A Floating Rorschach Test: Mud On the Move

Near my house is a place called La Tuna Canyon that has nothing to do with fish. I’ve lived here for a decade but never wondered how that name arose, until I began this post. I want only the best for my readers so have now investigated. Turns out La Tuna is “Spanish for, among other things, prickly pear.” Such an intriguing definition.

 Among other things. Where was I? Ah yes, La Tuna Canyon. Recently I took a hike there, and looked back down at my house:

View from the trail up La Tuna Canyon.

View from the trail up La Tuna Canyon.

Actually my house, down in the valley, is probably around the bend out of view. It is hard to tell with all the trees. It surprises me that the valley’s trees came with the housing tracts. A century ago, the valley was all fields and brush:

The valley in 1927.

The valley in 1927.

 (I got this photo from a site that has many swell photos of long ago Los Angeles.)

I continue to digress. On my hike, I turned a dusty corner like this one:



And I came upon a mud puddle, drying rapidly:


There was not much water remaining, and on the surface, mud flecks floated:


The flecks were like floating islands, and in such interesting patterns and shapes, I had to snap some photos.

As I snapped, I noticed the flecks were moving! The water rippled in a light breeze, and that was enough to send the flecks into eddies and surges:

At first the motions of the flecks suggested plate tectonics. The flecks are an infinite variety of Hawaiian islands. Then I realized that in another few hours the water would be gone, the mud solidified, and now the flecks seemed like vacationers, desperate for a last bit of fun.

As I watch the video now, I remember when I was a kid, eating the last morsels of cereal swimming in a bowl of milk. I would pretend each Cocoa Krispie or Cheerio was a being and I was the royal monster, hunting it down. Among other things.

I’ve never seen mud flecks like this before. What do they look like to you?

(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge wants to see On Top.)



Howls at Sunrise

First light on a spring morning at Griffith Park.

Last spring I started going for hikes at sunrise, on a trail at Griffith Park that provides spectacular views of Los Angeles. As a hike progressed I could watch the city lights fade and see the rising sun gleam in distant high-rise windows. The cliffs and chaparral in the Park were shadows that slowly grew more distinct in that golden light that only comes at dawn. I knew when the sun was about to crest the horizon because that is when so many birds began to sing.

Trail at Dawn

An empty trail just after sunrise.

These hikes quickly became my favorite pastime. I couldn’t convince friends or family that they were worth the excessively early rising, so I went by myself. I feel safe hiking solo at Griffith Park because I stick to the popular trails and there are always people around.   As spring headed for summer, dawn came earlier, and I started my hikes earlier to accommodate. I assumed that the other early hikers were also there for the sunrise. But apparently they were just – early hikers, and they didn’t keep adjusting arrival time to match the sunrise. One morning  I discovered I was the only one around.  No cars.  No other hikers.  No dogwalkers. No park guys doing clean up.

I started out and the view was beautiful but I didn’t enjoy it.  I became preoccupied with the darkness behind me and the hills full of critters that might be watching me. The darkness thinned but still no one else was around. I decided to return to my car until other humans materialized. As I headed back, with relief I saw a jogger approaching.  We exchanged the usual good mornings and then as he passed me he asked with gusto, “Did you hear me howl?”

I had not.

“Aw-wuh!” He was disappointed but fortunately he kept going. A few minutes later, I could hear human howls echoing from deep back in the hills. Probably  he was harmless but I greeted the next hikers I passed with considerable enthusiasm.

I decided the moral of this story should be go later or bring the dog and that is what I have done since.