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This Sunset Went to Eleven

Saturday, February 13, 2016

In social media, I too often forget that anybody can read anything I say about anything. I frequently get asked what camera I use, and enjoy confessing that all my landscapes and cloud shots (practically everything I post here, save close-up wildlife shots) are taken with my iPhone 6. I was extolling the virtues of this deceptively humble camera in a Facebook comment thread when this bit of utter inanity flew out of my fingers: "I don't always expect Ansel Adams-worthy results, but more often than not, I get them."  I certainly wasn't comparing myself to Ansel Adams. I was trying to say what a good camera lives in the iPhone 6. 

Leave it to Corey Husic to excise my words from context, plop my head on the Most Interesting Man in the World's body, and make me laugh so hard my stomach hurt. Love my fancy watch; my hairy wrist! ahhh I'm laughing again. Thanks, Corey.

Another February day, another possibly nice sunset brewing. I looked out my window at the small cumulus clouds floating over at about 4 pm and knew we were in for an amazing sunset. With sunsets, it's all about the clouds. Come on, Bacon! Let's go someplace good!

I feel very lucky to be able to get to several sunset promontories on foot from my house. 

The one I had in mind was about two miles away. We were heading out before rush hour, and we'd head home after it was over. Yes, those cumuli held a lot of promise. 

By the time we got out to the main road, the show was starting.

It's absolutely amazing how fast things change when the sun's going down. Or coming up, for that matter.

 I was walking backerds down the road, shooting as I went. My favorite color scheme: cerulean on cream.


And turning around, a scene that could easily be in Tuscany. But we're in a somewhat depressed region of Appalachian Ohio, and that's fine with me. Fewer people to mess it up.

It just doesn't get any better than golden light slamming up against a broken sky.

I was all over that underlit belly of the big cloud.

We were hurrying to get to a favorite overlook for the big show. It's really something, to be minding your own business, and then have this spectacular thing get going in the sky, and have to scramble yourself out the door and to your nearest viewing spot. It's a great motivator to move your lard, that's for sure. Here, I am referring to my own lard, not anyone else's.

Come on, Bacon! Move your lard! 
Thank you for striking such an elegant pose, with the wind bending the grasses just as you are leaning! This sky, worthy of Francis Lee Jacques, the great muralist and diorama painter.

I thought as I took this photo that that is probably the single most photographed mobile home in Ohio. It was looking pretty grand in the bounce light, with an inkblot in the foreground, and the little bluestem on fire.

I thought we could make it to one last promontory before the show was over. I caught my shadow hustling along, agog at the fire in the grass, the clouds pouring from it like prairie smoke. Only nothing was on fire but my lungs.

We stopped briefly to shoot what's left of the lady's slip that's been hanging from the second floor of an old barn I call The Toothless Lady. I'll never wear it now; it's in tatters.

We hustled through a holler and climbed the last hill.

Things were changing quickly to the west.

Alas, things were beginning to fade to the east. But oh, they were fading beautifully, like old baby clothes.

While to the west, sunfire combed through winterbare trees and melted the sky.

We weren't sure where to look. Old baby clothes and warm russet grass, or sunfire?

Agog. Sunfire wins. 

Whoops. Until we saw the pink glow. This is an excellent dilemma upon whose horns to twist. 

Then there was that moment when the western clouds became a school of king salmon, swimming north. 

And a great gray veil dropped to the east.

I had to capture all of it. Time for a panorama. The tiny camera in my pocket leapt to its duty. The inkblot in the foreground looked quizzically at me. I got the shot.

It was time to turn toward home. Puddles caught the last light, punching holes in the dirt road.

We got to the Toothless Lady and I paused to shoot her, the white slip still hanging from her gum, the last lit clouds drifting over toward nightfall.

And from just behind the little shed built of Osage orange, the first woodcock of spring began to peent.

Or perhaps it was the last woodcock of winter. It was February 6. I'd never heard a woodcock sing that early. They usually come in around the 19th of February. 

Whichever. It was magic on top of magic, and I was there to hear it, there to see it, there to drink it all in like the most luscious sky martini ever shaken.

It was completely dark by the time we crested the last hill. I looked at my Fitbit. 

11,111 steps. Well, what do you know. This evening went to eleven!


From beginning to end a great post! Love what Corey did for you. Ha ha! It's a great "photo." You need to frame it and hang it somewhere prominent.

Thanks for the wonderful walk. Only my Fitbit didn't register any extra steps.

"fading beautifully, like old baby clothes" being my favorite evocative phrase in a wonderfully evocative post.
Also, I'd like to point out that it is very special to be within easy distance of excellent viewing spots for sun/moon/sets/rises. We have some spectacular skyworks going on in central FL, but difficult to find a view not spoiled by utility wires and/or buildings.

Posted by Gail Spratley February 13, 2016 at 8:09 PM

Great photos, but that old barn deserves a much,much closer look. Your next series?

Poor Chet Baker had to step lively to stay in frame: first the east... then the west... then the east again... "Oh for cryin' out loud! West again! Make your mind up, Mether! I'm not a young dog!"

I got chills that your fitbit registered 11,111. *Cue Twilight Zone theme music*

Posted by Anonymous February 14, 2016 at 3:51 AM

So beautiful - and I'm looking out at a morning sky the EXACT colors of your first picture with Bacon. I thinkI love sunsets and sunrises because it reminds me life is fleeting and the only way to live it is to live in entirely in the moment. And capture all the beauty I can to share. (But really, the capture is also for me- makes the moment more intense as I consider the best composition and race to see the sights in all directions. ) I think you do the same thing, only better. Thanks. And Happy Valentine's Day.

Ah, Jules, you know me and clouds. Add that color and I am struck. Corey, that was a hoot.I wonder what percentage of my 38,000 photos on here are of clouds....

I can see those salmon!

Old baby clothes and King Salmon - love, love, love (and I don't use that word lightly) your prose-like-poetry of this post. I always enjoy your writing but this post stood out to me as especially grand. Swoon. We see great sunsets to the back field here in NW PA but lack the rolling hills I remember so well from my Marietta days. Looking forward to the new book and have been thoroughly enjoying the notecards (and have received positive comments about them when I send the "right" bird to the right person). Thank you for sharing your vision, words, poet's heart, and artwork with all of us. Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours. Kim in PA

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

" they are fading like old baby clothes"...ah, beautiful!

Posted by Anonymous February 15, 2016 at 6:29 AM

Amazing photos. I live in a city and it's hard to get those views.

Chet Baker in front of that mobile could make your own version of a Wyeth painting out of that. gets me every time.

Nice post. Especially liked: "Puddles caught the last light, punching holes in the dirt road." Perfect description!

the first thing I do every morning is look out the window at the sky... magic awaits every single day... thank you!

Love all the photos and your way with words. I too really liked the "fading beautifully, like old baby clothes". Perfect description. Laughed out loud at the photo of your head.

Beautiful prose!

Great photos and words. Maybe the woodcock is early because it has been so mild this winter.

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