Weekly Photo Challenge: Change (Northern Lights in the Night Sky)

Edited 10/7/15 ~ Thank you, to The Daily Post, for including this post and photo in Photos We Loved: Change!  I learned the slideshow may not play on mobile apps, so added a gallery of the same images at the end. 

Aurora Borealis …. the Northern Lights …. magical, mystical changing skies.

Northern Lights in the Minnesota Sky

Early in the morning of September 20, the dark skies were dancing.  I was up late talking with friends who had joined us for a leisurely dinner.  At about 2:30 a.m., we were ready to call it a night.  I heard something that sounded like racoons or other nocturnal critters “arguing” outside, so I went out to investigate.  As I stood in the front yard and looked down the street, I noticed a faint glow illuminating the tree line — a telltale sign that the Northern Lights may be out.

I pulled up my phone and checked my Aurora Forecast app — the visual forecast and Kp Index were extremely promising! A Kp Index of 4 or more in northern Minnesota is reportedly sufficient for observing the Northern Lights, and all indications were that my region was experiencing a Kp Index of 5 with strong activity.  I then took a look at the Great Lakes Aurora Hunters Facebook group and one of the other photography groups I follow, and noticed a few members buzzing about the aurora activity that night.

After saying good-night to my friends, I packed up the camera bag, grabbed the tripod, and headed away from the city lights.  The funny thing about the aurora borealis is that it can disappear as quickly as it appears, and while there are forecasts available, it’s just like the weather, with no promise or guarantee.  I knew that as soon as I found a spot to set up my camera and watch the horizon, the skies could very well go dark on me.  It’s always a gamble, but when it pays off, the rewards are priceless.

I found a promising location with an open view of the northern horizon, and interesting treeline.  The sky was cloud-free, and the stars were out in full force.  From 3:00 a.m. until 4:30 a.m., I watched in awe as the sky shimmered and pulsed, pillars of light periodically shooting up from the horizon, as an undulating green band hypnotically formed above the tree line and began emitting spikes of green and purple.  While the camera captures far more than the human eye, the wee hours of that morning (or late night, depending on your perspective) yielded a spectacular show that also was visible to the naked eye.

I packed up my tripod and started the car to go home on two different occasions, but as I sat and watched the ever-changing lights, the display drew me out again to appreciate the wonder just a bit longer.   Finally, the thought of getting at least a few hours of sleep outweighed the temptation to stay until the sunrise would overtake the mesmerizing images in the northern sky.

Play the slideshow and watch the lights dance and change to experience the beauty of the aurora yourself.

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Gallery viewing (click on any of the individual images to view full-size), if your mobile app is unable to play the slideshow:

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  “Change” is this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

Daring Greatly

Inspirational words heading into the weekend …

Daring Greatly

Ciao! ~ Kat

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

My oldest son will start his senior year of high school this fall, and is fine-tuning his list of colleges to which he intends to apply.  I cannot help but feel a little nostalgic as I look back at this first day of school photo from when my eldest started his kindergarten year.  His little brother wanted to take a photo, too, and thought it was all fun until big brother climbed onto the school bus.  Little brother was so upset he was not going with him that he grabbed a handful of rocks off the gravel driveway and threw them at the bus as it departed!

First Day of School

 

Along with that feeling of nostalgia, though, is the excitement of looking forward to the next stage of life, for both my children and myself.  Each stage may close some doors, but also brings new opportunities.  What is life without change?  Embrace it and enjoy the journey.

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  ”Nostalgic” was this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

When I saw this week’s challenge theme, my oldest son and I happened to be traveling through Ohio to visit a couple of colleges over his spring break.  We had some unscheduled time while staying in Wooster, Ohio to travel the Amish Country Byway of Holmes County, and enjoy the peaceful settings of the extensive Amish communities who have settled there.  Ohio has the largest Amish population in the world, with Holmes County boasting an almost 50% Amish population base.

The Amish have resisted change brought by modern technologies, providing a sharp contrast to the world around them.  While the formal Ohio scenic byway routes crossed paths with charming towns, shops and classic scenes, I most enjoyed my time meandering the side roads, unmarked by a dividing line or shoulders for traffic.  I randomly turned left, turned right, and just followed the scenery for miles.  As I drove these country roads, the simplicity of the lives the Amish live seemed natural, while we (the “English” as the rest of us are called) seem to have unnecessarily complicated life in so many ways.

 

The Amish vary in their attitude and restrictions on photography, but I was very sensitive to assuming the Amish people I crossed paths with would not want to be captured in a photo in an identifiable way, and I tried to be discrete in taking my shots.  I approached two Amish gentlemen outside of the bank in the town of Mt. Hope where a row of buggies was parked, and asked if would be acceptable for me to take some photos of the horses and buggies without people in view.  They assured me with a smile that would be fine, although I was prepared to respectfully go on my way if the answer was to the contrary.

As I was taking some of my photos, one of the men came back to talk with me about where I was from, and we had an interesting conversation about the local furniture-making economy.  The conversation even turned briefly to a little philosophical discussion regarding how this recent economic downturn was perhaps a good reminder to step back from the excessive materialism and “throw away” mentality that seemed so pervasive.  Amish furniture is a beautiful example of old world craftmanship, with attention to detail and an intent to have the piece last for generations.  The years of a down economy made things very difficult for some time, since fine-quality furniture is considered a luxury by most and one of the first budget items to eliminate when belt-tightening is required.  Happily, the gentleman I spoke with indicated that they are enjoying signs of an economic upswing this year, and have reason to believe the future is bright.

Taking the time to enjoy a conversation with this gentleman in Mt. Hope, as well as the time I spent talking with a basketmaker who sold baskets and honey from his home, reminded me of the value of slowing down to enjoy the journey, rather than just seeing the sights.

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  ”Change” was this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

Be Content With What You Have (That Goes for Blogs, Too)

Sometimes we need the reminder to “leave well enough alone” and be content with what we have.  I have blogged for a couple of months now, and I admit to emerging signs of blog envy.  Yes, I coveted the cosmetic look and structure of other blogs.  I started critically looking at my blog and the theme I selected when so new to the blog world (not that I am seasoned yet), and started second-guessing the look, the format, the widgets . . . really, procrastination in the evening can be an evil influence.  That to-do list did not scream loudly enough, “leave well enough alone, Kat.”  Instead, after previewing numerous different themes, I tossed the evening’s household and office task lists aside, and hit “activate.”

“We need much less than we think we need.”

~ Maya Angelou

Seed Pod along a Northern Minnesota Trail

Mercy me!  What did I do!?  But, instead of listening to the little voice inside that said, “it’s not too late, you can still go back,” I forged ahead, trying to mold my little creative outlet into its new theme — somewhat similar to trying to squeeze my 40-something old hips into a size 2 pencil skirt (truly, you do not want to try to visualize that . . . ).  Pages somehow were merged or disappeared, and that light, attractive font did nothing to change the content of my blathering.   I spent an inordinate amount of time mussing and fussing, until the to-do list finally screamed, “LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE, KAT.”   After tackling the essentials of the delinquent to-do list, the lights went out for the night at 2:00 a.m. on a “school” night, as I was painfully reminded when the alarm went off this morning (no need to comment on my lack of good choices throughout this whole transaction, as even my night owl tendencies knew this was not a wise way to start the week).

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”

~ Epictetus

Maple Leaf ~ Fall in Northern Minnesota

My still-adolescent blog was only slightly bruised in this process, with some bits changed and never to return again, while the remainder was more knowledgeable for the painful transformation and journey back to itself — much like our own adolescence.  I heeded the tired, patient voice in my head that said, “leave well enough alone, Kat,” as I finished up my lunch break.  Welcome back, Theme Twenty-Eleven, my old friend.

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.”

~ Lao Tzu

Mushroom in the Minnesota Forest

And so ends Kat B’s Weekly Reflection of Gratitude.

Ciao! ~ Kat B.