The Mare's Tail

October 14, 1999

It's not so easy, writing here to an empty screen. I used to write where there was interaction with readers, but things have changed, and I write primarily to myself now.

This evening was one of those times when I wished I had brought along a camera. I searched my car several times for the elusive one, but had to surrender to the images which now only reside in my mind.

As I thought about writhing this piece, I thought of just how many years I have been taking pictures and stashing them away in various places. I know that I got my first camera in the 5th grade, and it was a proud moment to be sure. I know that it was the fifth grade because of the dates on the pictures in my first scrapbook. With the passing of time, those tiny white corners barely hold those pictures to the page.

For years the photographs were taken in black and white, I guess because color film was not available for my old camera. It was make of a brown heavy plastic, with the viewfinder on the top. One looked down into the camera to frame the shot. The film came on a wide plastic roll, but for the life of me, I cannot find any of the original negatives.

Once color film became available, I remember my penchant for sunsets. At times I would run home in the evening from some playful endeavor, because I thought the conditions were right for a "capture."

Tonight, as I stood watching a soccer game, a numbing northwest wind drove through my clothes, right to the core of my being. Early on though, I saw the makings of a sunset. Sure my child was out there running around, but nonetheless, the sky had my attention.

A sunset blue began to deepen against a thin veil of cloud. High in the atmosphere, where the air is so cold that moisture is frozen instantly, clouds are formed of ice, not water vapor. Driven by strong winds they are often thin and wispy, and have long curved ends, hence the name, Mare's tails.

The game was going well for our team, but the bitter cold was not going well for me. I danced a one-two step between the heater of the car, and the icy wind. Finally it was time for the last act, the stage was set, and the artist appeared.

The western sky was rimmed with long narrow strands of high cloud. I was reminded of the fingers of an outstretched hand, reaching across time and space, filling the canvas of the evening. Yellow turns to orange turns to pink turns to purple. The bottoms of the fingers were the darker purple, while the tops were highlighted in pale pink. The clouds which were closest to me, were the more orange and yellow, probably because of their distance from the setting sun.

Whatever the science, I saw blue framed in yellow and orange and pink and purple. I saw the sky glow and the colors of fall highlighted by that glow. Standing with my back to the game, I mentioned the sunset to another parent, who replied, without looking, "Yea, isn't it nice?"


Just nice?

I saw the artist's hand painted across the sky..

For me, it was way more than nice. The studs may have been running about on the field, but for me, the action was watching the mares in the heavens.

(Note: Mare's Tail Image taken in 2002 here)