Life’s circumstances, I’ve learned, alter the tone and content of these Great Blue Heron Posts. Normally I offer photographs, observations, and reflections on my Nature-ramblings, generally in sylvan settings in Alabama or whever my ramblings take me.
However, March 24, 2022 struck a low blow to my psyche and, for the near-term, modified my postings — I suffered an out-of-the-blue stroke! Nearby Nature and my immersion in her beauty, magic, wonder, and awe saw me through what could have been a dark period. I offer in this Post some amazing, life-lifting sunrises and sunsets across the first 24-day period of my convalescence.
How could I have anticipated that just two hours after these sunrise solar rays introduced a spring day of hope and promise, that an ill wind would spoil my morning coffee on the patio?
As Judy and I sat on the patio, my mind signaled an impending disturbance in the force. Thoughts had difficulty translating to spoken words, which surprisingly emerged slurred and muddled. Binoculars did not secure firmly in my right hand, whose index finger could not adjust the focus knob. Whose right arm did not hold horizontal, but felt limp. Whose right hand drooped.
Judy immediately declared, while I sat dumbfounded, that it was time to head to the ER. She assisted me indoors as I stumbled on the two steps, my right foot striking the riser as it failed to secure the tread. We made it to the ER within 30 minutes of the onset. I’ll spare you the details of accelerated admitance and treatment. Suffice it to say that the urgent declaration of “stroke crisis” for an arriving 70-year-old incites action! I admit to fear…for life, well-being, and future. I confess to emotional weakness and flux. I was scared…I remain, three-and-a-half weeks later, as I draft this text, concerned. Allow me now to say that the hospital kept me overnight, releasing me the second evening. Those 36 hours seemed without end.
I photographed the goose on her nest just 75-feet from our patio 90-mintues before the stroke. I am sure that she gave no thought to my misfortune…she had weightier matters to consider…the seven eggs beneath her. And I, to the contrary, had little else but my own well-being on my mind. Let this be a lesson to all of us. Were the entire human population to extinguish tomorrow, all of Nature would give little thought to, and would pay scant notice of, our misfortune.
I am continuing occupational and physical therapy, religiously. I have rehabilitated to 90 percent of normal function. My right hand is once again more dominant, although eating (fork and spoon dexterity) can still be exhausting. While OT and PT are critical, I attribute my emotional and psychological recovery, in large part, to occular medicinal Nature. I’ve capitalized on our perch above the four-acre-pond that we share with neighbors, watching and photographing sunrises and sunsets, and observing the rich Nature of bird life in our little oasis of perennials, shrubs, and trees.
Because during my period of convalescence I have not been able to wander woodsward, I must rely upon a more domesticated Nature for this Great Blue Heron Post. I offer a selection of mostly sunrise and sunset photos and reflections beginning on that fateful March 24 morning and extending through early dawn April 17.
I won’t provide much in the way of narrative. The photos speak the essence and language of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual rehabilitation quite eloquently.
I managed some decent spring-bursting-forth photos March 27 and 28, worthy on their own, yet not relevant to this sky-themed Post. I accompanied Judy to our grandson Sam’s (age 8) soccer game March 29, carefully walking to the field with aid of trekking pole and Judy. The late afternoon (5:44) sun fading behind thickening cirro-stratus portended the inch-and-a-half of rain that fell the next day.
Therapeutic Dawns and Sunsets
Dawn two days hence (March 31, 6:31 AM) captured the fragmented cloud litter trailing the prior day’s departed frontal boundary.
April 3, 2022 (7:23 and 7:25 AM) dawned more brightly. Who could not feel the rush of promise, the healing spring sky, the glow of spring?!
A few minutes later, sunshine warmed the air and touched my soul.
Nature’s Spiritual Essence
April 6 at 5:55 PM, solar rays penetrated the cumulo-stratus. I recall a friend during my Penn State faculty days referring to these as Jacob’s Ladder. Another term is Rays of God. Both colloquial monikers for crepuscular rays suggest a spiritual element. I cannot agree more…they seem heaven-sent.
April 9, dawn brightened with stratus scudding across the eastern sky at 6:18 and 6:19 AM.
By 6:40 AM, old sol was about to break the horizon and the lingering stratus. Cirrus bands, already sunlit, glow above the stratus.
Mid-day (11:56 AM) fair-weather cumulus clouds held sway above the soccer fields at nearby Dublin Park, where our eight-year-old grandson Sam competed in an early spring-season game. This constituted one of my first ventures from my neighborhood since the stroke that did not involve medical treatment. Just the same, the outdoor time did provide important emotional, spiritual, and soul healing.
April 4, during our early morning neighborhood walk, civil twilight brightened the eastern horizon at 6:25 and 6:26 AM, hinting at the glorious day ahead.
Sunsets Can Rival Dawns
By 7:10 PM civil dusk ushered the day to an equally aesthetic end.
Three evenings later, clouds advancing from the west at 6:35 and 6:40 PM portended a rough night. Frontal rain began by 8:30 PM, eventually pelting us with 2.39″!
The April 16 sunset (6:46 and 6:47 PM) promised only fair weather.
I snapped these photos during nautical twilight April 17 (5:57 and 5:58 AM) with a three-second exposure. I’ve learned that an iPhone can pull color and character from what appears to be a darkened landscape. I couldn’t resist the butterweed patch at woods-edge. A basal flood lamp along the wall illuminated the stones…without throwing its light into the butterweed. Suburban lights brought the effect of weak daylight to the cloudy sky above the forest.
I admit that the stroke affected my mental well-being, occasionally slipping me into a deepening feeling of mortality, an imminent end-of-the-line. However, across those 24 day following the event, my outlook lifted. I saw regular progress regaining my right hand fine motor skills and increasing dexterity, as well as greater right leg stability and overall equilibrium. Toss in a series of beautifully bookended days, support of friends and family, Judy’s never-ending love and care, and my close-to-home immergence in Nature’s rich elixir of spring days with magnificent sunrises and sunsets. How could I be anything but upbeat and confident in all that lies ahead!
I am convinced that the spirit of John Muir lies within me:
The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.
His sentiment lifts me. I know that my own minor pitfall is nothing compared to the spinning, rolling, cyclical turns of Nature that sustain all life. I will relish and enjoy the inspiring Nature of Life and Living so long as I continue to witness dawns and sunrises.
Thoughts and Reflections
I offer these observations:
- I will relish and enjoy the inspiring Nature of Life and Living so long as I witness dawns and sunrises.
- The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. John Muir
- I believe in the incredible force and power of Nature-Inspired Life, Living, and Healing!
Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire, Inform, and Reward you!
Note: All blog post images created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2022 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”
Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by an another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://eepurl.com/cKLJdL
And a Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause
If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied untold orders of magnitude:
Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.
- People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
- They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and will understand more clearly their Earth home.
Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!
Steve’s Three Books
I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit) to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature.
I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:
- I love hiking and exploring in Nature
- I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
- I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
- I don’t play golf!
- I actually do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
- Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grand kids, and all the unborn generations beyond
- And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few other lives… sow some seeds for the future
All three of my books (Nature Based Leadership; Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading; Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. All three books offer observations and reflections on my relationship to the natural world… and the broader implications for society. Order any and all from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.