“There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And then there is California.”
— Edward Abbey
For this week’s photo challenge, Tina invites us each to pick our own theme. Having just returned from three months in California journeying with my family of origin through my mother’s hospice care and death, I have new photos to share and a complex perspective.
A jewel in the sparkling allure of California to me is my siblings who live there. I reconnected with them in an intense situation and discovered that they are exceptional human beings…and they really do like me, after all!Our days together were full of the poignant joys of life: memories, change, and resilience. We hiked the mountains, beaches, and urban green spaces to keep a grounded perspective. The natural surroundings in California are breathtaking, but the impact of humans is often completely overwhelming. While I was there, record-breaking temperatures, catastrophic wildfires, and the Covid-19 virus often prohibited us from leaving the confines of our protective shelters. How ironic that the things that make California a popular place to live also create the populations that make California unlivable. Finding a sustainable balance is the never-ending challenge here.
“It was a splendid population – for all the slow, sleepy, sluggish-brained sloths stayed at home – you never find that sort of people among pioneers – you cannot build pioneers out of that sort of material. It was that population that gave to California a name for getting up astounding enterprises and rushing them through with a magnificent dash and daring and a recklessness of cost or consequences, which she bears unto this day – and when she projects a new surprise the grave world smiles as usual and says, “Well, that is California all over.”
― Mark Twain
How to live gracefully on this planet, in a human body, with all the complex interactions going on all around me, continues to be the challenge that I strive to meet. Grace is an attitude of balance and mercy, I think…but I’m still pondering it.
Initially, this challenge had me stumped. I primarily photograph nature in still life. I’m a very calm person, not enthralled by activity and speed. Movement is, however, the way of the Life…but I generally see it in a larger, slower context. How does the Earth move? In myriad ways at varying paces, constantly, glacially, and in the beat of a hummingbird’s wings. How have I photographed movement in Nature? In water – falling and surging, as well as frozen. Last September, I had the opportunity to revisit the Pacific Ocean. It is constantly in motion, yet can appear stationary in a landscape photograph when spread out to the horizon. Its dynamic nature is more readily apparent at its edges, and that’s where I aimed my lens.
I recently discovered some really dramatic ocean photography in the work of Ray Collins. Visit his website here to be really swept up in the motion of the ocean!
I have been invited by Terry of Through the Lens of My Lifeto participate in a Five Day Challenge. Each day, I will post a photo and write a story to go along with it. (I probably will interpret the term ‘story’ quite loosely. I do that.) I will also invite one person each day to take up this challenge on his/her blog. This challenge has been a lot of fun! It’s interesting to see where my brain makes connections between fact and fiction and how an image is a jumping off place for those associations.
This last little story is called “The Gold Coast”:
Jake is a bit of a space cadet, but he’s harmless. He does things like arranging the dried kelp on the beach into celebrity images. His Leonard Nimoy was quite touching, given the timing. He’s rather a local hero in Santa Cruz. You can see him cruising the volleyball courts near the boardwalk in the early morning, chatting up the homeless and delivering donuts. Seagulls follow him around because he chats them up, too, while providing breakfast. The other day, he gave an impromptu lecture on the California Gold Rush of 1850 from the middle of the wharf. Between his barking and the sea lions’, a small crowd of curious tourists gathered. Somehow, he managed to convince them that you could still find gold on the beach where the river emptied out, just beyond the eucalyptus grove. A few of them followed him to the spot. “Now, it’s only just flakes that are left,” he began. “You can say that again!” one of the gawkers snickered. “…so ya gotta get down real close, combat-style, to see ’em. Right down on your belly in the sand, dude, like this, and follow their trail to the sea!” Yup, Jake is a real scenic attraction. You never know where he’ll turn up next.
— Next, I invite you to visitVictoria Slottoat her blog. She is a published poet and author who is delving a bit more deeply into her photography as well. Peruse her site for lots of beautiful images, verbal and digital, and stories that will spark your own connections. She does quite a few writing prompt challenges, so there are lots already there in her archives.
Hmm. The sun does not seem to be cooperating with Word Press today. The skies in Wisconsin are a flat gray, and I’m in bed with bronchitis. Warmth is going to have to come from some stored files. Let’s start with early morning, shall we? There’s nothing like a cat for finding the sun’s first warming light. This is Portia, my brother’s cat:
California boasts some dazzling sun. I found that challenging when taking pictures in the middle of the day. I took several shots of a fallen redwood; its roots were spread out like a sunburst. The texture and lines were amazing. In high contrast, it’s rather like an acid trip. (Not that I’d really know…)
Seriously, that’s not my style. I am a Nature Girl. Here’s a more natural look:
At the end of a day of dazzling sunshine in New Mexico, the sun slants in at a low angle, warming the red rocks:
Finally, the sun lights the clouds a brilliant fuchsia at its departure.
Hey, the sun came out! Guess it’s time to get out of my sickbed and make some breakfast. I hope your day is warm, whether from the coffee in your mug or from the sun itself.
P.S. Later that afternoon….hey! What’s that flaky stuff floating down through the sky? Is it?! Yup! It’s snow. First of the season, too. 🙂
Just after my kick-off essay went online, I headed to northern California to visit my family and explore some of the natural places unique to that area. I felt the presence of my father as I re-visited trails we had walked together and that he had walked after I moved out. A quote that I had read somewhere kept surfacing: “In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.” Baba Dioum included this thought in a speech he made in 1968 In New Delhi, India, to the general assembly of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
My father was a teacher of Math and Science professionally. He taught Religion as a volunteer in the church. He taught me many things, but in his teaching about Nature, he was less didactic and more mystic. He simply wanted to be there and to introduce me to a living thing which he loved…the planet.
My Dad in Alaska the summer after his senior year in High School: 1951. (photographer unknown)
Some of the things my father introduced me to:
California sea lions
Coastal redwoods – taller but not as big around as sequoia gigantea
Pinnacles National Park
September 21 is the date marked for the People’s Climate March in New York City. The United Nations Climate Summit is two days later. Please consider what your part may be. What do you hope for our planet? How do you want those hopes represented by our nations’ leaders? How can you contribute to the teaching, the understanding, the loving and the preserving of our mutual home? Thank you for doing your part, whatever that may be.
I am late jumping into this week’s challenge because I’ve been on an adventure! I’ve been in California for the last week visiting family and taking excursions. I lived in CA for 15 years, but it’s been 4 years since I’ve been there. In the interim, they’ve established a new National Park. The Pinnacles have been designated a National Monument since 1908, but 2 years ago it became a National Park. And it’s still the newest one. My father and brother used to hike there years ago and raved about it to me. This week I made my first visit. California condors have been reintroduced to the area, but I didn’t see one. I did see a tarantula and a wild bobcat, though! The tarantula was in one of the caves that was formed when giant boulders from the top of the Pinnacles crashed down into the canyons. It was very dark under there, and it took me a while to figure out how to photograph the critter. The CCC built some very helpful trails with stairs and railings in the 1930s that make exploring those caves and getting up to the rim of Pinnacles relatively easy. What you might not notice in the photos is the silence. Yes, even in California, one can find silence. Solitude. Space. But those places seem to be shrinking every year as population and development boom. The state has changed since I left in 1991. And it will keep changing. Some changes are good though. It’s nice to know that condors live there now.