Monthly Archives: January 2015

Rainforest Serenity

Where I live it seldom rains…and when it does, it creates all kinds of havoc because we are not equipped to deal with it.  And our environment reflects the lack of water, with plants that take the least water–cacti, succulents, sages and other brushes–thriving, while others only survive because we take the time (and expense) to water them.

Today we snuck away for the long weekend to a place known for rain–and specifically headed off to explore the temperate rain forests of the Olympic Peninsula in the Olympic National Park. We knew that rain was likely for the entire weekend, and still headed off to spend time outside in this environment so different from the one we are used to.

Somehow, we managed to avoid rain today, but had plenty of evidence of its presence.  As we walked among the giant evergreen trees (spruce, cedar, and firs) I could feel the calm settle over me.  Out in the cool, damp air among the towering trees, the sun had to work to reach the ground.  The serenity was tangible, but seems difficult to put into words.

light in the center

I started to notice the water droplets hanging from tree branches as I brushed against them and caused my own little rain storm.  And then I became fascinated with the jewel-like quality of the water, trying to capture it with my camera.

drops from the branches

I noticed ferns and mosses and lichens all around me and I started to play with my camera, trying to capture the light as it danced and played hide and seek in the forest.

moss in the light

And I started wondering about mushrooms…why hadn’t I seen any?  At about that moment, I came around the corner and noticed this beauty growing on a fallen log.

mushroom close up

There were more…and more as I began looking closely.  I love this entire colony we found growing on the flat face of this stump.

mushrooms on a log

Geoff caught a picture of me leaning in closely with my camera trying to capture the unique beauty of fungi!

leaning in close

We left the rainforest and headed toward the beach…hoping to catch both the low tide and sunset before darkness pushed us indoors for the night.  And you know that I spend plenty of time on the beach…but these wide, wild, untamed beaches are very different from the beaches I frequent.  The tide was low and sand seemed endless.  Instead of driftwood, drift logs were in evidence!  We spent only a short time walking the beach as we took in the sunset.

logs on the beach

And as we headed off to a tiny town that would be home for the evening, we made one last stop after sunset, but before darkness had settled.  I love this post-sunset glow that shines pink through the silhouettes of trees that frame the ocean beyond.

post sunset at ruby beach

I didn’t know I was looking for serenity today, but it found me as I explored the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.  I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring!

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Outside

I don’t always think about the rhythms of my life…until they are disrupted. I’m now into my second week back to work after two weeks off, and my schedule is off. I usually write this weekly challenge on Thursdays in the afternoon after I get home from work. But last Thursday I woke in the early hours of morning, and was on the road to the airport before the sun began to stir. A long day of travel with a meeting sandwiched between pushed the challenge to the back burner…

After that refreshing winter break and lots of time exploring, I have felt cooped up, confined by my calendar and my schedule, not creating spaces to get myself outdoors to feel the sun on my shoulders and the breeze on my face. I love my work and my students, but I do need to remember to make time and space for inspiration and fresh air for myself too.

I’m reminded of the animals I saw at the zoo not long ago. Confined, but somehow seeming to find space to stretch out. This polar bear seemed to find rolling in the dirt comforting…like creating a disguise—a mask of sorts—to wear as people peered in through the viewing windows.

polar bear

This young panda seemed to make an exercise course of his enclosure as he lumbered in around the trees, in nonstop motion. It was hard to get a sharp photo because of the motion…but then this guy was not there for my photographic pleasure, this is the life he lives and because he lives and breathes and lumbers, we still have pandas among us.

panda

Looking back at my time in our local backcountry, with the lake framed by snowcapped mountains, fills me with energy and wonder and reminds me that I have to make more opportunities to get outside the ordinary of my life. This winter wonderland is far from my everyday experiences!

snowy lake

A trek to the nearby beach to capture images of these common folks—the seagulls—has the potential to change my day, improve my mood, and inspire my thinking. I see seagulls every day, and often think of them as pests (especially when they are stealing my students’ snacks!), but when I take the time to watch them in their environment, they fill me with wonder at their adaptations and quirky posturing.

gulls on the beach

Even a simple stop along the side of road to appreciate the colors of the sky can be a treat. I still need to remind myself to pull over and take the few minutes to look and snap a few shots on a regular basis!

colorful sky

I’ve yet to master nighttime photography, but was mesmerized by the long train going by on our way home from the airport the other night…and by the colorful warning lights. You can’t really see the train, but the red lights sure stand out!

waiting for the train

So this week I looked back at the inspiration I get from being outside…either physically or maybe just outside my ordinary routine.  So head outside…physically or mentally and catch some images that inspire you, or offer you a break from your usual routines.

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!)

I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #outside for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

What does outside mean in your life?  You can venture near or far…take the prompt literally or use it as a metaphor.  I can’t wait to take a peek outside through your lens!

Taking Time to Explore

I’ve been debating on a word to call on as a muse for 2015.  I’ve been looking for a word that is active…that will push me to move out of my comfort zone, challenge me mentally and physically, and will work for both my professional and personal life.

And today’s adventures pushed me to decide.

We knew we wanted to squeeze one more hike into these precious days off…something a bit out of our ordinary choices.  And when we left the house this morning in our hiking gear, with cold weather layers ready, we thought we were heading up into our local mountains.  But at the gas station, we changed our minds and headed off on a two-hour trek to Palm Springs and the aerial tramway.

tram to the mountaintop

The tram takes you from the bottom of the mountain near Palm Springs to near the top of San Jacinto at over 7000 feet.  What we didn’t anticipate were the crowds…or the snow.  Each tram holds about 80 people and takes about 15 minutes to go from the valley to the mountain station…and there are two.  We were lucky and only waited 90 minutes for our turn to go to the top.  By the time we boarded the tram people were waiting more than three and half hours!

Once we got to the top, we headed off on a five plus mile hike…in the snow!  And ah, it was breathtaking!  As we walked away from the lodge, we moved away from the throngs of people who had come solely to throw some snowballs and slide in the snow.  The sun shone brightly on the clean, white snow.  We could hear birds chirping and our own breath as we climbed the mountain.  We happened by this family of snowpeople as we headed out on our hike.

snowman family

We reached our destination at 9100 feet!  Crisp and white and fresh…Round Valley (the peak is another three miles up, we’re saving that for another day!).

at altitude

The views were gorgeous!  I had that same feeling of peace and relaxation that I get when I walk on the beach–a sense of the power and beauty of nature.

tree on San Jacinto

From the magnificence of the trees, rocky mountainside, and enormous boulders, to the fragile elegance of icicles and the reminders of what is yet to come from the pinecones…the wonders of Mother Nature surrounded us and wrapped us in her arms.

pinecone in the snow

And for the cherry on top, as we got back into the tram for the trip back down the mountain, the sun was setting with the full moon in view.  As the tram floor rotated 360 degrees during our descent, we were treated to amazing and colorful views of the entire valley below.

full moon at sunset in the tram

A friend reminded me that I could actually stick with my word from last year for more than a year…play has plenty more potential.  I could probably stay with it for a lifetime.  (And I think it will remain with me!)

But I’m ready to add to play…and this year my word will be explore.  I want to explore possibilities and places, new ideas and old habits.  I want my explorations to take me in new directions, to push me to try things I haven’t imagined I would ever do, like hike up a mountain in the snow!  I look forward to exploring this year…physically, intellectually, imaginatively, and playfully.  Hope you’ll come along for the ride!

New Year, New Eyes

There’s lots of cliches about the New Year…resolution making, retrospectives on the year that passed, champagne at midnight, polar bear plunges on New Year’s day, and so many more.

And somehow, there is something about a new number for the year that encourages the idea of fresh starts, new habits…and maybe a new way of seeing the world.  I got ready for my new year by heading up to our local mountains for a rare…and wonderful snowy day.  You might remember last week that I said it never snows where I live.  Well, that is still true, it didn’t snow in most of San Diego…but we did get enough snow in the mountains and surrounding foothills to create a winter wonderland.

For someone who seldom sees snow, this was a treat!  The world looks entirely different when covered in a layer of white.

snowy trees

Even the familiar…dandelions and native plants take on new dimensions against a snowy backdrop.

dandelions in the snow

frozen flowers

And we couldn’t resist the urge to build a snowman…even if it was a miniature version!

snowman building

I love the way snow creates a quiet space, there is a sense of a hush and opportunity for reflection and introspection.

in the snow

Maybe that’s what the cows were thinking (although this was later in the day after lots of snow had melted…and at a lower elevation)!

cows and snow

I’m sure I’m not going to be able to depend on snow to give me new eyes to view my life this year.  But maybe a ride high above the ground will help…like in these skyfari buckets at the zoo!

skyride

But mostly, I know, I will need to stay on the lookout for new ways to see what is most familiar to me.  I couldn’t resist this shot of three seagulls as I walked to the parking lot at our local beach…seeing with new eyes in the new year!

3 seagulls

What will you see this year as you look with new eyes?