Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Seasonal firsts and silly stuff
Why do I like this so much?
The first seasonal first to happen Sunday was the time change. We went from standard to daylight time with our clocks springing forward an hour at 3 a.m. Officially. And in my case it's at least partially true that the clocks sprung (sprang? springed? spronged?) themselves forward. I had to manually change the stove and microwave but everything else is linked either to the atomical clock signal or the wireless infomunication network and changed itself.
I had a personal first Sunday when I found concrete pads and bits of oilfield detritus lurking atop a hill. I was startled to find these things given the fact that I've hiked the area so very many times over the years without finding them. They simply cannot be seen from below. In my mind I was sure that I'd visited each hilltop and gully many times, but my mind was wrong. Nevertheless, this was a personal first and not a seasonal first.
The second of Sunday's seasonal firsts was a weather event which began an hour or so before sunset. Rain! The first rain of spring! Nearly seven-tenths of pure liquid phase dihydrogen mono-oxide precipitation over about eight hours. Beautiful!
The whole spring thing is interesting. Everybody knows how the seasons work. The periods we call spring, summer, winter, and fall are three month periods we directly link to the position of the sun's arc across the sky. When the sun is at its lowest just before Christmas it's the winter solstice and therefore the first day of winter. Three months later the sun is at mid-point between lowest and highest and this is the first day of spring, or the vernal (spring) equinox (midpoint). Three months later the sun is at its highest and it's the summer solstice or first day of summer. Three months later and the sun has reversed course and once again reached the midpoint between high and low. This is the autumnal equinox and first day of fall. In another three months we're back where we started, on the first day of winter just before Christmas. Completely common knowledge.
I work outside every day of the year, so I'm intimately familiar with seasons. I can read a calendar so I know when each new season begins. What I still find fascinating, even after years and years of living the dream, is that that the seasons don't pay strict attention to the calendar. The changes that herald each new season are pretty evident to the seasoned (sorry) observer, but they never arrive exactly on time. At least that's the way it works in this part of the country.
The earliest signs of spring actually began to show themselves a couple of weeks ago. Overwintering ducks and geese headed north and grass began to tinge green. Meadowlarks began to sing. Lark buntings, horned larks, and Brewer's blackbirds began to show up. The chickens began doing spring chicken things. Winter wheat began to green up. Various weed (non-Colorado) seed began to germinate and poke above the soil. The air began to feel and smell springy, with humidity inching up a bit and sun warmed scents wafting into winter-sterile air.
All of this well before March 19, when the vernal equinox arrives.
It's far from unusual to have signs of spring before the equinox. It's also far from unusual to have first signs of spring lag behind the equinox. And it's not all that uncommon for noticeable signs of spring to arrive with the equinox. Seasonal variability shows that while the sun is in the climate driving seat, the hydrosphere and atmosphere -- being made up mostly of water, nitrogen, and oxygen -- represent such a huge number if independently moving molecules that there's simply no way we can understand or model the variability with anything approaching fidelity.
I love and embrace nature's reality. It's infinitely cool. We live on a dynamic planet in a dynamic universe and compared to what we actually know and understand about our pretty blue marble, the list of things we don't know and understand is enormously larger. Compared to our ape-lizard unknowns, the stuff we do know (green banana hurt tummy) stacks up to pretty much zero. And yet all of our info tech, medicine, planes-trains-automobiles, space flight, skyscrapers, and the rest of our fantastic works exists in that "pretty much zero" realm.
Which means that the road ahead is infinite.
Infinity also means uncertainty.
A lot of ape-lizards are fearful of infinity and uncertainty. I am too in many ways. But infinity and uncertainty are there whether you're afraid or not, so learning to live with them carries a significant benefit. The fear is natural and it's absolutely true that none of us know what the future holds, but as for me, if I worry too much about the unknown, unseen, and unfathomable I miss most of the good parts of the ride.
It's a choice. Whether we like it or not, for the ape-lizard such things are always a choice.
And since I am the laziest of the lazy and the most fearful of the terrorized, my daily prayer is one of unlimited thanks that I get to go outside each and every day where nature can smack me in the face with reality. Otherwise I'd miss it completely.
It's a huge blessing.
On the "gods must be crazy" front, here is an image of where I found the coke bottle and the surrounding countryside. The yellow dot is where the bottle was, the yellow circle is the windmill and stock tanks where Red went swimming.
It may not be entirely clear in the image, but there's a downslope from south to north and a substantial gully passing just east of the windmill area, which used to have corrals and therefore is a place people worked cattle and, being people, probably ate lunch at midday. My working hypothesis is that at some point in the dim past, a cowboy lost or tossed his empty pop bottle there. It probably lay there undisturbed over all the long seasons since, and at some point natures patient hands managed to push it into the gully where it more or less floated downhill with snow melt or rainfall runoff. I doubt it spent much time in the location I found it, perhaps only a few weeks or months. But that, like the entire hypothesis, is speculation based on a rough understanding of how nature might have treated the artifact.
When I look for coke bottle info on the interwebz it's a bit confusing and what I've found doesn't come with solid attribution, but the thing might date from as long ago as 1923 or a recently as perhaps 1955. I'm still researching.
I like the thought of that bottle being part of a working lunch before I was born and then laying in that place down all the long years. It's a touchstone to the past. Cool.
More silly stuff...
Mom has wireless internet at the ranch, provided by Viaero, which is a regional mobile service provider. They were doing some tower work yesterday and Mom (dozens of others as well) lost service. If I understood what the tech told me, some of the wireless routers locked themselves out of the signal reception business when they freaked out over a setting change. Whatever. Anyway, they need to do a service call to give the router an attitude adjustment. So the tech was trying to look up the physical location of the ranch house so that he could find it. He broogled it of course, and broogle maps told him exactly where to find the house. But broogle missed pretty badly. I make it 10 o'clock for a bit more than 3,000 feet, or about three-fifths of a mile. Good job broogle. Probably better stick to rigging elections.
Try it yourself. The address is 3798 Road 28 South, Kimball, NE 69145.
Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.