My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Friday, July 4, 2014

SkyWatch Friday: Dawn's Early Light to Twilight's Last Gleaming

Happy SkyWatch Friday to my fellow SkyWatchers around the world, and Happy 4th of July to my fellow Americans! 

Lots going on in today's post, so I'd best get busy…

It was not a good week here for sky photography due to a thick haze from wildfires in Alberta, Canada. But it started to clear by yesterday, when I took all of these photos ~ beginning at sunrise when I walked barefoot to the end of our street to finally photograph the Western Meadowlark (Wyoming's State Bird) who sits atop the corner streetlight every day, singing his sweet little heart out. I thought he looked especially lovely bathed in the "dawn's early light"...

I've always loved the Meadowlark's melodious songs and calls, and so was happy to catch a snippet while he alternately preened and sang (his version of singing in the shower?) :-)...

(Don't know what the annoying clicking from my camera is all about!)

I was also able to capture this still photo of him in full-throated song...

...but noticed that he was no longer bathed in the pretty golden sunlight. So I turned around to see what had befallen the rising sun and discovered it had been obscured by an ill-timed cloud. Still, it was a pretty sight, so I snapped it...

… and only after viewing it on my camera did I notice the silhouettes of the deer on the right! Since I had my telephoto lens attached, I was able to get a few nice closeups of this doe and her suitors (the one on the right, whom I also hadn't seen till I downloaded this photo, is clearly not a morning person!)...

After mowing and weeding, BW and I took a break in the shade of our front porch and enjoyed the view of this interesting cloud, who appeared to be responding to complaints about the increasing cloudiness with, "Talk to the hand." :-)

At the end of our busy day - and our first hot one (92ºF) in nearly a week - we enjoyed an evening bike ride, and then a final respite on our front porch to watch the sun go down…

BW sporting his "go to hell hat" beneath our festive star-spangled string of lights!

And what a sunset it was!! All of the following sunset photos are "SOOC" - straight out of my camera, which had captured the breathtaking magnificence of the "twilight's last gleaming" so perfectly that the very thought of trying to improve them through editing seemed both futile and arrogant…

Even after the sun had set, the show - and photo ops - had still not ended. By the very last of the day's light, a herd of at least nine mule deer paraded past in front of the school across the street, providing a delightfully perfect close to a day that had begun with a beautiful sky and beautiful deer... and because what is Independence Day without a parade? :-)

Click on the photos to enlarge, and please pardon their poor quality. I was surprised my camera was able to capture the deer as well as it did, given my distance from them and the lack of light! Though some of them had lagged behind to peek in the classroom windows and front doors (not kidding) and so didn't make it into the frame, the ones who did are more visible in this photo...

Again, I wish a very safe and 
to those who are celebrating it…

And please also enjoy a mindful holiday celebration...


  1. Beautiful skies and I love the Meadowlark! Happy 4th of July to you and yours..

    1. Thanks, Eileen! The meadowlark's song always makes me happy. A wonderful 4th to you as well!

  2. Oooh and ahhh. And repeat. Love the skies, the birds, the deer.
    And your concern (which I share) for those terrified by fireworks.

  3. The deer was an exciting bonus to your photo!
    As much as I love seeing the fireworks, you have pointed out a few things I hadn't thought about, but will now.

  4. Great post and photos! Hope your Fourth was memorable.

  5. Happy Independence Day to you! Love the vivid yellow skies!

  6. Growing up in the country in southwestern Oklahoma meant the beautiful song of the meadowlark was omnipresent. Later, the meadowlark along with the horny toad and others, virtually disappeared from the Oklahoma landscape. They are so beautiful and so melodic. I love their sight and their sound. Thank you.

    1. How terribly sad that so many critters have been forced out of their homes (or worse yet, into oblivion), directly or indirectly by human activities. I agree that both the sight and sound of the meadowlark is beautiful and something special, and am glad to have them around us (at least for now, we're aghast at the rapid pace of the development here - new houses springing up all around us every day, it seems! Where are all these people coming from?!)

  7. Wow, Laurie, lots of great stuff in this post! The meadowlark's song is beautiful. So light and carefree sounding!

    I love that the day brought so much wildlife to you. What a find with the deer in the sunset and I can't believe how many were by the school! Do the pups get excited when they see other animals? Emma would have been aroo'ing up a storm. :)

    You always get the best cloud shots. Love the hand! The sunset photos are absolutely amazing! My first thought when I saw them was "apocalypse sky". So, so gorgeous.

    They banned fireworks in the city here, too, and thankfully they seem to be strictly enforcing it because we only heard the show the city put on. Sophie is the only one who gets distressed but it was far enough away that she did okay last night. It makes me sad that so many animals (and some people) are negative affected by them. :(

    1. I hadn't realized till I came here to reply to Sandra's comment that I'd neglected to reply to so many on this post! Man, maybe it's just me but I find it increasingly hard to keep up with this blog, despite my best laid plans and desires.

      Our dogs only seem to get excited when they see 1. Squirrels (Willow is especially keen on squirrels, she could watch them all day long); 2. Bunnies (Josie's favorite, and while Willow is content to watch, you know that Josie's feral side would rise to the surface if we were to let her off leash for one second with a bunny nearby!); 3. Little yappy dogs (where Tessa's particular interest lies - though we can't tell if they fascinate or annoy her!)

      You're right, that was definitely an apocalyptic looking sky!

      I'm glad the fireworks ban was strictly enforced (or uniformly respected) in your town, it was really awful here for a few days.

  8. Lovely shots and such stunning skies!

  9. Glad you had a nice 4th. Love all your sky pics and the meadowlark.....and the parade ;-). We had a nice 4th as well. And....I see BW has a "go to hell hat" also ;-P.

  10. The sunset pictures are amazing, as it is sitting in that beautiful porch. No doubt BW seems so happy there.
    During the summer here on the island there are lots of fireworks everywhere celebrating festivities in each village and you can hear dogs barking and crying and many of them run away from home full of fear. It´s so sad. What is worst: my neighbour loves firecrackers... grrrrrrr.
    Hope you´ve enjoyed the 4th. Did you prepare something special to eat on that day?

    1. Yes, BW and I do love to sit on the front porch, though our busy summer days don't allow it very often. The porch is a funny thing for us - BW loves that its openness allows him to see and exchange greetings with all the passers by (and there are a LOT of passers by, our street is busy and getting busier). The porch seems to be an open invitation for people to pull into the driveway or walk up to the porch and visit - sometimes for an hour or more. Whereas anti-social I launched an unsuccessful, summer-long campaign to put up privacy screens like lattice with vines growing over them, or blinds, or something to provide late afternoon shade but also a way to sit out there without being exposed to the world! I want to enjoy reading or quiet reverie on my porch without all the interruptions, is that so wrong? Since I haven't gotten my way, now I'm wanting to build a screened pergola on the back patio next spring instead - either that or put a for sale sign up in the front yard and move to somewhere peaceful and quiet with plenty of private nooks and crannies to retreat to! ;-)

      I guess we're lucky that the fireworks here are pretty much limited to the 4th of July, but given that they're illegal in the city limits, we were appalled at how many neighbors were setting them off all that weekend. The police department was overwhelmed this year having to respond to all the nitwits who were setting off fireworks all over town.

      I honestly have zero recollection of what we ate that day, so I guess it couldn't have been all that special! :-)


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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