A Horse Ridge Winter’s Afternoon.


Dead silent on the ridge top, except for an early fly buzzing by. No bikers, no hikers, well met on the way down. Blue sky, late westering sunshine over Newberry Crater, filling the horizon. Juniper pollen! Oh yes, near 60, today! Trail dry. No snow. No bird song. No whispering breezes.

Blueness, stillness, sunness. Green/gold azure contrasts below deep blue skies surround me.

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Lumpy dark cinder cones and smancy stratovolcanoes in the distance. No rumblings today, though.

A weird flock of 30 to 40 somethings suddenly break the stillness as they flap and cry as they fly down below the ridgeline. Weaving and twisting in the air, going from somewhere to someplace else in the still space below.

Like white foam – skyfoam – an endless procession of contrails, the ceaseless coming and going of planes overhead, glittering and gone. Most so far above as to be soundless. A crow, instead, fills the empty void. Relax for a bit, humanity.

Sun lingers and long shadows spread farther and farther. The horizon fills with gold and then the sun is gone. Like a switch, the air grows rapidly from cool to cold. Don’t be fooled, mid-February it still is! Time to move, longer, lingering twilight, distant hills glow a faint red, Jefferson and Hood silhouettes fade in the dusk. The lands below begin to pool in black.

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Jupiter appears, the first beacon in the sky, high above junipered slopes. Mars and Venus, in a cosmic dance, follow in the fading light. I turn, Orion stands above Horse Ridge. Sirius, as always, a bright, flashing jewel in the deep blue to black twilight. The winter sky becomes breathtaking by degrees. A full panorama of planets and stars on display above darkened ridges. A timeless spectacle, but always breathtaking to me. Far from the city lights, I linger, head craned upwards as the Pleiades comes into focus. Can I get vitamin D from distant starshine? Perhaps. I stand still, facing skyward, absorbing distant D, soaking in a canvas of starry night in the sagebrush desert in silence.

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