Here is my entry in the WEP writing contest for the prompt, Moonlight Sonata. Many ideas ran through my mind when I saw the prompt, but the image inspired the following, a photo essay.
Sonata form is a (musical) structure generally consisting of three main sections: an exposition, a development, and a recapitulation. It has been used widely since the middle of the 18th century.
Sounds like the structure of a story to me – an exposition (beginning), a development (middle) and a recapitulation (denouement).
“The 15 January blast sent shock waves around the globe and defied scientific expectations.” (nature.com)
The spectacle we’re seeing in our Australian skies begins and ends each day on a grace note. Every morning and evening during our unaccustomed-bitter-cold-flood-prone winter, there’s a gift to be had if we look upward, an astonishing beauty that offers a time to reflect in those few moments between dark and light in the morning and light and dark at night.
The volcano, full name Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha‘apai, erupted before dawn, 492 feet (150 meters) below the ocean's surface, when the island was bathed in moonlight. It sent a plume of ash soaring into the upper atmosphere and triggered a tsunami that destroyed homes on Tonga’s nearby islands. The plume of ash and dust reached higher into the atmosphere than any other eruption on record and triggered more than 590,000 lightning strikes in three days. Reverberations from the eruption circled the globe multiple times, but probably most of us knew nothing about it.
The extraordinary power of the blast, captured by a range of sophisticated Earth-observing satellites, has challenged ideas about the physics of eruptions. Researchers are finding it hard to explain why the volcano sent a cloud to such heights, yet emitted less ash than would be expected for an eruption of such magnitude. And the shock waves that rippled through the atmosphere and oceans are unlike anything seen in the modern scientific era.
The eruption threw up vast amounts of ash, sulphates and water vapor into the stratosphere, three times as many aerosols as usual contributing to …The development …
…what we’re seeing in our evening skies. Particles in the atmosphere provide a surface on which to scatter light which results in breath-taking sunrises and sunsets. It provides a vast show-off moment in the battle of the realms, earthly versus heavenly. There are moments like this in nature – consider the mythical swansong of that silent bird who sings so sweetly just before death.Each night, I stand at my bedroom window and watch nature’s magnificent dance, the colors pale, then bright, then intense, before fading into the night. Those wondrous blazes of fiery warmth cause me to gaze at the sky, remember loved ones who have passed, loved ones who live nearby, loved ones living on the other side of the world. Definitely a spiritual moment.
I’m not up early enough to watch every sunrise, but when I am, I’m glad I’m present for the show. Not as spectacular as sunset, but spectacular all the same. That bright ray that promises another day is born, a day to do what you will, to make good choices or bad, to love or hate. (I always am thankful that the brightness I’m seeing isn’t from missiles, bombs or nuclear explosions. It’s just nature sharing its giggly joy at coming back for another show).
As the morning begins with the orange orb pushing upwards on our horizon or the night curtain is drawn on another day, don’t we all hope that it will last a little longer? By the time we rush for our cameras, it’s gone. Then we remind ourselves that nothing lasts forever.
Summer is coming; the bitter cold that has clenched Australia for months while our brothers and sisters in the Northern Hemisphere have sweltered through heatwaves and fires, this too will pass. But on a bright note, the Tongan-inspired sunrises and sunsets will linger for another year.
The sunset sky is to me like an artist's canvas, filled with skilful brushstrokes of reds, purples, oranges and yellows. As the sunset fades, the sun gradually melts into the sky like paint into canvas, like a person waving goodbye and walking into the distance, far, far away; and darkness settles in and night closes around us, softly, like a fading musical note at the close of a symphony.