Everything is interconnected.
As a Shinnecock Indian, I was raised to know this.
We are a small fishing tribe
situated on the southeastern tip of Long Island
near the town of Southampton in New York.
When I was a little girl,
my grandfather took me to sit outside in the sun on a hot summer day.
There were no clouds in the sky.
And after a while I began to perspire.
And he pointed up to the sky, and he said,
"Look, do you see that?
That's part of you up there.
That's your water that helps to make the cloud
that becomes the rain that feeds the plants
that feeds the animals."
In my continued exploration of subjects in nature
that have the ability to illustrate the interconnection of all life,
I started storm chasing in 2008
after my daughter said, "Mom, you should do that."
And so three days later, driving very fast,
I found myself stalking a single type of giant cloud called the super cell,
capable of producing grapefruit-size hail
and spectacular tornadoes,
although only two percent actually do.
These clouds can grow so big, up to 50 miles wide
and reach up to 65,000 feet into the atmosphere.
They can grow so big, blocking all daylight,
making it very dark and ominous standing under them.
Storm chasing is a very tactile experience.
There's a warm, moist wind blowing at your back
and the smell of the earth, the wheat, the grass, the charged particles.
And then there are the colors in the clouds
of hail forming, the greens and the turquoise blues.
I've learned to respect the lightning.
My hair used to be straight.
I'm just kidding.
What really excites me about these storms
is their movement, the way they swirl and spin and undulate,
with their lava lamp-like mammatus clouds.
They become lovely monsters.
When I'm photographing them,
I cannot help but remember my grandfather's lesson.
As I stand under them,
I see not just a cloud,
but understand that what I have the privilege to witness
is the same forces, the same process in a small-scale version
that helped to create our galaxy, our solar system, our sun
and even this very planet.
All my relations. Thank you.