November 16, 2012

#100 Skies turns 50. Chin Up and Cross ’em Off.



I’ve never been one to cross off days on a calendar. You see that sort of thing a lot behind counters at the Jiffy Lube, for example, or maybe above the desk of a public-school secretary, at the DMV for sure, perhaps at a travel agency (when such things still existed). It’s an odd concept. Another day down. Done. Check it off. Toward what are we marching? I suppose I can understand counting down toward a weekend or a vacation or the release from prison, still there seems something more than a little depressing about being so glad that the day is done that you wanted to slash through the box with a Sharpee.

Well here we are at the exact midpoint, by most methods of counting, of the #100sky series. Day 50. When I came up with the idea of doing this, I didn’t really think it through. We had just moved to Santa Fe, and I was pretty astonished by the size, the color, and the light in the sky. It was distracting. In a good way. And so I started looking up more, started telling the kids to look up more, started snapping pictures on my phone. There was a nice music in the words 100 and skies when put together, so I went with it, not really thinking about whether I’d have enough material, whether the sky would give me something to photograph every day for 100 days. I didn’t really consider the commitment I was making or the responsibility I would now have to the hundreds of thousands of people who would soon count on my daily sky pic to get themselves out of bed, to make it through their day, to ultimately slash said day off on their 2012 Outhouses of North America wall calendars.

Well, as it turns out, it hasn’t been a difficult commitment to make at all. Often I have to choose between several shots, each of which would be worthy of the sky of the day. And, though you may disagree, I don’t think there’s been a great deal of repetition, beyond the subject matter that is. And I kind of think that will continue as we move into the 2nd half.

The count means very little, except when I hit the big numbers, like 25 or 50, and so think a bit about the progression. I think my eye has gotten better. I see more depth and contour, more dimensions to the clouds and the sky. I have started to anticipate changes, like when those double rainbows came a few days ago. I brought the kids outside when there was just a hint of one rainbow in the sky, and we watched that one brighten and then the other emerge. Then we watched them vanish. All three of us were running around yelling like fools. Course, it’s okay to do that when your little. Not so much when you’re my size and age.

The biggest difficulty has been that I find it hard to do anything but look up now. On my bike, for example, I have become a hazard to myself and to my children, constantly craning my neck in every which direction (but down and straight ahead). I stop suddenly if there is a change in the light and the sky goes gold or if the blue seems to touch the limbs of a tree. The same is true when I drive. I adjust the rearview and side views at sever angles, interested not at all in other cars but clouds.

When I buckle my kids into their helmets (bike helmets, that is, not just walk around or playground helmets like my mom would have had us wear when we were little), I tell them “chin up.” This started after I once pinched a little of Jackson’s sweet neck meat in the buckle. Hurt me more than him. Now chin up has taken on a new meaning for them, for there is so much to see when we look up.

Sometimes I feel spoiled by the sky in Santa Fe, wondering whether this newfound obsession can transfer beyond the New Mexican line, whether it’s something we all can obsess over, even in cities, even through fog or smog. Well, I am writing this from Salt Lake City, where I have a couple private shows to play tonight, and man oh man, the sky here is pretty remarkable, too. And though you only see it in patches and chunks, I remember some dramatic skies over Manhattan and Brooklyn when I lived there. One of the early skies in this here series was taken from a hotel room near Detroit of all places. Another couple were snapped in DC. There’s one from Philly. There might even have been one from Baltimore. So I think it is safe to say that wherever we are (unless you’re in a cave or near the ocean floor) there is reason and reward in looking skyward–maybe so much so that you might draw a circle around a day on the calendar that has passed rather than a slash.

Yep, chin up,