Sunday, December 6, 2009

a certain blue

Nature offers us many instances of beauty. Some of these encounters impress themselves deeply into memory. Sometimes, nature becomes mixed up with something else, and memory is not only impressed; it is sacralized.

When I was nine or ten years old, the family was on a short vacation trip from El Dorado, Arkansas to Lake Greeson (near Murfreesboro in southwest Arkansas). I had fallen asleep in the backseat of our Olds 98 and was roused from slumber by Daddy's announcement: “There's the lake.”

I raised up and peered out the window. The road was about a hundred feet up from the lake, with tall dark pines plunging steeply down to the water and forming a forested screen. The tree canopy was such that the lake's extent was blocked; only what appeared between those trunks was visible. Censorship always breeds fascination. Yes, between those trunks, I spied that water. I fell into its strange color. I have never seen that shade of blue since then. It was not a bright, pale turquoise, but that's the closest approximation I can offer. It was strikingly different from any bright, pale turquoise one might associate with Key West or the Caribbean or Bermuda...or some South Sea atoll. It was unique.

I'm not convinced it was a purely natural color. I had just awakened from dreams (surely I had...I always dream when asleep), and I was disoriented. I didn't know how we had gotten to the lake, didn't know where it was in relation to my hometown, didn't even know why we had come to the lake – at a certain age or with a certain daydreaming character, family events just materialize and one gets swept up in the unexplained, unprocessed momentum.

Reflecting now on that memory, I do believe something else was mixed into that strangely beautiful lake water glimpsed through pine trees. In those few seconds before the road curved away from the lake, some residual dreamstuff blended into that sun-dazzled water color. It seemed an unearthly hue. Maybe a mystic-plasma-blue, showing itself only once in that magic space between nature and uncertain consciousness.

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