Feeling Blue and Seeing Red
Every once and a while the cloud beings band together in force and let loose their long liquid skirts upon this high desert country in torrential rains. And though, we need it this year, and I do feel grateful for it, it’s been one of those days when the heavy, bruised dome above, matches my inner climate.
I often wonder about the color blue…how it is both the color of happiness – as in the blue bird of happiness, blue skies smiling at me, and blue seas for smooth sailing. Yet it is also the color of sadness – singing the blues, down in the blues and just plain being blue. It has of course it’s many shades, as does any hue, but I don’t think any other color shares such a dichotomy for description. Maybe that’s why I am drawn to it so much. Blue…a beautiful experience in continuum. Today though, I am definitely in the sad camp of this color.
I walk in this daze of color and mood, along the equally brooding shore of Utah Lake this afternoon.
My head aches with a dull red, painful ache. I am still trying to recover from this monster, this virus, Covid 19, that has so recently and so violently shaped the landscape of our human experience for the past two years.
On a personal level, I have done everything in my power to be responsible, to be careful and to not contract this virus, and yet, I still have managed to harbor and replicate and become ill with the mechanisms of mysterious organism. It has been a month and a half now. And after yet another visit to my doctor, I am officially falling into the long term category, with symptoms that are often debilitating, or at the very least, creating road blocks in my work and daily living. Though I am hoping not to be there for long! At least that is my constant silent mantra.
I would like more clarity and certainty here, that I probably am not apt to get. But most of all I want to just feel better! If any of you out there are experiencing something similar, or you are grieving from the loss of a loved one due to this virus, please know you are not alone. Though I know it doesn’t make it physically easier.
If I am being candid, as I am now, I have too often entertained a vague sense of betrayal; at the government, at politicians – the arguing and mudslinging of the reds and blues that seems only to breed more division and less actual healing, at the media, at mankind, at loved ones, at the universe even! Just step in line. Though I know this is irrational. My lot, is no different than many others, worse or better. That is all subjective, and mostly out of my control. But today, I admit I am not only feeling blue, but I am also seeing red….I’m angry! And human it turns out, after all.
I walk as I am stewing, these two primary colors swirling my mind into a perfect purple haze.
Purple haze: I can hear the late genius Jimmy Hendrix soulfully wailing, “’Scuse me while I kiss the sky”! I’d much rather kiss the sky than “kiss this guy”. He probably is spreading covid, I think sarcastically recalling this popular mondegreen. Sky wins over guy any day nowadays, in my book. This is my angry mind speaking, dear reader, so please forgive.
(A mondegreen is a word or phrase resulting from mishearing another word or lyrics -in case you wondered….yeah there’s a word for that and now you know it you smarty pants! ).
It has been claimed that Hendrix was writing about a drug experience when he wrote that famous song title. In an NPR blog I read recently, however, Jimmy, himself, debunked this theory in pointing its meaning to the last line in the second stanza of Purple Haze: Never happy or in misery / Whatever it is, that girl put a spell on me.”
A state of uncomfortable confusion…Purple Haze…yeah Jimmy, I’m with you there.
I have often wonder if he ever read Carl Sandburg’s poem, Haze. Which is actually where I first connected with this phrase, being the nerdy, introverted, poetry loving, wanderer I was.
The fourth stanza of this poem reads:
“Yesterday and tomorrow cross and mix on the skyline. The two are lost in a purple haze. One forgets, one waits”.
Purple Haze…again, a place of indeterminate being, kind of lost uncertainty, and certainly not a place of clarity, yep…down with you too Sandburg. I’m deep in the discomfort of it
Lady Bug Wash Up
I keep my eyes sweeping along the waters edge, at least that’s a definition I can grasp on to. Though, this edge has crept ever further inward towards her sister shore it has seemed almost daily. This summers long procession has revealed so many surprises, such as vintage, intact soda, bottles, old toys and tools and even artifacts from the indigenous civilizations that utilized and cared for this beautiful resource long before the pioneers set their industrious eyes upon it. These treasures have delighted and fascinated me, despite the fact that it’s expanding shoreline is a result of a severe drought that we have been experiencing in Utah this past year.
I stop to examine a little gray rock, where several little lady bugs have oddly congregated. As I walk further down the shore, I notice other such gatherings on concrete, or old logs, and some laying still and silent piled up into frowning rows just above the water line.
I think about how, when paddle boarding, I have often run into lots of these bright coated winged ones, floating, helpless in the water. And I have more than once scooped them from a certain watery grave to give them a lift back to safe harbor on my board. Though, it turns out, there are always far too many for me to feel much a hero.
What is happening here? Why do these little land insects end up on the shores or in the waters of this lake and others? Do they have covid and have they consequently lost their tiny pin tip minds? Is this is their last hurrah because they are so very frustrated with life? Oh wait…nope, that’s me, trying to anthropomorphize this insect behavior with my own situation. But really, I wonder, what is happening?
It turns out, there is a phenomenon known as Ladybug Wash up.
Yep, Lady Bug Wash Up is a thing! Sadly, this is not some sort of happy bath house where six legged spotted red coats gather to casually gossip and bath in tiny little pools of water while sipping aphid-tinis.
I’m going to digress here for just a moment: Actually lady bugs aren’t always spotted or even red! Some are spotless, pink and or yellow…Mind Blown…I know right?! Next I will be telling you that the blue jay’s feather is only blue from the outside! I forgot to mention this in my blog about feathers. It’s a pretty cool fact, none the less. If you shine a light underneath the jay feather, it will appear to be brown and not the brilliant azure that is so very striking when sunlight reflects off of it. Those magic birds are full of tricks!
But let’s get back to the topic at hand. A Lady Bug Wash Up is an occurrence where several lady bugs, hundreds, thousands even into the millions, as once occurred on the Libyan Desert coast of Egypt in April 1939, end up floating in sea or lake water and washing up in clumps, both dead and alive along the shorelines of large and small bodies of water.
The fact is, no one really knows for certain why such morbid lady bug parties tend to occur, but there are plenty of theories.
One theory that has gained credence since a 2008 study that was published by a student at Cornell University, maintains the idea that certain types of breezes generated by warm temperatures, unseasonable weather or following a storm, create havoc for these hapless creatures. The idea is that they are flying during such times or at altitudes that lend them susceptible to being relocated out into the bodies of water that are generating them. This is more apt to occur during times of the year where lady bugs are gathering for wintering over or for mating. You can read more about it, and about lady bugs, here in this excellent blog called The Lost Lady Bug Project.
In other words, these poor little beetles, just flying about, minding their own buggy business, suddenly find themselves caught up in a perfect purple haze of their own, but instead of kissing the sky, as the winged folk so effortlessly do, or even this guy, which would indeed be preferable to the following, they find themselves washing around in a liquid danger zone where yesterday and tomorrow mingle into the mystery of beyond.
I’m for sure with you lady bugs…this purple haze has got us all feeling the blue and seeing red.
Good news is, that it has been determined in that same study, that lady bugs can float for an average of 33 hours, up to 150 hours before expiring. That’s not too shabby! Furthermore, despite the fact that several of these tiny drifters do float on beyond the horizon of this existence, enough of them make it to shore, to eat, drink and make more little lady bugs for another day.
I guess, that means, I might have to wade through the purple haze of this covid experience for at least as long in human terms. Which I do not know how I would calculate. But the message is clear. If in the haze, just keep swimming…the shore is out there, and it even may be expanding towards you and you might get there sooner than later, or later than sooner, but you will get there, and that is the point. Or as a lady bug might say, the spot. Unless it’s a pink one with no spots….
‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky.
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2 thoughts on “Purple Haze: Feeling Blue and Seeing Red on a Stormy Day at Utah Lake”
Finding life among the purple haze is sometimes hard to do. Wander on and believe in the magic.
Will keep wandering AND believing. Thank you for your comment.