Friday, October 12, 2012

Insatiable albedo

It's autumn and in Yosemite Valley:
-days are shorter
-the cliffs and trees cast longer shadows
-the sun is at a lower angle so it lights less ground
But we also find that:
-the lower sun lights the north wall more directly
-the pale, dry grass gives off a brightness not seen in summer's dark green
-the yellow of maples, milkweed, dogbane, raspberry and some oaks and cottonwoods add increased reflectivity to the substrate, from leaves both on plants and that have fallen on the dark ground.

This 'yellow day of October' bears out Muir's notion that the Sierra may actually be composed of light. It's nice to contemplate the conflation of matter and the electromagnetic spectrum while beholding the reflected glow with your own eyes here in Yosemite.

-In the Valley last week Conservancy naturalist MRoss observed both a gray catbird and the Asiatic form of an American Pipit.
-The one sugar maple in Old Yosemite Village is bright red-orange now.
-We are getting our first dusting of snow in the high country, with Tioga Pass being closed briefly.
-The Merced River flow at Pohono Bridge has flatlined at a thin 19 cfs. The historical average river volume for today is 30 cfs and rising.
-Geologist GStock's latest glacier observations indicate a rate of motion for the Maclure Glacier that is identical to what Muir measured 140 years ago. Sadly, though it's bigger than the Maclure, the Lyell Glacier appears to be in a terminal phase.
-That's Venus you see, really bright in the eastern sky in the morning. The nearby star is Regulus, the brightest star of Leo. What can we interpret from the apparent proximity of the goddess of love and the king of the beasts? Only our own spatial provincialism; Regulus is not close but is 77 light-years away from Venus. Regardless, the light of both bodies adds to the shine of not just Yosemite, but our whole bright world.

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