Monday, January 15, 2018

Warmly Embracing Winter

I'm not done with 2017 yet.  I still have a number of summer and autumn adventures that need to be stored in my cyber-memory chest, which I'm going to get down to when I have enough time to spare. So I'm letting my one foot stay in 2017 and the other in 2018. 😃

Meanwhile, with this post, I'm officially and belatedly putting down in writing my wholehearted welcome to the winter season. The 2017 winter solstice came last Dec. 21, a day with the shortest daylight in the year.

This is now my 8th winter, and my love for it has not wavered. Amid the arctic coldness, my heart sizzles with bliss as I walk about on a snowy day. The sense of novelty, fascination and astonishment just gets reawakened every year, as if winter is something new to me.

I still love to see everything icy - the ice crystals, such as snowflakes, frosts and ice patterns on a frozen body of water. The frost- and snow-laden trees still captivate me. This photoholic creature, which is me, gets intoxicated with the fragile and subtle charm of the crystalline whiteness that abounds everywhere, while my tirelessly cold-defying fingers cling to my camera, primed to shoot anytime my eyes spot something pleasant.

Whereas others try escape the supposed harshness of winter by traveling to warmer countries, I stay here to luxuriate in the purity and the serenity of a world turned white, to watch the falling snow that fosters meditation, to pay close attention to anything lovely that the season provides and take the lessons that each teaches us. I don't want to leave a winter wonderland and miss the apex of its luster.

In winter, our birding activities keep going too. Although it's quite hard to go birding in the wild on account of the brief daylight and frigid temperature, somehow I enjoy seeing new birds, and the joy that I feel makes up for the painful sensation in my frostbitten fingers and toes due to long exposure to a sub-zero temperature.  I'm also thrilled to watch the winter birds swarming around the feeders furnished by the community in several places, and in our own balcony. This is my first winter birding ever.

As to winter's darkness, I don't see it as hostile or uncomfortable. I see it more like an amiable impetus to homely activities, cozy repose after a day's work and setting up decorative candle lights and subdued electric lamps.

And so.... this year too, I'm fortifying my kinship with winter, with the snow especially. I'm letting its immaculate whiteness metaphorically purify my thoughts which eventually engenders a self-assurance that I'm at peace with myself and with everyone I come in touch with.

Linking up with

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Light Pillars on a Winter Night

December 25 slid by quietly. The night grew quieter and colder. Too eerily quiet, no palpable movement anywhere, as if everybody else froze except me. 

After watching an episode of a TV series that hubby and I are following, I peeked through the glass door to our balcony and perfunctorily checked if there was a northern light going on that night. Something on the horizon snapped my head sideways. Two vertical bars with intense light shot up in the air. Reports of such sighting in the past led some to believe that UFOs were visiting. But I instantly knew what those light bars really were.

And so, I dashed to grab my camera that was already sitting on the tripod, which is always ready in case some atmospheric phenomena would occur, while the words "Uh-uh... this is gonna be a phenomenal moment!" kept ringing on my head. I've seen a few in the past, though only 2 or 3 bars in color white. This time, though, several colorful light bars projected in the air.

This is called light pillars phenomenon caused by the reflection of light from tiny ice crystals  suspended in the air. According to Wikipedia, the vertical band of light appears to extend above or below a light source. In this case, the light came from the ground, the city lights.

Wikipedia explains further: "Unlike a light beam, a light pillar is not physically located above or below the light source. Its appearance of a vertical column is an optical illusion, resulting from the collective reflection off the ice crystals, only those of which that appear to lie in the vertical line direct the light rays toward the observer."

The night was cold, about -12 degrees Celsius, but I braved it to watch the development of this rare winter phenomenon and captured its gradual formation. My cold-bitten fingers tucked in my winter gloves went on turning the camera to different directions and insatiably clicking the shutter, while my equally frozen feet put up with the cuttingly painful sensation.

This otherworldly spectacle was worth all these discomforts though. It was amazing to watch the columns gradually grow and skyrocket while the colors intensified. And then without warning, the pillars spread out to surround the whole city like a thousand light-sabers encircling the whole place! (  It looked more like a Jedi invasion and not a UFO attack ...😊😊😊)  The show took my breath away! I stood there in our balcony, my head turning left to right and vice versa, utterly stunned by the ongoing show.

Amid this astonishing atmospheric event, the semi-active aurora borealis unpretentiously performed its own show even though the light pillars stole the entire scene. But the two events did a marvelous double performance in the same night, on and off  from past 11:00 p.m. onward for several hours.

The show was still in progress when I retired for the night.

And my dreams were filled with colorful light pillars that flitted intermittently over the horizon.

I stand in awe with praise and gratitude
"To the One doing great and unsearchable things,
Wonderful things without number."