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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Untold Tales: The Sun Pillar

I've told many stories about my morning walks with Haley, which ended with her death last May 23. This is a story that I meant to tell but never got around to giving more than a brief mention.

It was the morning of May 10, 2005. Haley was still vigorous and active, showing no signs that she would finally succumb to her lung cancer in two weeks. I was going through the morning walk pre-checks - some fruit juice for me, some pills for Haley. A glance out the east-facing kitchen windows revealed a suggestive glow on the horizon. I decided to grab my camera, sensing that the sunrise would be something I'd want to photograph.

We were barely out of the house when I saw the glow solidifying into a sun pillar.

Sun pillars are not particularly rare, but they rare enough to be fascinating. A fortunate alignment of specific types of clouds at a specific time of day will cause a sunrise or sunset to be topped by a column of light that can appear well before sunrise or linger well after sunset.


This is probably the tallest sun pillar I have ever seen.

The excitement of the sun pillar had disrupted our usual routine. Instead of leaving the house and traveling north or south and then west, we had taken off straight east towards the high school football stadium down the street from my house. Once I had taken a few pictures, we turned south and I began to think about what pattern we would walk that morning.

We had only gone a block or so when we ran into an older couple walking a beagle.

The beagle's name was Sam. We walked along together and talked for a while. Sam was the couple's son's dog, but they had inherited him for reasons that escape me.

We would run into the older couple and Sam a few more times in the next two weeks. Later, I made a point of walking along the path that I knew the couple took so that I could tell them that Haley had died. Then I stopped my morning walks. A big guy dressed in black walking a dog in the pre-dawn hours is an eccentric; take away the dog and he's a prowler.

I took a few more photos as we walked towards our turnaround point at my grandmother's house.

On the way back I was amazed at the persistence of the sun pillar. This photo was taken 37 minutes after the first picture. The sun is already well above the horizon -
I blocked it with the utility elevator shaft from Skatarama. A final photo of the sun pillar, 47 minutes after the first shot. We were already well into morning and the glare of the sun made it difficult to see if any trace of the sun pillar remained. As the photo reveals, it was still hanging in there.

So there it is, my first dogwalking story in a long time. Maybe someday I will have another dog, and resume my dogwalks, and have some new stories. In the meantime, I will see if I can dredge up some more untold tales from my dogwalks with Haley.

1 comment:

Betz said...

Harold, I loved the sun pillars, I must remember to show them to Ricky! :) I did not know you had ran into the couple with the Beagle. He looks just like our Winchester. Haley looked beautiful in the picture as well.