Sunday, September 23, 2007

Shades of Gray

It's really stating the obvious that most of us in Seattle become sensitized to the many nuances of the color gray - whether we are artists or not. I'm always inspired by the varieties of gray I notice when I walk the beach on a cloudy Sunday morning in September.

A view of the beach just about 7am as I started my walk. Although the fall and winter can be dreary, there are often spectacular natural views early in the morning which are created courtesy of the distant edges of the cloud cover. The gaps of clear sky visible off toward the Cascades or Olympic Mountains allow the sun to shoot across the horizon, bouncing off anything in its path. (This is why artist Mike Burns would get up at 4:00 am during the summer months to capture images for his paintings.)
And if the edges of the cloud cover close up, there is also the possibility of "sky holes." This morning the sun made a direct hit on one of them.

I got to thinking about why the tide seemed especially low just about the time I rounded Duwamish Head on my way back to Alki. (Sure enough my tide table said low tide was at 8:44 this morning.)

One clue might be that the Autumnal Equinox was at 2:51 this morning.(Autumnal Equinox Info) So, summer is officially over. Apparently one man hasn't gotten the message because I spotted him at 8:30 am in his shorts actually wading in one of the tide pools. Brrrrr........

I started wondering if the equinoxes really have any impact on the tides since they only mark the point where the sun crosses the equator. Since I really don't know much about this tide business, I did a bit of online investigation.

I found a hint from this website: tide info which states: "During the time of the Vernal Equinox and Autumnal Equinox, around March 21 and September 23, when the Sun crosses the equator, very high tides will occur. These high tides will occur during either the Full or New Moon nearest to the Vernal Equinox and Autumnal Equinox."

Hmmmmmmmm, which means I needed to find out when the next full moon is. See Moon Info. Apparently the closest full moon will occur this Friday night. Sure enough, according to my tide table we will see a 12 foot high tide on Friday evening at 6:17 pm.

Makes sense to me, I guess, but the truth is that I really don't know what I am talking about here. Most of my nature knowledge is experiential. The tide comes in and the tide goes out. And I notice that.
Not everything around here is idyllic. I passed one gentleman, still asleep, who appeared to have spent the night on a park bench using a knapsack as a pillow. Another was eating his breakfast out of a garbage can. Shades of gray to be sure.............

The title of this gray painting is "Don't Hold Your Breath." For many reasons. It will be on display at the Alexis Hotel from October through December.

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