One of my favorite lines of poetry comes from the great Robert Burns poem, “To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough” (not to be confused with his similarly titled “To A Louse (On Seeing One On A Lady’s Bonnet, At Church)”).
The line in question is, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men; Gang aft agley,” (go often astray), and — as you see — it applied to my plan to capture the last sunrise of summer this morning.
The sky was nice and clear… except in the east where I needed clear sky. The Sun is definitely just rising (according to my justified true belief) behind that bank of clouds (I took the photo at 7:02:38). It should be peeking up right at the end of the road, like a pot of molten gold.
Drat. I was so looking forward to the picture.
A small compensation: As I was walked down the sidewalk on the right I saw what I first thought was a large dog crossing the road. It was actually a mother deer, and she was leading her doe. (And there I was with a camera in hand just staring at them. I take some small consolation in that they were too far away for a good picture, but I still wish I’d reacted just a little quicker.)
The sky got a little prettier by 7:08 (now the Sun is behind the clouds behind the trees):
The foreground is the edge of a local park that winds for a mile through a wooded valley. Lots of elevation changes, so it’s a bit of a workout, but the upside is the strong sense of being in the woods. Really nice (I should do a photo essay like this one).
By the time (7:30) I’d walked a mile south (paralleling, but not down in that park), the Sun had finally gotten above the cloud bank:
On the right is my local library. (I wrote not long ago about the Cloud Library app that gives me access to their online catalog. I’ve read a lot of books that way this past year.)
If we could see the stars, we’d see that the Sun is now well-centered in the house of Virgo, although, in fact, today is the last day of the Virgo sign per the Tropical Zodiac (see Slowly Slipping Zodiac for details).
Ah, well, best laid plans, so it goes, it is what it is. At least I got what was, for another hour, a shot of the summer Sun. As I write this, that same Sun is now the fall Sun (even though, at the moment, it’s still rising).
I don’t usually take my phone with me on walks (just my iPod), but sometimes I think I really should. (There is such great scenery here.) Yesterday I missed what could have been a some great shots of huge flocks of Canadian Geese flying overhead in canonical “Vee” formation.
Today, camera in hand, I got a pale imitation of that shot:
But it would have been so much better with them flying almost directly overhead like they were yesterday. Still it does show how large the flock is. That’s a lot of geese!
As I’ve said, this is my favorite time of year here. The weather cools off and dries out, the bugs go away, and (best of all) the leaves turn. I just love the riot of fall color — I’ve always favored earth tones.
The maple trees are some of the best, although they aren’t quite at their full glory around here, yet. The wild sumac, however, goes bright red pretty soon once summer starts to fade:
Some years I see the sumac go in late August. You see long-needle pines behind them. I love the long-needle pines — they put such a hush in the sound of the wind. (There are a lot of them in the Cathedral of Pines where I disposed Sam’s ashes.)
Birch tree leaves generally just yellow rather than turning red, but there is something about birch trees I just love:
For one thing, a stand of them in the distance seems to shimmer. The trees have smallish roundish leaves, and birch wood is very springy, so the leaves act as if they were on springs. The breeze makes them all vibrate, and the way the leaves reflect the sunlight makes the trees look like they’re shimmering. It’s not an effect I’ve noticed with other trees.
And then there’s that cool white bark that’s so much fun to peel off. I’ve never made a canoe of it, though.
In my little suburb there are some city-maintained walking paths that wind through a wooded buffer zone along the freeway. Long stretches of the chain link fence between the path and the freeway contain wild grapes:
Back when I first started walking those paths I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. But there is such a thing as (grape) wine from Minnesota, so people apparently do grow grapes here. Not that I have a clue, but I always thought grapes required warmer climes.
On the other hand, those are pretty pathetic little grapes. I don’t have the courage to try one, but they look pulpy, not at all juicy, and somehow perhaps vaguely poisonous for all I know. (I’ve noticed the birds don’t seem interested in them.)
Since I was planning on a photo walk, I thought I’d get out a bit earlier and see if I could capture a shot of Venus:
The photo (taken at 6:19) doesn’t really do it justice. Venus was closer to Earth earlier in the month — it felt close enough to reach up and touch, in fact. Right now it’s roughly 90° from Earth relative to the Sun.
It moves faster than the Earth, so it will continue to pull ahead until it disappears from our view behind the Sun. After a while, it’ll be visible again as the Evening Star (Mercury, which is also about 90° from us right now, but on the other side, is visible in the evening after the Sun sets).
As you see, Mars is behind us, so it’s visible at night. It rises late and is still visible in the early morning before the Sun rises. I tried to get a shot of it, too:
But this doesn’t capture it at all (it’s hardly even visible). There’s no apparent red color in the photo although it’s readily apparently to the eye. It’s much more interesting (and very red) at night.
So welcome to fall (it officially happened a bit over an hour ago as I type this line).
Stay safe, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.