Both Sides Now

Storm Clouds Gathering. Photograph © Jane Alynn.

“As for me, I see both the beauty and the dark side of things; the loveliness of cornfields and full sails, but the ruin as well. . . . The Japanese have a phrase for this dual perception: mono no aware. It means ‘beauty tinged with sadness,’ for there cannot be any real beauty without the indolic whiff of decay.” — Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs

I love late autumn skies in the Skagit Valley! The drama, the spectacle of the clouds: their form and vicissitudes, their moodiness and wraithlike beauty. Looking at them, I cannot help but remember Joni Mitchell’s song, Both Sides Now. These clouds—organic, mysterious, powerful, foreboding—even as they threaten rain hold the gifts of moisture that will drench the farmlands. It is this contradiction that enlivens the image.

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