Post-Christmas Good Evening

Christmastime usually is a fun but busy period in the Edwards household, and this year was no different. So much going on, so much to do…it’s a struggle sometimes to keep grounded in what Christmas really means (hint: drop the last three letters of the holiday’s name). We manage to, but not without some concentration.

Often we wind down and switch gears from the prior flurry of December activity by going on some sort of short, recreational day trip between Christmas and New Year’s Day, weather conditions and days off permitting. In the past we typically traveled to the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge (website), or shorter, to the Festival of Light (website) in Chickasha. The former seldom is very crowded this time of year, with great opportunities for both picnics and hikes on mild afternoons. The latter loses its big crowds after Christmas day, but keeps its dazzling array of light art going through New Year’s Eve night.

This year we added a Lake Thunderbird sunset to the trip on a last-minute, ad-hoc basis, after realizing the presence of two ingredients for photogenic, watery sunset: scattered high clouds and very little surface wind. The kids could play on the drought-expanded sand beaches of the lake while I rummaged the shoreline for interesting scenes, both off and on the water as well as in the sky (above, and in subsequent twilight).

One of my favorite visual effects is the water reflective, where allegories too numerous to mention permeate life as well as art. Sunset reflections off water don’t disappoint, with more time spent staring into the nearly hypnotic oscillations of light and wave pattern than snapping the shutter. Not only do I like to view and shoot the whole (landscape) scene, but also zoom in on a particular patch of water, especially if it contains one or more natural objects. In any given part of the surface, the light that is reflected changes character by the minute as high clouds move and as the process of sunset continues, thereby shifting both appearance and mood of the scene.

I tried a few times to capture such imagery during the many years I shot with film, and contemplated it far more. But being a cheapskate and borderline phobic about waste, the cost and hassle of film usually shackled my willingness to play around freely with the camera and the scenes. [Hmm…this is the seed of another BLOG essay in and of itself…]

Onward we went, to dinner in Chickasha and the Festival of Light, which the kids and I have seen all but one or two of the years since we moved back to Norman. Last year’s trip here was special, because we brought Elke’s mom (Oma to the kids), and because we unexpectedly got to watch some of a nighttime wedding in the “chapel of light.” This time, my desire to do a little photography there with a good camera (for the first time) perfectly complemented the kids’ wish to get more time on the playground than they had before. It was a good experience, indeed. We usually try to get dizzy by walking under their huge, conical, steel-supported light “tree,” looking up, and spinning around rapidly while staying focused on the very top. [Yes, that was the half moon in between the light strands.] Sometimes the lights keeps on spinning if you lie down quickly and keep staring up. Then came the stroll through many light displays, across the light bridge and around the pond, which always is full of hungry and noisy ducks frolicking in the light.

My favorite of the many long-time decorations there is the tree of giant light-ornaments — both for its beauty and its practical ingenuity. Each light ball is composed of a series of clear plastic punch cups, their sides hot-glued together such that they form a hollow sphere. A small hole drilled through the bottom of each cup holds a colored light; and the supporting wiring goes in the central hollow. Each ball is a single color. What a great way to re-use those cups! I keep promising myself I’ll create some of those light balls to hang here at home; and someday I might actually attempt to keep the promise. 🙂


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