There has been plenty of news since Hurricane Harvey destroyed our farm, but none of it good.
I have written more than 150 magazine articles and radio programs since the hurricane, but nothing here. This space was only meant for joy, for light; but there was no light.
Driving into the farm the morning after the storm, the world went dark. It was not darkness like I had known before, what Abe Lincoln called his ‘melancholia’ and Winston Churchill called ‘the black dog’. It was that particular shadow plus the darkness of witnessing your dream and life’s work of twenty years destroyed in a single night with no hope of recovery.
The darkness came down like an Arctic winter, which I now know something about. In the winters of the far north, the days are black and the nights are black and even the snow falling out of the sky is black. The snow is black because there is no light to illuminate it, but still you feel it pelting your face and stabbing like needles when the wind is up.
I worked in that darkness for years, walking through snow drifts and sheets of ocean-deep ice with chains on my boots, peering into the black for the aurora borealis, green and white and glimmering, the outline of the oil rig crystalline in the distance, the darkness always upon me.
The aurora borealis is not light but false light. The particles are phantoms, ghosts of the sun. The glowing green flow, usually not there at all, is simply a reminder that the sun is shining somewhere in the world—but it is not shining for you.
But now I know the truth–and this is my first good news to report–even the darkest winter ends.
The light has finally returned, slowly, slowly, like the first Arctic sunrise after a long winter, orange and yellow and red on the horizon. Then the circle of the sun suddenly appears with flames around the edges.
This light comes to me like a thrilling surprise. Every time I turn and look away and look back it is still there, another thrilling surprise. Everywhere above me the sky is blue. I keep playing the same song over and over on the truck radio, the only one I can turn up loud.
The sun is shining, at long last. I can see again and it is glorious.