Nothing spectacular. Just a few images of things that one can expect to see this time of the year (January) at Huntley Meadows, a local wildlife refuge in suburban Alexandria, Virginia. It’s a great place for a walk and for sightseeing.
Almost the same time in the morning as the other day, but boy, a little bit of light make a BIG bit of difference.
After a slew of fairly warm days, I decided to take a walk at one of the local wildlife refuges in Northern Virginia. Huntley Meadows is one of my favorite places to take walks (with a camera, of course). There is a central wetland (fairly small) that hosts an abundant variety of birds (especially during the warm months of spring to fall). In the midst of a relatively warm winter, there have been days that observers reported a wide variety of birds in the refuge.
Yesterday (Saturday) was not one of those days where birds were plentiful and easy to find. I am sure that trained eyes would do better than I did, but it was barely above 20F when I left for the refuge (about ten miles away), after the sun had been up an hour. Surprisingly, there were a fair number of people walking around the park. And there were a fair number of disappointed photographers.
It was cold. And for the day (at least in the morning), the birds were few in number. Oh, there were ducks of several sorts and there was an osprey (or something like it) that flew over the boardwalk for a scant ten seconds. Aside from that, nothing. It was a cold day for this human. I suppose the birds don’t really want to go out and about when the wind is brisk and the sun barely peeking out of the clouds.
Oh well. There were still ducks.
I totally forgot that the moon, Jupiter and Venus were going to be in conjunction in the waning days of January. It was not until morning, near sunrise, as I was taking the trash out, that I looked up in the brightening sky and saw the moon and Venus. It was seven degrees and I didn’t take many pictures in the crisp January air. It was, as all astronomical events prove to be, interesting. And beautiful to behold.
A Blood Wolf Super Moon was in view for vast swats of North America. Did I mention that it was cold? I wanted to set up the camera on a tripod but it was just a little bit too cold.
It was quite an interesting site, even in the suburbs. Fortunately, the moon was almost at its zenith, which made for obstruction free, frozen shooting. I don’t think I want to be in the Discovery Channel show about living above the arctic circle. Now, that antarctic winter adventure, however, that is still a dream (or nightmare).
A snowy winter day in mid January. Not much to do, except look outside the window and stay warm. The weather outside may have been frightful, but the view inside was delightful. The song was better.
It is cold outside. Heck, it is cold inside. The first few days of 2018 has been some of the coldest days we have experienced in the D.C. area in quite some time. Yesterday, I went for a short hike in the park. After thirty minutes, I was back in my car. I wasn’t tired. My hands, however, were aching from being exposed to the cold air. One of the things that I need to buy are thermal protection gloves that will allow me to take pictures in cold weather. As it was, I had to take my gloves off every time I wanted to take a picture.
Not that there were a lot of pictures to be found. It is important, however, to persevere and keep looking for something that may prove interesting. Practice is important. In any discipline. And in photography, you need to constantly look at the world and see what pictures you see. I must admit, the cold temperatures dulled my desire to look at every angle, at every corner, at every tree or leaf and find a different picture. I just wanted to walk a little bit and still have fingers that I can move at the end of the day.
So here are two pictures. Perhaps not spectacular. Totally reflective of my mood and sentiments on the fifth day of the first month in 2018. I’ll look at these pictures again, perhaps in the far off future. And remember that it was cold.
And yet. I just finished talking with my cousin in Calgary. She said it was -22F in Calgary over the holidays. Cold is a relative thing. In her mind, we are probably enjoying near tropical weather. Sixteen degrees Fahrenheit? You think that’s cold? I imagine that’s what she was thinking when I was complaining about the temperature.
There are things in life that are relative. And there are things in life that are absolutes. It is absolutely cold. The degree of coldness, however, is all relative.
With most of the United States in deep freeze, why not venture out on the first day of the year and feel that cold, crisp air? Why not. Unfortunately, my favorite museum was closed for the day.
Still, a little cold weather did not deter this man, nor did the weather deter his drinking companions.
But on this cold January day, the first day of the year, the afternoon light made this short trip to the Mall worthwhile.
And it was wonderful! With my son (young then) looking at the pristine blue waters of Crater Lake, the beauty of the Cascades was in full view. If Bend was beautiful, the view from the snow covered edge of the caldera that forms the lake is nothing but spectacular. The blue waters. The strong springtime winds. The setting sun. And getting used to snowshoes.
My older son is in college now. His younger sibling will soon follow. Each second seems long enough, but the years spent with the children seems all too short. The transient nature of every moment. Each slice of time unique. Some joyful. Some challenging. All part of lives lived and still being lived. A lot has been told. A lot has yet to unfold.
Life is indeed beautiful. From the places that we visit and look on in awe. To the short moments that we share with each other. Each day unique. Each day a chance to appreciate the world that we live in. And hopefully, in our own way, moments lived making a world that is a better place for all who live in it.
When you think of Maui, you think of warm days at the beach. The warm waters of the Pacific lapping gently over your feet while walking, unhurriedly, in the early hours of the day, eagerly watching the sun rise over an ocean as boundless as your dreams. You think of the Polynesian food, so delicious, that any ideas of dieting seems like a silly concern. You think of the hikes through the pristine forests, butterflies fluttering, birds singing with joy, happy to spend another day in paradise. You hear the occasional rooster crowing, heralding the coming of a new day, even as the first hints of sunlight begin to bathe the land with its life giving warmth.
Beyond the beaches, on a winding road that zigs and zags its way to the peak of Haleakala, is a national park that simply takes your breathe away. Probably because at its altitude, there is less oxygen going inside your lungs with each deep breathe that you take. You wake up shortly after midnight and in the darkness drive for hours, in the quest to see the sun blaze through the clouds, to marvel at a natural light show that no amount of fireworks can hope to match. You look out towards the ocean and see eternity, bathed in light so sublime that in that joyous moment, heaven and earth are one.
On top of the summit, in the hours before daybreak, in the midst of August, I was reminded that altitude has an attitude. A cold one. It was freezing. It was wonderful.
It snows in Haleakala. The wind howls at Haleakala. It gets dark in Haleakala. So dark that some of the world’s great telescopes are on the summit of the great mountain, mirrors trained unflinchingly at the star strewn night sky, partaking in the greatest quest humanity has ever taken. The exploration of our universe. We who live near the great cities forget that above our heads, perpetually moving in the celestial sphere, are the stars that the sun calls its brothers and sisters, the collection of gases, condensed and yet to condense, the filaments of light that we collectively call the Milky Way. And at Haleakala, when the sun hides in the other side of the world, you explore. You wonder. You dream.
And I almost forgot. Haleakala is a volcano. Dormant, beautiful, imposing, surprising. The beaches may beckon, but at Haleakala, in the ethereal grandeur of cinder cones juxtaposed with grass covered slits of rock, you can imagine, with a sense of wonder, the alien worlds that awaits us as we explore the universe. And marvel at the delicacy of the planet that we call our own.
In the cold morning air, with twilight still approaching, I gazed upwards upon countless points of light and smiled. For at that moment, I have touched the sky.