I sometimes refer to the cloudscapes here as “the big show”. Everyone sees the quality of light change and goes outside to see what’s up, literally. (Literally “literally”, not “OMG!” literally.) This is what we found one day in May of this year.

But today’s big show is the year gone by, and I find myself singing “Across the Great Divide”, by Kate Wolf.

   I've been walkin' in my sleep
   Countin' troubles 'stead of counting sheep

I don’t really know Kate Wolf’s performance, but Nanci Griffith’s from her amazing album, “Other Voices, Other Rooms.” So it’s Nanci’s voice I’m singing along with in my head. The first thing that surfaces is sadness, remembering her death during the pandemic, and the stories that surfaced about her frustrations at not making it to the big time.

  Where the years went I can't say
  I just turned around and they've gone away

This past week I’ve been visiting family. My father is 94, hanging on, but has lost a step or three. It’s always good to see him, but the experience is counter-weighted by his loss of mental acuity and the difficulties of caring for him, though that mostly consists of worrying about our step-mother, who shoulders the burden. We are grateful for her magnificent efforts, but she is slow to ask for help, and we fear she will run herself into the ground in the process.

  I've been siftin' through the layers
  Dusty books and faded papers

My two brothers and sister-in-law who live here help out as they can, and I’m grateful for their efforts as well. I’ve helped out with heavy lifting, but I find it hard to engage in the care process. So I’ve helped review the paperwork and worried about terms and conditions, provided food and entertainment, and hope I’ve done enough.

  They tell a story I used to know
  And it was one that happened so long ago

And in the quiet moments, I fnd myself swimming in memories, revisiting decisions I’ve made, or, more often, not made, that have changed the flow of my life.

  It's gone away in yesterday
  Now I find myself on the mountainside
  Where the rivers change direction
  Across the Great Divide

And I look back at this photo of a cloud like no other I’ve seen, a visual manifestation of immense flow and turbulence, and remember that we can only control so much. We make decisions with too little information and too much bias, and there seems little chance that life will go exactly as we plan. The big show continues regardless of how we choose, and I remind myself to put down my burdens, go outside, and enjoy the sky when it lights up.