02 May 2016
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Most of my days have found me perched on the East Coast, USA, even though a good slice of my spirit is elsewhere–the West Coast. I have spent considerable time there, even living in Southern California for (what I call) my mini-sabbatical. At various intervals people hear me echo these words: “If we had relocated to Northern California, we’d still be there.” And so my inner compass needs to be renewed with travel to that coastline, which offers a spring-like rejuvenation with an additional incentive of family and friends. And what better time to fulfill my wanderlust for its gifts than in SPRING.
I’ve been in re-entry only a few days. It’s soothed by hours in the garden and long walks in nature. In my absence my little haven has burst forth with gusto: large boughs of wisteria waft melodic perfume that eases into crevices of far away corners, Queen of the Night tulips are in their final phase of performance, hostas are perky and moving upward with grace, native grasses are beginning to show their shoots, columbine is readying its blooms for the arrival of hummingbirds, coneflowers are heading skyward for the goldfinches, most trees have bloomed and are shedding scores of pollen, arugula and dill (that self-seeded from last year) is almost worthy of placing in a salad…Oh, and many, many wild things are beckoning my care and cultivation and even removal.
These visuals distract me, keep me focused, as I diligently work in many spaces on my almost half-acre. Gardening is a lifelong love, and part of my spiritual journey. It provides a sanctuary throughout my adult meanderings.
When you live in the Mid-Atlantic of the East Coast for the majority of your life, you are bred on beaches that are flat from the edge of the dunes to the Atlantic’s calm or fury. My first visit to the West Coast was in my 30s, and it astounded and riveting my sensibilities. Visually, the two coasts are just as far apart in appeal and sometimes appearance as the miles between them. Still, both have much to offer. But every time I move my body and mind to the West Coast’s majestic landscapes and views, I am brought to a very different internal place—a place of such majesty and omnipotence that it staggers me for days and weeks. This love affair has lasted for many, many decades and seem to grow stronger and stronger.
The trajectory of my holiday was cradled and embraced by pristine weather and glorious adventures–adventures that met and exceeded my intentions. Some of those small and larger triumphs were solo or joint efforts. Each brought glorious waves of fulfillment and satiation. It was that kind of trip.
Vistas can define an experience, giving a wealth of spiritual and visual rewards. Often I discover that a single element can give meaning and significance. Such was the moment at Ocean Beach as my eyes moved to the distant fog stretching from boulders to the Pacific Ocean (image 1). That covering of afternoon heavy mist made time hold back its progress. The lyrical definition of the scene held me tight. The beach behind was scattered with stones of various sizes and colors and weathering. Slowly, I hand-selected a few as mementoes–mementoes of the surf’s offerings: grey stones with white striations, reddish stones, and a black one.
Each beach visited had its own character. From dunes and vegetation to boulders and rock formations, the sand and surf’s signature fixated in my memories. The second image was taken on Stinson Beach where that day the Pacific beckoned beach lovers for a sunny excursion. This image symbolizes what life at the seashore gives the human animal: time for play, time for contemplation, time to schmooze, time to appreciate Mother Nature, time to relax, time to just be.
The last image was taken at China Beach where you can marvel at the confluence of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Presidio, the San Francisco Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. It’s also a historic cove where Chinese fishermen used it as a campsite post-Gold Rush. It exemplifies the rich and deeply-felt events that have transpired around Golden Gate Park.
There is a sense of wild that comes with outdoor experiences in the West that are not quite realized in the East. That’s not to say visual epiphanies do not happen on the coastline where I live; of course, they do. But for me the Southwest and West have always sparked a spiritual renewal and experience that has never been matched on the East Coast or other nearby regions.
The West Coast exerts its charm and influence, and I succumb to its grandeur, unique character and splendor. Each pilgrimage builds my inner spirit, and gives me profoundly inspirational memories.
Tip of the Week:
Human animals are very much oriented by their personal philosophy and sensibilities. Most of us combine these traits to maneuver our lives and discover meaning in our everyday journey. My own orientation is driven by visual interpretation of my small universe. This inner force is solidified daily, and doubly emphasized through my love of art and nature. During my recent trip to California, I was privileged to attend the current exhibition of the artist (French, 1867-1947) Pierre Bonnard’s work at the Legion of Honor, which is part of the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco, along with the de Young. Bonnard’s art was instrumental in the movement from Impressionism to abstraction. The exhibition, Pierre Bonnard: Painting Arcadia, which features more than sixty of his works, shows his extraordinary love of nature. In my life and in this blog I have said that to view art is to bring into my life immeasurable and invaluable gems, gifts and treasures. To see through a work of art as other see is a critical and instrumental way to turn one’s world upside down and sideways and even backward and frontward. This exhibition filled me with emotions and heightened sensibilities and insights. His work is a tour de force that continues to affect my own aesthetics and view of the natural world. On the Legion of Honor’s website, they call Bonnard one of the leading artists in the modernist movement. If you are unfamiliar with his art and life, please view his work here (museum’s website). If you are familiar with him, it will be a treat to revisit his work online. If you are as fortunate as I and can visit the museum, the exhibition is open until 15 May 2016. I encourage you to take the trip.
My sensibilities are manipulated by the way I see the world–my individual lens that steers my days through aesthetics, emotion, passion, perception, visual reaction, and internal appraisal. To see Bonnard’s work up close is to fortify what an in-person experience can provide, giving me pause to interpret my personal journey anew.
View other entries for this week’s challenge:
As always I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog. My photographs for the mobile photography challenge are taken with an iPhone 6.
If you’d like to join this Mobile Photography Challenge, please click here for details and history of the challenge. If you have any questions, please contact me. Below is a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming challenges:
1st Monday: Nature.
2nd Monday: Macro.
3rd Monday: Black and White.
4th Monday Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Animals, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Objects, Panorama, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).
5th Monday: Editing and Processing with Various Apps Using Themes from the Fourth Week.