Today we're celebrating orange, but I had to post this photo of my first snowdrop of the year, opening on this warm January day (54 degrees today).
So here are some oranges, to brighten up a dreary winter day, even if it is a warm one.
October seems to be the month for orange -- and one last one that begins to shade into yellow.
We've been having bipolar weather around here -- snow for a day or two and then temperatures rising and acting like spring -- but, no, there aren't strawberries at the farmer's market already.
I'm still pondering some of the pieces in my last entry, especially Goethe's claim that colors are the deeds and suffering of light. If they are, let's rejoice in them. And doing a week's rainbow of color seems an appropriate way to celebrate them.
So here are some photos from the archives, with the glory of red.
I've been listening to a podcast of one of Krista Tippett's On Being broadcasts, an interview with Arthur Zajonc. He's a professor of physics at Amherst College, a long time meditator/contemplative, and was diagnosed with Parkinson's a year ago. He had some interesting observations on how the latter two interact, but the pieces I wanted to pick up here are some of his observations on light and color.
He quotes Goethe, who in addition to being a poet and a standard name in German literature classes, was also a scientist who explained his interest in studying the nature of light through accurately observing color with this poetic line: Colors are the deeds of light; its deeds and sufferings: this considered we may expect from them some explanation respecting light itself.
Zajonc adds that we learn about light and darkness -- that "through studying the action of light in darkness, and darkness in light, we come to sense the "deeds and suffering" that are color". I'm quoting from a page or two I found on the web, from his book Cacthing the Light: the entwined history of light and mind, which looks like an interesting one to explore further.
He also talks about light and shadow -- that light is only visible when it falls on an object. We don't see light as such, just the effect when it lights up the objects around us. Seems like there could be some interesting connections to be thinking about as I take photos of light and shadow and color.
Today's photos are some of the ways light and shadow were interacting around the house this afternoon.
My schedule today was such that I wasn't able to head out with a camera -- and it was a dreary, gray day anyway. So I've just been trolling through the archives, to see what caught my eye.
The result is a few friendly and not so friendly faces, that still make me chuckle. Being easily amused keeps life interesting.
I saw a fascinating sunrise this morning. When I came out of the Rec-Fitness Center, the sun had just risen and thanks to a hazy cloud screen, I could see it perched there like a fat, red ball.
When I got over to the parking lot behind the physical plant, my view of the sun was blocked by the Music Center, but there was a white halo making a half-circle around the sun. It reminded me of days when you see sundogs off to either side, but if there were sundogs today, they were hidden by the trees. Instead, there was a bright beam extending vertically, and a bright crown at the apex of the circular halo.
It was less visible by the time I returned with the camera, and my photographic skills weren't up to capturing the sight as adequately as I'd like -- it was full day and much brighter than the photo above appears to be, but this allows you a better view of the halo and crown than some of my other attempts.
From checking out "sun dogs" on that fount of knowledge, Wikipedia, I'm guessing that this is an upper tangent arc, formed by the same sort of hexagonal ice crystals that create sun dogs, but seen when the sun is low. The site says that such arcs are relatively common, but seldom noticed because they are high overhead.
Sounds like a mini-parable right there.
You can see an illustration of tangent arcs at this atmospheric optics site.
_In The Wild Places, Robert MacFarlane explores a variety of landscapes in the British Isles, with an understanding of "wild place" that enlarges from "somewhere remote, historyless, unmarked" to include another kind of wildness, "the wildness of natural life, the sheer force of ongoing organic experience, vigorous and chaotic. This wildness was not about asperity, but about luxuriance, vitality, fun." It's a wildness that he encounters in the city fringe as well as in high remote mountains.
At one point he muses on the inner maps we carry, the record of our own encounters with creation, the landscapes small or large that have given us "happiness, and the emotions that go by the collective noun of 'happiness': hope, joy, wonder, grace, tranquility and others."
_"Every day, millions of people found themselves deepened and dignified by their encounters with particular places. Most of these places, however, were not marked as special on any map. But they became special by personal acquaintance. A bend in a river, the junction of four fields, a climbing tree, a stretch of old hedgerow or a fragment of woodland glimpsed from a road regularly driven along -- these might be enough."
"Or fleeting experiences, transitory, but still site-specific: a sparrowhawk sculling low over a garden or street, or the fall of evening light on a stone, or a pigeon feather caught on a strand of spider's silk, and twirling in mid-air like a magic trick. Daily, people were brought to sudden states of awe by encounters such as these: encounters whose power to move us was beyond expression but also beyond denial." Macfarlane, p 236.
At Faith House Fellowship last night, we combined this idea of inner maps of special places with Celtic Christianity's perception of the gift of creation as essentially a self-giving of God,a "showing" that reveals something of the One who is the essence of life. We shared memories of some of the places that have provided moments of encounter, awe, and happiness for us.
Some of us looked back to beloved childhood spots, others to our current maps, or to bright memories from this past year. These are good memories to bring back from time to time, to finger like prayer beads. I've scattered some of my memories from the past year through this entry -- what is on your inner map?
I'm looking through the Creation section of the hymnal this evening, getting ready for worship at Faith House Fellowship tomorrow, and the first verse of All Beautiful the March of Days could have been written for today:
All beautiful the march of days,
as seasons come and go.
The hand that shaped the rose hath wrought
the crystal of the snow,
hath sent the hoary frost of heav'n,
the flowing waters sealed,
and laid a silent loveliness on hill and wood and field.
My eye was caught by snow sparkles and shadow, before I scurried back inside to wrap up in a warm afghan.
I've been reading The Wild Places, by Robert MacFarlane, partly in honor of this month's emphasis on earthcare at church, but mostly because it looked interesting. In beautifully evocative prose, he describes his search for wild places in the United Kingdom, taking us through stories of history and landscape.
One of his first chapters is "Island" which tells of his visit to Ynys Enlli, an island off the coast of the Lleyn Peninsula, one of the remote places where Celtic monks took up residence. I like the glimpse he gives us into the life of the monks:
Much of what we know of the life of the monks of Enlli and places like it, is inferred from the rich literature which they left behind. Their poems speak eloquently of a passionate and precise relationship with nature, and of the blend of receptivity and detachment which characterized their interactions with it. Some of the poems read like jotted lists, or field notes: 'Swarms of bees, beetles, soft music of the world, a gentle humming; brent geese, barnacle geese, shortly before All Hallows, music of the dark wild torrent.' Others record single charmed instants: a blackbird calling from a gorse branch near Belfast Loch, foxes at play in a glade. Marban, a ninth-century hermit who lived in a hut in a fir-grove near Druim Rolach, wrote of the 'wind's voice against a branchy wood on a day of grey cloud.' A nameless monk, responsible for drystone walling on the island of North Rona in the ninth century, stopped his work to write a poem that spoke of the delight he felt at standing on a 'clear headland', looking over the 'smooth strand' to the 'calm sea', and hearing the calls of 'the wondrous birds'. A tenth-century copyist, working in an island monastery, paused long enough to scribble a note in Gaelic beside his Latin text. "Pleasant to me is the glittering of the sun today upon these margins.'
A man after my own heart, that tenth-century monk.
We were back to clouds and snow today, after yesterday's clear sunshine. The sun hadn't come up yet when I went over to the Rec-Fitness Center this morning. For being dark, it was quite light, with snow coming down steadily and holding the light from the campus lighting system. On the ground, the snow shimmered with a zillion shining sparkles, like a cloak of glittering sequins covering the sidewalk and grass. Though that's backwards -- the glittering sequins are like the glistening snow, which has the longer pedigree.
The sparkles twinkled more rapidly as I looked down at my feet, and more slowly further away. And there were still a few random twinkles even when I moved through shadow. Snow catching the ambient light, I assume -- though when I came home again, day had arrived, and the snow was as dull as the clouds overhead. I'll have to ask one of my physicist friends or relations about that one.
A day of sunshine and cold temps here and Goshen, and icicles outside our front window to prove it.
A few more photos from the Kansas trip, taken at the City Market. My eye was caught by pattern, light and shadow.
Fourteen hours on the road yesterday, traveling home from Kansas. There were many moments of light, like this sunrise soon after we started, and the sun-brightened fog that filled dips in the landscape.
Others were harder to catch with a photo, especially from a speeding car -- stark bare branches in a glowing fog, the bright breasts of raptors perched on fence posts beside the road, a herd of maybe a hundred deer drifting through a bare woods and across a stubbled field (fortunately, quite a distance from the highway).
Temperatures here were way down over the weekend, and back up into the 50's today. I discovered my snowdrops are up and showing a bit of white -- and by late afternoon, they were also surrounded by white. They should be fine, though -- they are called snowdrops for good reason!
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"