Thursday, December 5, 2013

Awesome beauty

photo by Dave Ellison

When I walked Newton this morning, the temperature had settled at two degrees below zero. The wind cut through my wool mittens, fierce out of the west. Fresh snow stretched unbroken across the fields. It was a beautiful day, although a spare, harsh kind of beauty.

An hour later, while washing the dishes at the sink, Dave and I watched real beauty unfold. The rising sun burned through the clouds of snow still in the air and sun dogs appeared. Bright cousins of rainbows, sun dogs are even more magical than their rainstorm equivalents. The sundogs are due to sunlight refracting through hexagonal plate shaped ice crystals, usually found in high, cold cirrus clouds. In the winter, these ice crystals are called diamond dust and they float in the air at low elevations. Many winter mornings we see flat plates of diamond dust settled out on snow banks and grasses, glittering in the rising sun.

This morning the diamond dust refracted the light of the rising sun into a solar halo that circled the sun and two sun dogs, awesome in their beauty. Who could ask for a better reason to do the dishes than a glimpse of awesome beauty.

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