The High Countries

because it’s all paperweight…

Another Eruption of Incomprehensible Beauty

A volcano in Chile erupts lightening, ash and beauty in June 2008.

National Geographic—Photograph by Carlos Gutierrez/UPI/Landov

Dear journey-men and journey-women of the High Countries.  I come to you with a pen that was generously offered by the colorful mind that paints these pages with insight for you all to consume.  My hand is a bit timid as I have much to live up to, for I do not do this on a regular basis and in fact have only gone so far as commenting on blogs.  I hope my contribution to this place is exactly that — a contribution — and not, well, a subtraction.  So, I dive in…

As a child of the Italian-dominated gene pool of the Luedke family I have grown up with a knack for the artistic, the visual, and in a walnut shell — the creative.  As a kid, I used to draw into the wee hours of the night trying my darnedest to get the ninja’s shadows the right opacity and that Warhammer 40,000 soldier’s left arm the right flipping size (SO frustrating).  Of the three boys, I was the one who would take out the video camera when the potato gun was being launched to make sure that not only was the event documented, but more importantly, that it looked good and sounded great when the music track was added.  I have a knack for taking pictures and had an absolute BLAST in my Black-and-White Photography I and II classes at Brophy Prep High School.  I am as straight-laced as they come, yet find himself eagerly anticipating flushing out the intricacies of the interior design of my first place with my wife — yes, even down to picking wall colors.  I could go on and tell you about my degree in motion-picture production and my job in television development but I think you get the point…I love to create.

With that said, about two weeks ago I was humbly reminded once again of something that has proven to dismantle any pride built upon these lofty attempts of this thing I call “creativity”.  It fully enraptures my puny mind and will continue to do so until the day a daisy grows on my belly.  I had received an e-mail from my dear older brother Troyton and, as I opened it’s contents, never did I think my jaw could be so deadly heavy.  I stared in awestruck silence at the string of images glowing before my eyes and only one thought pierced the silence, “I’ve been left behind.”  Thankfully, as I began to put together words and read about the wonder I was observing, I learned that I had, in fact, not been left behind.  What I was seeing was just a 9,000-years-due volcano in Chile, exploding with an incomprehensible display of power, destruction, and beauty all in one single performance…no big deal.

After reading on, I learned that this was a volcano colliding with an electrical storm in Chile on May 3rd, 2008.  A National Geographic photographer — Ronald J. Thomas — conveniently captured this show and now, will never work another day in his life.  Mr. Thomas, an atmospheric physicist at New Mexico Tech, who also co-authored the study of this storm said, “…we saw a lot of electrical activity during the eruption and even some small flashes going from the top of the volcano up into the cloud. That hasn’t been noticed before.”  Martin Uman, co-director of the University of Florida Lightning Research program pointed out that, “It’s the first real look at the details of at least one kind of volcano lightning—though of course every volcano might not be the same.”  Oh good.  Uman also noted in regards to the lightning increasing in frequency and girth as the ash and lava carried further from the mouth that, “the implication is that it has produced more charge than it started with. Otherwise [the plume] couldn’t continue to make lightning.”  In layman’s terms: We have no shaboygan’ clue what just happened.

Explaining the unexplainable.

National Geographic—Photograph by Carlos Gutierrez/UPI/Landov

You see, this is what gets me — here is a “simple” volcanic eruption, something that has occurred millions upon millions of times on this earth and the minds that have dedicated their lives to these things are virtually back at square one.  Well, they DID mention that not one volcanic eruption might be the same (have fun studying the rest of your life Dr. Eruption) and in fact, it would prove more fruitful of your time to go steal a tank and destroy an all-glass building.  Don’t even ask, just do it.

I will forever long to witness one of these eruptions in the flesh.  Watching a most impressive display of creativity and wonder on a still screen sweeps my mind away to the place it belongs — nestled on the ash-covered crust.  Oh, what it will do to me when I see it live — sound, trembling earth and all.  Don’t worry, I will bring my camera.

By Todd Stevenson


July 14, 2008 - Posted by | Entertainment, Faith | , , , , , ,

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