[Tweeters] Frozen Miracles

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Sat Dec 7 15:14:49 PST 2013

I began my day today with a miracle. Walking my (wife's) dog Max, down to a nearby park here in our North Mudville (AKA Everett) neighborhood, I looked down on to the Puget Sound waters below, and was amazed to spot an Avatar Gull! That's a gull that can walk on water- and there it was, walking on the surface of Port Gardner!

OK, so it was just a big ol' Glaucous-wing Gull walking on ice. You see, our nearshore waters here in North Mudville, despite being part of Puget Sound, have so much Snohomish River freshwater mixed in,( floating on the surface), that if it gets cold enough, it will freeze. How many gulls have you seen walking on the Sound? Looked like a miracle to me. Plus, it was funny! Lot's of miracles are funny in my experience.

Coming home, I was sitting in my office, on the sunrise side of the house, when a flock of Bushtits swarmed into the Holly tree and other shrubs, just outside the windows, snooping thru the bushes warmed by the first morning sun. About ten of them swarmed a potted Azalea on the front porch and worked every square inch of the thing, for about five minutes. I bet there is hardly a bug left to be found on that plant. Cold spells like this gotta be hard on little bug-eaters like Bushtits - they seemed especially hungry, working as fast as they could. Pretty tough deal. The morning sun must have felt pretty good.

It reminded me of an experience I had many moons ago. It was mid- September and me and a climbing buddy were bivouacking on a ridge above Park Creek Pass,in the North Cascades at 7000', on a cross country jaunt. Well prepared, but going light, we had plenty of clothes, ensolite pads, and a tarp. Plenty of food, but no stove, or pots. We snuggled together with every thing we had on, under the tarp. A beautiful night, clear as a bell. And it got colder and colder! A nearby rivulet of fast moving water, about 2 feet wide and several inches deep, froze solid in the night - that's getting pretty cold!

Too cold to sleep, that's for sure. It was the longest coldest night I've ever spent out in the mountains, or anywhere else. Lots of nice stars to look at though.

But then, very late at night, something really strange started happening. Our little spot on the ridge was facing straight North, looking toward Canada, and on the North horizon beams of light started roaming around the sky. What it looked like was that some big used car sale was goin' on up North - with those big spotlights they use. When I realized that no town civilization whatsoever was in that direction, the hair on the back of my neck stood straight out. " What in the hell is that!" we wondered. Alien visitation was not out of the realm of possible explanations. Something was going on!

Well, what was going on was our first ever view of the Northern Lights, which became clearer as the night went on and they changed from what looked to be spotlight beams into the more familiar waving light curtain forms, like I'd seen films of. Greatly relieved I wouldn't be kidnapped, or worse, by aliens, I got to enjoy the miraculous light show, as I was freezing my butt off.

Finally, exhausted sleep did occur, and I woke up, still freezing as the sky lightened to the East. Then the next miracle - the Sun came up! I've never appreciated the miracle of the Sun more than at that moment. At 7000' ft the air is a bit thin, so the heat was just about instantaneous, the relief incredible.

So, anyway, I hope those Bushtits keep catching enough sunrays to warm up during the day, and bugs, seeds, whatever enough to eat. It's cold!

Jeff Gibson

watching miracles in

Mudville Wa

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