Lisa called me to look at the Northern Lights at around midnight. They were spiking and visible from within town. Having been asleep for a couple hours I didn’t feel much like going out to take photos.
About 3 am I had a change of heart and Willow and I packed up the camera and headed for the dark part of Lake Windermere.
The auroras had died down yet were still visible in the northeast as a stream of solar wind hit Earth’s magnetic field.
Geese, ducks, coyotes and hooting owls provided a fitting soundtrack to the clear moonless morning. It felt good to be out looking up. Very fine start to the day.
Lisa has encouraged me to look back at some of the photos taken in the past. I rarely do this, content with looking at what was taken most recently. She said sometimes I might miss a good one. These two were taken on a wonderful trip along Palliser Pass last summer.
A few welcome days off in a row. Willow and I figured we would sample the chilly temperatures. We headed out at 3 in the morning to see if we could catch the return of The Milky Way.
So far we have had a mild winter and perhaps we have grown soft because -28°c felt colder than expected. Granted fumbling barehanded with a metal camera doesn’t help. Willow looked at me like I was crazy and was happy to make it back to the truck and a blasting heater.
The Milky Way was rising but the centre stays below the mountains before dawn washed the stars away. Still a wonderful viewing morning with the young moon long down refusing to interfere with the brilliance of stars.
That afternoon we met with good buddies Dave, Jake and Chewy for a bout of ice fishing. By then it had warmed to a much more comfortable -16°c. We picked a spot near the shallow south end of Lake Windermere, chosen for it’s distance from the ruck of the crowd. Unfortunately the fish didn’t feel the same, choosing instead to occupy the deeper portions nearer the outlet.
Still, it was refreshing enjoying the lake. Jake drilled his own hole in the almost 2 feet of thick ice. The dogs ran this way and that. Very fine day.
All we had was cloud on the peak of the Geminids. Lisa and I tried to push through the cloud seeking a higher elevation. This can be tough; first, the roads are the shits, second, we’re committed to our first choice.
Sometimes it goes, sometimes it doesn’t.
On the way back into town we spotted this nicely decorated cabin. It was early, they’d either left the lights on all night or were delighting the folks off to work ahead of schedule.
We headed out last night before the peak of the Geminid Meteor Shower to get the jump on the shooting stars. It was overcast so we pointed the camera towards any opening. Lisa saw several meteors. I saw one spectacular one, unfortunately our cameras were pointed elsewhere. That’s the way it goes.
We are planning to go back out tonight. The weather looks about the same. It’s only about -15°c but feels colder, not because of wind chill but because I’m getting old. I don’t think it phases Lisa though. I just try to keep up.
With luck we will spot some. Even if we don’t I’m damn lucky.
Pretty good days. The lake has frozen hard and clear. Without snow it is a skater’s dream. We headed out after work on Friday, tossing the puck around, stopping once and awhile to admire the fine day. We stayed until the stars started to appear.
This morning low cloud blanketed the valley. It always seems cold to me when this happens. This evening Willow and I headed for the mountains with hopes to push through the clouds into the stars.
We followed the creek we are used to. It took less climbing than I initially figured before the stars appeared in the treetops. The sky was warm, twisting in my mind, while long lost spirits flowed through me stealing my breath.
The smoke rolled in from the fires in Oregon and Northern California. BC’s largest forest fire is burning about 50km from us. It’s been burning for over a month, yet hasn’t generated much smoke. It is reported that most of the smoke is from the US. It is stifling, casting odd light and turning the sun red.
Reports say the end is nigh, and worse, we have done it to ourselves, but we still have time to repent. It sounds a lot like religious fervour to me. That it was something in our control. If we only voted this way or that, stopped using plastic bags, weened our way off oil and harnessed the power of wind.
All the while we live in the best time of human history, living to an age unheard of 200 years ago, where more than ever humankind has enough to eat and fresh water to drink. Where we get to contemplate our navel instead of worrying about what the predator under the rock will do to us.
We sure could do things better. It is a shame how we treat the Earth and each other. The Earth is turning. It’s had enough of our disrespect of the land and sky. But that’s only part of the story.
Shit is bad. It’s depressing, our leaders, internet and television try to make sense of it for us but they are empty idols. It will be something else, something we haven’t thought of yet, that will get us.
In the mean time lets stop racing around the bush in ATV’s, churning up the waters in motorboats, stop building second homes, tossing cigarettes out the window, letting meat go bad, blaming others, burning what we don’t need, considering we are hard done by, thinking we are bigger than the earth, killing each other over race, rioting even if deserved, a Molotov cocktail and teargas never solved nothing, either right or left can we agree we want our kids to grow up, be happy and live.
It is hard to know what is in store for us in this climate. We’re not calling the shots nor is any deity, voted in or conjured. My money is on sanity, objective thinking, clarity of purpose, ingenuity, and above all else love and humility.
It feels good to wonder around with Lisa on a summer night. Everything going on in the sky, planets moving, the Milky Way, the Tail of Scorpius just above the mountains, comets and satellites.
The mosquitoes were ferocious. Willow riled up some deer. Elk lined the highway. Lisa and I both looked for eyes in the ditch far ahead. We can’t see the way we used to, so go slow now.
There was a time I used to dive off docks and rocks in the pitch black with faith there would be water below me. In summer nights the water is warmer than air. I can still see you wade in. Lisa made her own bikinis. There was fish down there that swirled around us.
Was up early to try to get a photo of Comet NEOWISE. It is in the northeast before dawn. I spotted it a few mornings ago and even got a few photos, however without a tripod they were a little fuzzy. This morning Willow and I prepared with tripod and flashlight to check camera settings.
We headed for the banks above Lake Windermere. It was my hope to get the lake in the foreground. Comet NEOWISE was easy to locate with the naked eye. I needed binoculars a few mornings previous. Like certain stars and constellations once you find them your eye is drawn to them.
It’s a real treat to see comets. NEOWISE will remain visible for a while as it heads back towards the outer solar system. Estimated time to make a return journey 6800 years. Pretty lucky for Willow and I to be standing there when we were.