09 May 2016
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As you know, travel can soothe and inspire, teach and motivate, pause and accelerate a life. My recent trip to the West Coast was all of those descriptors and much, much more.
At one point I mused over themes that were bubbling from my travels—travels that revealed San Francisco’s finest qualities through its people and places. But the natural wonders brought (most, not all of) the greatest moments. I’ve been to the golden city and its environs many times, and yet my amazement is always amazed at the offerings in and around this urban center.
One theme that kept haunting me during this journey is how time elongates and sometimes even seems to stop. It’s a phenomenon that leaves me stupefied. One minute seems eons and another has the lightness of a feather. This trip emphasized that time can move with such consideration and elegance, allowing me to inhale its passage and momentum. I felt completely present and watchful, and yet flowing. At times I held back from my friends cadence just to savor what was before me: the fortune of being in a specific place, the satiation of that moment’s gifts, the threads of the experiences with lifelong friends. My spirituality soared, giving me a sanctuary of quietude in that time and space.
Days have passed and this West Coast holiday seems almost dream-like, as though the splendor is floating above me. Still I know it happened; it was real.
Benefits are immeasurable. No need to count the ways. They are within me, percolating as I write.
Mother Nature’s abundance was so staggering that it overwhelmed with her profusion. Credit can be given to the natural history of the area as well as the preservation and conservation of vast swaths of land. Much is as though it was 10,000 years ago at destinations such as Muir Beach Overlook and Mt. Tamalpais. But I also thanked El Nino for the wet (not overly wet) winter.
From one vista to another the wild was dotted with its own verdant palette and multi-faceted hues of wildflowers. These lush and prime habitats are home to coyote brush and other plant species that feed the creatures that make their homes there. I felt a weightless lightness as I gazed upon meadow lands that are almost untouched by human intervention. The mostly untamed landscapes on these protected sites had painterly qualities in pinks to yellows to purples to whites. I recognized some (such as lupines, poppies, Queen Anne’s Lace), and what seemed like an endless variety of those unknown to me. Some wildflowers were so tiny that they appeared the size of a fingernail, even a pinky’s. Some were standing boldly and others bashful, hiding below the grasslands and peeking out occasionally.
Marin County’s coastline filled my thoughts with wanderlust, even as it soothed it. And you can reach those places of natural wonder in relatively short drives over the Golden Gate Bridge or Richmond Bridge or… One goes from land to sea and back again in dramatic scenes that are embedded in the mind forever.
It was difficult to capture the allure and visual appeal of California wildflowers as they were spread up and down the scenery, crossing hills and trails. My photographs do not do justice to what we witnessed.
Sometimes it is enough to be there, sometimes it is enough to be privy to the natural wonder through one’s own inner lens.
In the Lens section is another aspect of the floral beauty of the dense designs of neighborhoods in San Francisco. A culture exists that has respect for nature. That attitude is seen in the care and maintenance of small plots as part of their lifestyle. Some people have window boxes with flowers and herbs (dill, sage, eucalyptus, lavender), others have small front yards with hedges of herbs and raised beds of flowers. Those with backyards have additional room to explore annuals and perennial plantings. It’s apparent that most pay attention to nature’s role in daily life. Everywhere is made more inviting, and the relatively mild temps make it possible.
Since its macro week I have shown one popular flower that was a consistent sighting: the calla lily (second image). The first image was spotted through a fence. The tall plant with tiny flowers was a glorious sample of the emotional effect that one flower can have upon the human psyche. Its small flower head had more than street appeal. It took two days of research to discover its name and family. I was stunned by its relationship to hollyhocks, but then the connection became apparent. That was the first and only time that I saw Mallow Zebrina.
Without question this tiny treasure of Mother Nature left a powerful memory of a morning’s outing. This West Coast journey continued to present such discoveries–discoveries that shored my spirit and solidified my passion for the new along with the old.
Tip of the Week: Robert Clark, who is a photojournalist, has produced a book about the power of plumage titled Feathers: Displays of Brilliant Plumage (2016). Clark’s interest in this subject began with a study of bird fossils in China. The feather is a terrific subject, because it has striking elements and lines. But also the ever-changing light can alter the way a feather’s colors appear, with each and every shot. To read a review by May-Ying Lam click here for her article, The Hidden Language of Bird Feathers, (Washington Post, 03 March 2016). Below is a small example of Clark’s work. Hope that you can take a few minutes to peruse the Lam’s review as well as admire Clark’s work, which is a perfect duo between macro and nature.
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.