Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Lot Like Spring

 Each day yo-yo's between a taste of winter and a hint of spring. Yesterday (02/20/12) we were on the spring end of the see-saw. While it wasn't particularly warm (we topped out at just 41°) it was calm and wholly pleasant, nice enough to come and go in a jacket if one was quick about it.

 About 6:30 pm, I was already dressed in PJ's when I walked by the back door and saw a salmon-colored plume of clouds striking straight up from the garage roof. It was a jet contrail and it was just beginning to glow with sunset's salmon hues. I grabbed my camera, found my shoes, took a coat down from the hook and hurried out the door.

 "Watch out for the coyotes," Mom said. There had just minutes before been a story on the local news about the coyote population expanding. "Are they supposed to be dangerous?" I asked her through the closed bathroom door. "I don't know what they said. Just watch out for them," she answered.

 And so I pushed out into the cool night air and walked behind the garage.

 Here's the apricot shaft of light that seemed to stand vertically above the garage roof. A jet, traveling west I'll guess, left its exhaust marking its trail some minutes before and it has already begun to dissipate. The sun, already set for 20 minutes, is no more than a glow on the western horizon but still enough to cast a warm tone on the atmosphere above my head.

 Through a gap in the pines, the western sky is ablaze with contrails, criss-crossing at every angle. If they were all vertical - and they are not - they would give the impression of flames.

 If I move a little closer to that opening, I can see ominous clouds gathered in the northwest. They are not, of course, but merely made to look angry by the lack of sun. Mere minutes later, the contrail flame cools and fades back to whites and grays. The night begins to take over.

 And here, just before I go back inside, is the sky a little later, when the coloring sun has dropped far enough west to lose most of its influence on Farmersville's sky. The clouds and contrails darken alike and cast stormy shadows from above.

Yet a little later, when the sky had faded to black, I saw Venus commanding this same western sky,. brightly ablaze with its pure white and unmolested by any clouds. The atmosphere had wrung itself out, had cleared completely and the sky had become studded with stars. Orion moves ever west, soon to leave the nighttime sky until next fall.

 The coyotes? I heard not a whimper and came back indoors with all body parts intact. I am told by a nearby friend that an exceptionally large coyote was taken in the woods behind her house (not a mile from ours) and so there is proof that they are about and healthy. I suppose they would run from me if they saw me in the dark.I would have a similar reaction.

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