Monday, November 29, 2021

Finding Strength, Beauty and Calm in Clouds

Rumination from the Rock and Beyond

Photos by Jory Westberry | The three layers of color lend interest and calm to this sunset.

Storm predicted, and clouds are churning.

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now 

From up and down and still somehow 

It’s cloud’s illusions I recall 

I really don’t know clouds at all 

“Both Sides Now” by Singer/Songwriter Joni Mitchell 

This is the most challenging experience in my educational career and lifeCOVID-19. The illnesses and deaths of my parents were sad and traumatic, but normal in the scope of life. The sudden death of a friend is more traumatic. Battling both mine and my husband’s cancer simultaneouslymuch more challenging. However, this invisible and spreading virus is incomprehensible. 

There are times that I don’t want to hear another word about COVID-19. I don’t want to read about it and don’t want to watch anything that remotely hints of it on TV. I want to escape from reality. However, most normal activities are canceled, classes I wanted to enroll in, conferences across the state, most meetings and getting together with friends is sporadic. You would think that I’d be reading all the books in that pile by the bed, but finding focus is difficult. I often have to read the same pages again to refresh my memory when I finally get back to that book, so what’s the point? 

I know lots of peoplefriends and colleagues that are binge-watching old shows, missed shows and new shows along with previously released movies, since most of the theaters are closed. I wish I had that kind of stamina, but I just can’t sit and do nothing for hours. 

These clouds resemble billowing satin about to envelop the trees.

Where to turn for peaceful escape? We’ve investigated parks in Naples and those state-owned parks farther away. The Botanical Garden has been a source of peace and beauty and so has the Marco Island Historical Museum on Marco Island, not to mention their gift shop! They have the Key Marco Cat masks for sale now, and besides being stunning and a great conversation piece, they’ll help prevent COVID-19 when you wear them. See how this virus creeps back into consciousness? 

I’m mesmerized by clouds, not the typical ones, but the ones that precede a storm or at sunrise or sunset or the roiling ones that are juggled by air currents and tossed around like frisbees. Both their calmness and ferocity are thrilling. I’ve been known to pull over on the side of the road to take photos of the clouds that figuratively reach out to me to appreciate and capture them. When my husband is driving, you can imagine what I’m doing, right? I’ve taken photos of clouds for years, cross-country and wherever we go and I never tire of it. It’s peaceful and right now, peacefulness is embraced and cultivated where you can find it.  

When our boys were growing up, we’d all try to find shapes, animals and whatever our imaginations recognized in the fluffy cumulus clouds without rejecting what someone “saw,” which was affirming to the person that pointed and identified something. Heck, the clouds changed pretty fast anyway so who’s to say that the Pterodactyl wasn’t there four seconds ago? It was a great time of vocabulary, fun, imagination/relationship building and calm and, it cost nothing. Maybe that’s why clouds fill up my iCloud space and I can’t bear to erase them. But I wonder, if COVID was a cloud, what would it look like? Would it be just as invisible as it is now? 

Another song excerpt comes to mind these days which dates back to the Judy Garland era. Remnants of the songby composer Harold Arlen and song-writing partner Ted Koehler, play in my head because I can’t recall the rest of the words to “Get Happy.” The actual lyrics are licensed by LyricFind, but these are the ones I sing in my head. 

One small could have escaped the spidery clutches of the tree.

Forget your troubles, come on get happy 

You better chase all your cares away 

The sun is shining, come on get happy 

Chase all your cares away 

Shout and shine and come on get happy 

Chase all your cares away 

If only it were that easy! Even if the words remembered are incorrect, it does bolster the positive endorphins and elevates the optimism. Between appreciating the beauty of clouds, absorbing the positivity of song lyrics, playing with photography and following the pandemic rules, I have to believe 

I see a creature with a cigar and an arm up in defense. How about you?

Everything’s gonna be alright 

Everything’s gonna be alright 

Nobody’s got to worry about nothin 

Don’t go hitting that panic button 

It ain’t worth spillin your dreams 

Everything’s gonna be alright 

Everything’s gonna be alright  

~David Lee Murphy and Kenny Chesney


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