Clouds with Back Bend

Photo by M. Ruth
   The sky this morning looked as if it had been watercolored. The clouds looked soft, watery, and out of focus. I squeezed my eyes shut and opened them again, but the clouds were still fuzzy. I am not sure why, but I know these were stratus clouds mixed in with some stratocumulus that were blowing in from the NNE. I spent about an hour taking photographs and then decided to spend the rest of the morning at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. 
   I dare to say there isn't a better place to get more sky in South Puget Sound. It had to keep reminding myself that I was not inside some celestial dome with clouds stuck on, but standing on a flat piece of earth with clouds moving overhead in a parallel plane. As I walked I had to keep detaching the earth from the clouds at the horizon to ruin the illusion that the two were actually meeting. 
The earth and clouds here occupy parallel planes like two slices of sandwich bread with you in the middle.
   I took several still photographs of the clouds, some with flocks of Canada geese.
 Some without.
  The mix of cloud and blue sky seem changed every few seconds. As I was walking, I was twirling around, trying to take it all in, taking pictures, walking backwards, taking more pictures. No matter how many photos I took, I just wasn't getting enough of this dynamic sky into my camera. I needed a fish eye lens, but didn't have one.
  So I decided to try something a bit unconventional (below). Turn down the volume on your computer (it was a windy day) and click on the arrow below to watch a horizon-to-horizon, north-to-south 20-second video clip.
 I was pretty sure no one saw me doing these back bends (or heard me groaning at the end). But I was being watched. One of the refuge docents pulled out her spotting scope and focused it on a lone snowy owl. It was beautiful--a juvenile with dark bars across its breast--resting on a hummock. While my tiny Canon Elph does well by clouds, its zoom lens turns a decent-sized snowy owl into a piece of popcorn (below). It's the really tiny white dot, but a confirmed snowy owl sighting--my first.
A snowy owl resting on a hummock at Nisqually NWR.
  More on the snowy owl and its journey from the tundra in my next blog.