The old backyard

IMG_2525.JPGThere’s no mistaking a southwestern Missouri creek. I’ll always recognize the high-pitched clink the fist-sized rocks make when I walk on them. Many of them bear tiny round or cylindrical fossils — some rocks are essentially nothing but fossil. Crawdads and snails and fish flit or crawl over the creek bed. The water itself, cool and clear, gleams golden and reflected green. I’ve known these creeks, like Bull Creek above, since my earliest memories, and my dad has known them even longer. It was good to get back a couple of weekends ago.

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IMG_2490.JPGI’m heading up north again in a couple weeks for the Aug. 21 solar eclipse that will sweep from coast to coast. Click that link for detailed maps on where to see the total blockage of the sun by the moon — you can bet I’ll have about 1,000 photos to share, but it sounds like photos won’t do this cosmic event nearly the justice it deserves. If you can go and decide to do it, watch out for tens of thousands of others doing the same. If you don’t, you’ll at least get a partial eclipse no matter where you are in the country. But there’s no way I’m missing this thing; I’ve been looking forward to it for more than a year.

See you on the other side!

Dan

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Easter Weekend

_C1_8079Easter 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.

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_C1_7948Spring 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.

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IMG_7936I’ve missed dyeing eggs. Have a good one, everybody.

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Eclipse

_C1_2789---CopyToday I saw my first solar eclipse. It’s tough to convey how exciting it was for me; I was thoroughly geeking out. Just look at that crescent and remind yourself that it’s an unfathomably huge, seething sphere of gas and energy that’s being obscured by a much smaller, but no less beautiful, sphere of rock and cold. How cool is that?

You can also barely see a massive sunspot moving across the Sun’s “southern” surface. It’s about the size of Jupiter. Sunspots are regions of particularly intense magnetic activity, and they only look dark compared to the rest of the Sun; they’re still plenty bright.

_C1_2890---CopyI always like to think of eclipses from the perspective of people 2,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 years ago. What would you think if you saw the light of the sky dimming, or going out as during a total eclipse? I’d think the world was ending. I wonder how terrifying it was. Or maybe ancient people were more relaxed than I suspect. Either way, I wonder.

_C1_2855---CopyIt was a really lovely evening here. I spent most of the day nervous that the clouds wouldn’t get out of the way in time. They broke just enough to let me see the Sun through their filter — perfect. A few other creatures joined me to see it.

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_C1_3017---CopyBeautiful all around. I’m looking forward to the total eclipse coming in 2017.

Thanks for looking,

Dan