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The Beauty of Flowers

“Many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers in it.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower.  I want them to see it whether they want to or not.”  Georgia O’Keeffe

Flowers are incredible.  They bring beauty and hope to the world. And that is certainly something we need more of now in the world, but especially in America. I appreciate this week’s Lens-Artist Photo Challenge #101—One Single Flower as a prompt to share some of the magnificence of flowers.  To see flowers from all over, visit the other responses to this week’s challenge—you will not be disappointed.

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”   Audrey Hepburn

“The fairest thing in nature, a flower, still has its roots in earth and manure.”  D. H. Lawrence

“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.” A. A.Milne

“Every flower blooms in its own time.”  Ken Petti

“The flower that follows the sun does so even on cloudy days.”   Robert Leighton

“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made and forgot to put a soul into.”  Henry Ward Beecher

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.”   Luther Burbank

“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.”  Henri Matisse

“Flowers are the music of the ground, from earth’s lips spoken without sound.”  Edwin Cerran

“A flower blossoms for its own joy.”  Oscar Wilde

“I must have flowers, always, always.”  Claude Monet

“Where flowers bloom so does hope.”  Lady Bird Johnson

“Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small.  We haven’t time, and to see takes time—like to have a friend takes time.”  Georgia O’Keeffe

“If we could see the miracle of a flower daily, our whole life would change.”  Buddha

Friday on the Carrizo Plain

I just love when clouds produce shadows!

Friday, a friend and I took a drive out towards the Carrizo Plain. (The Carrizo Plain National Monument itself was closed).  We figured the drive would not show the spectacular color of the 2017 Super Bloom.  Heck, we were not even certain we would find any color at all.  But we knew the drive—with its hills and vistas, its trees and rock formations—would be beautiful enough.

Besides, it was just nice to get out for a drive along a desolate road through the countryside.

We left Bakersfield, taking Highway 58 heading west toward Carrizo Plain.  Initially, there were some purple blooms lining the road.

Eventually other small groups of flowers started to pop up.

 

We took Soda Lake Road, heading past Soda Lake to Highway 166 and back home.  That road—part paved, part not—always has some great vistas.  Today the distant hills seemed to have some especially distinctive variations and shadows.

There were a few flowers along the way as well.

That’s Soda Lake in the distance.

This is the little blossom out in the fields–its size is smaller than a dime.

This little butterfly was a lovely surprise!

Heading home we finally saw another car–and we stayed at a safe social distance.  We did wave, however!

It was a great day!

A LITTLE NOTE:  Today (May 20) would have been my dad’s 100th birthday.  Hard to imagine.  This pandemic would have been hard on him, even though he was a world-class worrier.  He would have enjoyed taking this drive with me as we often took little nature treks together.  Of course, I would have had to convince him that such a drive is indeed essential, so okay to take given the safer at home rules.

Dad out on a little adventure.

Mom and Dad together out on a little adventure.

Dad passed in 2014.

I always feel like Dad is with me in spirit on my nature treks!

NATURE IS ESSENTIAL

“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.”  David Attenborough

It has been a long spring, made worse by this COVID-19 pandemic and the decisions telling all of us to stay home to stay safe.  We are frequently reminded that we should only be venturing out for what is essential.  Of course, for most, “essential” tasks revolve around obtaining food, water, medications and healthcare.  But for me, what is truly essential includes much more than these basics!

What exactly does essential mean? According to The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, something is essential if it is “of utmost importance, basic, indispensable, necessary.”  Some obvious synonyms would be fundamental, cardinal, vital.  Anything that is essential has a sense of urgency and importance.  It is the key thing that keeps one going.

FOR ME, NATURE IS ESSENTIAL. 

Trips into Nature keep me going, make me feel calm and grounded, link me to the miracle of life that is all around. With this long pandemic-shrouded spring, I really needed a trip into Nature.  My plan was to spend the day driving the back roads in and around the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve in Lancaster.  But just before I was set to leave, I saw a news item that said the roads were barricaded to keep people out.  Drats.

My guess is that hordes of people may have descended on the area over the weekend, trampling the fields, crowding the roads, and otherwise ignoring social distancing. After all, it was the first good-weather weekend since this ordeal began.  Or it could just be a random edict.  Either way, my plans were being undermined—and that would not do.

I NEEDED A TRIP INTO NATURE.

My new plan was simpler, just drive to Gorman at the Grapevine and wander the Gorman Postal Road.  If flowers are in bloom in the area, they are usually there too.  It was a glorious afternoon.

California Poppy

“The earth laughs in flowers.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Spring is Nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s Party!’”  Robin Williams

Lupine, One of My Favorites!

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

“An understanding of the natural world and what’s in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment.”  David Attenborough

Great Valley Phacelia

“Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can’t expect them to help protect and care for it.”  David Suzuki

“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.”  John Muir

“On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.”  Jules Renard

“I go to Nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”  John Burroughs

“When one tugs at a single thing in Nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”  John Muir

This little guy did not cooperate at all for photos.  The butterflies in the area never even paused anywhere!

“Nature is not a place to visit.  It is home.”  Gary Snyder

“The happiest man is he who has learned from Nature the lesson of worship.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Kern Tarweed (maybe)

“They are much to be pitied who have not been given a taste for Nature early in life.”  Jane Austen

I always love it when there is a nice spring breeze wandering the hills as well.  (Sorry I forgot to turn off the radio.  At least I am not singing along!)

ONE AFTERNOON: Two Drives

I started the day in the early afternoon, heading first to June Lake, but I figured there would also be time to head out to Convict Lake as well.  It was a good afternoon!

I love the June Lake Loop Drive (Highway 158).  The best color depends on finding the best week to go exploring.  My first drive on this scenic byway, the leaves were long gone, but even barren aspen trees are pretty.  Last year was a pretty good year.  This year, I visited in the second week of October.  Some pretty fall colors were out there, waiting to be appreciated!

I do love aspens!

Views of Grant Lake

Heading back to the hotel, I took a short drive out to Convict Lake. I had not driven this road before. Since it was just a short jaunt to the lake, I wandered on down the lane. It’s an area that is worthy of more time and attention.

This inquisitive little guy stopped to say hello.

I’ve never really enjoyed fishing, but this does look like a great way to spend an afternoon.

GREAT RESOURCE:  As I planned this year’s trip, I stumbled onto California’s Eastern Sierra Fall Color Map (Inyo & Mono Counties).  It highlights 22 scenic spots where fall color is likely to be found.  I visited some new spots this year, but have more places to see in future years.

Big Pine Country

This year, in the second week in October, I started my trip to the Bishop area to appreciate the lovely show of fall colors evident in Nature.   When to visit is always a bit of a crap shoot, but others had been posting wonderful photos, so I headed out a bit earlier than past years.  I also planned to visit some other canyon drives rather than just checking out the June Lake Loop Drive.

My first stop this year was a short one wandering a bit into Big Pine Canyon.  It was already late afternoon when I started.  I was tired and still needed to secure a hotel, so this was a quick trip. I basically stayed on Glacier Lodge Road and did not even go all the way to the Lodge.  Short, but pretty drive!

GREAT RESOURCE:  As I planned this year’s trip, I stumbled onto California’s Eastern Sierra Fall Color Map (Inyo & Mono Counties).  It highlights 22 scenic spots where fall color is likely to be found.  I visited some new spots this year, but have more places to see in future years.

Signs of Fall Along Highway 395

This year, while visiting the Bishop area looking for fall colors, I drove Highway 395 several times from Lone Pine to Lee Vining. Of course, the canyons that intersect the highway offer a great chance to see wonderful autumn color.  But the highway itself offers its own beauty.

This tree south of Bishop always catches my eye—it is my favorite!

These red leaves were on a little tree in a parking lot in Bishop, calling out for everyone to notice it in all its glory.

Some views along the highway.

These trees and views pop up at the intersection of Highway 395 and Highway 120 heading into Yosemite National Park.

Of course, Mono Lake is always a wonder!

No wonder this Highway 395 is called a SCENIC DRIVE!

Driving Tioga Road in September

Yosemite’s Tioga Pass Road is an incredible drive.  In fact, it is my favorite scenic drive.  It offers the usual twists, turns and inclines of most mountain roads.  But it also passes through a range of gorgeous landscapes.

Tunnel View

El Capitan

This year, after an unusually heavy winter, the road was not open for unrestricted driving until July (vs. its usual May opening).  In mid-September, I wandered into Yosemite National Park, entering via Wawona and Tunnel View. Eventually, I headed east on Highway 120, officially starting onto Tioga Road near Yosemite’s Big Oak Flat entrance.

From this juncture outside of Yosemite Valley, the drive rises gradually from about 6,000 feet through pine trees, heading along Highway 120 toward Tioga Pass, which is roughly 50 miles away at almost 10,000 feet.  The road itself winds through sheer granite cliffs, showcasing impressive craggy rock walls, trees erupting from the rocks and fantastic views.

There Was Even a Mushroom Growing on a Tree Trunk

There were even some wildflowers still lingering along the road.

I Love Lupine, But This Was the Only Little Bud In Sight

An impressive stop is Olmsted Point, sitting at 7,500 feet.  The trees, by this time, have diminished, and the impressive views of the granite rocks and mountains stretch in all directions.  In the distance, you can even see Half Dome. The boulders are strewn everywhere.

That’s Half Dome in the Distance

At one parking area, there were some butterflies and bees who actually posed a bit for photographs.  This delightful little butterfly is called a Great Spangled Fritillary.

Tenaya Lake is the next gem that surfaces along the road.  Its sparkling blue waters are eye-catching.

My favorite stretch along this drive wanders along Toulumne Meadows.  This wide expanse is a gentle dome-shaped, sub-alpine meadow, sitting at 8,619 feet.  Its 39 inches of rain annually comes mainly in the form of snowfall.  The spring is probably the most beautiful time of year to visit the meadows when there are marshes and wildflowers scattered across the area. I last drove this route in August 2017. But any time of year, the wide expanse is impressive.

Not far past Toulumne Meadows, the drive ascends to Tioga Pass, sitting at 9,945 feet.  From there the road descends fairly quickly on a steep drop to the park entrance not far from U.S. Highway 395.  Tioga Lake sits along this stretch of the route.

As Highway 120 nears Highway 395, the rocks take on a reddish hue indicating some iron must be in the rocks.

At the end of the drive, I settled in at a hotel in Bishop. I stopped at Erick Schat’s Bakkery in the morning before heading home.

It was a great drive!

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE DRIVE YOU’VE DISCOVERED IN YOUR TRAVELS?

 

THE MAGIC OF NATURE

When I think of MAGIC, several things come to mind. First is the sleight of hand antics performed by magicians on many stages everywhere.  Even better is the magic inherent in the Harry Potter World.  I just love such things as the pensieve, the time turner, the invisibility cloak, and the spell that makes any purse hold so very much.

But the best magic is the majesty of Nature that is everywhere. At least for those who take the time to stop and notice. 

As Marian Green explains, “The words ‘Natural Magic’ might appear to be a contradiction in terms, but Nature is Magic.”  I add this suggestion:  Spend time in Nature. Then, whether looking out to the horizon or down at the smallest detail, let the magic of Nature bring you peace, comfort and strength. That is when you will notice the magic all around you.

Hills Near the Carrizo Plain

Field View Along Highway 178

 “Just feel the magic in the air and the power in the breeze, feel the energy of the plants, the bushes and the trees, let yourself be surrounded by nature at is best, calm yourself, focus and let magic do the rest.”  Sally Walker

“Everywhere we look, complex magic of nature blazes before us.”  Vincent Van Gogh

“I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful—an endless prospect of magic and wonder.”  Ansel Adams

“There is a secret garden where miracles and magic abound, and it’s available to anyone who makes the choice to visit there.”   Wayne W. Dyer

Grand Tetons

Bryce Canyon National Park

Klamath Falls Wildlife Refuge

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Mount Shasta

Crater Lake

“Fairies are invisible and inaudible like angels. But their magic sparkles in nature.”  Lynn Holland

“Align with nature. . . magic happens.”  John Friend

 “To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.”  Mary Davis

 “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”   W. B. Yeats

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”  Rachel Carson

WHERE IN NATURE HAVE YOU WITNESSED SOME MAGIC?

This post was my response to the Lens Artists Photo Challenge #63: Magic.

Nature in Focus

“Always remember your focus determines your reality.”  Qui-Gon Jinn

Effective focus is the heart of photography.  Without it, a vista can be simply a blur of colors.  But when captured with crisp, precise focus, the vistas become places to re-visit time and time again.

Still, I prefer—when out in Nature enjoying the silence—to focus on the little things.  The smaller “views” that can be too easily overlooked.  The bird chirping on a wire or visiting at an open window.  A bee buzzing about a flower. I love the wonder of the small views of Nature I can capture in a photo.

Flowers themselves, in glorious, magnificent detail are my favorite subject.  I agree with Georgia O’Keefe about enjoying flowers: “When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment.  I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower.  I want them to see it whether they want to or not.”

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A FEW QUOTES ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely every hundredth of a second.”   Marc Riboud

“A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.”  Eudora Welty

“Photography takes a moment out of time, altering life by holding it still.”  Dorothea Lange

“A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”  Ansel Adams

“All photographs are accurate.  None of them is the truth.”  Richard Avedon

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photography. When images become inadequate, I will be content with silence.”  Ansel Adams

“Photography is an act of observation.  It has little to do with the thing you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”  Eliot Erwitt

This post is my response to Tuesday Photo Challenge—Focus.

YOSEMITE IN MAY

It is always a good time to visit Yosemite National Park.

My last trip was about a month ago, just before Memorial Day.  A storm was predicted, but the threat of rain and winds rarely stops me.  It ended up being a great trip.  Even though it was a little cloudy and foggy at times, the crowds were not as large as they could be and some wildflowers were still lingering along the road.  I even saw some Dogwood Blossoms!

My visit was not long. I only wandered Yosemite Valley a couple afternoons, entering and exiting the park on Highway 41 via Wawona as well as on Highway 140 from Merced.

Along Highway 140

A few California Poppies were evident.

I always like seeing Indian Paintbrush.

 

I had not seen much Lupine this year, so enjoyed finding these along the road.

Along Highway 41

More Lupine!

Tunnel View

In & Around Yosemite Valley

 

I do like Lupine!

I love this little spring erupting along side the road.

All of a sudden, one stretch of road was blanketed in fog. Lovely.

Along the Merced River

Relaxing Near a Pond

A Brewer’s Blackbird, I think.

Two Acorn Woodpeckers were busy on this stump, but it was quite far off.

Here’s a better view of an Acorn Woodpecker, seen a few weeks earlier in Bakersfield.

Some Wild Irises.  I love these!

These Two Mallards were pretty active.

An American Raven

Some Dogwood Trees Were Still in Bloom

It was a great trip! 

I am contemplating a drive over the Tioga Pass later this year.  But I am not sure when.  The Tioga Pass—which usually opens by late May—is finally open, a little bit now.  Vehicles can travel the road for an hour each morning and then again an hour each afternoon. No services are open and no camping or parking are allowed.  When Tioga Pass fully opens, there is some planned road maintenance that needs to happen.  Maybe September?

Where is a place in Nature you return to again and again?

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