What was begun as a photographic blog seems to be turning into more words than I expected. I find that I do a lot of research, look up a lot of words, and think about what to write before I snap a photo.
Being a transplant from the East Coast has led me to explore and try to explain the beauty that surrounds the mountains in California. Sometimes as I’m driving down a lonely, dusty back road, I’ll look up to see boulders bigger than tractor-trailers teetering above me. What if an earthquake happened RIGHT NOW? These boulders would likely come tumbling down and perhaps smash the car and I. Then I think – stop it, there is no sense in constantly worrying about boulders falling on your car! However, the boulders lying on the bank by the road have come down since the road was built . . .
The boulder on the right side of the following photo was about 30′ X 30′ X 20′ and was lying on the opposite side of the road from the boulder mountain. If you look at the part above the car, you can almost imagine the boulder coming down.
Traveling through Long Valley Caldera and finding hot springs bubbling up in multiple places leads me to wonder – how close is that fire that’s heating the water? I sat with my feet in a hot spring yesterday holding a conversation with a man who has spent the last eight years living completely on his own – not in an RV, not in a homeless shelter – but sleeping in a tent with his big dog Cody to keep him warm when the temperatures fall below freezing – sometimes down to -10 degrees. He says his sleeping bag is rated to -25 degrees. The dog is a big one – about the size of a Saint Bernard. He tried to growl to scare me away, but his owner Kevin called him off (thankfully). It must have been a cold winter, because now there’s a new dog recently added from a shelter, going from a one-dog night to a two-dog night. Could I live completely off the grid like that? I’ll probably go back to the hot springs there. It’s a popular place; Kevin wasn’t the only one there. Someone had taken the time in the past to run pipes from the really hot, slippery, slimy springs into a cement pool made just like a hot tub with an outlet on the other side to release the water. Kevin said the temperature was around 105 degrees. He’s been cleaning it with a scrub brush, keeping the algae down.
The sounds that assail people everyday have become so commonplace that no one even thinks about the constant roar of highways where sounds travel miles from the source. Jets overhead sometimes screaming, leaving contrails that mess up beautiful sunsets. Doors slamming, people yelling. It is no wonder that so many fortunate people travel hours from their homes to experience the quiet, then hoot and holler when they feel the cold mountain lake. If you squint, you can see the guys swimming across the lake.
The quiet of a Jeffrey Pine forest is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. Sometimes the wind is soughing through the needles, making a noise all its own from soft sighs to really loud roars when the wind picks up. Then the wind stops and there is nothing to hear (except the ringing in my ears). You can hear a frog croak from across the lake being answered by a frog right next to you. You can hear the wind whistling through the feathers of birds and ducks flying by. The birdsong is sweet. It is especially sweet in the meadows when there are meadowlarks nearby – their lovely song accompanying you as you walk through the natural silence.
As you sit and gaze over the meadows to the snow-capped mountains, smell the grass or cow manure depending on whether you’re on Bureau of Land Management open rangeland, listen to the birdsong, it is only natural to praise our Creator for the beauty.
Writing like this does not come naturally to me – nor does music, but I like hearing and playing music as much (well maybe more) as I like writing. I’m not a gifted author by a very long shot and will probably never write a book, but I enjoy it. So this exercise written in a twenty minute challenge is practice – just like practicing the piano or now the ukulele. Don’t be afraid to make comments!