Monday, December 19, 2005

Phenomena of Nature

Orange and vermilion barely warm the heavy clouds moving rapidly across the sky. A short time ago stars were twinkling through the clouds. As light begins to fill the sky, winds pushing large dark clouds rush in. Before the sun shows fully above the hills soft drifting flakes of snow begin to fall. The contrary wind continues moving clouds to and fro, at times opening up blue sky and the bright light of the sun. A moment later heavy layers of clouds move back in to cover every hint of blue. Another shift of the wind and light kisses the snowflakes setting loose a shimmering icy cloud of crystals from the sky.

None of the snowflakes are building up. Even though it is very cool (seventeen degrees), the flakes seem to nearly evaporate as they come close to the ground.

"Nature chose for a tool, not the earthquake or lightning to rend and split asunder, not the stormy torrent or eroding rain, but the tender snow-flowers
noiselessly falling through unnumbered centuries." - John Muir

High overhead, following along the Mongaup River, a Bald Eagle makes his way toward the Delaware River. Water has been let out of the Rio Dam. The Mongaup River is so low that it has nearly frozen clear across the river in many spots. Although usually a wonderful area for fishing for either man or eagle with an abundance of trout, any self-respecting fish must have made its way downstream to the Delaware to better living conditions. The river drainage arises out of the discovery last spring of a sinkhole thirty feet wide and six feet deep in the Swinging Bridge Reservoir, which is a few miles upstream. That reservoir was drained for safety and repairs and the flow downstream has been affected.
Eagles have come back to the area where they nested last year but instead of seeing fifty to seventy eagles we are now seeing less than a dozen and usually only four to six birds in the nesting area along the Mongaup. Later in the day we spotted two mature Bald Eagles soaring high above the cliffs at Hawks Nest. Gliding and spiraling through the air currents that rise from the river their aerial ballet attracts the attention of tourists and natives alike who stop simply to enjoy the beauty and grace of their exhibition.

"We do not ask for what useful purpose the birds do sing, for song if their pleasure since they were created for singing. Similarly, we ought not to ask
why the human mind troubles to fathom the secrets of the heavens... The diversity of the phenomena of Nature is so great, and the treasures hidden in the heavens so rich, precisely in order that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment." ---Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)

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