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Did You See the Sky Last Night?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The storm front that brought such destruction to the states just south of us brought us terrible winds in the wee hours of February 6, winds that it seemed would tear the roof off the house. I spoke with a friend from down the road, whose house also tops a hill, and she said she lay awake all night, unable to get this image out of her head: That the wind would take the roof off her house and suck her two youngest daughters out of their cribs. I lay awake with similar thoughts, constructing disaster scenarios. Finally I got up and paced from window to window, my limbic system having taken over completely. I muttered like a mother lion, thinking about how and when I should take the kids to the basement, knowing that I'd never see a twister coming in the inky darkness. We all ended up in bed together, Baker too, listening. He is stunningly unfazed by lightning or thunder, high winds or rain. But he comforts where he can.

All the storm brought us was rain, some creek and river flooding, and a sunset of unbelievable beauty and majesty. It was like an apology for the terror of the night before. It all started yesterday evening with a sudden downpour, a burst of late sun, and a big fat rainbow, plunging down behind our pear tree.

Ranks of puffy thunderheads marched away off to the southwest, over our meadow. Creamy clouds are ever my favorites.
I shot a lot of creamy cloud photos, and realized we had better get our hineys up in the tower to get the best views, because this was going to be one humdinger of a sunset. There, we discovered a lavender and pink wonderland unseen from the ground, off to the north. I wish I could tell you how those distant ridges looked, lit with peach and apricot. This picture only hints at it all. It's not often you see steely clouds march across a flamingo-pink backdrop.
One little red cloud rose up in the southwest sky, seemingly still inflamed from the previous night's battle.
I whipped back around to the north to see more alpenglow and pink fantasy. I felt I was missing something no matter which way I faced.
Now it was getting serious off to the west. The kids and I were freezing in the rapidly dropping temperature; the wind was still whipping. I stripped off my coat to wrap Liam up and kept shooting.
A closeup of that coral tornado:Here's the wispy underlit backdrop to the pink tornado. At this point we were howling in appreciation.
I think the name I put on this jpeg is sunsetjustridiculous20608:
Finally, everything went kind of steely with just licks of crimson and rose, and suddenly the show was over. We were all breathless with cold and catharsis. These clouds looked to us like dragon heads, coming to eat the sun. Or, as Liam said, "A Triceratops, biting off a piece of plant."
It's hard to know what to do with sunset photos. I take a lot of them, but rarely find a way to say much of worth about them. Sunsets just are. Their beauty is so intense, yet fleeting, that I feel I have to make some homage to it. I have to do something about it. And so I run out and take photo after photo, and then I run up to the top of our tower and take more. It's cool to be able to capture just a little bit of it and share it here, but putting a winter sunset in a rectangle never does it justice. It's like looking at a still from a movie, minus the action and music. It's being bathed in that glow, feeling part of some unique and irreplaceable natural happening in 360-degree panorama that makes my heart race. I spent today in the company of two of my best girlfriends, and both of them led off our separate conversations with, "Did you see the sky last night?? I wanted to call you!"


Fantastic skies, Julie.
We had the same clouds pass our way--and your photos capture them well, despite being "rectangular".

Our neighborhood is sporting leaning trees from the soggy ground's loose grip.

Some awesome clouds over your way. We saw nothing as it passed during the night.

Wow Julie, We didn't have anything like this last night here in Columbus! There was a brief opening about 4:30 but things got pretty dark after about 10 minutes. The rainbow shot is fantastic.


Beautiful sky photos, Julie. I'm glad the skies provided some pleasure after the terrors of your night before.

I could feel the excitement and the goodness, Julie. What an amazing sky! Being a cloud and sunrise/sunset watcher, I realize how quickly they change and photos really don't do them justice in a rectangular frame. But you did REAL GOOD! Glad you have your roof still attached.


Even in rectangles, these are spectacular. It's as if you DID call us all and share the skies.

Stunning pics.

I agree that sunsets are wonderful. As someone who grew up as a missionary child in southern Africa, I saw some spectacular sunsets. One of the things that the missionaries did with sunset shots was use them in their slide shows (pre-PowerPoint days). They would almost always end their missionary talks by saying "And as the sun sets over Africa. . ."

For me, a sunset doesn't have to mean anything--it just has to be.

Amazing. Simply gorgeous. I am so glad your kids appreciated it, too.

And I am so glad to know I am not the only one with a bazillion sunset photos and rarely the right words.

as usual, thanks for the peak at the foothills.

Those are amazing photos. It's great that you have the tower for capturing those special moments.

I gotta say, the tower RAWKS for sunsets, sunrises, bird migration, meteor showers, and long summer evenings. And for catching that first heady balmy spring breath. But we've noticed that you can't hear woodcocks or ruffed grouse very well from that high up--their soundwaves travel closer to the ground. Innnteresting!
Woodcocks should be here in less than two weeks. And Nina heard a spring peeper! Aggh! But we mustn't rush, right Trixie?

It is so good to find so many people who gawk at the sky like I do. I get cricks in my neck from staring at stars, and I have to watch out or I'll be late for work because I had to stop and watch the sunrise.

These photos are awesome, Julie. Thank you.

Posted by Granny Sue February 7, 2008 at 8:04 PM



And I must repeat this:

"It's hard to know what to do with sunset photos. I take a lot of them, but rarely find a way to say much of worth about them. Sunsets just are. Their beauty is so intense, yet fleeting, that I feel I have to make some homage to it."

So true. Thanks for putting that into words. Now I feel better about "wasting" so much hard drive space on sunset photos. And about the entire album's worth of sunrise with pigeons photos.

Sky on fire! WOW! Beautiful shots Julie! It always amazes me how there is usually so much beauty after the storm.

Amazing...the beauty of nature. So jealous considering yesterday here in north central West Virginia we were under a blanket of gray steel clouds.

Its like a pastel painting. I found your blog on the Nature Blog Network by the way.

Hi Julie:

Spectacular pics! I'm gld to hear that ended well for you.

We had some truly bizarre clouds and lighting here at Rutgers Wednesday night. When I left the building, the car port was lit with an eerie yellow light reflecting down from the lemony clouds in the sky, which was a deep cobalt.

The colors changed very rapidly from lemon to pink and then just gray.

No pyrotechnics though and no wind. A bit disappointing.

Okay, I can't seem to get past my "wow, wowee, wow, wow, wow" quote for your posts lately! Make it stop!!

Can I make a bet as to whether (weather?) we'll see one of those sky photos as background in one of your upcoming paintings?

Yes! You've captured that feeling I have at a lake in New Hampshire when the sky goes crimson-peach-gold behind the green-black evergreens and aubergine mountains. The emotional impact is as big as the sky itself, and that little digital rectangle we can't resist snapping is, at best, a faint whispery reminder of nature's spectacular light show.

I agree - WOW. I don't think I've ever seen sunset clouds that color of red.

Those are some amazing photos. You've put most New Mexico sunset shots to shame. I was thinking it reminded me of a Colorado Rocky Mountain sunset - "I've seen it raining fire from the sky" comes right to mind.

Third from the bottom leaves me breathless and its just a photo, imagine being there.

So stunningly beautiful. The majesty of those skies does in some way translate. It's imperfect, but the grandness peeks through. When I see sunsets like that, I am reminded why artists paint skies with colors that seem unbelievable.

Awesome skyscapes, Julie! Reminds me of a recent post by another blogger, someone you might know. ;)

No photographs ever really do justice to seeing a great sky in person, but yours are terrif.


Thank you, Julie. I picked a good first time to check out your blog!

I too am a lover of the sky and all things in nature.

You captured the essence of the sky in those little boxes quite well. (How'd you get the colors so good?)

Liam nailed that Triceratops - even its vegetarian leanings.

I loved the 'sunsetjustridiculous' title. I've had a couple 'sillylookingtoughguy' jpegs lately attached to an aggressive Boat-tailed grackle.

Gorgeous pictures. Hope you'll soon be hearing peepers.

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