This blog originates on the banks of the Atchafalaya River, in Louisiana. It proposes to share the things that happen on and by the river as the seasons progress. As the river changes from quiet, warm, slow flow to rises of eighteen feet or more, there are changes in the lives of the birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles that use the river. And the mood of the river changes with the seasons. I propose to note and comment on these things.

My Photo
Location: Butte La Rose, Louisiana, United States

I transitioned a few years ago from a career as a water-pollution control biologist. I want to do this blog to stay in touch with a world outside my everyday surroundings, whatever they may be. I like open-minded company and the discussion of ideas. Photo by Brad Moon.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cold Morning

It was a cold 33 degrees around 7:00 a.m. today. And if you had the courage to be out it that cold air, the sunrise this morning was hard to believe. Sometimes it is just so spectacular you wonder how our world can be put together in such breathtaking beauty. I looked at it in the clear cold air and tried hard to say that it was just a coincidence of ordinary things put together in a most unordinary way. But somehow the sum of the parts was more than that, more than I could make it by listing the ingredients. There are trees, and sky, and clouds, and water, and sunbeams, and the sun itself – and together they seem to make a tunnel for us to look through, as Carolyn says to me tonight. They did that early this morning, and they will never do that in just the same way, ever again. Maybe that’s one of the really wonderful things about photography – it can make a record of what will never be real again. Like stepping in a river, the next time you try it, it will be a different river. And like that, once the moment in time passes, it never returns and neither does what happened in that moment. But we have a record of the sunrise this morning, and the moment is available for a repeat performance because of that. And I can share the sunrise this morning if I choose. Ain’t the world grand?

Rusty and Lulu were out in the river raising nets this morning, in that very cold air over the cold water, traveling 30 miles per hour in that cold air between nets. I didn’t get to talk to them, but I could see the slicker coats being used to good effect. They are really good to break the wind. Sometimes I don’t envy what those guys do to make a living. It’s good for romanticizing, but not for the reality of it. At least not at my age.

It is easy to notice the migratory birds that have reached here and are going about their winter duties in the yard. There are dark-eyed juncos, goldfinches, phoebes, white-throated and white-crowned sparrows and several others available for viewing every day. It’s hard to eat lunch without constantly looking out the window at the feeders behind the house. After picking out the meat, or most of it, I throw out the pan full of fragments of pecan shells, and the cardinals, sparrows and blue jays really go after the scraps.

The second picture is the same sunrise this morning, just a little later and at a 2X magnification.

The river is at 6.8 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge, falling to 5.4 feet by Monday. The Mississippi has a small rise that should get here next week, but the Ohio is falling hard and so no more water is expected very soon.

Rise and Shine, Jim


Blogger Randy said...

Being the sunrise/sunset fan that you are, you probably alreay know this. Today in Baton Rouge, December 7th, we have past the earliest sunset date for the year. The sun has begun to set later in the day. Sunset was at 5:03 PM in Baton Rouge on November 28 through December 6. So most likely the middle date of this range would have been the date with the earliest sunset, by a few seconds. Today, December 7th, the sun will set at 5:04 PM. On the first day of winter (the shortest day of the year) the sun will set at 5:08 PM in Baton Rouge. All folks whom I have quizzed on this subject thus far believe that the earliest sunset coincides with the first day of winter. Not so. (The latest sunrise will occur during the first part of January.)

December 07, 2006 2:38 PM  
Blogger jim said...

Well, you would have gotten me on this one too. I thought, as do others, that the earliest sunset and latest sunrise must coincide with the winter solstice. Is it still true, then, that the winter solstice is the shortest day? Or is that another icon blasted by the engineers? What about it Mr. engineer? Thanks Randy, Jim

December 10, 2006 5:20 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

The shortest day of the year is the winter solstice. Even though the sun sets later in the day the two or three weeks before winter, the later morining sunrise is more than enough to offset (negatively) for the added minutes. I became aware of this many years ago. Every year around Labor Day the newspaper publishes the sunrise and sunset time for the start of the hunting season. Hunters need to know what the legal shooting hours are less they be ticketed for poping off a few shots too early. So my "engineer" background actually deserves less credit for this tidbit of knowledge. In short, those folks who hunt will most likely be the ones to "pass this quiz".

December 11, 2006 10:19 AM  
Blogger jim said...

Thanks Randy, I now see how that works. Much obliged, as we used to say. Jim

December 11, 2006 10:49 AM  

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