The Sunday Nature Call, Uke 7: Near or Far, you’re a star
My spoiling is nearly complete, cross-country skiing back in Iowa just will not ever be able to live up to the wonder, diversity, and quality of trails here. Yesterday was the American Birkebeiner, 54 KM from Cable to Hayward. It’s a big deal. In four week I get to try my luck at the “real” Birkebeiner in Norway. So far, so good with my conditioning. I have conceded that this will be an event for me and not a race: finishing during daylight will make me quite happy.
New birds: zero
Near or Far, you’re a star
“Dad, is our sun a medium size or a big sun?” asked #1 son. I replied that our sun was a medium to small-sized sun. I intended to add some additional unsolicited wisdom but he interjected a fact of his own, albeit wrong, about how many earths could fit into the sun. And then we had a moment, some unanticipated silence where we both marveled about how big our sun was even if it was on the small size.
The power of the sun is returning to the high latitudes. This week I felt the rays of the sun for the first time, warming my face and neck in the cool air. I suspect it was the type of sensation that brings a smile to just about everybody.
The transition from the low and remarkably weak solar rays to the relatively vigorous radiation of this week surprised me. It is ironic that during our winter the sun is actually closer to the northern hemisphere than during the summer. But it’s not the miles that separate us as the angle unto which we are separated. Some poet-scientist has probably already artfully commented on that. Neil deGrasse Tyson anyone?
Yesterday the altitude of the sun in Oslo was almost 20 degrees, the effect is apparent. I had local teachers in Trondheim come within a hair’s breath about complaining about the sun because now it can be painfully bright when driving or skiing. I have seen melting take place on walks and pavement, trust me, that’s a big deal.
Of course back home in the corn kingdom, the sun has already surpassed 20 degrees by 9 AM. At high noon, the altitude of the sun is about double in Linn County. I’m not jealous, the sun’s rays are gaining strength here at a remarkable clip. Everyday I write in my log the sunrise, sunset, and amount of daylight, if I didn’t I think I wouldn’t believe it.
The birds were singing with full throats in the woods this morning, such was the glory of the sun. The trails today were a steady stream of skinny skiers with snazzy tinted glasses. I saw a man riding a mountain bike down the street, with just a dark t-shirt on. Such enthusiasm, all from a free boost in photons.
My moment of inspiration to choose this topic came while waiting in the glass-paneled walkway to board my flight to Trondheim. In that space the greenhouse power of the glass amplified the already stronger rays, I had to take notice. I hope you will too.
Looking up, looking ahead, and keeping my pencil sharp.