Photo Credit: Erik Axdahl Image found on

A sundog is a halo that maintains a 22 degree distance from the sun on one or both sides. Best time of day to be seen is at the horizon line during sunrise or sundown. The phenomenon is created by a refraction of the sun’s light on ice crystals. Also known as “parhelion” (plural: parhelia), Greek derivatives of “para” meaning beside and “helios” meaning sun. Another name is mock sun(s).

As interesting as this atmospheric phenomenon is, I still prefer the more common sundog seen pictured below. She’s my favorite walking buddy most of the time, except on days when she wants to sniff every blade of grass.

Melanie Reynolds original photo

More to explore: Atmospheric Phenomena: Halos, Sundogs and Light Pillars (

Do you have a sun-loving fuzzy friend?

Show me your Sundog, Suncat, Sunllama, Sunfox,…

Allegories & Interlopers

Fright Bear
An allegory [ˈaləˌɡôrē] is a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted in multiple ways, often encompassing a moral message or hidden meaning. Synonyms include parable, analogy, metaphor, symbol, token, tale, myth, legend etc.

When my son was three he asked, “Do volcanos like music?” I said, “I’m sure they love a deep bass line as much as I do! Maybe that’s why they rumble sometimes.” During another drive, he was unusually quiet. I looked in the rearview mirror to find him crying. I asked, “What’s wrong? And he said, “The music, it’s just so beautiful, and sad.” It was indeed a sad and beautiful song called “Forgiven” from the Battlestar Galactica Season 1 soundtrack. I often listen to soundtracks when driving. Nothing can make pulling into a grocery store parking lot feel more epic than Star Wars, “The Imperial March” as I prepare to conquer my shopping list!

So where am I going with this? Indeed. To me, nature is music and music is a part of nature. Wind instruments, anyone? I find that no matter how fantastic a science fiction story or soundtrack might be, there’s always an element of nature. Science Fiction is allegory for exploring what it means to be human, critique of our societies and wonder about our place within the world and Universe. Music is also great way for exploring the human spirit.

One of the things my son noticed at an early age is that characters are often represented by a musical instrument or series of notes. He’d only seen Star Wars “A New Hope” once when he made the connection that Hans Solo was represented by a flute. I could’ve titled this post “My brother feels stalked by three French horns.” He’s five years older than me, but “Peter and the Wolf” used to give him terrible nightmares. It was his Achilles heel. Whenever I’d had enough of being picked on by him, I could chase him away by imitating the sound of “the wolf.”

I feel a deep connection between music, storytelling, and nature.

When my son was five, he drew a picture of an alligator eating a nightmare about vampires. I was intrigued. Did this valiant alligator eat all of his nightmares? No? Just the ones with vampires in it. Other animals ate other types of nightmares and it seemed the strengths of each animal were well-equipped to defend against certain types of nightmares. Story logic and duality. The world is filled with allegory. Nature as a story and nature as a mechanism; hidden meanings and skeleton keys. I used to have a lot of nightmares until I created my own helpful story. His name is “Fright bear” a modest-looking teddy bear with a special power. Whenever I found myself in a nightmare, I would squeeze fright bear tight and he would strangle the nightmares within his stuffing. I believe this practice helped me become a lucid dreamer, by being able to pull something from the real world and repurpose it in my dreams. I offered Fright bear to my son once, but he preferred the menagerie of his animal army instead.

Let me tell you about the craziest incident I’ve had while lucid dreaming. I was missing a friend who was killed when we were nineteen. I wanted to talk to him so I laid down and envisioned the park where we’d once had a fabulous picnic. The other friends ran off to play football, but this time in the dream I didn’t join, I went looking for Tom instead. In the real memory of this day, Tom and I had played football and frisbee with everyone else. I passed a long table of picnickers, people I didn’t know, but one blonde lady caught my attention because of her distinct voice. I ended up meeting her in real life a few days later and that wasn’t even the weirdest part. When we were being introduced by my coworker, I recognized her immediately. She thought it was odd that she felt like we’d met before even though she couldn’t remember when. I was embarrassed for even suggesting it out loud but I said, “I know this is going to sound crazy, but I recognize you from a dream a few nights ago. Another lady was raving about your macaroni salad at a picnic.” To my surprise, she did believe me, she felt it to be true and everyone she knows love her macaroni salad!

This alone was intriguing. That a dream I had consciously created was not populated with fictional people or NPCs (non-playable characters in video games) but real people! After passing the lady and her table I’d found Tom standing in the duck pond at the edge among the cattails. I knew it was him even though he was undefined. Imagine if you’re looking at a picture and someone had smeared petroleum jelly on one character to obscure them. I felt like him and not a false creation. Then I felt another consciousness as strong as my own watching me from behind! Someone else was just as aware as I was inside MY lucid dream that was neither me nor Tom! An uninvited guest! It felt like a violation. I panicked and pulled myself awake. The experience really unsettled me. I haven’t tried to reconstruct a time and place or reach out to anyone dead or living with my mind since.

My biggest fear was what if that person was better or stronger than I am and they had bad intentions? What if a person could walk into another person’s dream and manipulate them? I thought you had to be invited into another person’s dream, but maybe they can hijacked. How did I pull the other lady in? It makes sense that I might have seen her around campus before we met. The consciousness that came into my dream with autonomous awareness though, they didn’t politely make themselves known. No polite cough, no “Excuse me ma’am, nice dreamscape you’ve got here.” It felt like a test. As if they wanted to see how long they could lurk there without me noticing, but they brought shadows with them and maybe that’s what scared me most of all.

So now, I’ve given you an idea on how to combat nightmares only to kick you in the brain pan and say “Hey! Be careful who you let wander into your dreams!” If I’m a ‘ghost in my machine’ and someone else walks into my dream, is that a bug, or a feature?

More to explore:

Peter and the Wolf – Maestro Classics Hear each character as defined by it’s instrument in this old children’s classic.

10 – Forgiven – YouTube The song that made my dear sweet boy cry for it’s beauty and sadness.

Star Wars- The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme) – YouTube Taking on the grocery store like a Boss.

Ghost in the machine Idiom Definition – Grammarist Descartes, “I think therefore I am!” vs Gilbert Ryle “ghost in the machine/consciousness is separate from the body” a philosophical debate.

Note: This post was inspired by Beth’s post, child’s story. | I didn’t have my glasses on…. When I start a post I never know how it will end, but I like to braid in groups of three, so now you can ponder; characters represented by their music, stories as coping mechanisms and lucid dreams.

Have an interesting dream or story that fits these themes? Do share! Are you a lucid dreamer?

A Girl of the Rugged Coast: Riptide

A Girl of the Rugged Coast: Riptide

If vacation advertising is to be believed, most people think of beaches as long white sandy strips full of sunbathers and volleyball. I think of jagged rocks, stiff salty wind, whales, and shore birds. More often than not, you need a light jacket to visit our beaches and a sense of wonder. To me, a long strip of sandy beach sounds boring. I don’t want to lay on a towel and take in the sun. I need to explore. Our rugged coasts are less of a leisure pursuit and more of an adventure. Come hardy explorers to perch among the rocks. What has the tide brought us? What lurks under the driftwood and in the tidepools?

For many years I went to the coast with my father’s family. It was back during a time when a kid could rise, eat breakfast, and disappear for hours until hunger brought you back. Being back before dinner was the only real requirement. The wild child must be present and presentable for dinner at the nice restaurant. A skirt must be worn for women and girls and a tie and jacket for the boys and men. This rule was in place well into the mid-1990’s.

On a particularly nice day when I was 15 or 16, I was enjoying a bit of “bodysurfing”, but on this occasion the undercurrent was stronger than usual. The sand beneath my feet evaporated. I only got one quick gasp of air before being pulled under and out. I kicked as hard as I could propelling myself in the direction I thought was up. It was only a guess. I kicked and kicked, my lungs burning, begging for air when finally, I broke the surface. The shoreline was so small, the people were the size of ants and no one seemed to notice me out there. I panicked. It’s one of the few times where I thought I might actually die.

There are signs posted near the resorts about what to do if you get pulled into a riptide. I had studied them often out of kid bored, waiting for my dad to check us in or out of a place, pay at a restaurant or while getting gas. I never thought I would have to follow the step in a live scenario. Step 1: “Don’t panic.” Well, too late for that! I did my best to put the emotion aside and focused on step two. Step 2: “Swim at an angle towards the shore.” Mental visualization of the diagram, showing a stick figure swimming parallel or at a slight angle from the shore. I was at least a mile from shore, possibly two. I dare not think it could have been farther.

It took at least two hours of breaststroke and back swimming. I tried to drift in like flotsam at times. When I finally made it shore, I arrived with no fanfare. No one had noticed. I was exhausted. I headed up to the rental and walked in the door. “You’re late!” My dad boomed. “Sorry, I got caught in a riptide.” I grumbled. “Well, get changed! We have to leave for dinner right now!” So, I changed and off to dinner we went. I’ll never know if he didn’t hear me right, didn’t believe me or didn’t understand the implications of what I’d just said.

More to Explore:

Science of Riptides: Rip Current Science ( It’s interesting because this and other sites I found say “Riptides don’t pull you under.” I beg to differ. I was definitely pulled under. I suspect it has something to do with the firmness of the sand.

(Pictures: Cape Disappointment, OR. Melanie Reynolds, 2007)