Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stormy Days and Spring Air

As I stepped out of a house almost two weeks ago, a refreshing breeze rushed to meet me, telling me a message of spring. And yes, the air had the refreshing smell and feel of spring.  The sun was out and the sky was a translucent blue. Was spring knocking on the door? That would be strangely early.

A few days later, gloom came back, portending a storm.  The initial roaming gentle wind slowly turned to a furious blast, whipping the bare twigs of the trees, shaking off the snow that coated the evergreens and blowing away a layer of the snow from the roofs. As the blizzard escalated, the wind whooshed and swirled, dragging along the snow clusters and breaking them up before they settled on the ground.

For about three days in the weekend, the storm went on, preventing everyone from going out. But I went out nonetheless to attend a very important meeting. Walking through the storm, I felt firsthand the fury of such blizzard. The bluster kept pushing me back and spraying bits of snow all over my face that was tucked in the furry hood of my jacket. Its unrelenting fury almost knocked me down.

Through all these, however, I didn't feel upset at all, but paradoxically glad for having such a novel experience. It was a kind of adventure.  I felt in my heart the rebirth of courage and determination to fight my way out of an extremely  difficult situation, much like how it was over two years ago in the Philippines when climatic and economic storms afflicted us. And I always came out victorious. Those stormy years are over, but they have made me strong and prepared me to face the worst storms that may come in the future.

When this snow storm subsided, the sun shone brightly again, the sky blue and cloudless. The ground was elevated with a fresh layer of snow in soft dune-like formations. The snowflake sparkled merrily, revealing the colors of light that they have captured. The air was saturated with the refreshing breath of spring.

Yes, the storm was gone, but over the days, the weather alternated between snowfall and warm sunshine. That was fine because it broke the climatic humdrum.

Temperature is gradually getting warmer. Soon, spring is here!

Hope keeps springing in the heart and burning brightly there!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Love Winter Because...

...here in the north of Sweden, the whole place transforms to a glorious world of  pristine whiteness.

...the sky is adorned with  clouds in exquisite formations,

and are sometimes gilded with a soft glow of pastel orange.

....the bare twigs are coated with thick furs of snow.

....walking under the canopy of towering white trees is magical.

....the sight of the stately snow-laden spruce trees brings sheer pleasure that lifts one's spirits.

....some days, the trees suddenly abound with little leaves of "glass" as the snows that wrap the twigs melt out  and harden into ice that cling to the twigs.

The glassy leaves glimmer as sunlight hits them.

At night, the trees completely turn into translucent glass against the light, and the glassy leaves produce sounds like wind chimes when the wind blows hard.

.... even the air sparkles as the fine snowflakes float in the sunshine before finally joining their fellows that are already resting on the ground.

....when the sun is out, the snowflakes twinkle at me wherever I go. Everywhere is incredibly full of glitters!

Even at night, the snowflakes glitter vibrantly under the moonlight or the street lights.

....the hedges bloom with snow flowers.

....at times, the window panes are stamped with intricate designs of snow crystals.


....the winter sun casts bluish long shadows on the snow.

....each sunset is uniquely magnificent,

diffusing its warm golden hue to anything that comes in touch with its light.

....the nights are illuminated with the brightness of the snow.

These are just a few of the little treasures that winter possesses. There's so much more to see, so much to delight the eyes, so much to make my heart burst with joy.

I love everything in winter (except the disasters brought about by snow storms and slippery roads). I never get tired looking at the whiteness of the landscape, the gentle contours of the freshly layered piles of snows, the glitters that abound everywhere, the snow-loaded trees, the falling snowflakes, the roofs of snow, etc.

I love the cold, the serenity, the cheery sunshine and the restive gloom of the season. I love wearing winter boots and thick jackets with wooly hoods. I love the sound and the feel of the crackling snow under my feet, to walk in the snow, to scoop a handful of it and compress it into a ball.

"I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines." 
- Henry David Thoreau

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilirating;  there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather." 
- John Ruskin

I just love to be with the snow! My heart overflows with ecstasy as I feast my eyes on these winter's little gems.

Glory and honor to the Maker of these wonderful things! 
(Revelation 4:11)

(Note: All photos are taken in Umeå, Sweden)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Solar Storm and Auroras

Later part of January.

It has come to pass. But we don't know what's coming next. The news said it's the strongest solar storm  so far this year. Maybe something more massive would occur again later. People are scared of its impact on earth. Would our home planet be burned to ashes? Would a shower of radioactive solar particles melt humans to death?

Here's a link to some news about this solar flare:  Solar Storm News

Personally, I have nothing to worry about this because I have faith in the promises of our loving Creator, which I'm quoting here.

"He has founded the earth upon its established places;
It will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever." (Psalm 104:5)

"The righteous themselves will possess the earth,
And they will reside forever upon it." (Psalm 37:29)

Refreshing assurances they certainly are!

On the other hand, this solar storm has brought beautiful gifts of dancing lights to nature-lovers. Most countries around the arctic circle have been entertained by a series of such colorful shows in the night sky. Here are some pictures from Sweden, Finland and Norway, which I gathered from different sites, credits and links included.

(Solar storm illuminates the skies with auroras 
Peter Rosén in Sweden captured the aurora 
produced from the geomagnetic storm on the night of January 24-25. 
Rosén shared the image with NASA. Image courtesy: NASA / Peter Rosén)

Aurora over Northern Norway, January 22, 2012
Credit:  Øystein Lunde Ingvaldsen

The northern lights in January 24 were supposed to be visible throughout the whole Sweden, even in the south, since it was rated "extreme", but unfortunately, the impenetrable snow clouds obscured our view. Good for them in the upper north where the sky was clear and almost cloudless.

Nevertheless, I was blessed enough to have seen how the sun looked like during that day of the geomagnetic storm. I was on my way to work when the flare caught my eyes, and so I scurried to find a vantage point for a capture just around the building where I worked. The photos below are the best I could get.  No more time to go to a better location, but I'm happy with these humble images that I captured.

Some things may sound scary, but on the flip side of the coin, we see beauty.

I take the opportunity to enjoy all the natural beauty around me, and not let the horrible things drive me to sadness, hopelessness and insanity.

...for I strongly believe that one day soon, our caring Almighty God will bring all the forces of nature under control so that they will no longer cause any calamities on earth. He will establish a new world order where righteous mankind will enjoy life and all the beauty that will fill the whole planet, and give glory to God forever.