Learn Something New Every Day!

Patterns: Nature Up Close

“What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.”  Albert Einstein

Patterns fascinate me.  Always have. Somehow the symmetry and repetition are both soothing and engaging. These patterns can be easily seen in Nature. Consider rows in a cultivated field or the rhythm of the ocean’s waves. Tree upon tree in a forest or the many cells of a honeycomb.

I especially enjoy the patterns evident in flowers, leaves, ferns and grasses.  They are beautiful and mesmerizing. Each detail a part of the pattern, but–at the same time–each can be a bit different and unique. Teh patterns of Nature are such a great metaphor for celebrating diversity in all life, since we are all really part of the same big pattern.

“The natural world is built upon common motifs and patterns. Recognizing patterns in nature creates a map for locating yourself in change, and anticipating what is yet to come.”  Sharon Weil

“Find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides.”  Junichiro Tanizaki

“Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry.”  Richard P. Fenyman

“There is no better designer than nature.” Alexander McQueen

This post is my response to the Artist Lens Photo Challenge Patterns. As others who have responded have noted, Nature is a great response to this challenge.

The fires in California this summer are devastating.  The whole state seems to be ablaze. So many fire fighters are doing their best against the many raging infernos, but full containment is elusive.  Lives have been lost, not to mention houses and other structures destroyed.  Countless communities are on edge, either under evacuation orders or nervously watching the fires approach.

Google Image

No fires are close to me.  Thank goodness. Smoke is invading Bakersfield’s atmosphere and creating bad air days, but the actual blazes are not just down my road. For me, the fire that most worries me is the Ferguson Fire, raging near Yosemite National Park.  That fire has been burning for about a month and is about 82% contained.  Yosemite Valley and other parts of the park have been closed for over a week but are scheduled to re-open to visitors in a couple of days.  Of course, getting back to normal will take much longer—and the burned areas may only recover years from now.

To try to ease my worries about Yosemite, I reviewed photos from my visit about this time last year (August 2017).  The drive through the Valley was as incredible as ever.

Driving in from Wawona to take a tour through Yosemite Valley.

I always love the view of Cloud’s Rest, coming out of Tunnel View.

It was great to drive along the Merced River, finding places to stop and relax.

 

The Merced River was delightfully raging at spots.  A holdover from the previous year’s rain.

 

 

Let’s hope this year’s fires do not actually destroy this wonderful national park.  But more importantly, let’s pray all the fires are contained soon and further losses are minimized and the fire fighters and other front-line personnel are praised and thanked for all they do.

The Softness of Clouds

“You must not blame me if I do talk to the clouds.”  Henry David Thoreau

Soft.

When I think of SOFT, various things come to mind.  A whisper.  The glow of a full moon. Spring rain dancing on the roof.  A breeze through the trees.  The tinkling of wind chimes. Even the luxurious coat of such animals as buffalo and mountain goats.

Of course, most of those things are not the easiest to photograph, or—if photographed—not something I could easily reach out and touch. As much as I would love to.

Of course, when I think of SOFT, clouds also come to mind.  True, I cannot touch the clouds.  But I am certain they must be soft and billowy.  As well as impressive, ever present but always changing, and a powerful part of the cycle of nature.  No wonder they have always delighted me.  Thus, these photos of clouds are my response to the Lens Artists Photo Challenge–Soft.

“How sweet to be a Cloud. Floating in the Blue!”  A. A. Milne

“Be comforted, dear soul!  There is always light behind the clouds.”  Louisa May Alcott

“Behind the clouds is the sun, still shining.”  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“We talk of sunshine and moonshine, but not of cloud-shine, which is yet one of the illuminations of our skies.  A shining cloud is one of the most majestic of all secondary lights.”  Alice Meynell

“Let’s build us a happy, little cloud that floats around the sky.” Bob Ross

“He who seeks eternity should look at the sky, he who seeks the moment, should look at the cloud.”  Mia Couto

“Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“It is better to have your head in the clouds and know where you are. . . than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them and think that you are in paradise.”  Henry David Thoreau

 “I see trees of green, red roses too.  I see them bloom for me and you.  And I think to myself what a wonderful world.  I see skies of blue and clouds of white.  The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night.  And I think to myself what a wonderful world.”  Louis Armstrong

“Taking time to do nothing often brings everything into perspective.”  Doc Zantamata

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” Sydney J. Harris

“Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.”  Will Rogers

“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer.”  Leonardo Da Vinci

We can all agree that relaxation is a necessity. Without it, our lives can stay too mired in the commotion and nonsense of our daily tasks and routines.  Like having low blood sugar, if I am frazzled, overloaded and busy for too long, I feel myself become more and more irritated and grumpy and less likely to easily accomplish even the simplest of tasks.

What I need is to relax and get my sanity back.  

Kolob Canyon, Utah

Valles Caldera, New Mexico

There are several things I do to find relaxation, such as reading murder mysteries or watching some westerns or old television shows.  Other activities include cooking, writing, visiting with friends, drinking some herbal tea or even eating some chocolate.  But I really like to go driving when I need a big dose of relaxation.  Not in town with long lights and traffic jams, road rage and rush hour, but driving out in Nature whether on a main highway or a back road.

When I travel in Nature, my worries and anxieties slowly evaporate as I embrace and appreciate all the beauty and solitude around me.

Mt Whitney via Portal Road

Driving on a country road is not simply an activity or even a destination. It is a pathway to solace and peace, to spiritual renewal and rejuvenation, to a renewed energy that will help me tackle life’s daily routines once again. As John Burroughs said, “I go to Nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more.”   Anytime is a good time for a Nature Road Trip, but the scenery is especially pretty in spring and fall.

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.”  John Lubbock

 “To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.”  Jane Austen

CARRIZO PLAIN NATIONAL MONUMENT

“Must be out-of-doors enough to get experience of wholesome reality, as a ballast to thought and sentiment. Health requires this relaxation, this aimless life.”  Henry David Thoreau

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”  Albert Einstein

PETRIFIED FOREST & PAINTED DESERT

“Take a quiet walk with Mother Nature. It will nurture your mind, body, and soul.”  Anthony Douglas Williams

“Our task must be to free ourselves. . . by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” Albert Einstein

“Nature is cheaper than therapy.”  M. P. Zarrella

SEE MOUNTAIN ROAD, NEAR SAN LUIS OBISBO, CALIFORNIA

“The physician heals, Nature makes well.”  Aristotle

“We can never have enough of Nature.”  Henry David Thoreau

JUNE LAKE LOOP, CALIFORNIA

A special bonus happens when a breeze rustles through the trees.

 

This post is my entry to Lens-Artists Photo Challenge Time to Relax.  I am a bit late in getting it posted, but I figured I would post anyway.

In August 2017, I took a driving trip to visit some scenic areas, including Lassen Volcanic National Park and Crater Lake.  Part of that trip included a short drive along the Redwood Highway (Highway 199 out of Oregon that becomes Highway 101 in California). It was a pretty drive, despite some tourist traffic and construction delays.  I was pleasantly surprised at the abundance of wildflowers along the road.

I always enjoy wandering through little stands of redwoods.  The small grove I enjoyed on this drive was the Amelia Earhart Memorial Grove, a part of Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park.

A short stretch along the coast is always a treat, even on a cloudy day.

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QUOTES FROM AMELIA EARHART

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.  The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.” 

“There’s more to life than being a passenger.”  

“The fun of it is worth the price.”  

“Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”   

“Everyone has oceans to fly, if they have a heart to do it.  Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?” 

“Better do a good deed near at home than go far away to burn incense.”   

“Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done.”

 

“I usually find myself hiking in a place that not a lot of people go hiking, just trying to find some solitude. I like being out in the middle of nowhere. Not always, but it’s a good place to go to just reflect and think, and it’s something I really enjoy.”  Rami Malek

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is a glorious spot: rugged, isolated, pristine. 

The drive up into the White Mountains rises to almost 11,000 feet, following many twists and turns.  With each mile, a bit more of my cares and worries always slip away. The stark beauty makes it seem as if I am nearing the top of the world, especially since the vistas let me see for miles.

There are other visitors to this impressive locale—even rangers and a visitor center—but also beautiful natural details.   But I rarely see anyone, and—if I do—it is easy to get away from them to be alone.  That solitude is welcoming, enticing. It is the solitude coupled with the harsh beauty and the strength of the trees that make the forest a place to think, dream, reflect.  It is impossible not to notice the miracles of nature all around and to not recognize how puny and insignificant any personal problems and worries really are.

It is the wondrous trees themselves, however, that offer a great lesson on life.  They are some of the oldest living things on the planet, most at least 3,000 years old.  Some are more than 4,000 years old and others even more than 5,000 years.  Each tree survives in these harsh conditions. They stand twisted and gnarled, but also strong, persistent, steadfast, tenacious, determined.  Such marvelous traits would help us all stay sound and grounded in our crazy modern world.

We can learn a lot from the ancient bristlecone pine.

“Tenacity is essential for accomplishment in anything you do.  Without drive, determination and a strong-willed attitude, one’s level of success at many endeavors will be limited in scope.”  Gabriella Marigold Lindsay

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.”  Napoleon Hill

SOME QUOTES ON SOLITUDE, STRENGTH & TENACITY

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“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”  Desmond Tutu

“Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.”  Paul Tillich

“Identify the barriers in your life, and develop discipline, courage and strength to permanently move beyond them, and keep moving forward.”  Germany Kent

“Solitude is creativity’s best friend, and solitude is refreshment for our souls.”  Naomi Judd

“It is not the opposition a man faces that determines his rise or fall in life but his tenacity to dare to soar and to pursue to higher heights.”  Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

“In solitude the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon itself.”  Laurence Sterne

“I don’t necessarily sit around inviting life to knock me down, but when it does I don’t wait around for an invitation to stand back up either.”  Craig D. Lounsbrough

“Solitude is independence.”  Hermann Hesse

“You need to believe in yourself and what you do.  Be tenacious and genuine.”  Christian Louboutin

“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”  Albert Einstein

“When faced with a challenge, your size is not as important as having a strong and tenacious spirit.”  Melchor Lim

“Solitude has its own very strange beauty to it.”  Liv Tyler

“Tenacious people don’t rely on luck, fate, or destiny for their success.  And when conditions become difficult, they keep working.”  John C. Maxwell

“I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.”  Henry David Thoreau

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.”  Calvin Coolidge

“We need society, and we need solitude also, as we need summer and winter, day and night, exercise and rest.”  Philip Gilbert Hamerton

“Strength does not come from winning.  Your struggles develop your strengths.  When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”  Arnold Schwarzenegger

“It is only in solitude that I ever find my own core.”  Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are stronger at the broken places.”  Ernest Hemingway

 “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. . . . You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”  Walt Disney

“Highest of heights, I climb this mountain and feel one with the rock and grit and solitude echoing back at me.”  Bradley Chicho

“Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage.  The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.”  William Ellery Channing

“Solitude sharpens awareness of small pleasures otherwise lost.”  Kevin Patterson

 “What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be.”  Ellen Burstyn

“I love people. I love my family, my children. . . but inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that’s where you renew your springs that never dry up.”  Pearl S. Buck

 

Lassen Volcanic National Park started as two separate national monuments in 1907: Cinder Cone National Monument and Lassen Peak National Monument.  The areas were merged into the Lassen Volcanic National Park in August 1916.  This shift in designation occurred after a major volcanic eruption occurred in 1915 with other minor and major eruptions continuing through 1921. The park can be reached via Highways 89 and 36.

Mt. Lassen (10,457 feet) is the largest plug dome volcano in the world and the southern most volcano in the Cascade Range. The park is one of the few areas in the world where all four types of volcanoes can be found (plug dome, shield, cinder cone, and strato). The first time I visited Lassen Volcanic National Park was in October 2016.  I figured it was early enough in the season that the road through the park would still be open.  I was wrong.  I entered through the north entrance, but I was stopped after going only a few miles.  I did see a view of Mt. Lassen as well as Lake Manzanita.

I returned to Lassen Volcanic National Park in August 2017.  On that trip, I entered through the south entrance and took the 29-mile scenic road through the park, ending at Lake Manzanita. Construction on the road was completed in 1931. Near Mt. Lassen, the road reaches 8,512 feet, making it the highest road in the Cascade Mountains.  It is not unusual for 40 feet of snow to accumulate along the road, especially near Lake Helen. Patches of snow often remain until July and August.

Lassen Peak

It was a beautiful day, and the drive offered impressive vistas, incredible roadside details, and beautiful wildflowers.

Along Highway 36 heading toward Lassen Volcanic National Park

Near the South Entrance

Lassen Peak

Emerald Lake

Lake Helen

Meadows & King Creek

Summit Lake

Chaos Crags is the youngest group of lava domes in the park.  The six dacite domes were created roughly 1,000 years ago.

Chaos Jumbles are the remnants of a rock avalanche from about 300 years ago. The rocks traveled up to 100 miles per hour, settled near the base of Chaos Crags, and eventually dammed Manzanota Creek, forming Manzanita Lake.

 

Hot Rocks: On May 19/20, 1915, Mt. Lassen erupted, shooting out hot boulders that started an avalanche of rocks and snow. The eruption devastated the area, depositing large, hot boulders across the landscape.  One boulder is marked in the park as Hot Rock.  It is a 300-ton rock that traveled five miles.  It is a good example of dacite lava. Big boulders are common across the park’s landscape.

Manzanita Lake

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