Water Lines

When away from Oroville Dam in northern California, I can resent its intrusive existence and its destruction of the Feather River. Yet when I visit and walk across the dam, I see the beauty that remains. Currently, the reservoir is low on water, which exposes  patterns that disappear when submerged.


The current Weekly Photo Challenge wants photos from an unusual perspective.)


My Personal Space Telescope

On my recent walk across Oroville dam in northern California, clouds moved rapidly across the sun – all these photos were taken during just a few, rapidly evolving minutes – and created a spectacular scene that looked like star nebula photographed by the Hubble.





The current Weekly Photo Challenge wants photos from an unusual perspective.)

Repeating Landscapes

Reflections and shadows make the world more intriguing. This is true in people as well as terrains, but I don’t have photos that demonstrate this for personalities.

August’s full moon was so bright that it cast shadows on my car and produced enough light for me to take this photo:

That bright dot is the full moon, reflected in my car hood.

That bright dot is the full moon, reflected in my car hood.

An easy hike up Malibu Creek in southern California leads to duplicate images in this still and reflective pond.

Can you find the water line?

Can you find the water line?

Look in the pond and see the sky!:

Pond's-eye view of the sky.

Pond’s-eye view of the sky.

A tree’s reflection in the pond:

Another pond's-eye view

Another pond’s-eye view

The current Weekly Photo Challenge wants photos from an unusual perspective.)

The Daily Prompt: The Zone – Digging for Boulders

I love to dig in my garden. My neighborhood lies in the foothills of a mountain range, so all the yards are full of rocks of many sizes which were shed from the mountains in ancient landslides.

When I dig a hole for a new plant, I am a rock archaeologist, discovering buried artifacts. Except I don’t have to be careful where I slam my shovel. Sometimes the rock is so weathered that I can pull it apart with my hands, exposing fresh glittering crystals in the local granite (technically a granodiorite, for other rock nerds).

When the shovel catches and bends, I know I’ve caught a big one. A boulder. Then I dig from many angles, eventually on my knees with my hands, to excavate it. Often a rock is lodged in place against several other rocks, still locked and buried.  I have to use my fingers deep inside the hole to figure out which rock to move next in order to  release my target.  So removing a lodged-in-place rock requires working a 3D puzzle with your eyes closed.

And when I finish the puzzle, I have a hole for my plant and new borders for my garden.

The undug.

The undug.

This post topic comes from The Daily Prompt.

My Aging Lavender

As lavender bushes get older, they get leggy, a quality that is desirable in supermodels but not in plants.  The plants get woody, also. Woody and leggy are roughly the same idea: most of each branch or stalk loses its leaves and blooms, and grows naked and gnarled. The branch is not dead – there is still life at the top, as lovely and fragrant as ever. The onset of this condition can be delayed with the right care and grooming but it cannot be prevented.

Many a gardener removes a plant when it gets like this and I considered doing so yesterday. The aged lavender is right at the start of my front walkway – who wants to see a long-in-the-tooth mass of twisted branches? But I couldn’t bring myself to chop. After all, there is all that fresh growth at the end of each branch. And as I pruned away the dead stuff, I grew fond of the intricate twists of naked branches. Finding the right spot to clip, to extricate a dead branch from among the still living ones, was as satisfying as solving a complicated puzzle.

I now see those gnarled and interwoven branches as beautiful, also, in a very different way than the dusky leaves or their enveloping fragrance. The flowers are gorgeous but the twisted bare branches tell so much about how the lavender has grown and changed through its life. I hope I get many more years with this plant!

An Ode to Dirt

In between rainstorms, I just took the dog for a walk and it is so clean and fresh outside – it smells like dirt!

Dirt has always been important to me.  Dirt is being outdoors. Dirt is gardening, and the thrill of a plant thriving (okay, sometimes simply surviving) in my domain. Dirt is geology field trips, and reading the landscape to glimpse the history of the planet. Dirt is many happy childhood hours between the roots of the backyard tree, where I was determined to dig to China.

Dirt should not be confused with dust, however, which is a housekeeping annoyance.