Every day, whether I'm at home, at work or on vacation, I spend some period of time watching the natural world. I do this for enjoyment and for the calming effect that it has on my system. Nature, oblivious to human turmoil, moves at her own pace.
Whether the view is limited to my back yard or extends across a mountain valley, the effect is usually the same. One never knows what will occur during these interludes. Perhaps an unusual beetle will settle on the railing or a red fox will cross the meadow; a flock of waxwings may appear in the shade tree or the crack of a rock fall may thunder through the canyon.
Today's view is from my office window, facing westward from the School of Medicine; a paved lot, utility building and parking deck occupy much of the foreground, backed by a wooded residential area in south Columbia. The clear, cold sky is deep blue except for a shelf of clouds far to the southwest, likely the trailing edge of the Arctic dome that has settled over the Midwest. Humans, ill equipped for this frigid weather (currently 9 degrees F), move quickly between the buildings save a lone smoker, finishing his cigarette behind a stand of white pines. Birds, usually well represented in my broad vista, are limited to a cloud of starlings that settled in a barren tree down the block. No surprises today; just a brief respite on what may turn out to be the coldest day of the season.