The sky was still black as a raven hiding in the shadows. There was not even the slightest hint of the deep blue of the approaching dawn as I parked my vehicle in a small pullout just a few hundred yards down slope from one of the Eastern Sierra lakes I like to visit this time of year.
A gust of wind shook my SUV as I stared in disbelief at the glowing instrument panel on my dash. I blinked twice. The numbers didn't change. The outside temperature registered 17 degrees F. I tapped the digital display playfully hoping that my action would somehow un-stick the numbers and they would all of a sudden jump to something more comfortable. Hell, 38 sounded good right about then. 17 degrees. Shit! "This is going to be fun." I thought.
From inside my vehicle I watched aspen leaves shiver as I sipped hot black coffee while listening to the monotone voice of the weather man hidden inside my radio summarize today's weather forecast. It called for highs in the low 40's with a mix of rain and light snow at 6000'. Where I was now parked was at an elevation of well over 9000' - I shivered, then I smiled.
The black of night still lingered. I was done stalling and ready to take my lumps. I turned up the collar of my black puffy down jacket, pulled down my gray wool beanie to cover my ears, opened the door and 10 minutes later I was standing lakeside savoring the solitude on a very crisp and breezy autumn morning.
I love this time of day. Especially when I am surrounded by wilderness. On this morning, even considering the cold temperature it felt as if someone stirred in a couple of extra teaspoons of peacefulness. A chilly morning like this is just nature's way of saying "Howdy."
The morning progressed. The moon rose above the eastern ridge. The darkness softened and became more dramatic all in one breath. The presence of the moon chased away the wind. A eerie calmness lingered in the shadows while its icy breath confirmed its presence. Everything was right. Everything was as it should be. Then, I softly pressed the button on my cable release and made my first photograph of the day.