"The grand show is eternal. It is always all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls." ---John Muir Below is a collection of sunrises and sunsets taken at my house during the month of December. (Always camera ready am I.)
And the last a digital painting with the corner of the house left intact.
Breaking dawn. The storm retreats and leaves behind the whisper of the golden light of a new day as if making room for the big fat sun. Only Mother Nature can create such a lovely painting. Today is my birthday, and since I need nothing and have asked for nothing, this is the best gift I received.
The white sun is up but bringing little warmth to the day. Most of the snow has melted causing the foot patterns of exploratory deer and fox to disappear.
I am sitting finishing my second cup of coffee and hearing the "scree" "scree" call of one of the local Blue Jays outside on my deck. He is complaining because I have not filled the small plate outside with seeds and nuts. The bird feeders are full, but he is lazy and likes to gulp down his food. He comes to the window and complains even more. Often they mimic the call of the hawk to make the other birds fly away from the feeders. They fool even me as I look to the tree to see the hawk.
They are loyal and mate for life. I put on clogs and take the small cereal container filled with peanuts and sunflower seeds and scatter them on the platform. Soon his buddies show up and surprisingly they eat without the usual shoving and threatening behavior. These birds rarely leave space for others. They are bullies.
"In the spiritual realm, the blue jay speaks of clarity and vision. In Native American symbolism (namely the Sioux Nation) the azure of the jay against the blue sky indicated a “double vision” or double clarity. This visual/spiritual “blue on blue” concept speaks of purity of the soul, truth of the heart, and clarity of thought." That is my challenge for today.
Ninety percent of the leaves have let go of their mother tree and fallen twisting and turning to the ground below. The last ones hang and dance as if no one is watching. The trees become mystical guardians in the fog. The evergreens become dwarf-like gnomes.
As the light changes the scene glows in burnished bronze hues making the day seem warmer than it is.
My lawn is carpeted in a copper crunch, nature's version of peanut brittle? This is the long-awaited encore of that show called autumn.
As I posted recently, the buffleheads are now in the river. I can catch their soft white cheeks in the early morning sun. Many of the geese have returned for the winter. Thousands of starlings cruised through last night completing a marvelous ballet in the skies before moving on to greener pastures south. A robin, usually the sign of spring in these parts, appeared in a tree one mid-morning. He just sat there looking about for some time. Then he ventured into the heated birdbath. The temperature outside was very low 40sF.
An hour or less later a dozen of his pals showed up. Maybe he was the forward scout?
The grand opening of holidays is now over and people are getting ready for the next event as they loosen their belts and pants. Our dinner was followed by the sunset. When you live on the water a setting sun can kiss the surface of the water and then send the red blush into the few remaining trees that stand along the shoreline. (If you click on the photos you get a closer look.)
It is as if the woods are on fire.
Those leaves that are coppery brown in the light of mid-day glow into firey peaches and burning reds.
I was skipping to the dock to catch the best of the sunset on this very cold Thanksgiving evening.
As I walked toward the end of the dock I heard the confusion of bufflehead ducks that had been taking shelter underneath. My appearance frightened them and I was unprepared for what could have been good photos and ended in hurried blurs.
There is no whoosh or whistle as they fly, but a sort of stuttering chuckle as they fleed away. They stay close to the water.
They landed a safe distance away, two small groups of dark dots, and we watched the last of the sunset together.
Mornings are shy this time of year and sneak up well after the second cup of coffee has been finished. Mornings also twinkle as if they had been weeping from sadness or laughter in the pre-dawn yet still hesitate in showing these emotions. I walk quietly in the coldness, a lone searcher of shadow and light, and see a bird (or tw0) dart to hide here and there among the autumn leaves still clinging to the branches. Everyone is shy it seems or is it that they have become aware of their mortality facing the cold months ahead? Are they careful to push their way forward, tracking each movement as if it might be their last?
Below were taken at a restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii where my husband and I ate the rare expensive breakfast when we lived there as graduate students. We re-visited on this last trip. Below some photos of those jewel-toned koi at the restaurant. The first four are tweaked with photoshop and filtering. The last one is not photoshopped except for a bit of sharpening (not shot at sports mode!) and exposure control. Do you have a favorite?
The nights are cool but by afternoon an Indian summer warmth returns for a few hours. I have left everything weedy and untrimmed because new studies show that an abundance of insects that overwinter is good for your garden and good for the birds(!). Actually, a laziness in the bones has kept me from kneeling and weeding and cutting over an altruistic agenda. The mums are in bloom and while a bit shaggy from nights of rain, still trying to shine forth with their fall fashion show. The droop of the mums below is not the well-trained Japanese arching. Just my version of neglect.
And the cold nights have not removed or put to sleep the six-legged visitors that wait patiently for winter.
With the days shrinking into a shorter sunshine and the flush of cooler air as soon as the sun sinks below the horizon, we know that our canoe outings are limited. We slipped the canoe onto the mirrored surface of the water last evening within an hour of sunset, knowing we had to hurry if we wanted to return in some light.
Our leaf color is not going to peak into dramatic beauty, but we still get some glow.
The geese have been letting us know of their arrival. Like temporary migrants, they arrive tired and hungry and take over the nearby cornfield shouting and calling for the newer arrivals to clear as they attempt their landing. Last night approached 1,000! Some just gave up and headed up our finger of the river into the open mowed area at the edge of a tiny marsh. By nightfall they must watch for fox.
They flew to the left and to the right. Their squawking and honking and panicked noise belied their gracefulness in flight.
Many will winter over on the cold waters as the snow falls and they will gab loudly for several hours in the middle of the night, making me wake up and turn to the other side.