Eightball and Thundercloud's RANT

Nitrogen-Blue Skies Revisited
From InfoAve Premium Issue #155 - October 6, 2006
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"...I can see my footprints, the ones I've left behind;
A long and winding trail of steps that destiny designed.
A trail of tears and laughter, of sun and shadows deep,
Of promises I've broken and ones I've yet to keep...."

It hardly seems possible that it has been two years since I wrote the original "Nitrogen-Blue Skies" essay. But surely two years have passed and a lot has changed since then.

Two years ago I lamented that the spring and summer had passed by and I, sadly, had barely noticed their passing. Now, it seems so strange to be here in October, two years later, walking beneath those same nitrogen-blue skies.

The sky too blue, the clouds too white; how bright the autumn day! The trees in colors blazing while overhead a flock of birds fly in perfect formation through nitrogen-blue skies. The birds southbound, driven by instinct, are just on manifestation of the beauty and wonder of nature.

And, while I walk early on this splendid autumn morning, watching the birds head south in anticipation of and escape from the cold winter days ahead, I think how truly insignificant mankind and all its technology is,when compared to the mysteries, beauty and complex simplicity of the scenes and soundscapes that nature paints everyday.

And, we don't have to spend thousands of dollars on plasma TVs to see it; we don't have to go into old musty museums to gaze upon it; no one can copyright it and charge you for it. You don't have to purchase expensive 'theatre' sound-systems to hear nature's symphonies; the scenes and sounds - and everything else nature offers is offered freely for all of us to enjoy. And, all we have to do is take time to look.

I imagine many people are so entangled in the daily webs they weave that they pay little attention to the beauty all around them. But you? Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear? If you only take the time to look and listen, you will. Nature's symphonies and perfect scenes are everywhere.

We all, I think, share the same attraction and closeness to nature. But some of us get so busy with our daily lives and we bury it deep inside ourselves.

Even those of us who are keenly aware of the wonders around us, still have to consciously remember to take the time to look. A tiny acorn lying on a bed of freshly fallen autumn leaves, in a grassy yard sparkling with dew - a common sight this time of year. But how many of us ever notice?

If you don't stop, look and listen, the wonders and beauty of nature will pass you by. Please, don't let it.

Nature does not wait for anyone; nor care if you enjoy her beauty or not. Once a moment is gone, it's gone: you can never get it back again. You can never live it again.

This morning while I'm walking I am thinking. (Walking is often the progenitor of many an inspired thought.) As I watch the graceful birds flying above me and above the perfectly painted tree line; gliding along in the nitrogen-blue skies, I think about a quote from the Bible (Matthew 6 verses 26-30):

"...See the birds of the sky, that they don't sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. Your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you of much more value than they? Which of you, by being anxious, can add one moment to his lifespan? Why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don't toil, neither do they spin, yet I tell you that even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of these..."

Indeed. The no artist who ever lived could ever have painted a day like this one. No composer could ever have written a song as lovely as the song of the autumn woods that I hear. It's the soft symphony of whispered notes, highlighted by gentle countermelodies of the light and cool October breeze, rustling leaves, and things unseen that must be scurrying clandestinely about. Have you ever stood still long enough to hear the song of the autumn forest? It is so soft that you can barely hear it. And, even if you listen closely, it is hardly there.

But, it is powerful enough that it can make your soul soar with majestic melodies. It can make you, for an instant, one with nature.

I am at once a tree, a blade of grass, a brightly colored autumn leaf, a bird soaring in the formation above; I am the forest and the forest is me. I am the wind. I am part of nature and nature is part of me. We are all one under the surreal nitrogen-blue skies.

Walking among the maples, oaks, birches and locust trees, their fresh-fallen leaves crunching with my every step, I do hear the cacophony of the forest. And, it is the song of nature preparing its children for the winter that lies in wait. Not too far away, yet not too close. It's October. It's autumn. And it is a perfect day.

And, now, for a moment, I am a child again jumping into a tall pile of autumn leaves. How I love the rustling sound the fallen leaves make. I love the nostalgia the sound brings to me. I drink it in and revel in the fragrance and the symphony of autumn. I forget about myself and time. I am a child again:

That Child Inside
(Thundercloud & Eightball)

I remember long ago
Snowmen standing in the snow;
And drifting silent frozen flakes
Fell on the ground below.

I remember blazing stars
And looking up and finding Mars:
I see the wonder of the sky
In silent castles drifting by.

I remember memories;
The soft and gentle summer breeze;
The feelings all remain inside
But I can't remember where they hide.

Playing in the autumn leaves,
Woodland burrs stuck on my sleeves;
The smell of autumn in the air -
And, miracles are everywhere.

Now I wonder where that child went;
The one so happy and content?
Could it really truly be
I've lost the child inside of me?

So today I'll put myself aside -
And try to find that child inside.
And make the world a better place
By putting on a child's face.

And now, I must leave the beauty of the woods. I step tentatively back into our man-made world. I walk briskly down the sidewalks of my little town. The world that man made is still here. I must have only dreamed it had disappeared. Or did I just wish it had? Or perhaps it really had disappeared while I was walking through the forest and it only exists when I come back to it.

But, it IS back again, And, everyone seems to be in a hurry. The cars are whizzing by. Men are trimming trees, their saws buzzing; a man is mowing his lawn, people are eating lunch in their cars; radios are blaring rap music; stop lights change from green to yellow to red and then back to green again in their endless cycle of stop and go. I feel like an unseen observer of the world. I know now exactly what A.E. Housman meant when he wrote: "And I, a stranger and afraid, in world I never made".

It occurs to me that the experiences I carry inside, that we call "memories" , serve me well as I walk down the busy streets of my little town.

But, the harsh scenes and sounds created by mankind quickly dissolve into a meaningless blur as my thoughts quietly drift back to that flock of birds flying in perfect formation; the castles of white floating above me in a majestic, crystalline blue sky. The sonnet of the autumn woods has not yet deserted my memory and it rhymes so perfectly with my thoughts. And all is as it should though I march now in a parade, in a world I never made.

How thankful I am that this autumn will not escape my notice. I know autumn will be with us for only a brief, nitrogen-blue moment - and I know now, somehow, that its value lies surely in its absence.

Without rain, the sun would not shine as bright; without tears our smiles would not be so meaningful; without the clouds this clear blue sky would not seem as perfect; without darkness we would never know the stars or the beautiful sight of the tracery of the moonlit, lace tops of the forest pines.

If our lives on this earth had no end, time would not be so precious and we would squander it away without a second thought. And, even though our time on this earth is so short, some still refuse to take notice of the real beauty or the real treasures that nature and love offer.

Our lives are but a grain of sand on the endless beaches of time. Each moment is more precious than the one before it. And the only moment we can be sure of is this one. Make it mean something. You don't have that many moments to spend on this earth. Make every one count.

And memories are important too: Without our memories we have no wings. Those who do not take time to make precious memories, condemn themselves to live their lives without wings. And without wings we cannot fly and we cannot dream. Without our wings we cannot fly and cannot dreams. And, without dreams there is no hope.

Autumn is the perfect time to make memories. It is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy all the magnificence that nature offers. All you have to do is take the time to look, And listen. Autumn calls out to you to to enjoy the sunshine one last time before winter's hand turns a splendid world of color to its bleak shade of gray. And that's not to say that winter has no beauty to offer. It does. But winter has its season and autumn has hers. And each of us have our own.

Take time this autumn find your wings. Then take those wings and fly. You will find the child that lives within you. All you need to to do is take the time to let it happen.

The sky too blue, the clouds too white, such a perfect autumn day!


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