Seriously Sensational Sunshine


Do you need some sunshine? Of course you do: it’s winter for us northern hemisphere types, and as for you southern hemisphere types, you may be getting lots and lots of sunshine already, but it’s not winter sunshine, which is completely different from summer sunshine. Rarer, for one. At least here. It’s been gray for weeks. Weeks and weeks, nothing more than a brief peek of sunlight, usually when we’re trapped indoors at work. This used to not bother me, as I’d gotten topped up on sunshine after thirty years in Arizona, but after nearly six years here, it appears I’ve burnt through my reserves. So on Friday, when the clouds went completely away and the sun burst out, something within me broke. I watched the sunshine blaze for hours whilst being cooped inside, and saw on the weather report that the Gray would be returning within twenty-four hours, and nearly went mad. So I scarpered. Definite mental-health half day.

Almost burst into song as I skipped up the road after birds’ nests I’d been wanting to photograph for weeks. You’ll be getting a medley of those soon. But first, glorious sunshine beaming down all over the place, and other wonderful things.

It being so clear, I figured we’d get a good view of Mount Rainier from the drumlin, and indeed it was so:

Mount Rainier on a warm winter's day.

Mount Rainier on a warm winter’s day.

That was a lovely rare sight. I’m always afraid that when Mount Rainier decides to erupt again, it’ll do it in winter, and I’ll be standing forlornly on the drumlin knowing I could’ve watched geology in action if only the damned meteorology had cooperated.

So, the sun shone, the birds sang, and it would’ve been a nice hop over the drumlin if I hadn’t forgot my charged camera battery. It’s all right. If I hadn’t had to go back, I would’ve not decided to go up the street instead, and wouldn’t have seen this lovely gentlecrow.

Crow in winter tree.

Crow in winter tree.

We have scads of corvids round here. And sometimes they like to look all artistic and interesting.

So there’s this thing that happens when you haven’t seen blue skies in many weeks, and that is developing a tendency to stand with your head flung back, looking up and giggling. No one in Seattle mistakes this for madness.

Winter branches against clear blue sky.

Winter branches against clear blue sky.

If you’re standing at an intersection waiting for your light to turn green, you might even stare up at the other direction’s green light and go, “Wowsa. That looks purty!”

Green light, blue sky.

Green light, blue sky.

Yes, I’m a dweeb.

Botany looks rather different in the winter, mostly because it’s nekkid, and it looks even more different still when the sun shines upon it.

Bare nekkid winter botany.

Bare nekkid winter botany.

When the botany is nekkid, it’s easier to see the little streamlets that abound absolutely everywhere. I love the patterns in the water here as it begins to fall down a tiny little waterfall.

Water patterns.

Water patterns.

The early-blooming shrubbery is doing the early-blooming thing, and I saw my first bee and spider of the season, but couldn’t get them photographed to save my life. So here. Have some flowers. They have the decency to hold still and be appropriately contrasty..

Tiny early flowers on a shrubbery.

Tiny early flowers on a shrubbery.

That’s civilization for you. Always breeding things to do things convenient to people. These don’t seem to mind.  On down the way, by the creek, things are all natural and not-yet-blooming. Some remnants of reproduction cling on to bare stalks, and look very artistic in the light of a dying day.

Remains of reproduction.

Remains of reproduction.

At that spot on the trail, the sun was already behind a ridge. Further down, the ridge peters out, and the skies were bright. So was the moon.

Moon and winter branches.

Moon and winter branches.

That cloudless sky made a wonderful backdrop to aged rose hips.

Rose hips.

Rose hips.

Got a very lucky shot near the pond.

Plane, moon, crow.

Plane, moon, crow.

And when I reached the pond, the sinking sun gleaming off the water, turning bare trees to gold and then reflecting them, was striking.

Gold light on water.

Gold light on water.

And that light in the trees – magnificent backdrop for our Bullock’s Oriole nest.

Our favorite hangy-downy nest.

Our favorite hangy-downy nest.

So of course I had to catch it from more than one angle, and there’s a point where the gold light just glows. Lovely.

Oriole and oro.

Oriole and oro.

Amazing what sunshine can do with low angles and bare branches, innit? And then there was the part of the sky to the north, where twilight was setting in, and wow.

Oriole, oro and azure.

Oriole, oro and azure.

So I didn’t know which would be your favorite, so I selected all three.

By the time I’d reached the stream that flows behind the Brightwater facility, the sun was almost completely down, and the crows were gathering to roost. They always gather in the trees round there, trying to look like extras in a Hitchcock film, and they also confab on the ball fields. Wave after wave of them flew through the sunset sky.

Crows coming home.

Crows coming home.

And they flew round the moon. Would’ve gotten you a good video, too, only my one charged battery packed it in.

Crows over the Moon.

Crows over the Moon.

We had just enough residual power left to catch the sunset.

Sunset.

Sunset.

Note the clouds coming from the west, just in time to lend some interest to the darkening sky. Those bastards ended up inviting all their friends, and the Gray was back by Saturday morning – but we had some interesting breaks and I’ve got a whole ‘nother set of adventures to show you after this. It’s been an excellent weekend for photographs. Not so much for serious research and posting. Hell, I haven’t even finished collecting links on the Siberian meteor.  I mean, that was amazing and enthralling and all, but let’s face it, people – the sun was out in Seattle. That trumps rocks from outer space. There will be plenty of time to catch up on the news when the Gray comes back in earnest. Which it will do starting about… now.

Comments

  1. rq says

    Plane, moon, crow is my favourite. Very symbolic – human mimicking bird, going where bird will never go. Technology and nature.
    The flower is bell heather or something related, probably an import. But it’s pretty. ;)
    Crows coming home is also a quietly dramatic shot.

  2. Trebuchet says

    Lovely, thanks so much for sharing. It was a very nice day indeed; I rolled myself out to the driveway and cul-de-sac in my wheelchair for the first time. One of my resolutions after I recover from my stupid accident is to get out and about more.

    • Lithified Detritus says

      Trebuchet – somehow I missed news of your accident. I wish you well for a speedy recovery.

      • Trebuchet says

        Yeah, it was an exceptionally stupid accident, too. I fell off the roof while hanging Christmas lights! Recovery will be long but should be complete. I’m really very lucky — I could be paralyzed, or dead. I have a wonderfully supportive wife, a good place to live, good insurance, and am financially secure. And i get to read Dana’s wonderful nature posts.

        • Lithified Detritus says

          I’ve had my share of stupid accidents, too. Like you, I’ve been lucky – living on borrowed time for many years now. At one time I attributed that to God’s plans for me, but I got over it. ;-)

          Glad to hear that a full recovery is expected, and that you are in a good situation.

  3. Lithified Detritus says

    Nice pictures – I really like Crows Coming Home.

    Beautiful sunny day here, but chilly. The sunshine is great – I tend to get the winter blahs here in the Great Grey North. Looking forward to spring.

  4. fastlane says

    Love the shot of the moon/plane/bird. Coincidentally, I took off work a little early friday so a friend and I could go flying. The route from Arlington to Derrington, and back to the sound, following the Snohomish river just as the sun was setting…spectacular!