Smoky Scene

Thursday, September 09, 2021 —(On September 20, the full moon, “Harvest”, will rise nearest to earth.)

My next-to-last glimpse of last night’s sunset, above, red ball against a grey palette.

A wildfire burning in the Willamate National Forest named the “Middle Fork Complex” actually is two big fires. They’re burning in an area of snags and steep terrain, over 24,930 acres, and worse, are under an inversion layer trapping their heavy smoke. Well, not quite, for that smoke slowly is traveling directly west and into Central Oregon. All this week, Bend’s environment has been smoke-filled, murky, and not hinting at clear air coming soon.

Middle Fork is one of this season’s many wildfires spreading smoke, making breathing difficult, and transforming sky views. Last night over Bend, neither clouds nor mountains were visible. But against a sky of total grey was a setting bright red sun.

I’ve photographed previous smoky setting suns and this one, too, called me. After snapping the camera’s shutter a couple of times and seeing the sun seeming high enough for me to pause, I went into the barn and released horses from feeding stalls. It seemed only an instant later, looking upwards I found the sun totally had disappeared.

Where? It had been positioned high moments earlier. Too high surely to quickly have slipped behind the Cascade Mountains. Its glow must have been hidden by smoke thick enough to obliterate everything about a big bright-orange globe. Wherever that sun was, it didn’t leave a peripherally glowing wake, that I knew after searching the sky.

My last capture shows the sun starting to settle into darkness. If I’d have paused before attending the horses, wouldn’t have missed a narrow window that allowed more grabs of the unusual fading.

Almost nightly, smoky suns have been visible. But each evening’s combination of sun and sky has been unique, and all worthy of capturing.

Dear Friends: I’ll not miss smoke, obliterated sky, crappy air, but will miss eye-catching, unusual sets. Diana

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