I’m having fun so I’m going to keep going for awhile.
Sometimes even Snowy Egrets have bad hair days. A few months before my brother died we went up to visit him in Mountain View and as my family all have penchants for wandering around in the shrubberies, he and his partner took us to Baylands Nature Preserve in Palo Alto. It would be the last day we spent as a family.
This was before the wind got to his topknot.
My sister hates this picture of she and my brother laughing. This was in April or May and he would be dead in July. It’s a window into that period that he was taken from us. Chemo and surgery had made him balloon up but he was still my beloved little brother. He could take himself too seriously and he was the one nonpunner in a family that ran on puns. So that day was a gift. The next time we would got up we were supposed to be there for his next surgery but instead we flew up for his funeral. He died of multiform gliomablastoma. A particularly nasty form of brain cancer. It came back after 15 years in remission.
My sister’s totem is the dragonfly and I just love them and this was out at Sepulveda one afternoon when I was testing my patience. I caught it with my point and shoot Sony with it’s Zeiss lens. Patience and not breathing sometimes gets you amazing things.
Sunset at Lake Balboa. I was pissed at my bitch of a boss at the time and needed time to decompress before I went home. The White Pelicans are only there in January so it was an early sunset. It gave me much joy and still does.
To get a degree in Naturalist Interpreter/Ourdoor Resource Management one of my required classes was Backpacking. Since most of us turned out to be experienced backpackers, the professor decided one of our trips would be crosscountry skiiing up in Mammoth because none of us had done that and it was winter semester. We were supposed to be there a week but I had to go back a day early but that is another tale. One of the mornings we skiied to a hotspring to take a dip and when I was studying photography one of the guys was talking about how he wanted to get the elusive star effect on film without using a filter. I admit I eavesdropped. On the way back from the hotsprings I turned around and took this. Its a wee bit red but time can do that to Kodak Kodachrome since it favours reds and yellows. I got home and I’d gotten my star. My photography professor entered in a Kodak college photo contest and it was one of the top 60 in the country and was displayed at O’Hare airport where of course I never saw it. It was still very exciting even if it was almost 40 years ago.
I went to visit Denise and Mary by myself last January and we took a walk late in the afternoon at Jackson Bottom Nature Preserve. It had rained all weekend and a lot of it was under water but it was nice to get out of the house and breathe. When you know someone you love with all your heart is dying sometimes you have to get out of the house and ground. The caretaking becomes too much and your heart needs a rest. So I got Denise out of the house for a walk after we did some necessary shopping. The geese were coming in on the flyway for the night and there were few people there and it was late enough that things were starting to silhouette against the sky. I love teasels. Something that our female ancestors used to card wool and linen. Something that can bite you since the spines can be a bit sharp but something that to me is beautiful in its simplicity.
Right before Laura died my sister and I went out to the Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge and on trail that is less taken there were a flock of vultures. I had never seen them from less than 10 feet away and they didn’t seem to mind us. All I could think of was the Goddess Nehbet whose head is a vulture. She’s a matron goddess of Upper Egypt. I just love their wings and I got this one just taking off, such a gift.
This is last year at our camp reunion. This camp sits square on the edge of the San Andreas. That valley and drop off? It’s the fault. Old Arts and Crafts building had the fault straight down across the one lane camp road. When one is raised in Southern California you get hyper aware of the earthquake faults. There was a shower that used to hang out over the fault that they have since torn down. I used to worry it was going to drop off and then I got a bigger worry, one time a rattlesnake took refuge there when I was taking a shower. He was in the dressing area and everyone was at Mass in the chapel so I was trapped naked in the shower wrapped in the curtain until the two maintenance guys happened to come by and I could yell for help. Cured my fear of the fault.
I took this the morning Laura made us Druids. It would be the last time the Grove was able to have ritual with Laura and that Mary could walk to. We were at the Sepulveda Wildlife Sanctuary almost at dawn on a fairly chilly January morning. The side of the refuge that was almost never open was open that day and it was an open invitation to journey into the January mist accompanied by Laura’s and the Grove’s favourite bird, the Great Blue Heron who watched us during the whole ceremony from a nearby tree limb.
This was taken a Lake Balboa on the opposite side of the street from the refuge. The others had gone and I decided to walk around the lake alone. I’m terrified of swans since getting bit badly many years ago when I was three or four and Dad took me to Forest Lawn because he wanted to visit his aunt and uncle and he decided to let me feed the swans there. I have never before or since seen swans at either the refuge or on the lake but there they were a momma and her cygnets. Ever since I got bit, swans show up when I’m supposed to face a fear. Usually someone with give me a gift of one out of the blue, They rarely show up physically but there they were that morning and I got close enough to take these. The Goddess has a sense of humour and timing, make me a Druid and shove me at something that frightens me, Gee thanks Mom!
I love Descanso Gardens and my wonderful cohort Nancy volunteers there and she also volunteered to take to my MRI when they were trying to figure out what my tumour was doing before the surgery because I wasn’t allowed to drive myself because they were going to give me joy juice and because this was about my 10th or 11th MRI and I hate them.
Nancy offered to let me go for a short trip to Descanso before the MRI and this is the back of the lake area they just redid to allow people access. It used to be walled off. It helped so much to have that walk. Nature always makes things better for me. It was a wonderful gift.
This is a bat I rescued from small children that were frightening it while pretending to be frightened of this little guy. This was at our camp reunion last year and I got to use my Naturalist skills and teach them something. They were so close he couldn’t echolocate, So I made them back up and talked to them about why he couldn’t get away until they moved. That he was more worried about them than the other way around since it was broad daylight and he was in diffculty under the eaves of the cabin. The minute I got the kids far enough away he was off into the woods. And I was answering a ton of the kids questions. It was a fun moment.
Photographs are stories in light and air. Every photo has a story, some you will never know, some you may not want to know but they all have tales to tell. So I thought I’d tell some visual tales.
I used to enter a lot of my jewelry that I made in the LA County Fair. I won ribbons on just about everything I ever entered and this gave me my only blue ribbon. I got red/second and white/ thirds and a bunch of pink fourths. I’m still proud of it.
This is my first camera and the start of my joining the family obsession with picture taking. I think I was 6 or 7 when I got it and it went with me every where and hardly still has a scratch on it. It lives with my Nikon FM who no longer works in the tiny hope chest my Great Uncle Winn made my cousin and I one Christmas where my treasures live.
This is a plant I always dreamed of seeing. It was in my first wildflower field guide by Golden Books. I had a full collection of their field guides by the time I was 5 and was allowed to lecture grownups for some reason on what they contained. I used to stare at the picture for hours because I thought it was so cool. It doesn’t grow in Southern California so I never thought I would see one. The first time I went up to see Mary and Denise in Oregon, Denise and I went to the Leach Botanical Gardens for a few hours as it was already too hard for Mary and her purple chariot to move around. This was the first plant I saw getting out of the car and I’m sure Denise thought I was nuts. It was just a wildflower that was on the driveway but for me it was a long time dream to see one and it was just as pretty as I hoped.
This was a bit of serendipity at the Self Realization Fellowship Shrine in Palos Verdes. A mushroom in a mini Stonehenge lintel surrounded by shamrocks. You just know there is a faery close by.
This weekend I found myself dealing with my grief by taking pictures. Every time the stress level got too high in the house and I couldn’t do anything about it, I used my camera.
A camera can give you distance to look at any number of things. The piece of land that Heron House sits in is so beautiful and the same tree can look so many different ways depending on light and seasons.
There was a person in the house that quite actively hated me even though I had never even met her before so I avoided her by going outside to be peaceful and ground. I try not to fight with unarmed people and she was definitely unarmed for a fight even though she kept picking them with everyone. The only theory I have about this person is that she is very jealous of what she can never have. I don’t do jealousy, somehow that was left out of my makeup, anger, yes, jealousy, no. I just don’t understand the need for it and when it comes in to play, I tend to vacate the field. There is no point when someone perceives you have something they want and can’t see a way to obtain. Lost a few lovers that way but what’s the point? To be eaten alive with blackness or live a life of love away from it? I choose number two. On the other hand, threaten my family by trying to take something that was never yours to begin with? You get both barrels of the shotgun if you do that.
Anyway, as you can see from the photos I posted, I went out in all weathers. The druid in me finds peace in trees and in the weather, in changing skies and geese migrating overhead, in following a bull frog’s croak in the underbrush.
There is a tree covered in moss that I love to see. The light gets got in the moss and becomes magical like it’s caught in the dryad’s hair. Paths wind up hills and dales, paved and unpaved. Steps to Tir na Nog that disappear into the mist. A camellia confused about when it should bloom erupting in pink showers next to a fiery Japanese maple. Pine trees that lean in with protective stance and a red tailed hawk screeing from a tree. Snow berries with shy smiles that glow in a dark bush and light spangled branches after rain showers. The last calendula in the garden bravely glowing in the dark forest. A maple that is beautiful with and without its finery.
I’ve now visited in every season. Still haven’t been there in the snow. Maybe someday.