Sunrise/Sunset

sunrise/sunset

Sunrise/Sunset

Sunrise/Sunset: how cliche are such images considered by many who have never seen the fiery skies of the Desert Southwest? Oh, but how much the skies speak to those who know and love them. While it is true the depth of beauty will never been seen in a photograph, sometimes the beauty is so overwhelming that just a hint is satisfying. I quote again D. H. Lawrence’s written description of sunrise in New Mexico:

I think New Mexico was the greatest experience from the outside world that I have ever had. It certainly changed me forever. . . . the moment I saw the brilliant, proud morning shine high up over the deserts of Santa Fe, something stood still in my soul, and I started to attend. . . . In the magnificent fierce morning of New Mexico one sprang awake, a new part of the soul woke up suddenly and the old world gave way to a new.
There are all kinds of beauty in the world, thank God, though ugliness is homogeneous. . . . But for a greatness of beauty I have never experienced anything like New Mexico.

Many of my photographer friends remember the magnificence of the skies of the 2009 monsoon season. Sometimes I wondered if I would ever see a prolonged season quite like that one again. Yesterday was almost like a whole season rolled into one.

Sunrise

Back Yard Sunrise 6:17-6:22am

I start each day looking out to assess the potential for a sunrise I would like to photograph. If any clouds at all are above the Sandia Mountains, I make sure my camera is by the door and with the appropriate lens. On this particular day, I did not expect much. However, I have learned over the years that you never know. When it was barely light I went out to water flowers in containers. And then, I saw the pink begin to show. Do I know I really need to use a tripod? Yes, of course. But that is another story. I grabbed my camera, which was in easy reach, and photographed this sunrise as seen from my back yard in the middle of Albuquerque. The first gif loops three times, for those who do not like constant movement on a blog. The second gif loops continuously, for those who like to watch a little more. This was a fairly long display of color over five minutes.

Sunrise/Sunset
Backyard Sunrise
sunrise/sunset
Backyard Sunrise

Front Yard Sunrise 6:25-6:39am

I would have been more than satisfied to start the day with that sunrise from my back yard. Although I can see a small part of the north end of the Sandia Mountains from my front yard, I rarely photograph from there. However, although the basic view is of houses, driveways, and vehicles, the surprise of that sunrise view made me grab my camera!

6:25am

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Amazing Clouds and Colors

6:36am

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Note You Can Tell Exactly Where the Sun Is Rising

6:37am

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Yes, Those Are Crepuscular Rays

6:40am

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The Morning Show Is Almost Over

Sunset

What more could one expect from the skies that day? I was more than happy with the offerings of sunrise.

But, I live in New Mexico!

Early sunset gave me this sky, looking west:

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The Beginning of Sunset

The day ended with a gently beautiful sunset:

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Gentle Sunset

What more could anyone ask from a day of monsoon skies?

Creatures in Albuquerque

Bee in Cosmos

Creatures in Albuquerque

Creatures: the desert is full of interesting plants and animals, even in the middle of a city like Albuquerque. I don’t see as many different hawks up in my part of town as Tim Price does down on the Rio Grande bosque (see his blog, very wide ranging but full of wildlife), but the ones I do see are pretty reliable. Cooper’s hawks and sharp-shinned hawks like the NE Heights of Albuquerque, because people put out feeders that attract little birds. The little birds are what the hawks mostly go for. However, I never let my cats out, and the neighbor of a friend found the remains of his Pomeranian on top of the roof, thanks to hawks. During nesting season, people are advised to take umbrellas to the city’s parks, to avoid being dive bombed by the hawks protecting their young.

One morning last week I was out to photograph the sunrise. So, of course, I had a landscape lens on the camera. During the sunrise, I saw something I have never seen before: an adult hawk brought its young, seeking breakfast. They were in a tree really outside the range of my lens, but I photographed them anyway. Not a great pic, but you can make out the adult and the young one against the sunrise.

creatures Adult Cooper's Hawk with Young
Adult Cooper’s Hawk with Young, against a Desert Sunrise

Several days later I was out to photograph the hummingbirds. I had just put on my bird lens and gotten comfortable to try to get a few pics of hummers. This hawk almost immediately, and very briefly, flew in and then left. Some of you may remember the images from a hawk visit on August 13, 2013. I photographed this hawk on August 13 of this year. I have never photographed a hawk from this angle, and I find it very elegant with its spread tail. I think it is a young one for a variety of reasons. I’d like to think it was the young one brought by a parent a few days before. 🙂

Creatures Hawk Seeking Breakfast
Hawk Seeking Breakfast, Landing in a Neighbor’s Tree. Great Camouflage!

It caught breakfast next door, and then zoomed back through my yard, finding its safe spot for enjoying its prey.

Several of my neighbors and I have worked hard to develop yards that are pollinator-friendly. We have very busy bees during the day on sunflowers, cosmos, roses, etc. This is the year that I have discovered that some bees like to snuggle in flowers at bedtime. This little guy kept wiggling his butt until he was well settled into the cosmos. He was still there at dawn, but flew out to start his work as soon as the sun had warmed the flower.

 creatures Bee in Cosmos
Bee in Cosmos

So much beauty here in the desert, full of creatures even in town… Today, I offer just a brief sample of hawk family at sunrise, hawk landing in a tree, and a little bee snuggling in at bedtime. The world is a wondrous place.

Rain! The Monsoon Rain!

monsoon rain

Rain! The Monsoon Rain!

Rain! The monsoon rain arrived at my house this afternoon! Two and a half inches in less than 40 minutes! The rain falling straight down is coming off the roof. The rain at an angle is what was blowing through. And that pond…well, I’m actually happy to see it. The temperature dropped at least 20 degrees on my back porch.

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Monsoon Rain and Pond

My neighborhood slopes downward from the Sandia Mountains on the east to the Rio Grande on the west. Each individual home plot is more or less level, but the yards were designed with a depression precisely for the monsoon rains. They catch the rain and allow it to sink into the ground, rather than running off. Water was running high in the streets, and there was some flash flooding. But the yards just held the excess that fell there until the ground could absorb it.

The area of such heavy rain was fairly small. For those of you who know Albuquerque, the warning was for “around Academy, east of I-25.” I only wish I had gotten some fertilizer out 🙂

I know this image in terms of beauty is not a monsoon sunrise or monsoon sunset image. But for those of us who live in the high desert, a monsoon rain is beautiful and life-giving.

Edited July 18, 2017 to add the following:

1. Southwest Desert Monsoon Season:

Southwestern Monsoon
North American Monsoon (really the Southwestern Monsoon!)

2. Albuquerque’s Localized “Little Rain” 🙂 ))))))))) yesterday

From KOAT TV “Flash Floods Slam Duke City”

Stormy Sunrise

stormy sunrise

Stormy Sunrise: Pink to Orange in Less Than Three Minutes

Stormy sunrise this morning, bringing at least the hope of rain. I did not get rain at my house, but I did enjoy photographing the sky. The gif is made with jpgs straight from the camera with no photo editing other than cropping.

stormy sunrise
Stormy Sunrise
stormy sunrise
Stormy Sunrise

This may not be as impressive as the crepuscular rays at sunset a few nights ago. Nevertheless, as we enter our monsoon season, I am looking forward to seeing – hopefully – many spectacular skies. Some actual rain would also be nice. 🙂

Crepuscular Rays at Sunset

crepuscular rays

Crepuscular Rays at Sunset

Crepuscular rays intrigue me. Most of the images I have shown you from my back yard are from sunrise, over the Sandia Mountains. A couple of nights ago, this was the view looking west. I knew trees and houses would be in the image, but I did not care. I could not get what I wanted to get without including other things. This was another spectacular New Mexico sky!

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Crepuscular Rays at Sunset, Summer 2017

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. ~ Jawaharlal Nehru

Summer Solstice

summer solstice

Summer Solstice, National Selfie Day, and a Day to Celebrate

Summer Solstice – the most amount of daylight in one day for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, and the official beginning of “Summer.” I never heard of National Selfie Day before, but the Twitterverse says it is so. For me, I do not have to see an eye doctor or a skin doctor again until November. I really have nothing to complain about, because my issues were minor and fixable, but the process seemed to drag on from last October until today.

In that time, I have learned a lot about sun protection for everything, including eyes and ears. I now have UPF hats, shirts, neck coverings, etc., etc., as well as UV A&B protective glasses with dark gray lenses and my favorite, amber lenses. I want to do a few more photographs, and then I’ll post those in a post at Southwest Desert Gardening. All gardeners everywhere need sun protection, some just more than others. 🙂

But today, for Solstice (and National Selfie Day 😉 ), I wanted to say “Hello,” dressed appropriately for summer: hat for ear and face protection; UPF 30+ shirt, and very dark glasses as UV protective as possible. I should have been dressed more or less like this all the time I have lived here.

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Summer Solstice – Susan in Sun Protective Hat, Shirt, Glasses

What looks like a BandAid is a silicone pad designed to to help flatten the scar from where skin was taken for graft to cover part of my ear where a little skin lesion was removed. It is all healing up very well.

‘Mermaid’ is just about finished with its first bloom, but I thought this bloom this morning was really pretty. I hope you enjoy it, too.

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A Beautiful ‘Mermaid’ Bloom on Summer Solstice

Happy Solstice, and may the summer not be as hot throughout as it is today.

The Sky Tonight

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The Sky Tonight; and It Is Not Even Monsoon Season Yet!

The sky tonight was reminiscent of Monsoon Season The monsoons are more than a month away. The wind was definitely blowing, but no rain fell in my part of town. But the clouds and the colors provided a spectacular end to the day. Those of you who read here regularly know the view from my back yard, looking west. I usually avoid photos in the front yard, because the “view” is basically of houses and driveways and parked cars. But the clouds and color to the northwest were spectacular enough to demand a photo. This is one of those evenings I long for an unobstructed view. Nevertheless, I remain grateful for what I do see here.

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Tonight’s Sky from the Back Yard
sky clouds cunset
Tonight’s Sky from the Front Yard

Colorful sunrises and sunsets are something we almost take for granted here. Monsoon season especially can provide spectacular skies. But even “ordinary” days here can end with a sunset like this one!

Along the Corrales Bosque

bosque

Along the Corrales Bosque

The bosque along the Rio Grande is a beautiful, fascinating place. A bosque is a forest found in a narrow band along the floodplains of rivers and streams in the American Southwest. It is a prime feature running through the Greater Albuquerque metro area.

This past Sunday, when I noticed the Painted Lady swarm here, Tim and Laurie noted they had hundreds on the salvia at their property in Corrales. Of course I jumped at the chance when they invited me to come out the following day, Memorial Day, to photograph the swarming butterflies there. When it was time to leave my place in the NE Heights, I could see stormy weather in the direction of Corrales. But storms often blow through quickly here, and I wanted to go. I had no weather to speak of on the drive to Corrales, but as soon as I turned off Alameda onto Corrales Road, I could see the storm really had blown through there. Tree limbs, leaves, and puddles of water were everywhere!

However, the Painted Ladies were nowhere to be seen. They had sought shelter – somewhere – from the storm.

Over the years, I have learned that plans for photographic excursions often change in detail, but that there is always something interesting and/or beautiful to photograph. When the sky cleared a bit, Laurie went for a run in the bosque, and Tim and I walked down to the river. It was a beautiful afternoon and evening, sans butterflies!

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Bosque Bridge to the Rio Grande
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Reflections in the “Clear Ditch”
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Walking toward the Rio Grande, the Sandia Mountains Come into View
Bosque
Rio Grande, with Sandia Mountains Beginning to Show Alpenglow
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Crescent Moon at Sunset

Painted Lady Butterfly Sunday

Painted Lady Butterfly

Painted Lady Butterfly Sunday

Painted Lady Butterfly – singly or in pairs – is not unusual here in Albuquerque. This Sunday morning I saw something I did not even know existed until today – a painted lady butterfly swarm! From around 10:00am until I had to get ready to meet a friend a couple of hours later, my yard was filled with these beautiful little flutterby’s. I thought I was imagining things. By the time I got back home, they were gone. But I heard about that time from Tim Price – they were swarming in Corrales! I’m sure he will have photos to post at Off Center and Not Even later on.

These are a few of my visitors today.

What are you looking at, lady?

Painted Lady Butterfly
On Coreopsis
Painted Lady Butterfly
On Coreopsis
Painted Lady Butterfly
On Coreopsis
Painted Lady Butterfly
On Pansies
Painted Lady Butterfly
On Coreopsis
Painted Lady Butterfly
On Coreopsis

As it turns out, swarming of these butterflies is a well-known phenomenon. YouTube has a beautiful video, but embedding is not allowed. You can see it by clicking here.

Life is never boring in New Mexico. There is always something to see!

Standing in Ants in Corrales

ants

Standing in Ants in Corrales

Standing in ants in Corrales is easy to do if you are the least bit distracted by scenery when you are out walking. Last weekend, after checking on the giant Dr Huey rosebush, Tim, Laurie, and I walked down to the Rio Grande, which is their front yard. The river was running quite high then.

Corrales
Laurie and Tim Looking Across the Rio Grande to the Sandias

We hadn’t been in that spot long when Tim and Laurie spotted something:

Corrales
What Do They See?

A short time later, we saw this:

Corrales
A Man in a Kayak!

It was a man in a kayak, and there were two other helpers on the bank. The story behind the encounter will be the subject of another post.

When everyone was safely out of the river, we headed back to Tim and Laurie’s. The sun through the cottonwoods in the bosque was beautiful:

Corrales
Setting Sun on the Bosque

Laurie and I were enjoying the beauty of the bosque, and Tim was ahead. He turned around to see what we were doing. “Lars, you’re standing in ants!!”

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Standing in Ants

It was not for long, and no harm was done.

Back on their deck, we were joined by Rosencrantz, one of their very sweet cats. He partially burrowed under my hat and stayed with us as we talked and ate, as always, delicious food.

Corrales
Rosencrantz

Photographic excursions in Corrales are full of surprises and delights. More in future posts…