Monday, July 23, 2012


At least it started like an ordinary day, however much it did  not last.  The toes dampened as one kicked the grass, and sparrows trembled happily in the pools along the wayside.  You could breathe the air without fear because it held the promise of something good or delicious.  Mourning doves sang while here and there neighbors greeted one another pleasantly.

And then the sun in his summer boredom must have decided to wander.  He drew closer to see what there was to see as though to be a consulting partner to everything even though all anybody wanted was for him to be a disinterested observer.   He smiled down menacingly on the busyness of earth. Nary a cloud interrupted him.  He reached out with a finger, flicked the land as if to hurry along a dilatory bug. Hot winds swept the fields and villages. Trees burned, grass shriveled, neighbors retreated to dark cellar rooms, the birds stopped singing, streams dried up.

It could have been an incantation, or some masterful distraction, or business elsewhere that sent him along his way.  It was probably only more bored wandering.  Whatever it was he moved on.  And in the relative cool of the evening, life revived as children, dogs and birds returned to the streets in laughter and play.

Word has it, he'll wander back this way tomorrow.

Today's Influences and Soundtrack:
J.R.R. Tolkien, Tree and Leaf
J.R.R. Tolkien, Leaf by Niggle
G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
Antonio Vivaldi, The Four Seasons
Conni Ellisor, Blackberry Winter
Michael Hedges, Aerial Boundaries

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Smear of Lights

One of the largest solar flares of the decade exploded out from the sun just last Thursday.  Tons of solar particles shot into space directly at earth, and with that speeding shower came the promise of Aurora.

Aurora!    They never fail to take my breath away.  They are one of the magical and mysterious phenomena of our world.  Solar particles get trapped in the magnetic fields around the planet, and then ionize in those high and rarified regions of the atmosphere to form glowing curtains and waves that keep deep northern and deep southern sky-watchers fascinated for long night time hours.  The resulting fire in the sky is sometimes colored lights that shimmer and stream and shift. 

Reports from this last event were promising.  Even the scientists at the south pole were excited.   Aurora australis is more rare than borealis because of the way the magnetic fields are shaped there.  By Saturday, a brilliant Aurora australis was taking its place above the horizon, holding great promise for a striking borealis in the north.

I've seen northern lights perhaps six or eight  times in my life, and the memory of them is indelible.   I once saw them as far south as the greater St. Louis region, which was my hope this time.   It's been 14 years since my last Aurora and this was a strong enough solar flare to push them into the mid latitudes. 

But alas, the city lamps and humidity were too dominant.   I looked six or eight times at various hours of the night for the past week and disappointedly saw nothing . . . nothing but a smear of high pressure sodium lights against the horizon.

Today's Influences and Soundtrack:
Ralph Vaughan Williams, Norfolk Rhapsodies
Lyles Mays, Lyle Mays

Sunday, July 15, 2012

. . . ruthere?

Fog.  Yes, definitely fog.   Drifting in and settling like a thick, mind-smothering film. Obscuring vision, dampening the ears, suppressing the olfactory, anesthetizing thought. Slipping, slipping, slipping into a dumb and useless dormancy.

But it wasn't sun that cleared the senses. Nor a fresh breeze. It was an owl, rather two owls in conversation, during the late evening hours that penetrated the shroud. And a dog over on the next block. And the promise of northern lights (which was a stupid anticipation this far south, actually) while remembering past displays in other parts of the world.

A yawn.  A stretch.  A shake of the head.  I feel like a 25-year-old.  "Huh?  How'd I get here?"

Today's Influences and Soundtrack:
Cornelius Plantinga, Not The Way It's Supposed To Be
James Blaylock, The Rainy Season
Hector Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique
Will Ackerman, Past Light