Monday, December 27, 2010

The Sun in Winter Solstice

I was a little disappointed when I missed the lunar eclipse in December 21. I had been waiting for it but unfortunately, the sky was thick with clouds that time. 

However, I felt blessed the following day when I looked at the horizon and noticed something different where the sun should be. A conical glow shot up from behind the forested horizon. I took the bus to wherever I could see it without distraction, and that led me to the city river. And I was glad I went there because what greeted my eyes was something I've never seen before. And then I realized that it was the beginning of the winter solstice. I'm not really sure whether the sun looks like this during the start of the winter solstice, or it just happened to look different that day.  But nobody seemed to notice. Or is it a common sight among the people here? Or they just don't care? For me, it seemed almost phenomenal. And so I took several shots in different angles. It was 1:00 in the afternoon of December 22.

In the evening when the moon showed up, I also noticed the same conical glow above and under its disk, as seen in this photo. The glow could be more striking in this photo if I used a tripod. Without tripod, this is all I got. 

I felt that it was a day filled with marvels. Another day that declares the presence of a Powerful Creator who has filled the universe with astonishing things that can move his intelligent creation to attribute power, glory and honor to him, like these verses penned down by an ancient psalmist,

"To you the day belongs; also, to you the night belongs.
You yourself prepared the luminary, even the sun.
It was you that set up all the boundaries of the earth;
Summer and winter—you yourself formed them."
- Psalm 74:16,17

Friday, December 24, 2010

-23 Degrees Celsius

It had been snowing for the most part of November, and mounds  of snow have been piled up everywhere. We have around one meter high snow now. And it's still snowing.

However, there were those days in early December when the sun appeared and the sky was clear. Two of those days registered a temperature of -21 to -23 degrees Celsius.  Too cold to go out, but the glorious sight of the trees lured me out. I put on layers of clothes and set out for a little photo expedition. Just around our neighborhood. 

After spending about 30 minutes out there and drinking in all the white splendor, my feet felt frozen. I went home for a break and waited until the stinging pain subsided. Although I've taken about a hundred photos, I still felt that I hadn't gotten enough. And so I went back to look for more spots and things to shoot.

So far, I was happy with my expedition. The bare trees coated with thick frosts were the ones that beckoned me to go out. I had been wishing to see and photograph white trees against the blue sky. Last winter, I wasn't fortunate enough to have a glimpse of such thickly frosted trees, but this year favored me by granting my wish, which made my heart dance even while my feet were frozen stiff. Again, I felt the great love of our Creator for blessing this earth with such facet of loveliness that sings in the hearts of those who appreciate these little things.

Words are not enough for me to describe the beauty of all the little things that the winter outdoor held out to me this particular day. So I just let my pictures speak for themselves. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

When the Sun Doesn't Rise

It's this time of the year again when people living within the arctic circle and its outskirts don't see the sun rise any higher than the horizon. As early as the first week of November,  snow started to fall copiously in this northern part of the country,  which heralded the onset of winter. The days became darker, colder and shorter. Darkness dominates the whole 24-hour day and night cycle.

On days when the clouds are impenetrably thick,  gloom covers the land, which can also be  illuminated by the whiteness of the snow.

On a cloudless day, when the pale blue sky promises the incoming of the smiling sun, the light of the day starts to glow over the horizon at about 7 or 8 in the morning.  A faint tangerine glow hovers above the trees. 

At about 9 a.m., the orange glow becomes more intense as the sun starts to peer through the foliage of pines and spruces.  

As soon as the sun crowns the tree tops, it doesn't rise any higher, but begins its horizontal journey across the skyline, moving swiftly to the right until it would come to a halt where it starts to sink slowly behind the trees.


And that makes the day so short, and darkness much longer. At past 2 in the afternoon, darkness sets in, and street lights come out.

But no matter how short the day is, it is certainly a day filled with colors when sun is out. Even when the day is gloomy, the charming beauty of the snow can fill the day with joy. 

And even when the sun doesn't rise, its slanted radiance gilds the trees, the buildings and the snows that blanket the ground.  Wonderful things still abound everywhere.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Preserving Autumn

I wouldn't let autumn pass by without having a tangible memento of its glory that has been photographically etched in my mind and has bathed my whole being. I gathered leaves from different trees that thrive here, but not all of them, and preserved them between the pages of thick catalogues given away by some big stores. At first, I didn't know what to do with the leaves apart from just keeping them there or making some cards. Later on, I came up with this idea.

This one too, which is entirely made up of maple leaves in different shades.

Now I’m quite satisfied with my simple handiwork  which I hang on our wall, a perpetual reminder of the first autumn that I have ever experienced.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Wonder and Magic of Trees

A few weeks ago, I submitted a link of my blog to the Festival of the Trees, without knowing what would be done to it. That matter completely slipped my mind after a few days. 

Just recently, I received an e-mail from the website, showing the result of the "festival". When I opened the link, I gasped in wonder at the parade of pictures of magical trees and the stories behind the pictures, which can be read by clicking on the individual blog links. It's a blog posted by Silvia at Windywillow. She did a wonderful job in compiling the blog submissions and creating a highly interesting carnival for the enjoyment of trees lovers. The link below is worth-visiting:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

My Bend in the Road

I’ve reached my first bend in the road in this country the last week of October. Before then, it’s been a straight road for me since I came -  getting settled, acquainting myself with the highways and byways of the city, and formally studying the language and a little about the Swedish society in SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) school.  It was about seven months (three terms) of formal schooling. I finally completed the course by the third week of October.  After the language course, we students were encouraged to pursue further vocational training at Viva Komvux, which is the main provider of adult education in the municipality of Umeå in northern Sweden. Even those of us who have university education in our homeland may take such courses if we want to find jobs. Almost all of us cannot practice our professions here because the educational standard in our homeland cannot meet the higher standard here.  So we may end up taking more units at the university for a few years, or learning a vocation at Konvux for some months.

Choices, choices….

To study further means walking through the same straight road of schooling. And I have had enough of that. On the other hand, if I’d try to find a job, even just a humble one, I would be embarking on a new journey with some adventure. To study also means to receive a substantial amount of financial aid from the government, called "bidrag" or study aid, which one doesn’t need to pay back later. And one can also avail of a loan, which he would pay later when he has a job. But to work means to earn over three times as much as the study aid. And no study hassles.

I set my heart on finding a job first. But if it wouldn’t bear fruit, I may go to school again, even if it would incur discomfort. Honestly, I cringe over the thought of doing student’s lessons and homework. I have gotten rid of such things years ago, and if possible, I don’t want to have them back, not again. I'd rather work hard than sit in school for many hours a day, then at home again to study the lessons and do the homework.

Fortunately, a few days before our classes ended, I got a temporary part-time job offer from a cleaning company operated by a good friend. Sure, I grabbed the opportunity! I started right after our last days in school. And I like the work of going to different business enterprises and work for them.

That was my bend in the road. It was quite a change, an entirely new experience for me in my new home. Not that I haven’t tried such works before. It’s just something new for me here, to have a real job that will get me paid, and one that I also enjoy.  And I hope that I can keep this job even though it’s only part-time. At least I have something more to do besides my regular responsibilities. 

Gladly did I turn to this bend and joyfully will I keep on walking. And I know that as I move on, I’ll discover more things waiting somewhere, more opportunities, surprises, exciting adventures, or maybe new choices. I will also make it a point to gather little bits of happiness along the way, to find beauty in simple things, and at the same time, to leave a trail of sunshine that will warm the hearts of those who might wander in this same road.

And I will try to make each day and each step count.