For a few years now I’ve been welcoming in the new year by greeting the sun. This year at sunrise I hiked up a mountain with a dear friend…for eight hours…in 25 below zero weather. Stunning…in many ways.


Snowshoeing with Momma Leo

Over Christmas vacation I went on a sunrise snowshoeing hike with my dear mother.

It was dark and snowy when we headed down the winding wooded road…

And it was still dark when we began tromping through the Wisconsin woodland…

I loved how the wind blew one strip of snow up the east side of each tree trunk.

And I loved the river running along side the forest.

…and meeting up with the tree trunk that looked like a little gnome…

…and hearing the wisdom my mom gleaned from nature…

…and watching the splash of pink grow across the eastern sky…

Thanks Mom. Sure love you.

ps. a note from my mother:

“Thank you Analiesa for the best gift….time with you in nature. … I cherish watching the sun rise with you. I thank God everyday for the children I have. You teach and encourage me in may areas. … Thank you. May the year Twenty-Eleven bring us both a little more Heaven. I love you. -Mom”

Painting with the moon

Light is fascinating. In honor of the Perseid Meteor Shower‘s peak tonight, I wanted to share some of my playing and learning and loving of light. This summer I came across something I wrote back in the early 90’s:

So I’ve liked bright things for a long time. Quite possibly my favorite bright thing is the moon. (Some day I’ll probably name a daughter Luna). Recently I was lying on my crusty grass, shooting hopelessly inadequate photos of a full moon, and I made a discovery. A long shutter speed makes is possible to paint with the moon! Here’s a little collage of a sampling from my first round of paintings (I’m particularly proud of the letter “A” that I drew):

The only reason I can say that the moon ranks higher on my list than the sun is that they really are the same light source. One of my assignments at work is to help design an exhibit about photosynthesis. Richard Feynman has been a great source of inspiration for this project. I recommend you take 4 and a half minutes and listen to this Nobel Prize-winning physicist talk about light. He is a brilliant teacher. The sun, moon, plants, fire…it’s all pretty similar when we look through the lens of energy. And, some notable text would add that the same light of the sun, moon, and stars are fueled by a more transcendent light. “And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings; Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space— The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things” (D&C 88:11-13).

A week ago, camped along Bullfrog Basin at Lake Powell, I captured some images that rival my moon paintings. Four small children, siblings, were giggling as they ran in the dark parking lot. Each one had a small headlamp.

That same night I captured my first lightning bolt in film. I love light.

Rock Gazing

I feel pretty lucky that my work takes me to the far reaches of the state. Our most recent stops for The Leo on Wheels were Escalante and Tropic. Both high schools (spanning 7th to 12th grade) had maybe 100 students, with only one science teacher for the entire school. The combination of small town charm and heart-stopping wilderness made me really reconsider possibilities for future places to live. Let me show you some highlights:

Our truck and trailer bathing in the morning light, parked between the school where we worked and the gas station that fed us. (Most cafes and restaurants were closed for the season).

This is what the landscape looked like for miles of driving. Nothing but geologic history on all sides. I have never had a harder time keeping my eyes on the road while driving.

We learned that the air is so clear here during the winter (when inversions are trapping pollution in the big cities) that it’s possible to see up to 200 miles in distance…or an area the size of New Hampshire!

AND (!!) We were invited to watch the Escalante High’s theater production… a captivating murder mystery.

We also visited Bryce Canyon. I had no idea that place was so magical. Looking at this erosion art felt like a combination of wandering through the ruins of an ancient civilization and cloud-gazing. Here is the castle where I would set up my homestead:

And behind this bush is the cathedral where I would go to worship, and probably yodel too:

And deep in this cavern is where I would store my seeds over the winter:

And here is the daddy-long-leg tree that will teach us to make music with the earth.

And this is where our wise ancestors wait to tell us stories:

And here is the guest house where you can stay if you come visit me:

And when we awaken in the morning, we will use pine-needle brushes to paint with the sun:

Wouldn’t that be lovely?