Monday, July 6, 2009

Square 33: Pinatubo sunset

Beautiful sunsets frequent Lake Fletcher, but for several years after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in June 1991, they were especially spectacular. Our cottage faces northeast, so I used to take my camera out in the canoe after dinner, around the point to see the entire glorious show.

One evening I paddled eagerly to photograph the most resplendent sunset I had ever seen. Bright orange filigree laced the underside of a vast purple monument reaching high into the atmosphere.

In the middle of the lake I discovered the camera was out of film. Bitter was my disappointment. I would not be able to show anyone.

Then I realized, it was a moment just for me to absorb and enjoy. Much pleasure in life comes from sharing experiences with others, but why should it be so hard to appreciate this beauty privately? I pondered that question at length. It was the first time I remember considering I should learn to enjoy my own company. I sat for a long time in the canoe, residing in the moment.

I used to spend lengthy prayer time seeking the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, an esoteric aspect of God that could bring the power of faith to my life. Now I believe what I really need is to indwell my own self, to be fully conscious and appreciative of each day and what I in my native state can bring to it. I frequently fail. Anxiety particularly likes to get in the way. Jesus spoke wisely when he said not to worry about tomorrow, for each day has enough of its own trouble.

Consider the sunset, here tonight and gone tomorrow, but for the moment arrayed in greater splendour than anyone could amass in a lifetime of back-breaking labour.

When Mount Pinatubo erupted it ejected 17 million tons of sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere. The stratospheric aerosol cloud persisted for three years, reducing average temperatures globally by about half a degree Celsius, causing floods and famine, sharply depleting ozone levels, and bringing glorious sunsets.

That particular evening was lost to film and I never considered recreating it any other way until now. The orange yarn is Canadian, superwash merino from Mission Falls, and the variegated pink-violet-cerulean is Japanese Noro Kureyon. Both of these I picked up in a recent visit to The Purple Purl, a knitting cafe in Toronto's east end. There's also Icelandic yellow Létt-Lopi, local purple from Wellington Fibres, and deep burgundy Cascade (also Canadian) for the silhouetted earth.

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