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NATIONAL CAMERA DAY

“The camera basically is a license to explore.”  Jerry N. Uelsmann

Today is National Camera Day.  Being a Nature Photographer, cameras are obviously a big part of my life.  I received my first camera when I was about 7 or 8, a little Brownie Box Camera.  I mainly photographed family, places of interest, vacations.  But eventually I ventured into taking photos of the glory and wonder of nature and found my favored activity.  My focus was always on nature, rarely snapping a self-portrait when I was out and about with my camera. But I did take a few, sort of.

Today, there are lots of ways I could celebrate National Camera Day.  It is always a delight to capture nature up close and personal.  But I have recently shared some favorite nature photos, so a repeat did not seem necessary.  Certainly, the history of the camera from the original camera obscura to the wonder of digital cameras available today is intriguing—but not very personal.

Instead, I decided I would celebrate today by remembering the times my dad and I spent together taking nature photos.  After all, he got me started enjoying photography as much as I do.

One of Dad’s Nature Photos

 

Dad—Raymond Francis Ross—would have been 97 this year, but he died in 2014.  He always enjoyed photography and was the official family photographer.  He even was a professional photographer as his second job, taking photos for weddings as well as for high school yearbooks and church directories. The backdrop he had set up in the garage helped him record family photos over the years, even self-portraits of him and mom.  Eventually, he sold nature photo greeting cards in the local senior center.

Over the years, Dad and I took many trips together to take nature photos.  When Mom came with us, she was incredibly patient as we stopped again and again and again to snap a photo or waited just a bit longer for a bird or butterfly to cooperate.  Together the three of us watched whales in Ventura, looked for birds at the Salton Sea and enjoyed afternoons at places like the Arboretum, Descanso Gardens, and various zoos.

The memories of me and Dad and photography always make me smile.  No matter where we wandered, Dad and I lamented that the hike in as well as the hike out were both uphill!  Some trips—usually birthday adventures—took us out for long weekends to places like Monterey, Yosemite, and Mono Lake. We ate a group lunch under the shade of a small grove of redwoods as part of a Monterey Bay Aquarium Trip, and we wandered the dunes near Mono Lake in the dark after giving up on waiting for the moonrise.  Part of the fun of the trips was waiting afterwards to get the photos developed and then deciding which ones were keepers.  (Dad never shifted to a digital camera.) We could always count on each other to be interested in looking over our many—hundreds?—of photos from any given trip!

At the Salton Sea

At the California Poppy Preserve

Many of my photos of Dad are from these various nature trips we took together.  He always seemed happy and at ease with his camera.

Dad’s Photos from Mono Lake

Anytime I wander out on a new nature adventure, I figure Dad is with me in spirit.  And he must be taking photos in heaven as well.  And there, birds and animals and butterflies must be cooperative models.  Right?

How are you celebrating National Camera Day? 

 

 

SOME QUOTES ABOUT CAMERAS

“A camera teaches you to see without a camera.”  Dorothea Lange

“The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own.”  Susan Sontag

“The most powerful weapon in the world, as far as I’m concerned, is the camera.”  Paul Watson

“I tried to keep both arts alive, but the camera won.  I found that while the camera does not express the soul, perhaps a photograph can!”   Ansel Adams

“There is only you and your camera.  The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.”  Ernst Haas

“Saturate yourself with your subject and the camera will all but take you by the hand.”  Margaret Bourke-White

“I can zero in on subtle things because I’m holding the camera.”  Patrice Leconte

“When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear.”  Alfred Eisendtaedt

“The camera makes you forget you’re there.  It’s not like you are hiding but you forget, you are just looking so much.”  Annie Leibovitz

“One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you’d be stricken blind.”  Dorothea Lange

“For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.”  Henri Cartier-Bresson

“The simple act of having a camera, not a cell phone, but a camera-camera, there’s a kind of a heightened perceptional awareness that occurs.  Like, I could walk from here to the highway in two minutes, but if I had a camera, that walk could take me two hours.”   Jerry N. Uelsmann

“When you are younger, the camera is like a friend and you can go places and feel like you’re with someone, like you have a companion.”   Annie Leibovitz

SEARCHING FOR SPRING, PART 9: Los Angeles County Arboretum

In mid-May 2017, I visited the Los Angeles County Arboretum.  It is a delightful garden that was just minutes from my childhood home.  We visited there often as a family and with out-of-state visitors.  Then, as an adult, I often visited with my dad as we both liked taking photos of the flowers and peacocks.  But I have not been there for years, so I really enjoyed visiting there again.

My main reason for visiting the Arboretum was to seek out the Jacaranda, which would be in bloom.  The purple blossoms are especially appealing.  This year, given the rains breaking the seven-year drought, I was hopeful the trees would be especially bountiful.  I was not disappointed.  The trees themselves dotted the landscapes, adding color to the vistas.

Of course, there were other flowers about as well.  The Rose Garden, although starting to wane, offered some beautiful blossoms.

I always love the wide open spaces and the trees that offer shade for visitors.

The tall stately Magnolia Trees were even in bloom.

As I strolled, peacocks were about as well, but they were not displaying their magnificent tail feathers.

Of course other blossoms were around as well, especially in the drought-resistant display.

At the end of the afternoon, everyone started heading to the exit, ending a great day.

If you have not visited this delightful garden, I suggest you do so.  Each season there is typically something gorgeous in bloom.  I hope to visit on a more regular basis, starting this year.  If you just let yourself wander the garden and enjoy Nature, I guarantee you will have a great afternoon and will probably leave happier than when you started.

“Happiness is like a butterfly.  The more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit quietly on your shoulder.”   Henry David Thoreau

 

FINDING FALL COLORS

img_3129If I needed a reason to go on a Nature Trek to find some fall colors to rejuvenate my soul, I had one.  I am not teaching online this fall so did not need high speed secure access to the internet, which is not always feasible from hotel rooms.  And I would not have to be grading way too many essays, so could devote my time to the solitude and contemplation found in Nature.  So why not go on a road trip?  Besides, I had a new dash cam to play with, trying to capture some videos of the great roads I planned to travel.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park

This little road trip took me on a loop from Bakersfield to Bishop to Reno to Redding to Fresno and then back to Bishop and home.  The Lassen Volcanic National Park that was on the route was closed already for winter travel, so I only saw about 10 miles of it—I will have to try visiting there again sometime.  I also was grounded for a day due to a steady all-day downpour.  The sky was all dark grey clouds and the mountain roads I would have been on were twisty and steep, so I opted not to press my luck.

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Tioga Pass, Yosemite

Tioga Pass, Yosemite

On the whole, the trip was a great success!  Most of what I saw were lots and lots of pine trees, given the elevations I was traveling.  But some splotches of fall colors stood out to brighten the drives.  I even traveled across the Tioga Pass in Yosemite again, even though I figured there would not be much fall color.  It offered some dramatic views that I will share in a later post.  The rain that punctuated several days of my trip did not diminish the glorious wonders of the drive either.  I like driving in the rain, especially when the rain is so needed in California to fight against the five-year drought.

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The first stretch of fall colors popped up along California Highway 395 outside of Bishop, California, as captured by my dash cam.  I’m having fun learning to make use of this new little toy.  Light and shadows really are evident in the video, but it captures the colors rushing past.

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I’ve visited Yosemite National Park in the fall before, so I knew there would be some impressive color to appreciate.  This time, the colors came through even on a rainy day.


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I’m not sure if this little video caught the leaves falling steadily from the trees as a breeze swept through the area, but it was a great little show.

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QUOTES ABOUT AUTUMN’S BEAUTY  & WONDER

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”    L. M. Montgomery

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”    Albert Camus

“Fall has always been my favorite season.  The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”    Lauren DeStefano

“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.   Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.  Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.  Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”   Yoko Ono

“Autumn is the hardest season.  The leave are all falling, and they’re falling like they’re falling in love with the ground.”   Andrea Gibson

“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.”   John Donne

“Autumn. . . the year’s last, loveliest smile.”   William Cullen Bryant

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”   Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.”   Jim Bishop

“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the autumnal cascade of autumn leaves.”   Joe L. Wheeler

“And I rose in rainy autumn and walked abroad in a shower of all my days. . . .”   Dylan Thomas

“Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”   George Eliot

“I saw old Autumn in the misty morn stand shadowless like silence, listening to silence.”   Thomas Hood

“Autumn burned brightly,  a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees.”   Faith Baldwin

“Autumn is the season of change.”   Taoist Proverb

WHERE DO YOU GO TO SEE THE BEAUTY OF AUTUMN ALL AROUND?

Oh, I Love A Cloudy Sky!

IMG_9814I love vacations where I drive the open roads.  Being under a gorgeous solid blue sky is always remarkable, the epitome of a good sunny day.  As Vincent Van Gogh says, “I never get tired of the blue sky.”  Of course, not every day is greeted by a wide open blue sky.

Clouds come and go, adding depth and variety to the sky above.  It is the wonder of the ever-changing sky that makes a IMG_9980country drive so inspiring.  There is also the paradox of a cloudy sky.  On the one hand, the clouds suggest mystery, change, complexity, wonder.  There is a spiritual element to watching a cloudy sky transform itself throughout the day.  Then, on the other hand, the clouds represent science, serving as a living example to air currents and water cycles.  There is an awareness of how life works if we study how clouds move and change over time.

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One of the best things about my most recent Nature Trek was being on the road every day for three weeks.  Each day’s drive was enhanced by watching the wonderful sky as it transformed itself throughout the day.  There is nothing so wondrous as a cloudy sky!

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SKY QUOTES

“The sky is an infinite movie to me.  I never get tired of looking at what’s happening up there.”    K. D. Lang

 “I always believe that the sky is the beginning of the limit.”   M C Hammer

 “We think too small, like the frog at the bottom of the well.  He thinks the sky is only as big as the top of the well.  If he surfaced, he would have an entirely different view.”  Mao Zedong

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“Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize:  a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes.  All is a miracle.”    Thich Nhat Hanh

“Go forth under the open sky, and listen to Nature’s teachings.”   William C. Bryant

“I always start a painting with the sky.”  Alfred Sisley

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“The sky is always there for me, while my life has been going through many, many changes.  When I look up to the sky, it gives me a nice feeling, like looking at an old friend.”  Yoko Ono

“Every time someone tried to explain to me there are limits to what one man can do, I pointed to the boundless sky and said, ‘There is the limit.’”   Jaiprakash Gaur

“There is the sky, which is all men’s together.”   Euripides

“Clouds do not really look like camels or sailing ships or castles in the sky.  They are simply a natural process at work.  So, too, perhaps, are our lives.”  Roger Ebert

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“The enormous lake stretched flat and smooth and white all the way to the edge of the gray sky.”  Laura Ingalls Wilder

“The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.”  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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“Excuse me while I kiss the sky.”   Jimi Hendrix

“There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.”    Victor Hugo

“i thank you god for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.”   e. e. cummings

“The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.”    Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.”    Henry David Thoreau

“The sky is the limit.  You never have the same experience twice.”  Frank McCourt

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

“A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and at such a speed. . . It feels an impulsion. . . . This is the place to go now.  But the sky knows the reasons and the patterns behind all clouds, and you will know, too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond horizons.”   Richard Bach

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“The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious.  And why shouldn’t it be?  It is the same the angels breathe.”    Mark Twain

“To see the Summer Sky is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie—True Poems flee—“    Emily Dickinson

“When scattered clouds are resting on the bosoms of hills, it seems as if one might climb into the heavenly region, earth being so intermixed with sky, and gradually transformed into it.”    Nathaniel Hawthorne

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.  May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”   Edward Abbey

“A pessimist sees only the dark side of the clouds, and mopes; a philosopher sees both sides, and shrugs; an optimist doesn’t see the clouds at all—he’s walking on them.”   Leonard Louis Levinson

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“Those clouds are angels’ robes.”    Charles Kingsley

“We’d never know how high we are, till we are called to rise; and then, if we are true to plan, our statures touch the sky.”   Emily Dickinson

“Be still, sad heart!—and cease repining; behind the clouds is the sun still shining.”   Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.”    Buddha

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DON’T YOU JUST LOVE A GLORIOUSLY CLOUDY SKY?

This post is my response to the Daily Post One-Word Prompt: Sky.

I have shared posts about my love of clouds before.

ANCIENT VOICES

Saugaro NP Rincon & West 019I love driving cross country, especially when the roads—whether highways or back roads—follow along wide open spaces.  I feel lucky whenever I travel.  There are good roads these days with gas stations and fast food joints at almost every exit.  There are rest stops where one can just kick back and stretch one’s legs before getting back into an air-conditioned vehicle.  Next month I will be traveling in the southwest, and I still have not decided if I will travel out to Chaco Canyon because I know the 25-mile road into the place is gravel—so bumpy, dusty and slow.  But it is still a road!

Eventually on my travels my thoughts turn to the Native People who lived in this land long before asphalt roads became the norm.  These people called these open spaces home.  They lived and loved and raised their families for hundreds of years before we even knew these lands existed.  Many current Native American Tribes trace their roots back to these courageous, hard-working, remarkable people who survived for centuries.

Whenever I can visit the ruins and petroglyphs these people left behind, I am in awe.  I can only imagine what these ancient people could share with us about what is really important in life.  Here are a few of the locations that give a glimpse into these past lives.

TONTO NATIONAL MONUMENT, ARIZONA

TNP in caveThe Tonto Basin sits near the Sonoran Desert and was home to Native People for centuries.  They lived, hunted and farmed here as they settled into life in and around these cliffs.  Rugged terrain isolated the area from the modern world until at least 1870 when ranchers and soldiers started into the basin.  In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt set the area aside as a national monument to protect the site from vandals who would excavate the site for pots, cloth and other artifacts that show the life from the area—and could easily be sold to collectors.

View Looking Out from Lower Cliff Dwelling

View Looking Out from Lower Cliff Dwelling

TNP looking outTwo of the hundreds of dwellings evident throughout the area are preserved within the national monument.  These two cliff dwellings—Lower Cliff and Upper Cliff —were in use from 1250-1450.   Here are some photos of the Lower Cliff Dwelling that can be reached via a short hike from the Tonto National Monument Visitor Center.

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CASA GRANDE RUINS NATIONAL MONUMENT, ARIZONA

CG general wallsThe Casa Grande Ruins National Monument preserves multiple structures that were created by the Hohokam, who farmed the Gila Valley in the 13th century.  Archeological evidence suggests the Hohokam practiced irrigation farming and extensive trade connections in this area until about 1450.  Casa Grande is the largest structure within the village; it was named by Father Kino, the first European to view the complex in 1694.

CG whole house distantThis large house was four stories tall in the center with outer rooms that were three stories high.  The walls are made of caliche, following the traditional adobe process.  The separate covering—rather like a carport—was erected in 1932, even though the original adobe has withstood the harsh elements for centuries.  Situated roughly halfway between Phoenix and Tucson, Casa Grande is easy to find and thus catch a glimpse into the past.

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In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison named the Casa Grande Ruins a national monument, the first cultural and prehistoric site to be protected in the country.  The purpose of Casa Grande is not known, but there is an Indian Legend.  Supposedly, Casa Grande is God’s House and he comes once a year to visit, or a Crazy Man lives there and celebrates the sun.  For me, not knowing its purpose makes this grand house that much more intriguing.

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KUAUA PUEBLO MURALS, CORONADO HISTORIC SITE, NEW MEXICO

KP 3Located outside of Albuquerque, the Coronado Historic Site was dedicated in 1940 as part of the 400th anniversary of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado’s entry into New Mexico.  Although named for Coronado, what is really impressive about the site is that it houses the ruins of the Kuaua Pueblo that was established about 1235.  The area was abandoned by Kuaua in the late 16th century in response to encroachment and pressure from the Spanish as well as the Navajos.

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KP 1The excavation of the area in 1930 revealed a Kuaua village that existed for at least three centuries and included several kivas.  The murals found in one of the kivas are now on display at the Coronado Historic Site Visitor Center.  These impressive murals represent the finest examples of pre-contact (pre-1492) Native American art from anywhere in North America. The artistry displayed in these murals is overwhelming. Here are photos of four of the fourteen murals on display.

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PETROGLYPHS AT PARAWAN GAP, UTAH

PG Road distant“God’s Own House” is what Chief Wakara, a respected Paiute tribal leader, called the Parawan Gap in 1840 when the first Mormon Pioneers entered the area.  The Gap is a canyon and passage through the Red Hills west of Parawan Valley. Fremont and Anasazi Indians lived in the area from 750-1250.  The ancient trail through the Gap provided convenient annual passage to the west where desert resources could be harvested.

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A brochure about the area explains how the Gap was formed:

“Approximately 15 million years ago, a long slender section of sedimentary rock sheared from the earth’s crust along parallel fault lines.  This up-thrown block, later named the Red Hills, began to inch its way above the surrounding valley floor.  At the same time the block was rising, a stream was cutting a path perpendicularly across the ridge.  For millions of years the uplifting of the ridge and the down-cutting of the stream remained in equilibrium.

“Eventually, however, the relentless rise of the ridge and the drying of the region’s climate combined forces to defeat the stream.  The stream disappeared and the valley became a waterless wind gap. Continued erosion by wind and rain have shaped the gap into the pass seen today.”

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PG 1When I visited this site years ago, the drive took me across fields and through a small flock of sheep before arriving at the Gap.  It was a delightful afternoon. Once there, I was able to view the site’s numerous petroglyphs.  Recent research suggests that the area was used to mark the passage of time by tracking the travel of the sun throughout the year.  Since no human intervention created the pass, Chief Wakara’s name of the area seems more and more accurate!

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A FEW QUOTES

“When you are in doubt, be still and wait; when doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage.  So long as mists envelop you, be still; be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists—as it surely will.  Then act with courage.”  Chief White Eagle, Ponca (1840-1914)

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together.  All things connect.”  Chief Seattle, Duwamish 1854

“What is life?  It is the flash of a firefly in the night.  It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.  It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” Crowfoot, Blackfoot (1830-1890)

“Like the grasses showing tender faces to each other, thus should we do, for this was the wish of the Grandfathers of the World.”  Black Elk, Ogala Lakota Sioux (1863-1950)

“I do not think the measure of a civilization is how tall its buildings of concrete are, but rather how well its people have learned to relate to their environment and fellow man.”  Sun Bear, Chippewa (1929-1992)

“All things share the same breath—the beast, the tree, the man, the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.”  Chief Seattle, Duwamish (1786-1866)

“When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.”  Cree Prophecy

NOTE:  This post is my response to Sunday Stills: The Next Challenge 100+.

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