The skies began clearing this evening after a day of dull, gray clouds and occasional light rain. As I was driving this evening the sun began shining brightly from behind me and ahead, against a backdrop of dark cloud, a rainbow began to appear. As the sun grew brighter, so did the long, colorful arc — a full bow across the eastern sky. Of course there was little opportunity for a clear view of the spectacle so, at my first opportunity, I pulled into a parking lot, whipped out my Canon PowerShot G11, and made a few exposures of the brightest part of the rainbow. The colors were unbelievably intense and the full spectrum of visible color could be seen — most unusual! Traces of concentric bows could also be spotted but the bright bands completely dominated the scene. As I watched the colors began fading from the northern section of the rainbow, intensifying in the southern part — behind wires, trees, and buildings; the show was over for me. I’m glad I stopped as soon as I could. I’m a sucker for ordinary miracles.
Driving home can be an adventure. Exiting the parking lot this evening I looked to the east and a huge and growing pile of clouds — a thunderstorm was brewing! So I adjusted my route to keep as much open sky around me as possible and headed out. The best vista afforded me was a grassy knoll just off the road, a short driveway for public access conveniently located nearby. The site overlooks Cleveland Hopkins International Airport so there was plenty of open space between me and the photogenic clouds. I popped from my car, hiked to the top of the mound, and made my exposures. I was aware of a second storm building and coming on from the west — behind me — but didn’t worry about it until I heard some rumbles of thunder. There I was, atop a rise and near an open area with a thunderstorm about to overtake me. Time to move! So, it was back to the car. Light rain had set in and my route now carried me into tree-lined streets and suburban settings not well-suited to sky photography. I’d planned a stop at Heinen’s Fine Foods so headed down a busy four-lane street. The storm rolled over us!
The light rain became a deluge. Winds picked up and rocked the trees. Nearby lightning with immediate thunder came like shots. What fun! Traffic was slow and visibility just good enough so I felt safe the entire time. Making it to the grocery store parking lot, I pulled into a space, rolled down a window facing away from the wind, and caught a few shots of the sheets of wind-driven rain hitting the cars and pavement. It was only a few minutes after I’d moved my car to a more suitable parking spot that the rain diminished enough for me to go inside and get some groceries. When I was done and exited the store (oh, maybe 15 minutes had passed) the rain had stopped and sun was brightly shining in a clear western sky!
The eastern sky, however, was now filled with the towering clouds that had just unleashed such chaos. Near home I made one more weather-related photographic stop. From a parking lot overlooking church lot below I tried to take in the scope of the storm clouds now passed; it was still too close, too large to capture in one shot. So I give you this image of one slice, exposed for the clouds with the sky turning an unnatural deep blue. Yes, a simple drive home can be an adventure.
It was Labor Day today! We slept in this morning, got ourselves together at a leisurely pace, and decided to pay a visit to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio) through the Ira Road Trailhead. The access point is very near the heron rookery we visited several times this spring. Some of the offspring of this year’s matings have taken up residence — temporarily, at least — in the large wetland area just north of Ira. The young birds are not very experienced and are not very shy around humans so it is easy for noisy park visitors to get a good look at them. The big, though immature, birds also go about their business within easy reach of any photographer’s lenses. We shot scores of images, watching the herons as they perched on logs, preened, panted (it was a very hot and humid day), hunted, and flew; it was as if they were posing for a big photo shoot and not unlike Sunday’s cooperative dragonflies! Once we got our fill of heron studies for the day, we strolled along the expansive boardwalk. There were turtles, fish, dragonflies, and flowers to shoot along the way. Sweaty and ready for lunch, we finally headed out and after a fine sandwich at Bruegger’s Bagels, Hudson, Ohio, decided to take a stroll around Peninsula, Ohio.
The (now) tourist town was full of Labor Day visitors and is a hub for walking and, especially, bicycling on the CVNP’s Towpath Trail. There is also an excursion railway run by the Park Service that passes directly through town. We hiked up the rail line a way, chasing an image I had in mind (it looked better inside my head), then headed back toward town and the rail depot. Looking back over my shoulder, I noticed what appeared to be thick fog covering the rails behind us. But that didn’t make sense. Looking back again I could see that it wasn’t fog coming our way… it was rain; heavy rain! Luckily we only needed to pick up our pace a bit to reach shelter under the covered open-air waiting area for train passengers. Under shelter, we watched as the drenching rain arrived. It had been so hot and humid that most folks caught in the rain did not seem to be in a hurry to get out of it.
Those under shelter sat back and enjoyed the cooled air and watched as hikers and cyclists passed by. Not a bad way to spend a time on a hot afternoon. When we arrived home I began editing my photos from the day. Several of what you see here I also shared on Google+ as part of a special Labor Day event staged by the Canon User’s Circle — folks from around the globe all submitting photos on this day made using Canon gear — a very cool project! That, in a nutshell, was our Labor Day; one of the best I have enjoyed. The happy feeling might even make it through tomorrow when we go back to work!
It seems we’ve had very few sunny days of late. In fact, it has been overcast and raining an a near-daily basis for weeks. This afternoon the clouds disappeared revealing a blue sky the likes of which we haven’t seen in, well, I don’t know when. As the sun set, its last golden rays illuminated trees in full bloom outside my office window. I grabbed my little Canon G11 and dashed out the door. Tomorrow is expected to be another pleasant day. The rains return tomorrow night.
Tonight I'm supposed to have the Observatory open for a public "stargazing" event. Actually, we're scheduled to look at the Moon and the planet Jupiter. Both of those objects look great in the grand old telescope. Unfortunately it is cloudy and rainy and prospects appear poor that we'll be able to look at either the Moon or the planet. If we must cancel, we must but this will be three months in a row that we've canceled due to weather or sky conditions! It gets frustrating for all concerned after a while! I suppose, on the "up" side, it creates a pent-up desire and appreciation on the part of our visitors. Still, serial cancellations are not good for your reputation even if the reasons for canceling are not your fault! In a few hours we'll see how it really turns out.
This day we did our usual provisioning. On our way for groceries we spotted an Eastern Box Turtle trundling along on the concrete median separating four lanes of speedy traffic. Fortunately we were able to stop safely, pack the beautiful creature into the car, and whisk him off to a new and hopefully safer home in the nearby Metropark. (Sorry, no photo! I should have had my camera with me.) Long ago I would have wanted to keep him as a pet but not nowadays. I have to believe he has a much better chance at a long and happy life where we left him than where we found him! I smiled as I watched the turtle moving away through the leaf litter of the woods. After a quick shop at Heinen's we dropped our goods at home and took a trip out to the Fairlawn shopping district. We were to look for digital TV converter boxes for Her mother and a few food items at the Mustard Seed Market. Lunch at Panera Bread was excellent with entertainment provided by Mother Nature in the form of a downpour — entertaining if you're enjoying warm soup at a dry table! We didn't buy a converter since we've not heard of any of the manufacturers! At least we now know what stores have what boxes and we have plenty of time to make a choice.
While doing a few light chores I had occasion to go outdoors. It had been raining and the humidity was sky-high (see above… sky high!?) leaving flowers and leaves with beads of rain sparkling in the muted sunshine. There, amongst the other gems, was a Japanese beetle. I know, I know, they're considered a pest. Quite a few "bad" things, however, have a beauty about them and the Japanese beetle with its iridescent shell is one of them. Looking the beetle up on Wikipedia, I did learn one interesting fact about them… Japanese beetles have a curious, identifying defense: they lift their hind legs up in the air, even when simply approached. These hind legs are spiny, and the behavior is probably intended to ward off predators. By George if our little bug didn't raise its spiny legs in protest as I pushed the camera ever closer to its tiny body!
Saturday evening the clouds gave the Moon –even through the telescope– a hazy look. Yes, we could see detail, beautiful detail, in our views of Luna but the overall effect was one of looking through a thin blanket of fog. As the Moon sank behind our neighboring line of trees and the skies grew darker, I turned the big telescope to Saturn — one of the few identifiable objects in the sky. It was beautiful! First we looked at the Ring World at 100X and it was good, though tiny. Next we saw the planet at 133X and it was still very good. Finally I bumped the power up to 266X and the view was glorious! We could see hints of color in the planetary body, glimpses of cloud banding, and the ring shadow across the face of that world more than 800 million miles distant. We also observed the planet's shadow falling across the rings as they passed behind that globe so far away. More than one visitor, on realizing what they were seeing, was awestruck. Over the evening we hosted 23 visitors of all ages and looked at Saturn again and again. It was a good night and perhaps my best-ever observations of Saturn.
Sunday was Mother's Day so, sleeping in a bit after a long night, we headed west and into a couple of hours of rainy driving. It was wet, chilly, and miserable but a fairly easy drive to see Mom and my sister with her family. All three of use kids brought or sent flowers: two planters and a corsage. Lots of flowers! Mom is doing great after her surgery, physical therapy, and balancing out of blood chemistry. My oldest nephew is excitedly preparing to move into a house he and his parents took from "delapitude" to coziness. We spent a pleasant afternoon catching up, had a pizza dinner –little work for anyone– and headed east, homebound.
This morning's email brought an update from Cincinnati regarding Howie, the cat. It seems he was picked up from the vet Saturday and moved into his foster home. After the expected adjustments there, he seemed to calm down and enjoyed being petted and spoken to. He didn't like being picked up, however, according to his hostess. I wouldn't be too worried just yet about him being anti-social… after all, he got put in a cage, neutered, then locked in a strange house all within about 48 hours! I'm not sure I'd want a stranger holding me, either!