires are raging nearby, as well as the regular Facebook photos of plumes and flames across the state. Friends text the latest bad news they’ve heard. Tonight, strong winds are predicted to shift from the east, causing great fear for the fire fighters, and there is anxiety that next week-end, there will be dry thunderstorms, exploding into brand new fires. Add Hurricane Harvey, record-breaking temperatures in the Bay Area, not to mention North Korea, it can feel like Armageddon by the end of a smoky day.
The sunsets are a brief reprieve, and they can be eerily spectacular. I’ve taken hundreds of photos of the sailboat, bobbing in the golden red smoke glow. I have a whole series of shots in which I caught the sun reflected on the edge of the bow, changing ever so slightly each time the boat went up and down in the waves. Some of my happenstance photos have created a lovely bokeh effect in which the sunlight has broken into a string of golden pearls strung across the glistening water. At the cocktail hour the other evening, I texted my sister with a photo of my white wine glass, backlit by the dazzling gold of the smoke-colored sunset. Desperate times, but I think it’s important to find beauty in every day, nonetheless. Pascal, the famous mathematician/physicist of the Enlightenment, once said, “In difficult times carry something beautiful in your heart.” He also is quoted as saying, “Too much and too little wine. Give him none, he cannot find truth; give him too much, the same.” Wise words. And, just going to bed early when all the light has blanked out in the sky.