Elke Edwards

ELKE EDWARDS (Elke Ueblacker)

Identity – there’s a concept … no – it’s a work in progress, but let’s see … I was born in Salzburg, Austria. I grew up mostly in Colorado, after my folks immigrated there. I’ve recently married the best guy in the whole world and have gained two great kids of the heart, an endlessly entertaining black cat, and a new life now in Oklahoma. It’s all the stuff of dreams, coming to life.

I could tell you more about where I’m from, where I’ve been, and where I hope to go, but such things, I’m coming to learn, are mostly stories, perceptions always colored by earlier experiences. The journey is what matters. I’m trying to learn now to see each moment as it comes, for what it is. I’m trying to see what’s real.

What does that mean? It’s attention given fully to right now, apart from assessments, evaluations, free of concern for what happened yesterday, or even ten minutes ago, or what I think tomorrow will be like. It takes a lot of practice. Most of the time I forget to try. But the notion first grabbed me as I began trying to describe what it means to me to be confronted with a supercell, which is nothing if not a first-hand experience … undiluted, irreducible, real … it yanks me right out of myself and plants me firmly in a wild and spectacular here and now. I am awestruck. I feel ten times more aware, alive, in touch …

Far Eastern Colorado, Wyoming, the Nebraska panhandle, and western Kansas have had me in a potent grip of wonder for years now. A fascination since childhood with summer thunder and the vibrant hues of storm light began 10 years ago to draw me in these directions. It was then that I began actively trying to put myself in the path of Beauty as it blossoms upward on the heat of the day and sails rumbling through those moments, long in summer, between day and night.

There followed a natural desire to try and capture those moments on film and some of the results live here in the pages of stormeyes.org. To my surprise, these pursuits have rendered in me a deep and abiding appreciation of those hinterlands perceived by most as a vast emptiness – to be traveled through as quickly as possible. I’ve found instead a geography of latent power, some of which is contained in sky, balanced by subtleties often overlooked, a rich natural and human history, a landscape of long muscles, as prone and sensuous as Eve, unsung vistas rising and falling in oceanic majesty for hours on end. There are miles of two-lane that haunt me. In author, Merrill Gilfillan’s words, I’ve made “that modest quantum leap from loving mountains to loving the plains.” It seems to be honing all my perceptions to a keener edge.

Exploring the High Plains has opened to me a vast arena of experience in an even larger country, has prompted exercises of courage, patience, self-reliance, and cooperation; the battle of will against what’s “reasonable;” and finally an expanded awareness of the experience moment by moment. This is not to say that I actually succeed in living in the moment – I don’t, not by a long, long shot, except once in a while. But I am more in touch with that quiet place underneath it all, that which receives, is impressionable, what some folks call soul, and it’s easier now to look through that lens when I need to.

The roads to storms are always shorter than the dark roads home. All the places, and so many of the dear friends I have met along the way come to seem now as if they had been awaiting me. I like that. EE