A new series for a new year: little things that bring to mind how beautiful and remarkable is this interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. To start, a few close-up views of succulents and moss that are hanging out on the sedimentary hillside whose large-scale photo I put in yesterday’s “Golden Gate Vistas” post. In case you’re curious, their home is on this hillside: https://somuchworldsolittletime.com/2021/01/01/12443/#jp-carousel-12467 🙂
Yes, those two photos were taken only six days apart: on the left, after six days in
which more than an inch of rain fell on the rocks in that gully. Yes, it’s the exact same gully and the rocks are the exact same rocks. It was right on the fire line three years ago when the Nuns fire burned up from the south, and threatened to meet the Tubbs fire which was burning down from the north. I’ve been chronicling this gully, and the specific rock below, since this portion of Annadel reopened a few weeks after the fire’s forward progress was halted here. You can see these rocks and their various dry and wet season states in many previous posts, including this post with sequential study of the rock shown just below https://somuchworldsolittletime.com/2018/02/07/marred-scarred-marvelous-mountains-of-sonoma-county/
Look closely at this post’s first photo, and you will notice drier, browner patches in the mountains on the far side of the valley. Those are from the Tubbs fire, which in early October burned such a path of destruction in and around Santa Rosa. When that fire struck I was on the east coast visiting my mother, who’s had some health issues of her own. In early December, I got out to Anadel again with a good MSF friend & colleague (see photo below). She had recommended that I pick a specific view or area to photograph as I get out and about in Santa Rosa and watch the process of regrowth. (Anadel is the state park affected by the Nunns fire, which was separated at one point from the Tubbs Fire only by the valley you see in that first photo.)
I’ve followed her advice – did so, in fact, the morning we took this photo. Further down you’ll see a gallery of square photos, three in a row. You’ll notice a rock there with a clear burn mark across the moss: I plan to photograph this rock any time I’m up there in the coming year or so. As with these two, I’ll title the photos with dates, so I and any interested readers can watch the process of regrowth. It seems nature is faster at rebuilding — it seems to happen…well, naturally there. The many destroyed homes I bicycle past when going about my appointed rounds seem to still be under review by claims adjusters, and a friend who lost his home tells me there are various safety requirements to be met prior to fully launching a rebuild. (In particular around possible toxics from burnt homes in the soil, I think?) Still, though, I figure we’re likely to see a significant building boom by the middle of the new year.
The BBC tells me that Prince Harry (he of UK fame) recently did a radio show where he spoke with (among others) President Barack Obama, truly a class act whom I and millions of Americans miss greatly. Harry asked about finding hope when times are tough. I’ve found myself talking about the same topic a lot with friends at home — friends whose homes burned, friends who had to evacuate. All of them friends who, like me, find the dishonest bully currently in the white house quite distressing and depressing. I take comfort in signs of growth and connection where I can. I choose to believe that there is at least as much generosity and kindness in this country and this world, as there is sadness and loss. May 2018 prove me right for us all on this blue ball spinning through space :-).
The cal-fire site tells me that the Nuns fire complex ultimately burned 56,556 acres. The final report date on the site is November 6, which I suppose means it was 100% contained or fully extinguished on or before that date. Earlier, I’d assume, since the superintendent of Annadel State Park allowed parts of the park to reopen for hikers, bikers and runners on the 5th if I understood the signs well.
My last post contained all the photos I’d taken in Sonoma County between returning from Haiti (late April), and the day of the post. Today, I’m posting almost entirely photos taken yesterday in my beloved nearby State Park. Annadel is a gem on the eastern edge of Santa Rosa which has been a key source of recreation and mental-health management for me here in Santa Rosa. The fire burned through about 2/3 of it, and if the wonderful fire fighters (see thank you signs from my last post) hadn’t stopped it where they did, then it would have destroyed many homes near the park, and I guess there was a very real risk this fire complex would merge with the Tubbs complex, which had already destroyed so much to the north in Santa Rosa.
With many of the trails open, I got out there again yesterday to appreciate the park and take stock of the damage. I try to find silver linings: that it WAS stopped here is a silver lining; that green shoots are already sprouting among the charred grasses is also good to see. (See the round gallery a little lower down.) The rainy season has come – it’s sprinkling as I type this – and so we must hope for enough rain to allow plants to re-grow strong…but not so much as to cause too many land slides in all the newly-vulnerable areas whose trees and grasses have been burned.
If you look closely, you will really see how rapidly the fire passed through (burned areas surrounding unburned patches), plus the stark line where they stopped the fire: trees charred on the south side, still green moss on the north side. Rocks the same way. Since I already wrote more in the last post, I’ll leave it here for now. Gratitude, shock, slow return to regular life, I guess. Peace, everyone. Most photos have titles that’ll tell you what they are or why I selected them.
Can you spot the photo in the gallery above is not taken in Anndel? It’s this entry’s tribute to our first-responders. 🙂
In a post last year, I did a selfie while taking a breakfast break lying on one of these two tables, at the junction of Marsh & Canyon trails. Canyon was the fire line through this portion of the park — the photo above, here, with straw over where fire fighters had widened the line is on Canyon trial, west of this point. To compare then and now, check this link or others labeled Annadel, or Sonoma County, or Napa & Sonoma (I need to work on my tags…) — https://somuchworldsolittletime.com/2016/08/19/dry-hillsides-live-oaks/
…must mean we’re on the wild southwestern coast of NZ! In this entry you’ll see photos from both Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers, as well as shots from the temperate rain forest to which these glaciers descend at their lowest, warmest level where they’re melting all too rapidly these days, what with holes in the ozone layer and global warming more generally. There are also views from the Haast Highway along the south coast, and up and over the Haast Pass alongside Mt Aspiring National Park into the town of Wanaka. They all have names that identify them. To put this in some perspective, think of the last entry (or scroll down to it) and understand that we did a fairly substantial last-morning hike along the nearly-tropical-seeming Abel Tasman Coast track, grabbed a water-taxi back to Motueka, hopped in the car and stopped for some berries and dinner along the drive south, then spent the night a short walk downriver from the ice cave at Franz Josef Glacier just below. It’s really quite unreal and surreal at the glaciers because, despite significant melt and receding up their canyons to higher ground, they still descend to the level where rich dense temperate rain forest grows and unusual-sounding birds call, and it just feels utterly other-worldly. Certainly this close to sea level, this far downhill from their main bodies, neither of these will stand out if side-by-side with other, bigger glaciers you might have seen…but the clear way they’ve affected the landscape and the simple fact that a short walk away one is enveloped in dense temperate rainforest is pretty amazing.
Eight miles into the Atlantic from the mainland coast at the border between New Hampshire and Maine lie the Isles of Shoals, a small cluster of windswept rocky bumps in the ocean which housed some of the earliest long-term European settlements in North America. Ample cod fishing fueled the economy, a legacy you’ll see reflected in the weathervane on top of the old stone church which now serves as non- or multi-denominational chapel for the many conference-goers who enjoy week-long conferences and other retreats at Star Island, which has served as a base for Unitarian-Universalist retreats and conferences for more than 100 years. I’ve just been out there for a week of meditation, my third such outing since 2009. I’ve deeply relished and valued all of these meditation weeks, the intensity with which they permit to settle into the moment and clear my mind and emotions of plans, of worries, of day-to-day “reality” and just be for a bit. In essence, meditation – especially when I’m on Star to do it – takes me to a mental and spiritual place which evades intellectual and verbal description. That said, this time more than my two past such retreats, I was intensely drawn all week to attempting to photograph & record the magnificence of that which is small, the perfect beauty and reality of this physical world, its tides and seasons and flowers. And though I’m working with a very basic pocket-sized field-appropriate camera, I think my results were reasonable. Hopefully you’ll find at least some of these images as lovely as I do and maybe they’ll take you into a quieter place for at least a breath or three. Peace, enjoy.
smw, slt has now been back in PNG for three weeks, after our lovely lazy long holiday in Los Angeles. Much is happening on the work front which has kept me busy and often feeling rather overwhelmed. Thus the usual Sunday outing during my extended visit to Tari this past week was very welcome: we went to Ambua Lodge and walked around their ravine and rainforest during a rain that ranged from quite strong to dripping mist, over the course of our couple-hour ramble. I got into the mood of it – so long as I’d be ending muddy and wet regardless, I decided to disengage my brain from daily mundane worries and look at all the layers and varieties of life packed into each square centimeter of ground, tree and even air that I could find. Hope you enjoy these views of a wet walk through the rainforest near Tari.
…And often, as in the case of this mushroom and moss-bedecked tree, or the long red hanging berries (anyone know what those are??), I couldn’t decide which angle or close-up I found most fascinating for viewing it. So you get both…hope it doesn’t bore you.
In 9th grade biology class I was required to design a controlled experiment of my own – this was a first for me. I recall that my experiment involved, among a few other kinds of plants, New Guinea impatiens – which you see, above, in their native habitat. Who knew that … thirty-five years later?! … I’d end up on the other side of the world seeing them in their native land? Below you see what I think of as the departure lounge at Tari Airstrip, where I waited for 2.5 hours for a delayed flight on Thursday only to get cut off as darling AirNuigini decided, for reasons unknown, not to let everyone with boarding cards board. You wonder why I don’t encourage my friends to come here for tourist reasons, much as I’m obviously enjoying it as a work location for myself? Among other reasons, its air travel situation requires more patience & flexibility than most people want to need on vacation — even Americans who’ve adapted to the farce that is air travel in the US these days.