Smoke Covers Fire
Another Northern California Late Summer Orange Sun
This morning I did something that I do not understand but I am grateful for anyway.
Background: I am not a morning person. At all. Ever. Not my whole life.
“Oh, your tune will change when you get older!” Nope, nada, nein. I am hardly alive until 9:30am, sometimes as late as 10:00am in the morning.
But this morning my body decided not sleeping was going to be the way. This has started to happen more often than I’d like, and I was up very early. Right in that hour when the dark gives way to light.
Feeling rested, I had energy to burn and I considered getting up and just starting to work at my work-from-home setup. No, I was too restless for that. So I decided to go for a swim.
I’ve only recently taken up swimming and going to the pool is starting to become a routine. I usually swim on weekend days and then once or twice after work during the week. This contemplating a morning swim was new for me. And weird.
I fought my brain. I said no, no way. Then I went and put on my suit and drove to the pool and got in the water.
The Olympic size outdoor pool is oriented with the lanes facing east-west. The morning was not that cold as I waded into my favorite lane and started to warm up.
My fellow swimmers were all very serious about the task at hand. Those early morning risers and their no sense of humor. While I love the exercise of swimming, I have to say a big part of why I keep going back is the sensory joy I feel in the water. I can’t really adequately describe how happy I am in the pool.
I love to dunk my head under water and see how the light plays across the waves and shines on the floor of the pool. I love to roll on my back and look up at the sky as the clouds drift with me. I love to bobber my way along with a slow but methodical stroke, end-to-end and back again.
After warming up with some water walking, I got underway for a few laps. I stopped on the west end of the pool to catch my breath and I turned to lean my back against the wall and only then saw the enormous bright orange sun rising over the hills to the east.
Not the buttery yellow morning sun I expected, but a bright orange ball. I tried to think of how to describe the color. Pumpkin? No, much brighter than that. Neon orange? No, that’s too bright.
Thinking to my collection of cheap acrylic paints in the drawer at home, I think maybe vermillion is the color. Vermillion if lit from behind.
I wish I could say it was creepy or shocking to see, but unfortunately in Northern California in late summer, this isn’t new. It’s fire season and the Dixie fire rages on. As of today, only 31% is contained as more evacuations are ordered.
I am grateful that where I live is not currently impacted but it’s heartbreaking to see the orange sun again. Smoke from a wildfire covers that life-giving ball of burning gas.
I try to think of something clever about being in the water and looking at fire but my early morning brain just isn’t up to the task.
The artist in me is loving the way the orange light shimmers on the top of the blue water. When I put my head under, I see the fiery lines wave on the pool bottom and I am entranced.
The color theory combo of blue and orange is my favorite and I am literally swimming in color opposites. I want to bathe in it, to roll around, and watch the contrasting colors play on my skin. I know the blue is right where it’s supposed to be. The orange is not.
So I swim and I think and I listen to the music from my waterproof player and I finish up an hour or so later. As the sun continues to rise, it turns more to yellow.
One of the ladies in the locker room is talking to a friend saying she checked the air quality and it’s not bad. Not as bad as it might seem with a vermillion sun in the sky.
Back at home and logged into work, on Slack one of my coworkers says, “Fire season again, we should create an annual holiday.”
This is not a holiday I want to celebrate.
Loved swimming in the colors, very sad about the reason.
Karen Fayeth was born with the eye of a writer and the heart of a story-teller. From her New Mexico roots she is constantly evolving through global experience. Karen has won awards for her writing, photography, and art. Currently, she is working on a collection of her many short stories titled, “A Delicate Pain”.