These are the days of long shadows. As we get closer to the winter solstice the sun is lower in the sky as the earth tilts. In Minnesota and Wisconsin we are north of the 45th parallel so “our tilt” seems more noticeable. This photo was taken at noon, but my shadow is nowhere close to being right beneath me as it is in the summer. Instead the sun is only 123 degrees above the horizon, elongating my shadow.
This is our winter — longer shadows, shorter days, colder temperatures.
Our temperatures climbed into the 20’s today, making it much more enjoyable to be outside. I headed out for a walk in the woods this afternoon. All was quiet except for the sound of my boots breaking through the snow. Occasionally the wind would kick up and rustle the remaining oak leaves that have stiffened in the cold and still cling to the trees. As we’re in the northern part of the United States, north of the 45th parallel of north latitude, the sun still hangs low in the sky even near noon, resulting in lovely shadows that stretch across the landscape. With snow covering the ground, these shadows create patterns and designs that are soft and seem to dance in the wind. It was a beautiful show that was put on for me as I stood in the relative quiet to soak up the available sun.
I was at the McNeely Conservatory at Como Park the other day and found myself mesmerized by the palms. They’re towering and huge but this day the sun was filtering through the dome and creating some imaginative shadow and light plays. Part of it reminded me of puppet shows we used to create when we were children. I found myself trying to make up stories as to what was going on. This image seemed to be of a flock of birds at the bottom; others weren’t as abstract as this. Either way, the lines, the colors, the shadows, and the light all came together amongst the palms.
We headed out before dawn to Willow River State Park, located just outside of Hudson, Wisconsin. The temperature was a cold 9 degrees, but the eastern horizon was beginning to glow so we knew we’d have a bit of sunshine to warm us up. At one time the Willow River was used to operate mills for grinding grain, and later logs were driven down the river to Lake St. Croix. Today, in the cold of a winter’s morning, the area was quiet. We arrived early enough to observe whitetail deer that were starting to rise after being bedded down for the night. We saw an eagle soar overhead. And the snow all around was animated by the sun. Any small hills were accentuated and visible by their shadows, and where these small flower stems were standing tall through the snow they shed their shadows too across the white landscape. The sun caused the ice in the snow to sparkle as if it was filled with a thousand diamonds. It was a wonderful time to explore a new area and see all that offered up to us.
On a beautiful late-spring afternoon I was lucky enough to have tickets to the Minnesota Twins baseball game against the LA Angels. Even better was that I got to go early to see the Twins’ batting practice. The sun was warm, the sky was blue, and our hopes were up for a win that night. After the Twins’ batting practice was over the Angels came out for their warm up. As the sun was moving lower into the sky it created dark shadows from the stadium deck that stretched across the outfield. For awhile it seemed most of the action was anywhere but in left field, as these three players seemed quite content to rest on their bats, soak up the sun, and cast long shadows over the green turf. In the end, the Angels beat the Twins. But I’ve learned that baseball isn’t just about wins and losses – it had been a beautiful afternoon and night for a baseball game.