When I got up last Wednesday morning it was still dark. Looking to the west I could see the nearly full moon getting ready to set, with Saturn shining brightly a few degrees above it. There was a very faint but still visible halo around the moon. Perhaps you can see it in this photograph. You can also see that the camera moved during the exposure, so Saturn is a short white line instead of being a dot. This phenomenon tells of ice crystals high in the sky and indicates that rain is coming. When I rose this morning (Saturday), it was raining and there was a third of an inch in the rain gauge.
It has been mild lately, with temperatures into the high seventies, so Ed and I decided to drive higher into the mountain range. At the ski area the sun was just a glowing spot in an overcast day.
The picture below shows the sky through the tracery of Quaking aspen with a hint of a halo around the sun like the one I had seen around the moon early the same morning. .
We hiked up Turkey run, very comfortable in our light jackets. We did not see any flowers in bloom, but had the pleasure of enjoying the fresh air and the patches of snow.
We noticed that small rocks along the trail had created pockets for themselves. Even the needles of pine trees melted little depressions on the surface, since the rocks and needles absorb the heat from the sun better than the snow does.
The slow drip of water in the grotto area that we love to visit had turned into a frozen waterfall.
The trail was clear under the forest canopy. In places where the sky was open above, there were patches of snow, as in this picture.
We did not see any flowers in bloom this late in December, and did not expect to see them. At the Mount Lemmon General Store, where we stopped for a snack, we saw a Common mallow plant (Malva neglecta) in full and glorious bloom.
This photograph of Common Mallow was taken at an earlier time.