Here's the thing, I'm compulsively obsessed with the sky. It's the thing that gets me through as I travel so much--I can find it anywhere, and while it's ever changing, there's a kind of constancy to it too. The skies I know best are two--the low, wide, full-perimeter sky of Western Coast, Alaska, and the high, cloud-cutting sky of the American Southwest.
My summers growing up were spent carrying literally tons of sockeye over the mudflats of Bristol Bay, Alaska as my family and I commercial fished for salmon. It was horrible work much of the time and I'd get through by watching the low lit, blue gray of the sky flash off the small pools of water left in the mudflats at low tide as I walked across them, and also by looking up directly at the sky. There is a thinness to the sky of the Western Coast--the clouds roll too easy across it--and at the same time, it hangs so low I could almost feel it hang onto me. On rare occasions we'd get lightning storms in the distance, and then the clouds would be thick but always a distance off. I'd track the approaching weather changes by looking up, but mostly the vastness of that sky somehow made the discomfort of fishing more bearable. Knowing that sky stretched around the planet made me aware of how small my own situation was, and I took solace in that.
Here in the Southwest the sky is huge. But it's not low hanging like the sky of Alaska. Instead, the sky here looks like it just keeps reaching up, all the way to a dark space behind it, cut through with clouds full of dance and volume. In any particular day we could have full blasting sun, followed by sudden dark, thunder-filled clouds that then thin out and drift away again after the rain. It's a splendor to watch such change here. It's easy to relish in rain knowing the sun is guaranteed again within a few hours. The sky here reflects the life of a variable desert--not the monotonous constant sun of only two hours south; instead, a desert pressed hard against mountains, life in wind currents that rush between the heated low lands of Phoenix, and our upper crust San Francisco peaks.