Thursday, June 21, 2012

Northern Solstice

Last night, just before midnight and the end of the longest day of the year, I rushed outside with my camera and tripod in an attempt to harness the last of the year's long light before we in the northern hemisphere begin our great tilt away from the sun and the promise of fertility. Beneath the stars, fumbling with the knobs and buttons on my camera, I hoped to capture the midnight sky still lit from earlier in the day when the sun stood still.

Although I couldn't see, I knew I was visible. The nighttime noises were especially spooky as they dangled from the trees swaying in the warm breeze. A rustling sound quite audible, but barely perceptible hours earlier when having dinner on my back porch now crept slowly up my spine, along my neck, and into my head where it found that most vulnerable place in the brain, the one that controls the speed of the heart. Unnerved, I turned toward the sound- what else do you do- and laughed at myself when I saw its source. A beetle, a small one, stirring her wings as she carried about her midnight business.

Intrigued by human instinct, I often wonder how it fits into today's world. During the daylight hours, we humans are noisy; in fact, deafening at times, hardly listening to the sounds around us. At night, that changes. At night, we're quiet. We strive to hear yet not be heard- an ancient instinct deep within our evolutionary process that once aided in our survival, and still might if we were to heed it better.

Last night, like four million nights before it, the earth continued her tilt and the beetle continued her work. A comfort can be had in that kind of precedence, and slowly, the trees began to take shape, as did what's left of the woodpile and a paintbrush forgotten on the porch from an earlier project. I was glad I left my headlamp inside. Feeling like a badass photographer, I set the shutter speed wide open, adjusted the aperture not for detail, but for the last of the solstice's late light, and took my picture.

Ah, but sometimes we dream something bigger than we are. None of my pictures turned out well. They lacked light, composition, interest. Well after midnight, not knowing what I needed to do differently and hearing what was certainly much bigger than a beetle over by my car, I picked up the tripod and left the night to those who know it best.

Inside, my 15 year old dog, my best buddy, gave me a look that said, "Are you finished? Can we go to bed now, please?" as if she knew all along that the solstice is not something to be captured, but to be beheld.

Reason enough to take the camera out
just before midnight on the longest day of the year

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Brightwood, Oregon


  1. I love this post almost as much as I love that picture and our 15 year old dog. Happy Solstice!

  2. Reminds me of that old song, The Sounds of Silence. Rarely get that here in the concrete jungle. Sometimes I walk outside, by myself, at around midnight, just for the quiet.. or close to what quiet is in the cityish life. And, it sounds like Mother Nature outsmarted you with your camera, too! She's such a tease sometimes, isn't she?... like this past Easter Sunday eve when I was about to walk out my back door at 2:30AM, for some "quiet" and there they were, a mother possum withher 5 little babies holding on, riding on her back...all looking at me!! It was AWESOME!! and When I went to get my camera, the battery was DEAD!! LOL

  3. Thanks, guys! I want to see baby possums - they must have been so cute! Too bad about the dead battery. I just had something similar happen to me. After hiking 8 miles on a difficult trail with my camera and all its equipment, I realized I forgot to charge the battery! Ahh! :-)

  4. Ah yes, an experience I can completely relate to. That puppy photo sure is cute, though.

    PS: per your previous post... exciting times! I applaud your bravery, that stepping out.

  5. Thanks, Emily. Mo has always been a good sport when it comes to posing for the camera. Well, mostly! :)