Tuesday, March 21, 2023

MendoMoments: A Storm Approaches

The ominous beauty of yesterday evening’s approaching storm [Picture by Eric Lee Burch]

The natural world presents moments that remind us mortal beings of our insignificance— of our tiny place in a greater world urged on by forces greater than we can imagine.

Yesterday evening, as the sun met the western horizon, a storm system loomed. Its unstoppable lurch eastward pulled our eyes upward as the volatile system brewed.

While State Route 20, a key route for Mendocino and Lake County commuters, was shut down and thrown into chaos, those west of the storm watched it take on a strange, ethereal beauty.

Photographer Eric Lee Burch was in Willits when he turned his aperture upward hoping to capture the “dynamics of color and energy that amaze” him.

He watched in awe as the storm steamrolled “over everything in its path” and each of its colors and moods was “so fleeting.”

As the sun disappeared beneath the western horizon, Burch noticed “how much more ominous it looked the darker it got.”

As Mendocino County residents, we’re well acquainted with the immense power of nature, its indiscriminate destruction, and also its oddly-alluring beauty.

Jack London wrote the following passage of the frozen Alaskan Winter and he captures the duality of awe and fear we feel when faced with what Burch described as the “yin and yang” of yesterday’s storm:

“A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter, but of laughter more terrible than any sadness-a laughter that was mirthless as the smile of the Sphinx, a laughter cold as the frost and partaking of the grimness of infallibility. It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted Northland Wild.”

MendoMoments, is dedicated to showcasing the land, animals, and people that make up Mendocino County. All Mendocino County residents and visitors are invited to participate. Send photographs to matthewplafever@gmail.com including a description of what your photograph depicts, where it was taken, and any other important details.

Earlier Chapters



  1. Talk of your cold! Through the parkas fold it stabbed l
    Like a driven nail
    If our eyes we’d close, then the lashes froze till some-
    Times we couldn’t see;
    It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was
    Sam McGee.
    The Cremation Of Sam McGee
    From Spell of The Yukon by Robert Service
    My own 1914 copy, hard bound
    My father would quote this ballad poem from memory as we all listened in awe
    I put it to music after fathers death and shared it with family and they hated it.
    I have not played it since

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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