On Saturday I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at the new exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum (the NAT) that will be called Coast to Cactus. And while it is still months away from being open to the public, I was inspired by the ideas and messages I found there. This exhibit focuses on the ecosystems of San Diego county…their diversity, beauty, resilience…all that is often unseen and unappreciated.
This quote, scratched out in marker on a piece of paper and taped to a wall, spoke to me and has continued to resonate.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust
I’ve come to appreciate museum exhibits in new ways these days as I’ve learned about their conception and design. Instead of consuming the content they offer, I see them as invitation to see my world anew. The Coast to Cactus exhibit offered me views that I see everyday, and yet invited me to resee them…something I have also been doing through my camera lens. In the emerging exhibit I saw native plants and animals…meticulously crafted (apparently by a company in Minnesota that hadn’t see many of the plants they were building) to look realistic. And in addition to seeing…there will be opportunities to smell, hear, and feel the environment as well.
On Sunday, we headed off to the Torrey Pines State Reserve to walk and enjoy the natural beauty of this magnificent place. A few miles from home, this place is home to many native plants and animals, including the rare Torrey Pine tree. And it is ruggedly natural, with sandstone cliffs and breathtaking views of the ocean, lagoon, canyons…and even the freeway!
This is my community…our school grounds host Torrey Pine trees, the ocean is the ever-present western border, hawks and other raptors cruise the skies, and native species like black sage and lemonade berry are frequently viewed as weeds. I see them everyday…and yet often don’t see them at all. Even the fires are a part of this ecosystem…and the exhibit features fire within it. So many of our native plants depend on fire for regeneration, and rather than being destroyed by fire are reborn through fire.
As I hiked through Torrey Pines, I found myself looking for new ways to see this beautiful natural landscape. Here’s a peek at some of what I saw.
Wind eroded cliffs, rich with iron oxide which gives it the reddish cast
Sun through the Torrey Pines
The ocean through the yucca
Prickly pear cactus in bloom
Bees pollinating cactus blossoms
Is this buckwheat or ceanothus (up close through my macro lens)? It’s everywhere in the lagoon and at Torrey Pines Reserve.
As you might imagine, I took many more photos…and I’m sure you will catch a glimpse of a few more over the next days and weeks. I love spending time out in my community, learning to see my everyday landscapes in new ways. And in addition to what I see through my lens, when I am out taking photos I am also smelling, hearing, and feeling what these places have to offer. I hope that the Coast to Cactus exhibit that will open in 2015 at the NAT will have a similar impact on others who visit it. You don’t have to go to Torrey Pines to find this beauty…it is all over San Diego, you just need to look with new eyes.