March 19, 2020
Except for a very few centenarians, this time of the novel coronavirus is unprecedented for all living humans. Easy to get pulled down by the weight of it. Beauty is God’s creative gift, and an antidote to hopelessness. Herewith my modest way of ameliorating the uncertainty, disquiet, fear, dismay, whatever troubles you in this troubling time. I will reach into my files each day and seek out an image that speaks to me about the world as we would have it, and send it on. I hope it finds favor, and lifts spirits.
Take your medicine. Coronavirus #3.
We’re in decidedly stormy times. Trite, perhaps, but looked at from a different perspective, we can’t have rainbows without rain….and sunlight. I see rainbows in the sunlight way people are looking out for one another.
Isolation is tough on us gregarious humans. Sometimes nature offers up its own example of solitude. A blazing carpet of spring wildflowers, and a solitary tree, leaves back, after the winter barrenness. Focus not on the singularity, but the connectedness of colorful life, of which the singular is but one part of a greater whole.
Cabin fever starting to close in around you? Then step out into these nearly 180 degrees of separation, La Jolla on the left, the cliff bluff near 9th Street, Del Mar to the right. An August panorama with the sky that subtropical upper atmosphere from Baja occasionally provides.
I cull through my files looking for images that speak to me in hopes they will lighten our load in these troubling times. My file system is abysmal, so the results of the hunt can be all over the map. Pure happenstance, or karma, or divine intervention, today’s choice? A dark image for dark times. You can see for yourselves the similarity to Mona Lisa’s smile, or, if you prefer, the Shroud. Reflective light on the ocean at 05:56 of a setting moon on October 25, 2007— the redness a result of major San Diego county wildfires tinging the atmosphere. That was a locally catastrophic time. This is a globally catastrophic time. I found this image in an area of my files I don’t routinely meander. Happenstance? Something else? Ponder away.
The lowly pelican. An earthbound appearance only a mother could love. But magnificent airborne gliding prowess, ridge-soaring mere inches above the lip of pitching waves, and here doing so six feet separated from one another.
A pre coronavirus epoch. But a lad minding his parents’ admonition to stick around. Granada, Nicaragua. I love Latin America’s color fearlessness. Our courage is likewise called upon.
Restaurants closed, takeout and food delivery are proliferating. Sit-down dining exemption.
During this coronavirus tumult, our lives are changing daily, if not hourly. Assumptions we’ve used for years no longer fit the new reality. It’s hard to navigate our days, our beliefs, our fears, our annoyances. It takes regular reassessment of our mental and emotional latitude and longitude, to see where we are, where we might be heading and to even get a grip on what our personal destination might look like, encompass. Sometimes that might involve following in others’ footprints. Sometimes navigating our own singular path. I wish to remember to take it easy on myself if I get a little disoriented or need to verify that I’m staying on course centerline. Wise to be patient with ourselves and those around us. Wherever we go, we leave a little of ourselves behind. I’m seeing a lot more of that being good and unselfish than before we awoke to the all-in-this-together realization of present. Do this for yourselves and those you care about: pause and look back over your shoulder at your footsteps in the sands of your time, then turn forward and see what is before you. Square your shoulders, adjust if needed, and go forth with hope.
We keep hearing, and I keep seeing, that we’re all in this together. There’s a symbiosis in that, each of us a supporting cast member in this global drama. Some have named parts, others walk-ons. There’s the individual scene and the big picture into which it fits, just like pollinator and flower, two scene members of the larger Spring. Spring, as in the hope of regrowth. Returns every year.
For Christendom this is Holy Week. Yesterday was Passover for Judaism. For many their faith is a bulwark against the uncertainties of life in the time of coronavirus. For the ancient people of the book their vision of Yahweh was a burning bush. For me, a less discussed aspect of Christ’s import for humankind was that he quite literally put a face on God. For Christians its much more than that, of course. Nowadays these theological musings do not suffuse the thoughts of many who just want to make sense of what they can see and touch. We’re all different, including what to make of the impact of coronavirus in our lives, personal or universal, but we are all in this together. Beauty helps, I think. As is, or as a stand-in for Deity. You’re call.
Doesn’t it seem that often the little things denied are those that loom most large? For me that prominently includes barefoot on the beach, stopping to retrieve treasured gifts from the sea.
The degree to which I get out—while honoring the virus restrictions—exposes me to the affinity we all have for associating with family and loved ones, everywhere evident when crossing paths with other walkers. This social isolation thing is unnatural, and can’t be behind us soon enough for me.
Two dolphins, cavorting beneath the prow of a boat while underway off the coast here. Playing together, at decidedly less than six feet. The fun of their association glowing from them as happy radiation. Like Pavarotti, holding a long High C. They’re doing it because they can. I’m looking forward to more of that.
Tides. Four a day, each different from the last and the next, while also common with them. There’s the back and forth we can see, and yet more below the surface we cannot, until ebb tides reveal what they may. There are seasonal changes as well, and of course the lunar monthly effects, not to mention the impact of storms. If you’re a water person like me, these changes quite literally impact daily comings and goings, what to do, when and where. And all of that affects my moods and energies as well. See any parallels here to a coronavirus tidal impact for the day, for the season, for life more expansively? I’ve mentioned many times how I’m witnessing a below the surface change in people caring for one another, the we vs. me effect. Have you noticed that with this existential tide, people are generally not rushing pell mell to the barricades knocking others out of the way? There’s a civility in which humankind ought to take consolation. It’s compelling to focus one’s gaze to observe features in all this which reflect new ways of looking at old realities, as well as new realities that have changed the bedrock.
Elsewhere along the trail, I was stopped, well, “dead” in my tracks, gawking at this, no electron microscope needed. But oh, my, it leaps out at me as visually parroting the coronavirus. And while I was sizing up how to get in tight, lens not shadowing the shot…
… I flinched with surprise as two Navy Blue Angel FA-18s burst from silence with deafening roar, racing by, nap of the earth, at our elevation and a stone’s throw away, a blur of crackling power. Now that was movement. If this was a graphic novella, about here is where the plot would turn, and the species that could design and wield a technological marvel like the FA-18, would breakthrough, and its scientists, one of whom was flying the lead jet, epiphanize the creation of the salvation serum. Instead, I fist-pumped while hollering “THE SOUND OF FREEDOM!” You had to be there. It was only after getting my heart back into my ribcage, that I framed up the flower above.
There are things afoot, media reported, or heard as scuttlebutt across the backyard fence. Even in the most virus-devastated areas infection and mortality rates appear to be trending favorably. Just as cabin fever has us all aching for even the most modest return to normalcy.
There are so many ways to look at what has been happening to us individually and as a people depending on the perspective lenses we wear and the degree of personal impingement experienced. Is the medicine as bad or worse than the curse? As to the pandemic time signature, would this plague run a temporal course very much the same with a less severe lockdown medicine? So little is known in the midst of this battle, and great questions will be asked with the perfect visual acuity of hindsight. Our policy makers and the policies promulgated have been imperfect, but it seems to me that any negation is not for lack of sincerely trying to get it right. And our essential workers, first responders and medical caregivers daily show mythical courage at helping in the midst of dark confusion.
My faith view keeps showing me the beautiful light of common decency. I’m witness to people helping people and society broadly in ways large and small, a manifestation of steely resolve or open embrace of soulful urging. Different as a function of how you see it, each perspective valid to the particular observer. But all of it showing light amongst darkness.
Northern San Diego County’s nearshore has been experiencing what is called a Red Tide. Under daylight the ocean has a somewhat opaque burgundy tint from the infusion of marine bioluminescent plankton. At night the darkness is illuminated by a surreal glowing blue light. Light that shows only amidst the darkness. Another way of looking at the darkness of this particular night.
The attached time-lapse sequence and still were from last evening. A sign of the lockdown times, I snuck in under cover of darkness to a bluff top overlooking the ocean. Not full camouflage or blackface, but stealthy individual force recon, just the same. Down closer to the water was an INS vehicle on duty, guarding against I know not what. I found a place surrounded by high coastal scrub brush and began looking for light to share. It was fully dark, my shooting beginning about an hour and a quarter after sunset, and staying with it for another hour. The exposure revealing clouds, stars and surf, results from time exposure per shot and diligent post production work in the digital lightroom. Modest results to report back to Division HQ, but yessir, there is light out there, sir.
Be strong. Be healthy. Witness kindness and human compassion all around us. Ponder why it is so. Give thanks.
Bedroom window open, chilled ocean air carrying loudly the sound of the sea all night. Just the right combination of elements. Wave size surprisingly not always a factor, but tide, wind and direction, atmospheric temperature and humidity often factors. An invitation to go forth and see what the new dawn conveys. An early light misty glow of Torrey pines? Trails now reopened in many places, Sawyer and I will scamper paths somewhere. Well, he’ll scamper, I’ll nimbly plod. The news, so breathlessly changeable in this time of the virus, but nature, ever beautiful is ever constant in her nurturance of the soul. Join me in drinking deeply from that cup.
Phases. Something that goes around and comes around. As with the moon, which is “new” right now, its feline smile in the west at the end of the day. The lunar calendar describing when Judaism celebrates Passover, Christendom celebrates Easter, and the Islamic umma celebrates Ramadan, which begins today. This particular novel coronavirus is new to humankind, but there have been others, including the big ones like the Spanish flu, SARS, MERS, not to mention the vanilla flu, even the rhinovirus of the common cold. History, and scientific pundits tell us that we will get over this one, but the pathway isn’t a straight and clearly defined one, nor does it appear to be particularly short. We seem to be in a phase easing out of the worst of the societal medical uncertainty, followed by a similar clarifying of society’s economic miasma. We’re not where we want to be, but at least we have some recognition as to where we are. As a society. Now, at the personal level, the phases are as different as the individuals and their particular circumstances. Make the most of what little illumination we have now, and take solace in history and science conveying that the illumination, and with it, clarification, will continue to improve. Peace be upon us all.
You ‘re looking at the silhouette of a 5,000 year-old tree, a tree that was already old at the time of Abraham. Yeah, that Abraham. It stands vigil in a grove of bristlecone pines in the rarefied air at over 11,000’ MSL in the White Mountains near the California-Nevada border. Truly a Patriarch, whose perspective on having seen it all over the millennia, stands as testament to resilience in the face of the challenges of each new age.
Take care of yourselves. Get out, but keep moving at a distance.
Lung power. The wind in our sails begun with that first gasp at birth. Powerful and natural. Easily taken for granted until confronted with COVID-19 or other cardiopulmonary illness. Loosening of lockdowns will provide more opportunity for robust respiration. We can take advantage of that, feeling our internal sails billow, while plotting a sensible course in distancing and hygiene, that we avoid a return to the doldrums, physical or economic.
The isolation of the novel coronavirus is one of its most unpalatable features. A good reminder to physically or emotionally touch someone you love and care about. Be there for them, and let them be there for you.
Skies have been dreary here on the coast the last few days. Mirrors the dreariness of the coronavirus nexus. Let’s color over all of that with some brightness.
I’m feeling the drag of coronavirus fatigue, and just didn’t suit up for yesterday’s image. Sound familiar? The morning dog walk is simultaneously the morning surf check. The waves aren’t visible on foggy mornings, but fortunately those are great mornings to wander the local canyons, the wetness suffusing the air with the smell of earth and chaparral. The spider webs all glisten, strewn with a thousand tiny droplet diamonds. And the Torrey Pines needles collect and hold water, each drop a lens revealing the bigger picture of the forest it inhabits and creates. This virus isn’t tiny, but it is revealing things about human nature, both good and less so. More of the former I think.
The elusive green flash. If you’re a SoCal beach bum like me, you’ve seen your share, but they are an inconsistent event, and very difficult to capture as an image. I suspect that’s at least partially because some of the flash results from our rods and cones responding to that spectrum at the last moment of sundown. But if your as-yet unfulfilled bucket list is to take in a green flash, here you go. Green flash is better than coronavirus news flash to my thinking.
04:48 Muse call. The overnight cirrus clouds had given way to a gauzy marine layer offshore. Only a hint of the red tide luminescence with a full moon brightening the sea surface. Still, aside from the hour, a nice way to start a day in the time of the plague.