Nothing more wonderfully beautiful can exist than the arctic night. It is a dreamland, painted in the imagination’s most delicate tints; it’s colour etherealised. One shade melts into the other, so that you cannot tell where one shade ends and the other begins, and yet they are all there. No forms- it is all faint, dreamy colour music, a far away, long-drawn-out melody on muted strings. Is not all life’s beauty high, and delicate, and pure like this night?
Fridtjof Nansen, Farthest North
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the arctic night is the northern lights, the great Aurora Borealis. Described by the great arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen as “harp music, wildly storming in the darkness.. and again, at times, it is like soft-playing, gently-rocking, silvery waves, on which dreams travel into unknown worlds” the glory of the aurora never fails to inspire awe, emotion, deep thoughts and deeper questions. Captain Robert Falcon Scott echoed this thought in his journal-
There is infinite suggestion in this phenomenon, and in that lies its charm; the suggestion of life, form, colour, and movement never less than evanescent, mysterious, -no reality. (Scott’s Last Expedition)
We were leaving the airport with a man who told us he had grown up in Minnesota and watched the northern lights as a child. Then, as if to sum up all his conclusions on the matter, he said, “makes you realize we’re not alone out there” making quite plain that he was referring to God. That is what the aurora does, plucks the chords of human spirituality within each of us in a way that one cannot easily escape from.
Under the inspiration of the aurora’s “glittering cloak” Fridtjof Nansen wrote-
I have never been able to grasp the fact that this earth will someday be spent and desolate and empty. To what end, in that case, all this beauty, with not a creature to rejoice in it?
Had he been a Bible reader he no doubt would have taken comfort in the fact recorded at Isaiah 45:18 that the earth was created, not for nothing, but to be inhabited. Or Psalm 37:29 that says that “the righteous will posses the earth, and live forever upon it.” No, the earth and it’s beauty will not be spent, it will not become desolate nor empty. The earth is our inheritance and it’s creature will rejoice in it forever. If you haven’t come to know this from the book of scriptures this fact will be imparted to you through the book of creation like it was for Nansen.
I put the rest of my pictures of Aurora Borealis here, on their very own page.
Forests, lakes, and rivers, clouds and winds, stars and flowers, stupendous glaciers and crystal snowflakes – every form of animate or inanimate existence, leaves its impress upon the soul of man.” Orison Swett Marden
Great minds are related to the brief span of time during which they live as great buildings are to a little square in which they stand: you cannot see them in all their magnitude because you are standing too close to them.
I decided that I’m tired of standing too close to stuff and not really looking at it. Sometimes I think that the bigger something is, the less noticeable it is. Like the other day I was at the grocery store Sprouts and I bought some toothpaste or something and the person ringing it up put in some special code for our extra 25% off and we were like “What’s that for?” and they said they were having all their health and beauty stuff on sale, and then I looked over and saw a gigantic banner hanging over the entire section of the store that said extra 25% off in huge letters. It was like the most obvious thing in the store but none of us saw it.
So I’m going in all the places that I see but don’t think about because there’s got to be something important in there or they wouldn’t have bothered to build, right? Right. Same goes for people too, if each individual wasn’t important then why would they be here? We might not live long enough to truly appreciate someone but it’s the kind of project that is best just to go ahead start on even if it goes unfinished. We should never be so close to someone that we can’t appreciate them fully.
Some pictures of places and their squares-
The Fort Collins Water Works was built in the early 1880s as a new way to deliver water into the town. It originally had metal shingles but they were replaced when the roof got redone in the 1990s, so does that mean that the roof lasted over a hundred years? Because we should all do metal shingles if that is the case. We should all do a picnic too, that’s what it makes me think because its in a real old, pretty spot in Laporte that just screams bike rides and picnics, which are always good things to do no matter where you choose to do them at. I would suggest some crusty french loaves, an assortment of cheeses and spreads, and a red wine. Maybe you could tour Ten Bears Winery in Laporte, I’ve never been there but local wine is usually a good idea. You should make little apple hand pies for picnics which is just a lovely idea because the waterworks has an “ancient apple orchard” so you’d fit with the theme. I thought of it because I saw this article on NPR (including a recipe) the other day and I never forget anything I read about food because, well, why would I? Food is delicious.
If you were hoping to read more about the actual waterworks here is their website. It is a pretty interesting place even if you are not that interested in water and really just like to look at old, crumbly stuff.
One who not merely beholds the outward shows of things, but catches a glimpse of the soul that looks out of them, whose garment and revelation they are- if he be such, I say, he will stand, for more than a moment, speechless with something akin to that which made the morning stars sing together. – George MacDonald
We’ve heard the saying “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover” and decided that it means that ugly people can be nice and just because someone is pretty doesn’t mean they’re a decent person. I don’t like that. Sometimes ugly people are just ugly people through and through and sometime pretty people are lovely on the inside too. But that’s not why I don’t like it, I don’t like it because it’s so shallow. The idea that people are either ugly or beautiful, good or bad, nice or mean, smart or dumb, and that is what we should look for in a person. Instead of judging whether a person is nice or mean, good or bad, why can’t we simply look to observe what is there? Can’t something be beautiful on the outside and complex on the inside? Why don’t we look for the glory, the mystery, the wonderful, the unseen? Why do we take what makes up a man, a man created by God out of the building blocks of the universe, and dumb it down into simply good or simply bad?
George Eliot said, “Adventure is not outside a man, it is within.” Where is our sense of adventure? Don’t we all want to experience awe, to be struck by something too wonderful for us? In the quote above MacDonald is referencing Job 38:7 where the morning stars (or the angels) cry out joyfully together and shout in applause upon seeing the Earth which Jehovah has just finished making. Imagine seeing our planet for the first time when nothing like it has ever existed before. It is glorious enough to us in our narrow view of it and yet it is suggested that we may have the same sense of joy and applause, excitement and wonder that the angels felt when we search deep inside another and examine what they are made of. Many of us wish to explore the world, but we are surrounded by hundreds of worlds living and breathing and swirling around us everyday, we should explore those.
The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. Eden Phillpotts
All of nature, including us, exists below the surface; the surface of the ground, the surface of our skin, the surface of our perception. These photos are a small sampling of the “savage and beautiful country” that lies in between the mysterious (Diane Ackerman).
Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth, we are happy when we are growing.
William Butler Yeats
Happiness is not something you find and then have nor something that comes from making the best of what is in front of you. True happiness comes from constantly growing- growing spiritually, growing emotionally, growing mentally, and, most importantly, growing in appreciation. If you are not growing than you are fooling yourself in thinking that anything you do is worthwhile. Make everyday an adventure, an exploration. Every day. Not just the one’s were you’re not already busy working. Surround yourself with growth. There’s a saying “How can you except to live a positive life if you surround yourself with negative people?” Who brings you places you’ve never been? Who talks about the deep things of God? Who asks you questions about yourself? Who makes you think about things in a different way? The word “who” here being used in reference to everything around you but certainly including the people your spend your time with. Surround yourself with growing things, things that are changing themselves always into something better. Never say this is how I am, never accept your personality as it is or your preferences as they are. In that way happiness springs from humility as one has to accept that the way they are is not the way they should still be tomorrow or ever again. Stop seeking comfort and consistency, it goes against nature. Surround yourself with nature and you will find the comfort you need without having to seek it or make it, you can not force happiness.
I love to explore, I love to go different places that I’ve never seen and if there’s a building I want to know what’s inside. I’ve decided I should just find out, it seems like you’re not allowed to but if there isn’t a sign I don’t see why not so I’ve decided to go in and have a look. If anyone asks me why I’m there I will simply ask them if they’ve read The Phantom Tollbooth. I like the idea of being around plants, they are quiet and lovely and helpful. I’ve always like the idea of a greenhouse, were plants grow inside in tidy rows all separated like so you know what is what. I’ve always had this fantasy of being in a greenhouse, not with a bunch of people like when you’re try to buy tomatoes at a nursery some weekend at the beginning of gardening season, just being in there existing and stuff. Probably stems from my love of this movie, one of my top 5, I don’t have a favorite because I’m afraid to commit and I always keep the 5th spot open so I can rotate films in and out as it fits my whims-
A film depicting lives that I both identify with and aspire to. But to be able to be in a greenhouse and breathe, how wonderful.
And now I know from experience that it is every bit as lovely as I imagined it would be. I have an amazing friend, one of those good ones as described above, who works in a greenhouse and invited me to come see it. I took 68 pictures that I loved so It’s been quite difficult narrowing them down, here are some that represent nothing more than the simple feeling of being there-
Tis the privilege of friendship to talk nonsense, and to have her nonsense respected.
― Charles Lamb
Girl time in Estes! I’m still unclear as to why Estes Park is such a popular vacation destination. There’s not anything to do or eat there for a girl that can’t eat candy but still I had the loveliest of times there this past Saturday doing nothing in particular with my most beautiful lady bird, my spiritual sister and best friend. The air tasted of marshmallow, sweet and chewy in our mouths as we walked through town past countless taffy pullers, candy and ice cream shoppes. Rumor has it that its worth driving all the way to Estes for an ice cream cone at the little place on the corner and yet someone had the audacity to put a dairy queen/orange julius up there! That’s the thing about Estes, it tries really hard to be a destination, it really does, but it just doesn’t have it. The foods expensive but nothing special, you can’t find anything allergen free to save your life. I don’t know, maybe going to Steamboat my whole life has spoiled me into thinking all world renowned vacation spots are created equal and it simply isn’t the case. But still with a camera and a good friend by your side a day in Estes can still have a bit of magic sparkle, the marshmallow air really helps that too.
So there was this wicked mural across the back of a bunch of buildings all about the guy that made Estes Park into the town it is today. This nice local guy told me all about it including the fact that the artist commissioned to do the work finally finished it like seven years after she said when would, the town was outraged because she was paid in full and then never delivered. I thought that if it was really that big of a deal maybe they wouldn’t pile a whole bunch of junk in front of it but I am the minority. But that’s Estes for you, a good thought lacking a thorough delivery.
I am really proud of these elk, they didn’t gore anyone while I was there! Not a one, not even the guy that stood right in the front ones face taking pictures. Seriously people, these a huge, powerful, and very wild animals that you should under no circumstances approach, if you need a picture get a zoom lens. Treat them like you would a gator, a fuzzy and majestic gator that hangs out by the road munching on flowers and grasses but a gator none the less. Keep your distance and don’t get all up in their grill bro.
Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.
My mother’s family homesteaded Steamboat Springs, CO back in 1902 with two covered wagons and a team of oxen. To make it over the pass they had to hitch up all of the oxen to one wagon, pull it over, and return for the other wagon. They waited in Denver until the snow broke and took most of the summer to get there. When I was a kid I thought that driving for four hours to get there was a long time, now I think it is too fast. Routt and Grand counties are beautiful country and I am convinced that nothing faster than a horse can do it justice, it is so annoying to pull off the road every 5 minutes to see something. I wonder how our modern ease of travel has affected both our sense of adventure and our appreciation for the journey.
Pictures from the areas around Kremmling, Steamboat Springs, and Walden.
Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature’s darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature’s sources never fail.
Okay, so I know that national parks are important, it be awesome if the whole world were a national park and everyone went in with the idea that they don’t own anything so if they want to camp there they had better keep it nice or bears will eat them. I know that there are cool things in national parks, like glaciers. What I have always failed to understand as a young person living in the Rocky Mountains is why I or anyone I know personally would go to Rocky Mountain National Park. You have to drive a long way AND you have to give them twenty whole dollars.You can see the same thing for free in like ten minutes here and to be completely honest I don’t know for sure exactly how it works. Like in the city if you go to a park once you get there you’re there, you park, you get out, you play a bit, you go home. If you stay there after dark the cops will think you’re up to no good and you might hurt yourself jumping off the swings because you can’t see the ground. So what about national parks? You just keep driving and that is the fun or something? Can you just walk on it, like if there’s not a parking lot followed by a marked trail, are you just allowed to touch everything? What about when night comes, you just sleep there on the road or something? What if you want to go there at night, are there people in the little give-me-your-money booth thingy’s in the middle of the night? Are there park hours? See, it’s just really too confusing for the average careful person to figure out.
So, the other year around when I got my camera a groupon deal came out for a photography tour of Rocky Mountain National Park and I bought it. I was thinking it would be super cool and maybe I’d learn a lot from a real photographer and everything! But its one of those things where when you’re about to actually go do it you realize its not really that exciting and you’re not the type of person to remember things to ask or learn anything useful from other people. But it was nice and not overly exciting, just as a prefer all of my activities that I do alone because really, who likes to be really excited all by themselves? And since I know nothing about the park it was great to go with someone who does. My guide was the lovely Aaron Cathcart of Cathcart Photography, experienced and knowledgeable as well as personable. It was fun! You should do it.
A day or two before the tour a fire started so I took some pictures of the smoke. These are some shots from my whole time I spent in RMNP and nearby Estes Park, CO.
When I bought my farm, I did not know what a bargain I had in the bluebirds, daffodils and thrushes; as little did I know what sublime mornings and sunsets I was buying.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
They took down their road blocks and let us back in today. We had heard that they had slurried all the houses so they were all still standing even though the fire had burned through to the other side of the street, this turned out not to be true, there was no evidence of anything burnt on our side of the road, much less the other side which is further away from the fire. Didn’t see any slurry either.
Everything was lush and green against the soft, smoky haze, so peaceful, so at ease you wouldn’t guess it had just been threatened so vehemently. Deep green corn shoots quietly growing in perfect rows, spotted cattle quietly grazing against the golden backdrop of the Bellevue dome, little houses, perhaps still empty, waiting quietly on small, sage hills, the soft sun setting behind smoke and silver lining.
Our dear friends on the other side of the dome let us climb up to survey the area and watch the sunset. From that lofty vantage point we could truly appreciate the splendor of the valley and be filled with gratitude for its preservation.
For those of you out there dying to know about Morning Fresh Dairy, that is it on the right hand side, if you can’t tell that dirt patch is filled with cows. Nothing is burnt, everything looks fine. I don’t know if they got evacuated but I would think that they did since everyone else on the road did…
Some people are being let back in while others have received pre evacuation notices so this is far from over. As of right now the fire is at 46,820 acres and only 10 percent contained with extreme growth potential. There is about 1,263 people working on this, including the national guard. Rumor has it that there isn’t anything we can do except try to keep it from spreading while waiting for it to burn itself out, this could take months.
A crimson sun shines though choking brown plumes like the strength of the 250 emergency personnel below it. The western wind, strong and unyielding, drags the heavy smoke up the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, through Wyoming, Nebraska, and into South Dakota while pushing the fire from the steep canyon walls toward the grassy pastures of Bellevue. What was just yesterday a small fire in the mountains, 200 acres lit from the lightning of the rain storm that so many had prayed for, has grown to 20,000 acres devouring homes and outbuildings, burning the dairy behind us and lapping at our western border. Police Cruisers lights dance behind the quiet haze against a backdrop of gray and rust saving people from seeing their property suffocating and singed. For so many there is no going home tonight, for some there will be no going home.
My junior high school has always served as the evacuation center for fires like this, except there hasn’t ever been a fire like this before. The air is too thick to inhale and the evacuees as being relocated another 20 miles away in Loveland, CO to be with their animals. Experienced fire fighters call the growth of this fire ‘incredible,’ most fires rest at night with the cooler temperatures but satellite data indicate that this fire doubled in sized and ran 6 miles.
This first set of picture were taken at Terry Lake north of Fort Collins as Highway 287 curves west toward the mountains.
These next two were taken on Bingham Hill, looking north west into the affected areas that are cut off by police blockade. As you can see the fire has come out of the mountains and is moving across the foothills.
This last set was taken north east of the fire in the range-lands of north taft hill road, north of the now closed highway 287. This is the same area that I shot the pictures from my first post, looks a lot different now!
If you have sharp eyes you can see a firefighting helicopter heading into the fire in this last photograph. As of yet we have eight 20-person crews and other firefighters on scene . Air resources on scene include: 5 Single Engine Air Tankers (SEAT); 2 Type 1 Helitankers; 2 Type 3 Helicopters; 3 Heavy Air Tankers; Air Attack; and Lead Plane. Approximately 15 engines are on scene. A Type 1 Management Team has been ordered and are expected to take over management Monday morning. Additional ground, air, and engines have been ordered.
There is no water in oxygen, no water in hydrogen: it comes bubbling fresh from the imagination of the living God, rushing from under the great white throne of the glacier. The very thought of it makes one gasp with an elemental joy no metaphysician can analyse. The water itself, that dances, and sings, and slakes the wonderful thirst–symbol and picture of that draught for which the woman of Samaria made her prayer to Jesus–this lovely thing itself, whose very wetness is a delight to every inch of the human body in its embrace–this live thing which, if I might, I would have running through my room, yea, babbling along my table–this water is its own self its own truth, and is therein a truth of God.
― George MacDonald
I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day. It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful. Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me – I am happy. -Hamlin Garland, McClure’s, February 1899
We went hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park to see a waterfall, it started snowing before we ever got there but we got lots of good pictures anyway. Here are four of my eight favorite.
The lakes are something which you are unprepared for; they lie up so high, exposed to the light, and the forest is diminished to a fine fringe on their edges, with here and there a blue mountain, like amethyst jewels set around some jewel of the first water, – so anterior, so superior, to all the changes that are to take place on their shores, even now civil and refined, and fair as they can ever be. -Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau, I decided, is my friend because he was Ralph Waldo Emerson’s friend and that guy is my bestie so a friend of a friend is my friend too. Emerson wrote that the sky is the eyes daily bread and truly, everyday when I look outside I remember this because there is something amazing up there every time. The night sky is especially dear to me. Psalm 19:1 says “The heaven are declaring the glory of God; and the work of his hands the expanse is telling.” I think it is amazing that no matter where you live or how much money you have or how smart you are you can look at the night sky with appreciation; even if you have nothing, the sky is there for you every day. It is so big, and yet not empty. It is full of activity and energy that makes you realize that what you are dealing with is insignificant, yet you are not. When you take the time to look around you can easily see that our universe was designed as a perfect place for humans, there are so many things built in to help us deal with and enrich our lives like the sky for calmness, helping us to see the bigger picture and giving us a glimpse of unimaginable glory, or lakes for clear thinking and introspection.
A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. -Henry David Thoreau
My goal is to take more time to fully appreciate the area that I live. Since I see it everyday it can be passed over and taken for granted a little bit and I don’t want to be like that. This is explained more thoroughly in the ‘about’ section if you haven’t read that and are at all interested.
My friend Nikita Van Putten had the great idea of driving up to a lake in Rocky Mountain National Park to photograph the super moon last saturday. I never really figured out how to get a good picture of the moon so don’t get your hopes up. I did however take these of Lily Lake. It was really cold and windy, but also amazing. We were the only ones out there (perhaps because we weren’t supposed to be?) in the very dark. This was my first time doing long exposures and night photography. The first picture is my favorite of the night, and also the very first one I took.
Moving in slightly closer and looking at building structure itself you see that the more than just the shape of the overall building is interesting. The entryways, hallways, and floors are all constructed with purpose and style.
The public library is right next to the museum of art. This entryway, filled with book drop offs and doorways, had the cool quietness you would except from a library. Peering down this column of marble and shade you are filled with a sense of silence solitude as though peering into a separate world through the pages of a book herein contained.
Across the street is yet another columned building, but, as you can see, quite different from the other and a stark contrast to the ultra modern structures in its immediate vicinity.
Moving in through the entry there are thick cut doorways in the cold marble where soft light beckons. Ascending small stone stairs you emerge in a Hellenistic world.
The other side.
Through the ancient columns, down the heavy stone staircase, and across the silent, sprawling brick plane lies the Denver Tech Center.
From old to new
public to private
spacious to cramped
silence to sirens
hangin’ to hustlin’
greek to greed
flat stone to gleaming glass
Denver is a world of worlds.