Let’s talk about lightning, a high-power tendril of electric current that, as they say, can be five times as hot as the Sun’s surface — a blast of the cosmic right over our heads. The strongest bolts can have billion-volt potentials and carry enough energy to power a good-sized home for a month. They seem to be propelled by what we call static electricity on a massive scale, but researchers still don’t know exactly how they happen. Lightning also branches into the surreal, with so-called “sprites,” “elves” and “jets” of red, green and blue light reaching tens of miles toward space.
I haven’t had a chance to photograph lightning since a year ago. I’ve gotten better with the mechanics — narrow aperture, focus not quite on infinity, long exposure — but timing is still mostly luck, at least the way I’m doing it. Lots of frames of empty sky Friday night, when I took the photo above up in Rogers. I don’t know if there’s any avoiding that. I was so dang happy to get that photo.
I waited to post it because the forecast called for storms all weekend — maybe I’d get more chances. In the meantime, I went to Fayetteville’s Springfest, with its live music and short dog parade, and to the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks.
The last time I was at the botanical gardens, it had been below freezing for four days, freezing the fountains’ water into forms I’d never seen before. It was a little different this time around.
This is the bleeding heart flower, which apparently has a short Japanese myth attached to it explaining its striking shape.
I finally got another chance at catching lightning Sunday evening, a nice bookend for the weekend. These were shot from my apartment building, if anyone’s worried I was running out into ongoing storms. I wouldn’t recommend doing that.
Stay safe out there, and thanks for looking.
Since the Great Sand Dunes, I’ve been restless. The spring in the air and on the trees isn’t helping. I want to see new things, to soak in as much of the world as I can, come across different people and places and record them from a fresh angle.
I know two ways to do this: go to an unfamiliar place, and sink a bit further into the familiar until I see something different. I don’t know how good I am at either, but they seem like a solid plan. I tried both this past weekend — first at the farmers’ market in Fayetteville’s square, where I’ve been a hundred times, and at Pedestal Rocks Scenic Area, a section of the Ozark National Forest that was new to me.
This is Alex. She had a great smile and a great headscarf and a great plant that she walked with around and around the square — I kept seeing its branches poking above the crowd. She seemed like one of those people who are friends of everyone who passes by. I obviously had to ask for her photo.
Caves, limestone mushroom-rock columns and sandstone bluffs puncture the forest canopy in the Pedestal Rock Scenic Area, a little section of the national forest where spring has dyed the mountains yellow and light green. Its two loop trails together offer a three- or four-hour trek, which seems like the minimum for a hike after the dunes. The weather was perfect, room temperature and breezy. My trusty hiking partner Ryan came, too.
The pedestals are often at least 10 feet from the nearest bluff; I wonder if anyone has ever stood on them. One of the columns looked just like a chemistry flask. Meanwhile trees grow straight out of the bluffs’ lumpy rock.
Keep an eye out for the new, and thanks for looking.
Easter weekend began with the Moon’s disappearance.
During part of a lunar eclipse, the Moon looks like a fairly normal crescent, but the fuzziness of the line between light and dark gives it away as something different. The Moon was reduced to a tiny sliver as dawn approached Saturday, the rest of its circle barely visible as a purplish smudge. This month’s lunar eclipse had a certain poetic symmetry: The full Moon’s light was swallowed up by Earth’s shadow as the Sun’s light appeared on the opposite horizon.
Eclipses are sometimes called blood moons because they’re stained orange and red by every sunset and sunrise on the planet at once. But because the eclipse reached totality when the sky was a soft blue, instead the Moon simply vanished. Almost as cool, really.
For all the Christian followers of this blog, happy late Easter! For the rest of you, I hope it was a beautiful weekend of spring.
Spring is fully underway, but Saturday morning still managed to drop to around freezing. The cold meant Bella Vista Lake was steaming like a sauna when I passed on the way up to Missouri for the holiday. I couldn’t resist stopping.
I’ve missed dyeing eggs. Have a good one, everybody.