sunrise for the nocturnal

We spend most of our summer nights racing sunsets in the forests, preparing for the bats to emerge; it becomes all too easy to forget the awe of a sunrise.

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For Julia’s birthday and our last full day working together after 4.5 months in the Cherokee National Forest and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we spent the morning on a ridge top watching the sun start the day over the Smoky Mountains.

Storms Bring and Take the Day

Favorite moments of mine will always include watching thunderstorms roll in and move past.  This morning the sun rose and along with it came thunder, flashes of lightening and a quick bout of rain.  We left the house just after 5:00am after looking at the radar and seeing that the storm would soon pass.  Sunrise was just before 6 today and I watched as it peaked through the dark clouds.  I sat in the truck doing some tedious database work but at least I had the thunder to keep me alert as we waited for the storm to clear.  I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that being near a metal turbine that protrudes well above the tree lines on top of a ridge is not exactly where you want to be when lightening is near.  So we wait for just over an hour, I watch it rumble past.

The crows land nearby, one squawks at the other but is ignored.  He looks at me, does he know I’m here to collect the snacks that he may scavenge under the turbines?  Are they taking advantage of our delayed start, picking at the lifeless bats.  The crows and vultures feast on whatever they find before we do.

Just as I started my day with a storm, the sun now begins to leave me as another storm passes by just to the north.  I sit here on my back porch and watch the hummingbirds sip down the sugar water, one will visit every couple of minutes.  From here I can also see my garden, how they must be enjoying today’s rainfall.  The thunder just rumbled all around me, the storm still has more to go, just as the sun does.  Directly in front of me, the sun glows behind a cloud, lowering behind the ridge line in the distance.

The air is heavy with moisture and as the wind picks up I can smell the honeysuckle in the air, the dampness of the soil.  The wind is beginning to pick up and the thunder is booming now, what I thought was the storm was only just the first warning bit sliding in before the other more intense portion follows quickly behind.

Mountain storms build and I laugh to myself thinking of times being caught hours away from a trail or the truck, hiking in the forest.  Hail slamming down on us and once we reach the trail, our gear weighing us down, we find that the trail is now a rushing creek and the rain keeps falling, the lightening keeps striking and we hear the breaking of branches all around us.  Here I have raced the storms afraid that they might wash away the bat carcasses that I still need to collect data on.  Just the other week as I was kneeling down to pick up a bat, I looked up to dark clouds creeping in beyond the ridge.  I had enough time to gather the rest of the information I needed and estimate the time of death.  I made it back to the wind energy office just before hail began to drop.

Hail just after the storm with my hand for comparison.

The other week lightening struck down in our front yard.  Katie and I saw it hit as we watched the storm through our living room window chatting on the couch.  We saw it, but the rest of the house felt it as well.  The thunder and lightening cracked and struck- the house shook and we yelped.

I never tire of a storm- the sounds, the smell, the sight of dark clouds moving in on you and lightening flashing all around.  It’s time  for me to switch back to enjoying catching up on zines and books with the storm- far better than a computer on my lap.

The hummingbirds continue to sip, the strength of their tiny wings far greater than the wind and rain.