It’s like a snapshot from a camera fired accidently, or one held at a random angle or some part of a scene with the dispersoid being parts of a life. Tiny parts of what I have seen, stuck in my mind as if the brain needs commonplace items to use as reference points along the way to real memories, or perhaps breadcrumbs leading back to more important scenes, or perhaps, and I think this more likely, our minds freeze ordinary days in our lives, because by sheer weight of volume, that is what we are. I remember clearly a space heater, with no context, the river rock in a driveway with no drive, and I will remember the trees with the clouds behind them forever.
Thunderstorms in South Georgia spring to life in an instant and they die as quickly. The work for the day had just begun, yet all thoughts were on the thick cloud milling around the sky like lost cattle. Thick dark clouds gathered as the wind picked up, but lighter, less ominous cloud were there too, as if they were actors in the scene before the climax of the play, or maybe it was after that part, oh dear, does anyone know where they are supposed to be? I looked up and saw the blue sky, a sandbar just above the river’s edge, and the pine trees that were superimposed in front of that patch of blue, and I knew that would be in my mind forever.
Please don’t read fey into this, but at that moment, that very moment, with approaching storm, the blue of sky, the green of the pine trees, and the light of the sun reaching under all the clouds to make the green glow golden, if I had died right at that moment, I could have never been as happy. I stepped back, instinctively away from the traffic in the other lane, and in between two parked pieces of machinery, and wondered how many people were passing by this moment unawares of the incredibly scene before them.
Dusk last forever in South Georgia, in the Summer, and this is the longest day of the year. In the winter daylight surrenders quickly but now the day waits to see what the night brings before edging towards the west. The sun already sat low, and clouds far to the east of the horizon lit up slightly pink, as if embarrassed by their own beauty. Straight above me, there was a clear, a porthole into calmness while all around were deep dark, three dimensional cloud formations with the wind reshaping each of them, and the entire day seemed to change with each passing moment in time. The trees lost their golden glint, but it was replaces with a darkness that highlighted the life in them, and the blue of the sky went from dark azure to pale to pinkish grey.
As a man I usually do not deal with off center colors, but suddenly I realized that azure was the words I was looking for and there was not another word that would do in its place, nor any description of any color ever created, would suffice. Perfectly it fit, and I do realize that as I tell you it is perfect, you may have some other version of the color, but here and now, I have already given you a context in which to place it, and if my service to you is true, then we share this color in our minds. The green of the pines needs no other words but those to tell you of the green of the pines, and if you have never seen a pine tree, if you have never beheld the long greenness then keep in the needles, still, if I am any sort of wordsmith at all, you can see them. The ever charging darkness and grey of the clouds, of water, yes, the realization that I speak of water and nothing more and nothing less here, water vapor slung towards the heavens now returns in the shape of light whiteness, deep dark blackness, and all of this, each and every huge mountain in the sky is nothing but water that disperses, scatters, reflects, blocks, refracts and accepts the sun and wind to bring us what we see before us before it falls to the earth again, exhausted from its play with the light.
What if before we died, before the very moment of death, we realized how beautiful, life truly is? What if we were granted one instant of peace and beauty? It occurred to me if some wayward driver struck me dead at that very instant I would go with a sense of harmony with the universe unlike any I have had in a great while. There, between two giant pieces of machinery, on the interstate, before a storm, I found that snapshot of the mind, and it simply did not stop.
The wind picked up, the sun slowly dipped slower in the sky, and the scenery changed, but remained infinitely perfect with each new formation, with each new level of light, and with each new color, many of which had never been seen before, and would never been seen again. A few stray raindrops, the tears of the moment dying, fell and men grumbled. The traffic went by and a thousand people hurried by the moment perhaps in search of it or perhaps not. The sun stood still for a moment, for two or three breaths, and the wind swirled around the tops of the trees, bending them hither and fro. The pink in the east faded away and darkness began to creep around the edges of the sky on all corners where the sun left it. A thin sliver of light, red and all its kin, slit the horizon, seppuku for the dusk, and the wind finished closing the curtain on the final act of the longest day.
Beauty, exists in the moment.