Sunsets Around the World

The word Sunset has a few meanings that describe man’s vision of endings, but there is only one Sunset that is fairly easy to photograph! Fortunately, it happens at a predictable time every day, it occurs everywhere in the world, and it is free! Of course, some sunsets are more spectacular than others, but that has a lot to do with the clouds, not the sun.

Here are five sunset photos, all taken at different locations. Two were in Canada – at my house and my cabin. Two were in England – one in Brighton and one in Lechlade. One was in Europe – on a boat on the Danube River. If you like, you can try and guess which photo was taken in which place! For the answer, hover your mouse over the photo until the photo name appears.


Alberta Hidden Valley


EnglandWhere I live, the number of hours between sunrise and sunset varies from season to season. On the longest day it is about 17 hours, while on the shortest day it is only about 7.5 hours.

How much variance do you have in daylight hours where you live?

August in Alberta – It Seems Early for Frost

The Frost Chart for Canada is an interesting read. It makes you feel hugely optimistic about the length of the growing season if you live in Vancouver British Columbia. If you live in Thompson Manitoba, however, you might feel inclined not to plant a vegetable garden at all. Not much will ripen in 61 frost free growing days.

Here at The Red House in Alberta, the chart suggests our first light fall frost will occur in mid September. According to my calendar, we are just a few days past mid August. It was with some disbelief, then, that I realized this morning  there was a light coat of frost in the very lowest lying areas of our back yard.

In what can only be described as Mother Nature playing a joke on the weeds that grow in the lawn, the hardest hit by the frost were the two peskiest weeds! This is a Thistle encased in a thin coat of ice.

This is a Dandelion seed head just as the ice crystals started to thaw. Have you ever seen such a sad and bedraggled thing in your life?

The ability of dandelions to tell the time is somewhat exaggerated, owing to the fact that there is always one seed that refuses to be blown off; the time usually turns out to be 37 o’clock.
– Miles Kington –

I can’t find a single interesting quote about Frost. Lots about Robert Frost, but none about plain old frost. Better pickings, though,  when I looked for quotes about Ice:

I tried sniffing Coke once, but the ice cubes got stuck in my nose.
– Author Unknown –

Hail Alley in Alberta – We Get Hit Again

Now and then simple country raindrops are tempted by a dark cloud full of icy sirens to stay aloft for a while. A party gets going, and when every drop has drunk too much and has grown bloated and chilled to the bone, the cloud simply bursts at the seams.

The result is Hail, and here in Hail Alley it is a guaranteed event at least a couple times each summer. Last week we were pelted with the largest hail stones we have ever had here at the Red House. While most of the stones were the size of marbles, many had grown to about the size of a quarter.

quarter sizeThe Car Guy and I watched the stones batter the house, vehicles, and plants. When the deluge stopped, I ventured out with my camera to record the damage.

The Virginia Creeper on the front patio was badly beaten.

The vegetable garden won’t be a buffet for the deer anymore!

On the bright side, the clouds beyond the hay field were pretty awesome!

The trouble with weather forecasting is that it’s right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it.
– Patrick Young –


Grass is Crispy when the Dew Freezes

Here is my Weather conversation for today: The rain let up just in time! The Bow River at The Cabin peaked just inches below most of the length of the berm. Some water did infiltrate, and for now the 9 hole golf course is a 7 hole one, but with some pumping, and some dry weather, this situation should be fixed quickly.

Here at The Red House, we woke up to … FROST!


This patch of tall lawn grass was frankly bewildered by this. Frost! It was bad enough to be covered by a film of ice, but imagine having a tiny bead frozen to the tip of your spear!

Don’t knock the weather; nine tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while.
– Ken Hubbard –

Seeing Shapes in Clouds – Tornadoes and Pterodactyls

Massive collections of tiny water droplets. This is what clouds are. I can’t say I understand the mechanics of why they stay up in the air any better than I understand why an airplane stays aloft. But let’s just say they do, and I’ll show you some of the clouds that have passed over my house.

In my part of the world, the weather usually arrives from the West, blown in by the winds that are almost always present to some degree. Now and then an East Wind will blow and it will bring in the smell of the nearby Feed Lot. Or a South East Wind will blow from, I don’t know, maybe the United States, and we will feel quite unsettled and threatened until the wind shifts and comes from the West again. Shifting winds blowing ever changing clouds across the sky.

When I was a kid, I liked to watch clouds like this drift overhead. I liked to imagine they were a particular object or animal. This group of clouds didn’t bring to mind anything recognizable, but they are what I call Safe Clouds. They don’t forecast any particularly disagreeable weather event.

This group of Safe Clouds were casually passing over when a group of darker, Angry Clouds appeared. Now, instead of looking for shapes in clouds, I looked for shapes in the remaining blue sky.

These were Popcorn Clouds. They formed quickly and were fascinating to watch, but they also told me it was time to pack up the gardening tools because a thunderstorm was on the way.

A few Wispy Clouds were being crowded out by Safe Clouds, Angry Clouds and Popcorn Clouds. This was a very busy cloud day.

Angry Clouds and Popcorn Clouds dominated this sky. The Angry Clouds were scooting over at a much lower elevation than the others, and were forming all sorts of interesting shapes, like whales and pterodactyls. These were once Safe clouds but they had crossed over to the Dark Side.

tornado funnel cloudThis was a Funnel Cloud. On a scale of 1 to 10, this cloud was at the high end of interesting, but not one I wanted to have pass over the top of my house. It was a very noisy cloud, and for a few long seconds it sounded like a train was passing right over head.

Today, well, today the clouds are a dull blanket of grey. A light rain is falling, and they say this will continue for days. Today’s clouds aren’t very photogenic.

Every cloud has its silver lining but it is sometimes a little difficult to get it to the mint.
– Don Marquis –

Putting Weather into Perspective – Climate Change

I have shoulder strain from the last two days of raking. Not just ordinary raking, either. On the north side of the house, I was raking snow off the patio, out onto the driveway. I thought it would expedite the melting process. Otherwise the four foot drifts will take a long time to melt, and I’ve got pansies under there somewhere! On the south side of the house, I was raking dead grass. I was spreading it onto the flower beds where it will act as mulch. I’ve never raked snow and grass on the same day before…

Today, I’ll take a day off from raking and I’ll go back to shoveling. It is snowing, and about 4 inches of very large, fluffy flakes have fallen in the past few hours. The big rock behind the house looks quite a bit different than yesterday’s photo. No ducks and geese sitting on top, basking in the sunshine. The ducks have abandoned both the rock and the pond, and are wading through the snow on the lawn. Duck Foot Prints are everywhere.

I expect ducks have come across this situation in the past, and they will deal with it in whatever way ducks cope with adversity. They adapt pretty well. Their forefathers have been coming to this pond for hundreds, if not thousands of years, so ducks as a species have a pretty long range perspective about how climate changes.

Which brings me to the topic of my perspective on Global Warming and/or Climate Change. I am much like a duck. I’ve seen decades where it got colder, and ones where it got warmer. So yes, I believe the climate is changing, and I’ll even agree that the climate is warming right now. I’m not, however, convinced that ALL of this change is the result of mankind. I think we give ourselves way too much credit to think we can so completely and utterly affect the climate, while ignoring all the historical cycles the planet has gone through since life first appeared 3.8 billion years ago.

And selfishly, I’d rather see the world warming than cooling. These really big rocks behind my house arrived on the glaciers and I’m not keen on seeing some more of them move into the neighborhood…

Pools of Light on Snow at Night

It is snowing out… again. The Never Ending Winter.

On the bright side, the solar lights in the yard finally got enough sunlight yesterday to power up, and last night they broadcast little pools of light all over the yard.

So, what is your weather like? Are you having a normal spring (or fall) or an abnormal one? Or do you live somewhere where seasons aren’t so distinct?

Alberta April Storm and We’re Snowed Under

Good morning, world. I’m sitting at the Forever Winter weather station here in Canada. In what can only be described as cruel and unusual punishment, the Snow Monster has unleashed it’s fury yet another time. As I write, 10 inches of heavy snow blankets the ground outside. And it is still coming down. Visibility has been reduced to just beyond the fence, and The Car Guy has been forced to abandon all plans of going to work. Well, he is working, but it is from the seat of the John Deere, pushing snow around the yard in an attempt to find the driveway again.

Before dawn, I braved the cold (well, not really all that cold) and attempted to dig a path from the front door to the Jeep. I had just achieved the front fender, a distance of only about 35 feet, when I felt a little ping in my lower back. In a single moment I went from being an able bodied person, to being an unable one. I retreated to the house, took a couple pain killing capsules, applied a cold pack and collapsed into the comfort of my favourite chair. I will be here for much of the day, should anyone be looking for me.

Jeep Blinking in the Dark

John, of the Deere Family, discussing the weather with The Car Guy