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-
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.