Monday, December 8, 2014

Wild Week

     A favorite segment of A Prairie Home Companion begins with Garrison Keillor telling us, "It's been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone, my hometown." We're a long way from Minnesota so I'll try, "It's been a wild week in Washington County, my roam ground."
     It seems like the sky and things that fall out of it take center stage this time of year. Last evening I was out doing chores when a big orange moon rose about 6:00 PM. It was just one day past full and popped up far to the northeast, nestled amongst the familiar winter constellations of Gemini, Orion, Taurus and Auriga. Even bright stars like Capella and Betelgeuse fade into the background as if bullied by the big kid passing thru the neighborhood.
     Thursday morning served up a special treat. I was waiting for the skid-steer to warm-up and wishing for the warm-up that comes with sunrise. What I got was a blazing orange sun pillar against a purple gray cloud. It was over in a few minutes but the memory lingers. Here's a little info I found on the phenomenon:

Sun Pillars
vertical shafts of light

A sun pillar is a vertical shaft of light extending upward or downward from the sun. Typically seen during sunrise or sunset, sun pillars form when sunlight reflects off the surfaces of falling ice crystals associated with thin, high-level clouds (like cirrostratus clouds).

 Photograph by: Rauber

The hexagonal plate-like ice crystals fall with a horizontal orientation, gently rocking from side to side as they fall.

When the sun is low on the horizon, an area of brightness appears in the sky above (or below) the sun as sunlight is reflected off the surfaces of these tipped ice crystals.
     Credit Illinois WW2010 Project.

     A Sunday swing thru southern Washington County left me with pleasing images: Wampeack Creek running cold and blue between tawny banks, a big flock of wild turkeys along Co. 59, mallards in the Battenkill at Rexleigh (they seemed happy to have a river empty of fishermen, swimmers and paddlers), a squirrel's tracks in crusty snow and lots of holiday spirit at Bailey's Christmas Tree Farm in West Cambridge where cars with bushy green things on top lined both sides of the road! Something to smile about in every season

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