‘The Power of Silence’

The night sky over Lake Ottawa was captured by photographer Scott Pearson. He notes that, in addition to DSLR camera capabilities, other considerations for good astrophotography are moon phase, weather, light pollution and the seasonal position of the Milky Way. Pearson’s photography focuses mainly on the Great Lakes regions of Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula. He currently lives in northern Wisconsin. Pearson has displayed his work at Iron County art events and his photo gallery can be viewed at www.scottpearsonphotography.com.

By John Pepin
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
    “But my words like silent raindrops fell, within the wells of silence,” – Paul Simon
    As the shadows fell and the world turned, I watched the stars – in their intriguing constellations – move across the cold skies of a late winter’s March night.
    I made my observations over a period of hours, stepping outside the door of the woodstove-warmed cabin to stand and stare into the heavens.
    I was feeling satisfied, full of supper. We cooked some bratwurst and hot dogs over the woodstove fire, and we warmed some chili in a cast-iron Dutch oven on top. I don’t know what it is, but there’s always something earthy and good about eating chili at a wooden table inside a cabin.
    For the full effect, it’s best to eat the chili with a wooden spoon like Tuco and Angel Eyes did in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” For some reason, it always tastes better that way.
    The later it got, the more the sounds from the black-topped highway – like a blaring ambulance siren and the whirring of the wheels of fully loaded logging trucks rolling east – died down. This surrendered the night to the sounds contained within the tall maples and pines that stood along the ice-locked riverbank.
    On other nights, these  sounds had included the faint hooting of a great horned owl, the yipping of coyotes and my whistling in hopes of contacting a little saw-whet owl that was no doubt hiding amid the dense forest, along the pathway, down by the river.
    By midnight, the Big Dipper had moved into place almost directly overhead, a good distance from where it had been earlier in the evening.
    I followed an imaginary line from its leading edge straight out into the blackness to the bright shine of the North Star – which is the last star on the handle of the Little Dipper.
    The big and little dippers are each part of bear-shaped constellations called Ursa Major (the Great Bear) and Ursa Minor (the Lesser Bear), respectively.

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