Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Long Days, Great Light

Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Morning sun on barn and meadows near Belt, MT.

We've recently returned from a week apiece in North Dakota and Montana. In addition to adjusting to the different landscape, different birds, and earlier time zones (Central and Mountain Time) of the western Great Plains, I've found notable differences in the light. It's more buttery or lemony early and late in the day, but also brighter during the mid-day hours. American white pelicans that at dawn look pinkish or creamy yellowish-white, are blindingly white at noon.

One other major difference is the length of the day at these more northerly latitudes. It starts getting light shortly after 4:30 am and you can still read a book or ID a bird through your binocs at 10:15 pm! I found this especially noticeable during the two nights we were camping along the Missouri River. The poor-wills were still calling when the western kingbirds and western meadowlarks began their morning vocal crescendi.

End of the day Slaughter River, MT.

Not that I minded that. It is fear that motivates me to get up early when on vacation: fear that I will miss out on something cool or amazing or beautiful. And I want to squeeze every last drop of juice out of the plum that is my "vacation" (even when it is a mostly working vacation trip as this one was). So I always stay up late and get up early, camping or not, when traveling.

Pheasant under grass, early morning near Pingree, ND.

Here are a few of the scenic views that caught my eye and camera during the first two weeks of June when I was way out west.

Sunset behind our cabin at Lakeview Meadow Resort, near Jamestown, ND.

Sun sparkles over sage, Little Sandy Creek, MT.

More sun sparkles over sage, Little Sandy Creek, MT.

Dusk settling in at Stonewall Canyon along the Missouri River.

How many sunsets have these stone walls seen?


On June 17, 2009 at 5:15 PM Tom Arbour said...

Great photos Bill. I read your plum anectode to my wife and all she could say was "sounds familiar". I always wear myself out on vacation by doing the same thing, staying up late and waking @ dawn.

On June 17, 2009 at 6:43 PM Carol said...

Beautiful photos. My favorite time of day...sunrise and sunset.

On June 18, 2009 at 7:41 AM RuthieJ said...

Thanks for sharing these great pictures Bill! I hope to someday spend a sleep-deprived summer following the steps of Lewis & Clark from SD through MT.

On June 18, 2009 at 10:09 AM Rondeau Ric said...

I really like the Stonewall Canyon photo.

i keep thinking that your kids are going to have some great memories.

On June 18, 2009 at 10:17 AM Bill of the Birds said...

Thanks all!

Yeah, Ric, and you and Anne have been there for several of our adventures!

Now I'm just trying to hold onto summer before it slips through my fingers.

On June 18, 2009 at 10:24 AM Brooke said...

"pheasant under grass"...that's exactly why I tune in every day.
Many thanks.

On June 18, 2009 at 6:41 PM Anne said...

ditto Brooke

On June 18, 2009 at 9:35 PM SylvanB said...

Lovely, just lovely. And a bonus pun!

On June 19, 2009 at 9:53 AM Bill of the Birds said...

Thanks my peeps! I giggled when I wrote Pheasant Under Grass. Just knew you guys would catch it.

On June 20, 2009 at 10:22 PM Mary said...

I can't choose a favorite scene to talk about. Lovely! Thanks for sharing this beautiful country.