Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Like the Blink of an Eye

The season’s colorful splendor seems but a moment. One moment all the trees were ablaze with warm and happy colors, and the next moment they were all gone.  The vibrant autumn foliage that used to dance merrily with the wind has gradually let go of each little leaf, revealing the hidden branches and twigs that form the trees' contours. Even then, the bare trees still look stately with all their attractive patterns.

This brilliant season was just short-lived. As I said before, I may not be able to explore all the nearby places where the season's loveliness may be at its best. There was not much time. Everything transformed so fast. The thick golden foliage of the aspen trees in our neighborhood were suddenly bereft of their leaves the following day after a strong wind lashed at them and shook off all their leaves. 

The rowan trees that used to be laden with large bunches of red berries  have also been bereft of their fruits as flocks of waxwing birds devoured each little berry in a matter of minutes.

Only the pine and spruce trees remain clad in their evergreen needles.

With the passing of the season, gone too are the days of picking berries and mushrooms, fishing and picnicking. The days became shorter, darker and freezing, with occasional rain-shower and snowfall. 

Now, vegetation has been emptied of its foliage and is awaiting a lengthy period of hibernation in wintertime. There remains silence as the bare trees stand still, unable to produce music anymore when the wind comes roaming around. But then, I have had my enjoyment, though the fleeting season has prevented me from completely immersing myself in its dazzling colors. Well, there's next year again.

The season reminds me of a poem that my brother, my buddy and I used to recite years ago. It's Robert Frost's Nothing Gold Can Stay,  one of the world's well-quoted poems due to its  eloquence in describing the nature of human life in just a few short and simple lines. And I want to include this poem in this blog.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so and hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.

That's it. Everything changes so fast,  life flows in four seasons, and then it's gone, along with all its golden moments. But even before the end, something beautiful can happen. Just like the luster of autumn that preludes the dark cold winter.

But then again, life will cease to flow like the four seasons. It will become like a river that will keep running blithely throughout eternity. For I believe  in our Creator's promise to bestow eternal life to those who put Him first in their lives. Then life will become a gold that will stay forever.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

White Saturday

Last night, just as I turned off the lights before going to bed, an unusually bright light streamed through the sides of our windows' blinds. I opened the blinds and was thrilled to see the ground and bushes covered all over with snow. I wasn't aware before that it had been snowing, and the snowfall went on through the night.

In the morning, when sleep and wakefulness still played tug-of-war in my semi-consciousness, the vision of snowy landscape flickered lightly in my mind, which finally nudged me to complete wakefulness. I bolted out of bed, headed straight to the windows and pulled up the blinds.

The sun was already up, illuminating the otherwise gloomy morning. Everything outside was blanketed with snow as thick as three to four inches, which also contributed to the brightness of the morning.

My eyes were drawn toward the couple of little rowan trees standing in our backyard. I was thrilled by the sight of snow piled up over the few bunches of red berries that still clang to the tips of some twigs. I put on my boots and jacket and went out to take a few shots. The snow started to melt and turned to ice in the form of drips, which glistened like crystals.

It looks like winter is sneaking in to a period where it doesn't belong. Autumn is still reigning, but some of its days are being showered with snowflakes. Eccentric, but in a way, the world is full of eccentricity these days, which we have come to terms with. 

Strange as it may seem, this kind of irregularity still amazes me. It's like a surprise that breaks the monotonous days which are usually dark, rainy and windy. The sight of snow at a time when it should not be there suddenly lifts up my spirits. And I find myself "soaking in" the all-white purity of the snow.

The advancing day completely melted  the snows clinging to the vegetation, though it failed to melt out those in the ground, which lent brightness to the night. The sun went down to the other side of the globe, leaving a trail of tangerine streaks in the horizon. 

The full moon took its place in the firmament, its radiantly silver face  smiling down at anyone looking at it. It had been a lovely day.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Snowfall in Autumn

It's not winter yet, but the first snowfall has come. Some trees, like the maples, poplars and birches  haven't let go of their yellow leaves yet, especially the maples which are still thick with yellow and orange leaves.

lombardy poplars

 But most of the birches are already bare while the mountain ash or rowan trees have only their thick bunches of  red berries left.

berry-laden rowan trees

I was in our language school this morning (October 14) when the snowflakes started to fall. It was about 9:30 a.m., just in time for our 30-minute break. I had been watching the snowfall through the window before our first period was over. The moment I was out of the classroom, I rushed out of the building to feel the snowflakes and take pictures and videos of this unusual event of this year. (Unusual in the sense that it's too early) Many students from different countries also took out their compact cameras and cellphones to shoot the snow. The expressions of wonder and excitement on their faces revealed that it was their first time to see the snow.

Of course, I was elated! I have been here one winter and have tremendously enjoyed that first winter in my life. Now that the snow came again, I felt a renewed excitement over my second experience. I watched with new fascination the falling of the snow. The light snowflakes that started to fall gradually came to be thicker as big clusters of snowflakes came down. 

three-parts video, from light to heavy snowfall

It was also amazing to watch a thick cloud of waxwing birds circling overhead, as if they were also enjoying a snow bath. They flew together in the same direction, circling and then perching on tree tops. After some minutes, they would take off again, flew around, then alighted back to the trees. They kept doing this course throughout the morning while the snowfall lasted.

a flock of waxwing birds

waxwing birds perching on treetops

After my classes, the whole ground was blanketed with thick snow. So were the green grass in our backyard. The sun started to peer out late in the afternoon, though it failed to melt all the snows. In the evening, the temperature dropped to 2 degrees  C, thus preserving the snows that have fallen.

in our backyard

It's definitely a day worth-remembering. A day when the first snowfall  came not in winter, but in autumn. A foregleam of the winter season that has been predicted to come early this year.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sundog (Parhelion) in Umeå

Yesterday morning, 12 October, a sundog or parhelion appeared over the city. I saw it first thing in the morning as I pulled up the window blinds. I noticed some strange lights on both sides of the sun and wondered what kind of phenomenon that was. Later on, it was all over the Swedish online news, with some pictures and explanation of the phenomena.

I looked up for other explanations online and came up with this Wikipedia definition.

"A sun dog or sundog (scientific name parhelion, plural parhelia, from Greek parēlion, (παρήλιον), παρά(beside) + ήλιος(sun), "beside the sun"; also called a mock sun) is an atmospheric phenomenon that creates bright spots of light in the sky, often on a luminous ring or halo on either side of the sun.
Sundogs may appear as a colored patch of light to the left or right of the sun, 22° distant and at the same distance above the horizon as the sun, and in ice halos. They can be seen anywhere in the world during any season, but they are not always obvious or bright. Sundogs are best seen and are most conspicuous when the sun is low."

Another source also explains that sundogs are formed when sunlight is refracted by 22 degrees through the flat plates of hexagonal ice crystals.

Here's a National Geographic image of a whole sundog or parhelion.

And here are the ones I captured. I couldn't take the whole view because of the distractions and lack of space in our backyard.

notice the two lights on both sides

left mock sun

taken from our kitchen window

right mock sun

Another marvel of creation that glorifies our Great Creator!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Morning Dewdrops

The sight of tiny dewdrops clinging on flowers and leaves mesmerizes me. Each morning as I pass by some plants and see their flowers and leaves gilded all over with tiny dewdrops, I stop for a few moments and gaze at their  crystalline loveliness that sparkles in the sun. As I shift angles, the droplets glitter with different colors as they reflect the colors of light. The sight is just so stunning that I find it hard just to leave them behind. Instead, I keep lingering, feasting my eyes on them and freezing the images in different angles with my camera.

Here are some of the pictures I've taken.

Here's also a poetry I  stumbled upon one day as I was searching for poems or quotes about dewdrops. This poem appeals to me as it eloquently describes dewdrops, as I personally see them.

Dewdrops In The Early Morn
Dwayne Leon Rankin, USA

Seen upon those fragile flowers
Glist'ning 'neath the leafy bowers.
Brought there by the misting showers,
Dewdrops in the early morn.

Then kissed there by the warming sun,
The drying of the earth's begun.
With daylight now o'er all has won.
A brand new day now is born.

Heating up the atmosphere,
By the warming sun brought near
Showing all things bright and clear,
With beauty now this day adorn.

All too soon the night will fall,
Beckoned forth by starlight's call.
With the moonlight over all,
The darkness there by all is worn

Then with the night, the mists return,
The moisture falls without concern.
On bowers there and growing fern,
Dewdrops in the early morn.

I found it from this link:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Along the City River

It was a cold and quiet Monday morning. There were not so many people walking around at the time. From SFI school (Swedish for Immigrants / Svenska för Invandrare) where I'm currently studying the language, I took a walk to the city center. The icy air made me shiver and the cutting autumn wind blew my hair and made my eyes teary. Still, I relished such walk amid the chilly morning. As I ambled along, I surveyed every corner that I passed by to see if there were changes in the colors of vegetation. Fall has arrived that time (about two weeks ago), and many of the trees were still green though some of their leaves have turned yellow, orange and red.

I walked past the square, the shops which were still closed, the restaurants and other business establishments, to the parks and down the city river. By the time I got there, the sunshine had warmed up a bit. I paced along the boardwalk  that extended toward the middle of the river.

I swept my eyes through the surrounding scenery. It was indeed a fine day, the sky so clear and blue. The air was still, and so was the water of the river that reflected the images of everything that stood on both sides of the river. I took several shots in different angles before I squatted down near the end of the boardwalk where I lingered and just let the loveliness of this autumn morning bathe me.

After getting myself rejuvenated by the serenity and loveliness around me, I kept strolling along the riverbank and proceeded past the main bridge down to the other bridge where only cyclists and pedestrians are allowed to cross.

From that pedestrians' bridge, I snapped this view of another section of the river where a pathway runs alongside it, leading pedestrians, joggers and cyclists to and from the forests, a little lake and some residential areas.

From the bridge, I came out to another little park that retained it summer ambience by the presence of silver and evergreen trees which were unaffected by autumn's changing colors, except for the birch trees standing alongside them. I sat down on one of the benches for a few minutes to bask in the warm sunshine. 

There was more to explore along the river but the need for lunch summoned me to go home. Well, that was enough for that day. Enough blessings to rejuvenate my spirits, just enough reason for that day to once again thank the Creator of all such marvelous things. I already spend the whole morning wandering around, enjoying the scenery and taking a lot of pictures.  Some other day again, and another round of stroll along the city river.