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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Winter's daybreak

There is something hauntingly and starkly beautiful about winter over the steppes. Now, snug in my home in Cumbria, it is hard to realise that it was only "this morning" that I actually witnessed day-break over the Hungarian-Austrian steppes in the Seewinkel National Park in Burgenland, Austria.

The first grey of dawn and a horse breaks the ice with its hoof
to reach a breakfast drink of cold water


Is that a rosy streak on the horizon? It is less than a week until the Winter Solstice -
maybe the sun won't bother to rise at all...

...the thousands of wild grey geese certainly hope that it will, as they move from the security of their nocturnal roost on Neusiedlersee (Lake Neusiedl) to their feeding grounds in the surrounding countryside


A Sea Eagle follows the skeins of geese from immense altitude, watching for its chance to pick out an ailing bird...


...although this hapless swan frozen fast in the ice (with temperatures still falling) is a certain victim.



Nature is not cruel;
she is merely indifferent (Richard Dawkins)

At last, the sun is risen...

Climbs a little higher...

..and high enough to give colour to the ice

Reeds, ice and sun. Dawn is complete, but it will be some weeks yet
before the sun is able to climb much higher in the sky.

17 Comments:

Blogger donsands said...

Nice photos. "Nature is beautiful, and yet cruel."-me

3:58 am  
Blogger Badger said...

Gorgeous photos!!

6:47 am  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Brilliant photos. I don't like that Dawkins quote. Couldn't you have released the swan, or wouldn't that be in the scheme of evolution?

8:27 am  
Blogger Tortoiseshell said...

Nice blog. The Prince of Wales (yeah, right) spoke in Copenhagen this week on "Living as part of nature, not apart from it".

9:47 am  
Blogger simon said...

copenhagen is crap...

Nice post- although a little grey. hope the swan escapes

11:41 am  
Blogger Maalie said...

Thank you all for the comments.

Donsands: Yes, nature is beautiful, especially that nematode worm that gets into the skin of little African children as they take water from the rivers, then enters the blood stream, lodges in the optic nerve and makes them blind. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Badger: Thanks!

Lorenzo: Not so much a matter of whether the comment is nice, but is it correct! The ice would not have supported my weight and the water was deep. The general principal is not to intervene if the predicament is caused naturally, as this clearly was. On the other hand, we would clean up sea birds caught up in an oil spill from a tanker, for example, as the predicament would be unnatural.

Tortoiseshell: Yes, I heard about that while I was over there! Good old Charlie-boy!

Simon: you're right it was a very grey dawn.

12:04 pm  
Blogger donsands said...

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

The beauty I was thinking of was the Grand Canyon, the Alps, or perhaps the Sequoia trees and the Redwood trees in Yosemite Park. http://www.nationalparkreservations.com/info/yosemite/index.php?gclid=CNSFisT82p4CFQk75QodqncHIQ

"..and yet cruel" would refer to this worm you speak of, and other cruel things of nature as well.

12:40 pm  
Blogger Maalie said...

Donsands, with respect, I think that it is only our perception of cruelty. What if that swan became food for eagle chicks in the nest? Would you prefer the fluffy little eagle babies die a lingering, hungry death, while a below-par swan survived? It is natural selection at work.

It is not nature that is cruel; nature simply doesn't care. Your mountains etc. are beautiful in the right circumstances, seen in comfort of appropriate clothing. In other circumstances they are killers.

1:24 pm  
Blogger donsands said...

Other things that are cruel in nature to me, for instance: A komodo dragon with locked jaws on the hind quarter of a deer for a long time, while the deer suffers. Chimps tearing monkey's limbs out of their sockets while alive, and on and on it goes.

And if I were to go to the Grand Canyon, and behold it's splendor, that would be beautiful indeed. But I suppose you could say it would be deadly if I jumped into it.

I don't really understand your point about the mountains.

And of course, I believe that this Earth will be different one day. No more cruelty, but only beauty in all it's fullness.

1:45 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

There are no eagle chicks in the nest at this time of the year, so pah!
Donsands: of course mountains are 'cruel'. Just talk to any climber or partner of climber who has been benighted on a mountain, had frostbitten fingies and toesies etc.
I agree with Dawkins actually. I just don't like it much.

4:38 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

p.s. Did Charlie Boy and Mr Brown travel together, or did they go in their own private jets to a conference on climate control?

4:39 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

pps
I would also say it is cruel to bomb Iraqis and Afghans!

4:45 pm  
Anonymous May said...

The p.s. cracked me up.

8:07 pm  
Blogger donsands said...

"..of course mountains are 'cruel'. Just talk to any climber or partner of climber who has been benighted on a mountain, had frostbitten fingies and toesies etc."

Is the Mountain being cruel, or the person being ignorant?

I enjoy looking at the Himalayas, but I'm not really wanting to go about and climb them.

However, the Weather can be cruel, as in a tsunami, and it can be magnificient, as in a lovely snow on a December 25th.

Have blessed evening Llama, or day maybe, not sure what time it tis over there.

8:29 pm  
Blogger Ellee Seymour said...

Yes, I agree. It's a great pleasure to watch our seasons change. It's the one thing my friend who lives in California misses about the UK. Sunshine every day does get boring after a while.

10:27 pm  
Blogger simon said...

sure does Ellee

9:45 pm  
Anonymous Ted M. Gossard said...

Beautiful pics. Yes, this reminds me of the PBS (I think) and National Geographic program Deb and I saw again last night on penguins in Antarctica. Nature is indeed cruel, and no wonder Paul said in Romans that it now groans, awaiting the hope of fulfillment of God's promise in Jesus.

3:36 am  

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