by Jessica Simpkins
The sun is shining hard and bright now, washing out our familiar green and grey Portland palette, melting the tar along SE Division and Powell.
As I wait for the traffic signal to turn, our star burns through my windshield, magnified, focused, scorching.
As you wait for the traffic signal to turn, the vulcanized rubber soles of your shoes suck heat from the pavement. The light angles into your eyes, onto the bridge of your nose. It flashes off the metallic paint and tempered glass of four lanes of sluggish traffic.
There is no soft cushion of mist buffering against the direct light today. The only rainbows now are small, artificial, trapped within the shaggy arc of a late-morning sprinkler on your neighbor’s lawn.
As I drive, even the Gorge, although breathtaking and beautiful, seems unfamiliar- hot, bright, exposed. I miss the sky rivers that flow over and between hills and ridges, into the wide, alive, grey-green river, when it is not summer. But the heavy comforter of damp mystery will be packed away until fall.
The forests and rivers seem more vulnerable in direct light. Everything we take for granted to be permanent and plentiful and inseparable from our own idea of ourselves is exposed, revealed to be nearly as fragile as a human life.
Returning home, I am pensive and worried, still melting, and feeling isolated.
I think of Arte Soleil- a community for nurturing the most vulnerable parts of ourselves, challenging self-imposed limitations, and supporting the creative spark in others- a place to explore, create, and take risks, while sheltered from the harshest sun on the hottest days, like a soft cushion of mist, buffering against the direct light.