The Sun Also Rises

December 22, 2016 § Leave a comment

Rushing through the morning tasks that all need to be done before I’m out the door to work, I caught a glance of pink out the window. The sunrise had turned the high, striated clouds into bright cotton candy. I stepped outside, snapped a photo with my phone, and posted it to Facebook with a title stolen from Hemingway. (It’s okay; he stole it from the Bible.)

A moment later, the hidden sun transmuted the cotton candy to spun gold. I took another photo, but my phone captured it more as a flank of salmon.

I seem to be hung up on sunrises lately. The rising sun heralds a brand new day, full of undiscovered promise. At the moment when our very own star crests the horizon, the day has yet to decide what it will become.

Yesterday may have been tragic, or dark, or painful. The new day doesn’t care; like a rebellious teen, it’ll do what it wants.

Hemingway wrote The Sun Also Rises in celebration of his generation’s strength. They’d suffered through World War I and all of its horrors, and they’d survived. They drowned the nightmares of that war in fine Parisian wine and rich food and raucous celebration. They outlasted the dark days, and the sun rose again for them.

The sun sets. The long, cold night swallows you, lies to you, tells you it has eaten the light and all hope with it. Tells you this darkness will be endless.

But the sun also rises. It rose for ancient Kohelet, for Hemingway, and for all who came before and after. It rose today. It will rise tomorrow. Sometimes the clouds thicken to hide it, but it rises nonetheless.

The sun also rises. The darkness always ends.

Remember that.


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The Long Night

December 21, 2016 § 1 Comment

Yesterday morning, the sun hopped the horizon and hung in a clear sky, blazingly orange, casting a golden light over the frozen earth. Frost coated gray the tops of the cars in the dealership lot, glittering in the rising light.

Today, the frost returned, but thin clouds veiled the sun’s bright face. The car ahead of me at the first stoplight had icy Rorschach patterns on its bumper. Silver gift wrap, if you’re more of a holiday mind.

It’s the winter solstice today, the longest night. Interestingly, it coincided with a lunar eclipse last night. The days get longer from here. Not warmer, yet, but at least more daylight. « Read the rest of this entry »

Knives in the Wind

December 13, 2016 § Leave a comment

Good morning from Ice Station GoWatcho, in the frozen hinterlands of Southwest Ohio.

We got our first real snow this morning. I went outside to feed Lily, the neighborhood cat, and all was clear and dry and cold. Ten minutes later, leaving for work, the roofs were white.

Fucking winter, man.

The morning snow fell in microflakes, sticking to the road only in white bands following the paths of storm sewer crossings. It came down in thicker flakes a few minutes ago, and now it’s turning into rain.

The high today will be 37F, which is above freezing and therefore bearable. Thursday’s high, however, is forecast to be 17F. The weather wonks have started slinging the term “polar vortex” around, which is what they like to say because “cold as polar bear shit” isn’t allowed on the airwaves.

I’m wearing sweaters and building fires in the fireplace at night. Burrowing under blankets on the couch and luring kitties onto my lap. Bundling into coats and scarves and thick gloves.

I’m defending against the wind’s cold knives. They nick my flesh, trying to force me back into myself to stare with dull eyes at the sky, hoping for a glimpse of blue amid so much gray. Winter wants me to hide within myself until the spring birds start singing.

I refuse.


Photo credit: Source Unknown

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Before Coffee: The Season of the Dark Birds

December 5, 2016 § Leave a comment

I’ve always had an affinity for the hawk. I’m fond of all the raptors—falcons, eagles, etc.—but hawks have always been a particular fascination.

I work in a big glass box, and hawks live nearby, so I see them perched on the tops of the parking lot lights and some dead trees nearby. Several times, I’ve see one particular hawk (at least, I assume it’s the same one) harried by two tiny birds who seem to think they own the airspace through which the hawk is flying.

The hawk could easily take out both birds. I’ve seen it happen, once, standing at my kitchen sink and something flashed by the window, and I thought someone had run past. I looked out into the back yard, and there it was, some small bird in its talons being torn apart by its fierce, curved beak. Taking its time, an hour spent completely disassembling its breakfast; I went out once it finally flew off, and there was nothing but a few bloody feathers.

So I know what the hawk outside my office window is capable of. Yet it flies on, serene, ignoring the little birds’ attack runs and the occasional feathers they tear off it. (I found one of those feathers—a large one—next to my car one day, and keep it in the dash.)

But now it’s the season of the little, dark birds. They’re massing in undulating murmurations, moving both at random and in tandem through the air, filling power lines and empty fields and trees whenever they come to rest.

The other day, I saw the hawk flying through that same airspace and suddenly an entire flock of dark birds poured out to attack from their hiding place in the trees. It worried me, seeing this mighty raptor swarmed by such an overwhelming number; I thought perhaps the predator might become the prey, and the prey, the predator.

Yet the hawk flew peacefully on, as always, and seemed to take no notice of the dark birds. It finally crossed some invisible border, and the swarm turned and flew back to their trees to hide and rest and wait for the next intruder or the signal to continue the migration south.

In a week or two, the hawk will have the sky to itself until the dark birds return in the spring. It will be the hawk’s season and it knows this, and is patient. Focused.

The little dark birds may chase and screech and pick out a few feathers, but in the end, the hawk remains.

P.S. As my friend Bill pointed out, the gang attack on the hawk is an example of mobbing.


Photo credit:  Maresa Smith, via Death to Stock Photos.

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