Bermuda summer clouds!
I fell in love with them one June twilight long ago, when I first came to Bermuda.
For me, these magnificent clouds, piled high to the heavens, tinged and shaded with every colour of orange, purple and red, floating serenely above the gently rolling swells and breaking reefs of the wild South Shore … these summer clouds were heralds of beauty itself – the beauty of God, of nature, emissaries of grace, heralds of the four winds, travelling extravagant realms of angels in all their purity, and high silence and wonder.
On calm evenings they ride unseen currents, stately as ancient sailing ships, painted by the setting sun in a rainbow of colours, sails unfurling to ever greater heights as they move past our far-flung island plying the mighty Gulf Stream with their cargo of dreams.
They are always above us. They are towering above Bermuda at this very moment forming intricate heavenly castles. They are in constant movement, ever changing into new shapes and identities; dragons and kings, or unicorns and winged horses … perhaps faces from our past or familiar friends and loved ones. Clouds are as whimsical as our imaginations, a delirious dance of water, sun and light in the endless halls of our memories.
I was walking over the eastern sandy hill to Horseshoe Bay with my husband Bill, the sun was setting and the fierce glint of that fading fire blinded our eyes when I heard his low voice, and I could tell he was smiling as he spoke.
“What if all you could do was photograph clouds?”
“Just clouds? Why?”
“Passion and … necessity.”
I knew a story was coming, so I waited in silence watching the sun disappear.
“When I was a young man, and an aspiring cinematographer, my mentor was the famous photographer, Willard Van Dyke. One day he gave me a lovely framed photo by one of his closest colleagues. It was simple and elegant: just brilliant white clouds against a vibrant blue sky.
“Willard said, ‘My friend who took this, photographed all over the world for more than half a century. He is old now, and his body is failing him. He is in a wheelchair and cannot leave his house. So, he had his neighbour build him an outside deck. He can barely move, so he watches the clouds all day. He has enough strength to bring the camera up and photograph them when he finds a beautiful composition. His latest book on clouds will be published in the spring.’
“Willard’s friend passed away one sunny afternoon on his deck with his camera nestled comfortably on his lap.”
In Bermuda, I started watching clouds again like I did when I was a kid. I take hundreds of pictures of clouds. They remind me that beauty is everywhere, and I want to be chasing beauty, like Willard’s friend, for the rest of my life.
Nina London is a certified wellness coach, Qigong teacher and laughter leader. Her mission is to support and help cancer patients and survivors and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with Nina at www.ninalondon.com and follow her on Instagram: @coachninalondon