These last few weeks when I’ve gone out with my camera, I’ve been thinking a lot about nature – how magnificent it is, how changeable, how complex and diverse. It never fails to amaze me how the same scene can appear so different depending on the light or the season. Take these two pictures taken of approximately the same piece of landscape, but just one month apart.
I was fortunate to grow up in rural Southern California in the Santa Monica Mountains off of Muholland Highway, and as a young girl, was very sensitive to the beauty that was around me. I could take a walk with the dogs, and to my young imagination, I was an adventurer in the wild. My senses were not only alert to the potency of nature, but every tree, bush, bird, even the wide open blue sky was a tangible living presence that I could feel. Yet as I grew older, my focus turned to other things, and I lost that heightened sensitivity to the natural world and while I would appreciate the beauty in a general sense, the distractions of a social human world dominated.
It wasn’t until my thirties, when I was in the midst of the daily struggle to find peace and happiness in that social world that I started to appreciate again the sustaining energy and beauty of nature, ironically, in Riverside and Central Parks in New York. That appreciation has steadily grown and increased, especially since I moved back to Oregon and started hiking on a regular basis and taking more photographs. A camera is not the same as the human eye, and the attempt to capture what we see and feel is not always so straightforward – which for me points to the observation that while humans technological feats are impressive, they pale in compare to what already exists in nature.
Hurricane Sandy, the storm that hit the East Coast a few days ago, not only attests to the power of nature but also to the negative impact that we, posing as the arbitrators and manipulators of the environment we consider under our dominion, can have on the world around us. Our vision is short sighted without regard to the long-term effects. Who knows what the effect of the radiation from Hiroshima, the meltdown of the reactors in Japan, the continual deforesting of the forests, or fracking may be?
My hope lies in the fact that, in Oregon, I have observed the tremendous regenerating abilities of the natural world, at least flora. What I fear is that other species, including humans, may not prove as resilient.
I have never been a willing early riser, but one morning a week, I go to work very early, before the sun rises, and it’s been a breathtaking (and somewhat dangerous) drive into town. So one morning on my day off, I rose before dawn to capture that morning light.
It’s been a fairly late fall with little rain in the Northeast until a couple of weeks ago, but last week the fall color was very vivid (for this area), and I’ve been trying to capture that color before the wind and rain take it to the ground.
Last week I went to Mt Hagen, where I would often go to walk my dog when I’m short on time. I haven’t been for a while, because they’ve been logging up one of the roads from this Christmas tree farm (left). I don’t have the heart to go up that road where the logging was done as the last time I saw it since they started the logging, my familiar beautiful wooded hills looked like a barren landscape where root balls of the trees were strewn like so many corpses. Yet the area will be replanted, and perhaps in another fifty years it will be like it was.