Orange Haze

A gentle giant rumbled in the sky
In older times, when weather was a friend
With eyes shut tight, I'd feel the wind drift by
But patterns, large and small, began to bend

I grew up in the midwest, and it's a place that leaves an impression on you. Winters were cold.  Summers were warm.  Fall was the browns, oranges, and ochres of falling leaves and pine needles.  And springs were the green and the crisp, bright sunlight that promised the start of the next cycle.

It rarely just rained.  More typically, there was rain with a deep, rolling, distant reverberation of thunder, at times interspersed with a sharper, but still amicable sound of nearer thunderclaps.  It wasn't a crack, so much as the sound of tearing a giant piece of paper, as the vibrations continue to echo through the material itself.

Those were the days when "go inside when it's lightning outside" was something that adults said, and that you did because you were told; not because you actually understood what could happen.

Sometimes, during the perfect thunderstorm, the gentle, humid breeze would feel so wonderful amidst the chorus of pitter-patters emanating from the raindrops landing all around you…

An angry serpent struck with lightning speed
In recent times, when weather was a foe
With eyes shut tight, I hoped it would recede
And though it did, its cost would only grow

There's something about the sense that a bolt of lightning could have struck you, personally, that is utterly chilling.  The sound of wind whistling past an open window is what woke me up first, a bit after 3 am.  I looked outside to see tree branches swaying frantically in the gusts, and decided to just listen.  Echoes of my childhood rambled forth, as I recalled those rain-slicked breezes.

But this was different.  Bolts of lightning outside were bright enough that they illuminated the room through mostly-closed wooden slat blinds.  Moments later, a staccato clap of thunder was so loud that I literally jumped out of bed — I was in fight-or-flight by the time my feet touched the floor.

The distant rumble of childhood was gone.  This was something else.

Betrayal is to sleep and wait for dawn
But wake amidst a choking orange haze

A few weeks after that night, I woke up again and… everything was something else. There's some cruel irony in the fact that the colors of autumn — that always felt like a pause before an inevitable rebirth a few months later — feels so final and so unfamiliar this time around.

My heart still yearns, but simpler days are gone
My brain still knows: betrayal goes both ways.

But it's perhaps fitting that they're also the colors of a regular cycle starting to run off-kilter, after being out-of-balance for such a long time.

I spent most of the rest of that week tracking down materials and building air filtration setups for friends and family; trying to give them new tools to survive what is likely to become an increasingly common part of our cycle, as the climate continues to change.  Rationally, I feel like I understand that humans are a large part of how things got to be this way.  But sometimes, emotions like to keep a foot in that distant past…

I never thought I'd see the reign of dust.
I never thought the sky would break my trust.



Hey, it's me! I’ve been a documentary photographer for 17 yrs, software engineer for even longer, and plenty of other things in between.