Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Color Collaborative: February: Storm

It's nearly always sunny and dry here in the high desert. They say we have about 300 sunny days per year. Almost every day is beautiful, even during extremes of temperature. It can be brutally cold in winter and oppressively hot in summer, but almost always, there are clear blue skies and bright sun. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, I get bored with beautiful skies. After long stretches of clear weather, I long for a stormy day, and I'm not alone: people here love rainy days and some will even take the day off from work to enjoy them. I think there's a sense that we need to savor rare opportunities to stay indoors - puttering around the house, lazing in bed or in front of the TV. When it's dark and damp for a change, we want to embrace the gloom.

Changeable weather is exciting to me. We have a weather station in our backyard, with a digital receiver mounted in the family room. I check it numerous times every day because I find weather interesting. But I have another useful gauge in the form of the mountain a couple of miles from our home. I always call it "the mountain," but it does have a real name, the Sandia Peak, and we live in its shadow. I write about it often, and photograph it a lot too. We are fortunate to have an excellent view of the mountain, from both inside and outside the house. It changes with the weather, as storms move through the area. Storms happen year-round, each season bringing distinct weather patterns, along with distinct mountain vistas. I've grown to appreciate all of them. The mountain itself is the one constant: dark and imposing, gray with blackish tracings of distant pines. The sky, the foliage at lower elevations, the clouds as they roil over the peaks - all of these change with the season and within an individual storm. It's a stunning show, one I watch avidly through east-facing windows, a cup of tea in hand.


Winter

During a snowstorm, the sky is bright white, with thick clouds between us and the mountain, obscuring it from view. This photo was taken in late afternoon, in December, just as a storm began making its way over the peaks, down the mountain faces and into the foothills. The sky was tinged lavender-pink as the sun set, the last weak rays of the sun reflecting on the higher clouds. The storm clouds stood out against the sky, deepening gray as they slowly spilled over the mountain. The mountain took on a rosy cast too, for just a few moments, as the sun sank lower in the west. I watched as the colors faded, pale tones darkening quickly - lavender and mauve at first, then violet, indigo, midnight blue, the mountain fading to graphite-gray. Night came and the storm settled in.


Spring

A spring storm is fickle. Often, the clouds roll in early in the day, becoming darker and heavier throughout the afternoon. If it's windy, there may also be dust in the air. It seems promising; the air smells damp and you know it's raining somewhere because you can hear crows distantly calling in that way they do when rain starts. This photo was taken in early spring, near the end of March, when trees were coming into flower. I stood in the raised planter bed to take this photo over the garden wall, looking east across neighbors' yards. An apple tree was blooming two yards over behind a steel chimney, delicate white blossom against dark stone. The other tree was budding, you can just see the dark red of the branch tips. The sky became darker as I watched, and eventually a little rain fell - just a few fat drops which raised a dusty scent from our concrete patio. The sky remained gray but changeable - an afternoon of low clouds and shifting light. I sat in the backyard while my children played, one eye on the sky.


Summer

Early June is hot, dry and still. But the end of the month brings change: the monsoon arrives, continuing through July and August, bringing frequent afternoon thunderstorms. The mountain is our barometer when a summer storm moves in. The sky darkens as clouds descend over the peaks, starkly white against the blackening sky. The clouds fill in between us and the mountain as rain moves in from the foothills. Sheets of water, dull and gray, pour from the sky. The first drops hit the north side of our house, splashing against the windows. Sometimes hail comes first, ping-ping-ping-ing on windows and skylights if the stones are small. If they're large, it sounds like golf balls hurled at the house. Our flat roof overflows, water sluicing through the canales and pooling in the grass. The arroyo runs with churning black water, debris caught in sudden rapids. I look forward to the monsoon every year. The promise of gray afternoons is exciting and I act accordingly - lighting candles, baking, sewing, reading, crocheting, always with a cup of tea. There is a delicious sense of hunkering. It feels cozy, but also sort of forbidden (hunkering in summer?) - and I love it.


Autumn

In early October, we usually have our first taste of winter. There will be rain down here, but it will typically be snowing over the peaks. The storm may last for a few hours or a few days, but it always ends the same way: the clouds lift to reveal snow at high elevation, which lasts only a day or so, as seasonable temperatures return. Afternoons are warm through the month of October, but the nights are cold and deciduous trees begin changing quickly, turning from green to orange and gold. Along the arroyo, there are cottonwoods, sycamores, apple and plum trees, locusts and Chinese pistache, along with cypress and juniper. The changing trees glow against the dark gray of the mountain, which will begin to develop patches of golden-brown too, as stands of aspens at high elevation begin changing to their signature yellow. The trees along the arroyo shine bright on the darkest autumn days, sunshine in a storm.

The mountain provides an ongoing show, changing through the day as well as through each season of the year. I can almost use it as a calendar: there will be occasional white on the peaks by the middle of October, patches of ochre on the highest slopes by the end of the month. Springtime means blowing dust, a gritty veil between us and the mountain. Summer brings dark afternoon skies, white lightning, steel-gray curtains of rain sweeping across the foothills. In winter, snow and rock reflect a spectrum of pink at sunset, giving the mountain its Spanish name - Sandia means "watermelon." It's hard to ignore the mountain. Five years in this house and I'm still not used to the changing vista, which almost feels like a living entity. I find myself staring out at it; when I watch TV, my eyes slide up to the window to watch the mountain instead. It's an important facet of life here, helping to mark time. It's never the same and it's always the same. As I write, it's happening again: the sky turning from blue to gray, white clouds seeping over the peaks, crisp brown leaves swirling through our courtyard. Another storm is on its way.

 ********************

 Don't forget to visit the other Color Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts, including two from February's guest bloggers, just click on the links below:

Annie at knitsofacto       Gillian at Tales from a happy house. 
    Sandra at Cherry Heart  
 Claire at Above the River
Jennifer at thistlebear

What is The Color Collaborative?
All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a color related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about color in new ways.

40 comments:

  1. How utterly wonderful! I love the way your "watermelon" mountain is your barometer of changing weather. And what a view, no wonder you watch it so closely. Your desert storms are very different to our British ones and I so enjoyed your tour through the seasons. X

    ReplyDelete
  2. beautiful, it must be so lovely to live with the view of the mountains. Very uplifting. A dramatic changing scene to get to know. Lovely post, Heather x

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a beautiful post. I'd be watching the mountain as well, unable to take my eyes off of it, it's a stunning view. I can see why you love it so.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Lovely post and the mountain is lovely too, the Autumn version you've captured especially. It is hard to imagine looking forward to a rain storm, living where I do, but I guess even I could be bored with 300 days of clear skies... maybe!

    S x

    ReplyDelete
  5. Some great photography there Jennifer. Good post, I enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere. Jo x

    ReplyDelete
  6. You are blessed with a beautiful view in every season! I really enjoyed looking out the window with you. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. These views are incredibly beautiful Jennifer! You are really lucky to face them every day! I adore mountains, I miss them!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Jennifer as ever stunning photography .This is a wonderful piece of writing. You are so very lucky to see that every day. I live in a flat in London and I only see brick buildings .Your photos give me my daily dose of feel good ,thank you so very much.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Beautiful. Painting with words! I am glad I'm not the only one that loves a downpour after it's been sunny for a while... It's the opposite here, the rain has been pouring for weeks and we finally have sunshine - it's wonderful :) x

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm definitely a summer girl, but the view of the mountain in autumn is my favourite, it's stunning. Lucky you looking out on that view every day.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Beautiful photos. I absolutely love taking photos of mountains, and seeing so much change with each season. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wow, I can't imagine taking a day off because it's rainy. The UK would not function :) I miss clear blue skies but like you I do love a bit of stormy cloud action as well. You have the most spectacular backdrop to weather watch!

    ReplyDelete
  13. WOW! This is really fantastic, the mountains and the changes they go through. So dramatic, it is awe inspiring x

    ReplyDelete
  14. How interesting Jennifer and what stunning views, I can relate to the blue sunny sky boredom, I used to feel like that when I lived in Syria the summers seemed so long without a drop of rain. Since returning to England I appreciate the grey rainy days but not the cold weather! :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Fabulous view of the mountains. You're so lucky.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Jennifer this was a beautiful post, so descriptive and enlightening. I feel much the same about Mt. Spokane which we can see from inside and outside at our home. But...you have a much better talent with words to describe your mountain. You have a wonderful outlook on your home and it's weather Me, today, not so much. More snow is on the way here in Spokane and I must confess to being tired of winter and ready for spring.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

    ReplyDelete
  17. Those have to be some of the best views ever! And how wonderful to get advance warning of the weather in this way. The sky before a storm can be incredibly colourful can't it ... so many different hues when you look closely. And likewise I'm struck by the variations in the colours of the mountains as the light changes. Great post Jennifer, and thank you so much for taking part :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. What a fantatsic post Jennifer. The mountain is superb and your photos of it really have demonstrated the changing of the seasons. What fantastic views to see every day - especially with so many sunny days :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Amazing photos Jennifer so beautiful fab scenery x

    ReplyDelete
  20. A wonderful post Jennifer! I was transfixed reading about your stormy mountain - it is beautiful, and your photos are amazing, I would love to watch that peak every day! It is so interesting to compare the colour palettes of each season's storm...Chrissie x

    ReplyDelete
  21. Great photos, so pretty! I love storms too, except we always seem to lose power around here with the big summer wind storms :) Those I could do without!

    ReplyDelete
  22. What a lovely post and pictures. I love your comment about everything being different but also staying the same. However, coming from what seems like perennially wet Scotland the idea of taking a day off to enjoy the rain would mean I never got out!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I am always amazed and awed by mountains - especially because I live in the flat Midwest! Your descriptions and photos are beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Must be so nice seeing the weather change before your eyes.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I think that is very cool that people so appreciate those stormy days by you! I too enjoy that change when the storm is rolling in and the sky changes colors! Your shots of each season are just spectacular! You really put me there through this post and boy what a view friend! Lovely weekend to you and the family! Nicole xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  26. You are very lucky to have a far vista like that. I always wished we had a view of the river or the mountain, but we don't. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Gorgeous photos of the mountain and I love how you describe the stormy weather. Wow 300 sunny days a year! I think we are probably lucky if we have 30 sunny days a year here!
    Marianne x

    ReplyDelete
  28. I love the colour collaborative and happily this month it has brought me to your blog. Your pictures really tell the tale of 'storm'. How lucky you are to have that fantastic view, I would also spend an inordinate amount of time with cup of tea in hand staring at that mountain if I lived where you live. Thank you x

    ReplyDelete
  29. How wonderful to look out your window and see THAT MOUNTAIN! How fabulous is that - beautiful pics Jennifer, thanks so much! Joy x

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hey Jennifer,

    I have always loved your mountain. 'watermelon' what a wonderful name. I think that I would fall in love with it too. I have the sea. Like your mountain it is an ever changing barometer. Beautiful to look at. A time waster.

    Thank you so so so much for my gorgeous birthday gift and card that arrived today. It is sat pride of place in the middle of the dining table next to me. It is exquisite. The colours and ditsy patterns of the fabric are so me. I love it! You are so kind to think about me, and this has parried the blow of turning 44 (yikes).

    Leanne xx

    ReplyDelete
  31. Ahhh, beautiful mountain, beautiful storms. I love watching storms come in too. We live on a bit of an elevation and can watch them come in from the west, and with Lake Ontario just south of us, we can see the clouds pile up over the water ... sometimes dark & ominous, sometimes white & puffy, and sometimes (like yesterday), the silvery grey snow clouds. Wendy x

    ReplyDelete
  32. Jennifer, this is a really wonderful piece of writing - the words as evocative as the superb photos. you live with a most beautiful view and I'm not at all surprised you can hardly take your eyes off it. I must admit to finding it hard to imagine becoming tired of blue skies and longing for clouds and rain for a change. Over here we get far too much hunkering-down weather and not enough of the blue skies and sunshine. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  33. I love a good (safe) storm too. The view of the mountains and the story it tells is absolutely beautiful. The summer photo with the heavy cloud cover is my favorite. Have a fun weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Isn't it strange the sound of 300 days of sun sounds wonderful compared with our changeable weather! Sarah x

    ReplyDelete
  35. you certainly live in a beautiful part of your country Jennifer. Stunning pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  36. How gorgeous all the seasons are (as are your photos), it looks like you live in Heaven! :)
    Wanted to let you know you won my giveaway. Sending you an email also. Congrats!
    :) Pam

    ReplyDelete
  37. Jennifer! Within your blog, wonderful books are growing. Your posts are interesting, and often compellingly beautiful in both photography and narrative. This post is my favorite ( so far :) You captured feelings and thoughts and colorful visual impressions about storms in your environment that apply to environments in which I have lived and yet are a reflection of your wonderful unique area.

    When I lived in San Diego I could not understand the weather. Folks around me raved about the weather there. I was bored with sunshine and fog. Where were the storms? Where were the dramatic color changes of the seasons? Had I lived there longer than seven months, I may have come to appreciate the more subtle changes in the weather in San Diego compared to what I had known in the Northeast and Midwest. [I was glad not to experience the strange greenish gray color of the clouds before a tornado strikes like it had a bit south of Kansas City, MO. when I lived there!]

    Thanks so much for creating another lovely post. Bravo! Encore! Encore! xx

    ReplyDelete
  38. Beautiful writing and beautiful pictures. What I wouldn't do to live where you are... haha! (Or, at least go on vacation there!) We've been having blizzards in Canada... It's such a shock to see these pictures, haha! Love it! Keep them coming!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Thank you Jennifer this was wonderful.
    How beautiful too.
    I will check out the others now.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Lovely post Jennifer, gorgeous photos and a interesting peek in to your life with 'the mountain'! x

    ReplyDelete

Hello friends! I love reading your comments and I appreciate them so much. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...