The rain that earlier diluted a few thoughts in my journal failed to commit, but the overcast thickened. Light making it through the clouds fell flatly. Trees in the juniper forest through which we walked cast no shade that could be distinguished from cloud shadow. Below us on the creekâ€™s banks, Fremont cottonwoods had lost most of their heart-shaped scales to autumn winds. Remaining leaves flapped on their stems, working free from the treesâ€™ upper stories, winging back to their roots.Â With the loss of the cottonwoodsâ€™ stands of verdure and the stalks of most of the other plants gone to straw, Crossfireâ€™s green flames burned very low, deep inside the trees and in the ashes of the canyonâ€™s seed-time. â€œGreyâ€ was the word for the day. I guessed temperatures were hovering around 38 degrees, but high humidity accompanying the storm front whetted the chill.Â The archaeologist is a light, slim man.Â He wore no gloves and not much of a coat.Â He remarked that he felt cold. Continue reading Field Notes #11: Winter Solstice, Part Three
As often happens, this offering of field notes runs long–so long I’ve broken it into parts.Â Even more of interest to me than usual unfolded during this trip to Crossfire Canyon (not the canyon’s real name).Â Because of the nature of this experience, some of the material leans toward the technological, so many thanks in advance to those who read the series all the way through.
In the planetary equivalent of a full house, a total lunar eclipse late on December 20th combined with the arrival of the 2010 winter solstice on the 21st to lay down a winning cosmic hand.Â My family and I watched part of Earthâ€™s occulting of the moon.Â It was like seeing the moon speed through its full set of phases, waning then waxing in a few hours instead of a monthâ€™s time, with the â€œdark phaseâ€ played by the moon wearing a smoky red vizard. Except we didnâ€™t make it to that climactic red phase.Â When the shadow-serpent had swallowed two-thirds of the egg, clouds from a drenching storm out of the Pacific that had discombobulated parts of California rolled into southern Utah and eclipsed the eclipse. Continue reading Field Notes #11: Winter Solstice 2010, Part One
Warning!Â Warning!Â Long post.
Dec. 21st, a.m.Â As I started out, temperatures bumped around in the low 20s.Â A ragged ceiling of waxy yellow clouds sometimes let through bright sunlight.Â Mostly, though, the cloud cover took the polish off the snow.Â An unexpectedly cold breeze chilled the denim of my jeans and cut through my gloves, making my hands ache.Â I pulled the overlong sleeves of my parkaâ€™s polar fleece liner over my gloves to better protect my hands. Continue reading Field Notes #9: How I celebrated winter solstice