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NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY DAY

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

Who knew?  June 15 has been designated by the North American Nature Photography Association as NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY DAY since 2009.  Did you know?  I didn’t.  Fortunately, even in my ignorance, I have been celebrating this holiday extensively throughout any given year anyway.

It is easy to take nature photographs.  One way to take nature photos is to go to incredible places—like Yosemite National Park or Monument Valley—and snap away at all you see.  However, you do not have to go anywhere special to enjoy Nature and capture its essence on film.  You can find the beauty, wonder and solace of Nature just about anywhere. Just take the time to notice what is around you.

Some of my favorite subjects are birds and trees and flowers. 

If you want to celebrate Nature Photography Day, just grab a camera and head outside. You can sit quietly for a bit in a garden, wander the sidewalks in your neighborhood or take a drive along a country road, even a highway once you are out of the city.  See what nature speaks to you.  Then capture the interaction by clicking the shutter.

Beware: Capturing the beauty and wonder of Nature in a photo can be habit-forming.

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QUOTES ABOUT NATURE

“We do not see Nature with our eyes, but with our understandings and our heart.”  William Hazlitt

“Adopt the pace of Nature; her secret is patience.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Sometimes I arrive just when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter.”   Ansel Adams

“Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”  Kurt Vonnegut

“If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”  Vincent Van Gogh

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”  John Muir

“Nature, Time and Patience are the three great physicians.”  H. G. Bohn

“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat.”   Laura Ingalls Wilder

“At some point in life, the world’s beauty becomes enough.”   Toni Morrison

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

“Once destroyed, Nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price.”  Ansel Adams

“There’s something of the marvelous in all things nature.”  Aristole

“A morning glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.”   Walt Whitman

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

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”   Lao Tzu

“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 its best.  Calm yourself, focus, and let magic do the rest.”   Sally Walker

SEARCHING FOR SPRING, PART 11: Descanso Gardens

“Try to pause each day and take a walk to view nature.”   Lailah Gitty Akita

From An Earlier Visit

Dad’s Photo of Mom by the Lilacs

Descanso Gardens is a wonderful public garden, located in La Canada Flintridge, California.  It covers 150 acres and offers a wide variety of flowers and trees, several nature trails, and even some lakes and ponds that offer bird-watching opportunities.

This delightful place is not far from where I grew up—and only a couple hours from where I now live.  We did not visit here much when I was a kid, but I have fond memories of visiting with my parents when I was an adult.  Dad and I took photographs while Mom enjoyed the flowers, especially the lilacs.  The garden offers great displays of some of my favorite flowers, including lilacs, camellias and tulips.

Dad Capturing a Good Shot

My recent visit was in early June, so my favorite flowers were not in bloom.  But there was lots to appreciate as I wandered the grounds.  Birds, butterflies, squirrels and even a lizard were enjoying the garden as well, but most refused to pose for photographs.

Now that I have my little travel scooter, I will be able to visit Descanso Gardens much more often, seeing what every season has to offer.  If you have not visited, add this garden to your to-do list.  You will love it!

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QUOTES ABOUT GARDENS

“A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in—what more could he ask?  A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.”   Victor Hugo

“The many great gardens of the world, of literature and poetry, of painting and music, of religion and architecture, all make the point as clear as possible:  The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden.”  Thomas More

“A garden isn’t meant to be useful. It’s for joy.”  Rumer Godden

“When you increase the number of gardens, you increase the number of heavens too!”  Mehmet Murat ildan

“Love without happiness is like a garden without flowers.  I don’t believe in it.”  Marty Rubin

“Gardens and chocolate both have mystical qualities.”   Edward Flaherty

“Gardens are poems where you stroll with your hands in your pockets.”   Pierre Albert-Birot

“The best place to seek God is in a garden.  You can dig for him there.”  George Bernard Shaw

“Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it.”   Rumi

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”   Cicero

 “Give me odorous at sunrise, a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed.”  Walt Whitman

 “The man who has planted a garden feels that he has done something for the good of the world.”  Vita Sackville-West

“I was just sittin’ here enjoyin’ the company. Plants got a lot to say, if you take the time to listen.”  Eeyore

SEARCHING FOR SPRING, PART 10: Yosemite National Park

I love Yosemite National Park. 

“The most striking and sublime features on the grandest scale, is the Yosemite.”   John Muir

“A perfect day would be to get into the car, drive out to Yosemite and go camping.”  Michael Steger

“It is all very beautiful and magical here (Yosemite), a quality which cannot be described.”  Ansel Adams

Since it is such a great place, I was not surprised to learn that there were 5.2 million visitors to the park in 2016.  I was surprised when I visited Yosemite near the end of May—but before Memorial Day—that all those people were there ahead of me on the main roads and taking up every single parking space.  Well, okay not all of them.  But at least about half!

Basically, it was crowded.

However, I was still able to find the dogwood blossoms that were the ostensible reason for my visit this spring.  (But does one really need a reason to visit Yosemite National Park?)  There were other flowers as well and lots of water!  Despite the crowds, it was a glorious trip.

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

As I entered Yosemite near the Wawona Inn, I was greeted by fields of lupine.  This hardy purple bloom kept me company throughout most of the drive throughout the park.

Dogwood Trees lined the roads, allowing wonderful glimpses of the blossoms floating among the leaves.

A drive through the park is always full of gorgeous vistas and delightful surprises.  On this trip, some spring blossoms and wonderful ferns popped up here and there along the roadsides. Of course, they were not so easy to photograph.  But the vistas were as peaceful and engaging as usual.   

The Merced River was wonderful, mercurial.  It still offered some peaceful pools that compel visitors to sit on its banks and appreciate life and nature.  But on this visit, the Merced also rushed past, even overflowing its banks periodically during the last several weeks given all the rain and snow melt this year.  I loved hearing the Merced rush by!

“Down through the middle of the Valley flows the crystal Merced, River of Mercy, peacefully quiet, reflecting lilies and trees and the onlooking rocks; things frail and fleeting and types of endurance meeting here and blending in countless forms, as if into this one mountain mansion Nature had gathered her choicest treasures, to draw her lovers into close and confiding communion with her.”   John Muir

The numerous waterfalls, of course, are also magnificently full this year.  What a delightful spring treat!

Upper Yosemite Falls (1430 feet):

Bridalveil Falls (617 feet):

If you have not visited Yosemite National Park, do so.

You will not be disappointed.

Please, consider speaking out and doing what you can to make sure all our national parks stay protected not just for us all to enjoy but because of their cultural and historical significance.  They are indeed precious.

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“The parks do not belong to one state or to one section.  They have become democratized.  The Yosemite, the Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon are national properties in which every citizen has a vested interest; they belong as much to the man of Massachusetts, of Michigan, of Florida, as they do to the people of California, of Wyoming, and of Arizona.”  Stephen Tyng Mather, 1st National Parks Service Director

“Maybe you weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth, but like every American, you carry a deed to 635 million acres of public lands.  That’s right.  Even if you don’t own a house or the latest computer on the market, you own Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and many other natural treasures.”  John Garamendi

“I can’t help thinking that if the American West were discovered today, the most glorious bits would be sold off to the highest bidder.  Yosemite might be nothing but weekend homes for internet tycoons.”   Nicholas Kristof

EARTH DAY 2017

EARTH DAY 2017:  We Need to Do Better

“To cherish what remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival.”   Wendell Berry

“The earth we abuse and the living things we kill will, in the end, take their revenge, for in exploiting their presence we are diminishing our future.”   Marya Mannes

I try to celebrate Earth Day every time I head out into Nature, not just once a year. 

But today demands a special celebration because it is the 47th anniversary of the first Earth Day. 

Today’s Earth Day Celebrations champion not just the beauty and variety of our natural world, but the role humans should play in preserving our Earth for future generations.  As stewards, we need to protect the natural world not plunder it for easy profits.  Part of this stewardship means we need to develop alternative energies, protect spiritual lands as well as national parks, work on local as well as global conservation efforts, and make strides to counter the problems of climate change.

Not everyone accepts this responsibility to protect our world.  Current government actions are even undermining protections that have long been in place to preserve the environment and not exploit its treasures and undercutting funding for the science needed to help make things better.  If you want to get more informed and more involved on some efforts to keep preserving the Earth for the future, consider joining the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy or the Natural Resources Defense Council in their efforts.

I’m sharing some of my favorite photos to show some of the wonders of Nature that inspire me with awe and reverence, that generate contemplation and reflection, that make me see the need for interdependence with all of nature.  It is easy to see God at work out in Nature!  How can we not take care of the Earth?  Maybe these photos will help suggest some of what is at stake if responsibility for protecting the Earth continues to be ignored or—worse–abrogated.

Get involved today!  If you need a reminder about the importance of Nature and all its wonders, go for a drive or take a hike! Maybe you will find some ancient voices carved in the hills.  Happy Earth Day 2017.   How are you celebrating the day?

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Some Quotes about the Need to Protect Our Earth

“We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.”   Kurt Vonnegut

“The only thing that scares me more than space aliens is the idea that there aren’t any space aliens.  We can’t be the best that creation has to offer.  I pray we’re not all there is.  If so, we’re in big trouble.”   Ellen DeGeneres

“Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.”   Jacques-Yves Cousteau

“Every day is Earth Day, and I vote we start investing in a secure climate future right now.”   Jackie Speier

“My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.”   Abraham Lincoln

“You carry Mother Earth within you.  She is not outside of you.  Mother Earth is not just your environment.  In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer.”   Thich Nhat Hanh

“Earth as an ecosystem stands out in all of the universe.  There’s no place that we know about that can support life as we know it, not even out sister planet, Mars, where we might set up housekeeping someday, but at great effort and trouble we have to recreate the things we take for granted here.”   Sylvia Earle

“If we do not permit the earth to produce beauty and joy, it will in the end not produce food, either.”   Joseph Wood Krutch

“We have a moral responsibility to protect the earth and ensure that our children and grandchildren have a healthy and sustainable environment in which to live.”  Jim Clyburn

“Life on earth is more like a verb.  It repairs, maintains, re-creates, and outdoes itself.”   Lynn Margulis

“But when I wasn’t working, I was usually at a window looking down at Earth. . . . The view of Earth is spectacular.”   Sally Rider

“I see a lot of damage to Mother Earth.  I see water being taken from creeks where water belongs to animals, not to oil companies.”   Winona LaDuke

“Sell a country?  Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth?  Did not the Great Spirit make them for the use of his children?”   Tecumseh

“Life is abundant, and life is beautiful.  And it’s a good place that we’re all in, you know, on this earth, if we take care of it.”   Alice Walker

 

 

 

EARTH: Weekly Photo Challenge

“It is wholesome and necessary things for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.”  Rachel Carson

Earth is such a glorious paradox. It is everywhere, so common and typical but—at the same time—so unique, showing beauty and variety specific to each place.  Earth can run alongside a road or stretch across an open field; it can reach the heights of a mountain or stay close to the ground, supporting blossoms.  No matter where Earth is, it is worthy of celebration.  Over the last several years, I have enjoyed Earth across several states as pictured below.

ARIZONA

CALIFORNIA

COLORADO

NEVADA

NEW MEXICO

UTAH

WYOMING

This post is my response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth.

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SOME QUOTES ABOUT THE BEAUTY AND WONDER OF EARTH

“I’m fascinated by beautiful scenery and what we have here on this Earth.”  Matt Lanter

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and winds long to play with your hair.”   Kahlil Gibran

“Earth’s crammed with heaven. . .  but only he who sees, takes off his shoes.”   Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”  Henry David Thoreau

SEARCHING FOR SPRING, PART 7: Finding Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge

I needed a day out in Nature! 

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

 “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.”   Edward Abbey

I continued my Search for Spring by driving into the hills southwest of Maricopa, California.  My goal was to find the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge.  It is closed to the public, but the roads that run along its perimeter promised great views of the area.  There was a slim possibility that I might see some Condors soaring on the thermals, but that did not happen on this cloudy gray day.

One set of directions I found online said to take Klipstein Canyon Road until it connects with Cerro Noroeste Road that parallels the wildlife refuge.  Only Klipstein Canyon Road no longer allows the public to traverse its entire length.  The few miles I traveled were pretty and rather desolate but also offered some flowers and birds. I even enjoyed the occasional “Private Property” signs.

Greater Roadrunner

California Quail

I finally found Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge via Cerro Noroeste Road. This route was also rather isolated and punctuated with occasional flowers and grand vistas.  Next year, I will drive this route a bit earlier in the year when I bet more flowers will be in bloom.

Horned Larks Were Around Singing, But Not Getting Very Close

Cerro Noroeste Road eventually looped onto Mil Portrero Road and then Cuddy Valley Road, leading me up to Pine Mountain before hitting I-5 to drive home.

All in all, I found some great views, a few flowers and a couple birds.

It was a wonderful afternoon!

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A FEW QUOTES ABOUT THE POWER OF NATURE

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

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature.  It will never fail you.”   Claude Monet

“We do not see nature with our eyes, but with our understandings and our hearts.”   William Hazlitt

“Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.”   Ralph Waldo Emerson

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”   Margaret Atwood

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.  There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”   Rachel Carson

SEARCHING FOR SPRING, PART 6: Lupine, Poppies & More, oh my!

“EARTH LAUGHS IN FLOWERS.”   Ralph Waldo Emerson

Two of my favorite wildflowers are Lupine and California Poppies.  They are both so bold and bright that when they make an appearance, you have to notice them.  A great place to watch for their first appearance each spring is driving I-5 over the Grapevine.  When patches of orange paint the hills, it is time to start exploring the area with more diligence.

A great spot to find a closer view of wildflowers is on the Gorman Post Road, near the top of the Grapevine.  This year was no different, but the poppies were not as evident as usual.  The lupines, however, were flanking the road along with some other colorful blooms.

Fortunately, the California Poppies were taking over the fields en route to the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve State Park.  According to the staff, the east side of the park was where poppies were most likely to be found on its actual grounds. When a friend and I were there on a weekend in early April—as predicted by the staff—it was almost impossible to get into the parking lot and past the entry kiosk.  We chose not to wait at least an hour to be able to look for a parking space, especially since we had already been sitting for close to an hour on the adjacent roads.  I’m really not crazy about crowds.

On a Weekday–Weekends The Cars Would Be Ten Times Worse

These Distant Hills Are Officially Part of the Preserve

The poppies, however, do not simply grow in the Poppy Preserve.  Their audacious color erupts along the roads and throughout the fields in the whole area surrounding the park.  And the poppies are joined by some other blooms as well.

Several Stands of These Pink Trees Were Blooming Along Lancaster Road

If you have not wandered by Gorman and then on Lancaster Road toward the Poppy Preserve, the time to get out there is now.  You will be rewarded with seeing some of the boldest and brightest wildflowers around!

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”    Iris Murdoch

“For myself I hold no preference among flowers, so long as they are wild, free and spontaneous.”   Edward Abbey

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

“How does the Meadow-flower its bloom unfold?  Because the lovely little flower is free down to its root, and, in that freedom, bold.”  William Wordsworth

“Spring is God’s way of saying, ‘One more time!’”   Robert Orben

“It is Spring again.  The earth is like a child that knows a poem by heart.”   Rainer Maria

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