Saturday, September 24, 2016

Darkness and Light

Atmospheric instability is expressed in meteorology by various mathematical formulae and indices. Instability is graded as a function of temperature change over height or time. Instability causes turbulence that in moist atmospheres can whip up thunderstorms and cause cyclogenesis.

Violent storms are used in literature as a metaphor to portend evil.
Read more here:
"The darker and stormier the weather outside the more diabolical the deeds done. When the clouds roll away, however, the rain has washed away all the blood in the streets and the world is clean and new again, as if all the violence and destruction of the storm served a divine purpose."
― Benjamin R. Smith, Atlas
Writer Cormac McCarthy probes inevitable and inescapable darkness.
"By early evening all the sky to the north had darkened and the spare terrain they trod had turned a neuter gray as far as the eye could see. They grouped in the road at the top of a rise and looked back. The storm front towered above them and the wind was cool on their sweating faces. They slumped bleary-eyed in their saddles and looked at one another. Shrouded in the black thunderheads the distant lightning glowed mutely like welding seen through foundry smoke. As if repairs were under way at some flawed place in the iron dark of the world."
― Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses
Darkness looms in an approaching storm before breaking loose into sacred mayhem.

Photographer Mitch Dobrowner chases apocalyptic storms that strike the rural landscapes of Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Mammatus, Bolton, Kansas
by Mitch Dobrowner

In Dobrowner's photograph Mammatus, the unworldly and mammary-like mammatocumulus add to the foreboding of the anvil cloud on the horizon.

Vortex, Long Hollow, South Dakota

Dobrowner's images evoke the immediacy and magnificence of atmospheric energy as it roils over the plains.

Darkness and instability invariably give way to clearing skies and calm.
"Our job is to record, each in his own way, this world of light and shadow and time that will never come again exactly as it is today."
Edward Abbey


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ocean Color

"After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with color, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn’t it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it?"
Richard Dawkins

Pure water is colorless. The ocean gets its color from the absorption of color spectra and scattering of sunlight.

Bracing the Waves
by Ivan Aivazovsky, 1890

Romantic painter Ivan Aivazovsky (1817-1900) is recognized as one of the most accomplished seascape artists. Scenes depicting a range of ocean moods, like the sun, low on the horizon, illuminating the breaking wave in Bracing the Waves, constitutes the majority of his known work.

Water molecules are known to absorb proportionally more red, yellow, and green wavelengths, leaving the shades of blues and purples that Aivazovsky depicted in Among the Waves.

Among the Waves
by Ivan Aivazovsky, 1898

Suspended particles like sand or silt from coastal river runoff, will scatter sunlight as shown in the roiling shore break painted in Seascape with a Steamer.

Seascape with a Steamer
by Ivan Aivazovsky, 1897

Suspended phytoplankton contains chlorophyll. Chlorophyll absorbs red and blue wavelengths giving the ocean a greener tint.

The Ninth Wave
by Ivan Aivazovsky, 1850

"When Rachel Carson accepted the National Book Award, she said, 'if there is poetry in my book about the sea it is not because I deliberately put it there but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out poetry."
― Jim Lynch, The Highest Tide


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Ancient Paths

Walking into the wild, we shed unintentional living. Time expands in the wilderness. Immersed in the wild, our senses fill the emptiness of unintentional living with the fullness of being alive.
Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. 
Susan Sontag
Poet Mary Oliver wrote,
To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.
Setting out we notice the dull prick of grit in our hiking shoe. Some time later, we notice the smell of rain quenching arid rock.

Bottom of Ancient Route Up
by Jim Krehbiel, 9/6/2016

In time we turn our attention to light, wind, water, stone, plants, and other animals.

Many of the paths we walk are ancient routes. Ancestral cultures and animals navigated these routes before we arrived. Bipedals, quadrupedals and centipedes alike, these routes are well-trodden. Descendants follow after our departure.

In Native American tradition, how one walks is a metaphor for how one conducts one's life.

Basketmaker Rock Art
by Jim Krehbiel, 9/6/2016

Anasazi is a Navajo word meaning ancient ones or wise teachers. Anasazi nomads, or Ancestral Puebloans, arrived in the Four Corners region around A.D. 200. We know little of these people except that they made baskets woven from fronds of willow.

Much of our conduct and most of our actions are ephemeral. A few remain. Our remains become artifacts.

Look for light
Listen for inspiration on the wind
Let water cleanse your soul
Set yourself on a firm foundation
Serve as the plants
Do not offend your fellow creatures
Live in harmony with all creations
Anasazi Foundation


Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sustenance, Transport & Power

Water is essential. Water is finite. Water has no substitute. Humans settled by rivers of fresh flowing water. Rivers offer sustenance, transport, and power.
Children of a culture born in a water-rich environment, we have never really learned how important water is to us. We understand it, but we do not respect it.
William Ashworth

Wright Dam, Fergus Falls

To experience a river flowing through a small town or a city is to witness human nature, who we are, and what we value.
Any river is really the summation of the whole valley. To think of it as nothing but water is to ignore the greater part.
Hal Borland

Otter Tail River, Fergus Falls

Uninhibited population growth and non-reflective consumptive patterns and behaviors spawns water contamination and ecosystem impairment.

Mississippi River above Lock and Dam No. 1

Contamination of rivers results from a confluence of human-induced processes and patterns that call for a systems thinking approach to avert and remediate. Systems thinking is a central concept of watershed management that seeks to limit further degradation and avoid causing unintended consequences.

In a mucked up lovely river,
I cast my little fly.
I look at that river and smell it
and it makes me wanna cry.
Oh to clean our dirty planet,
now there's a noble wish,
and I'm puttin my shoulder to the wheel
'cause I wanna catch some fish.

Greg Brown, from Spring Wind in Dream Cafe