Approaching sunset, Rialto Beach

Approaching sunset, Rialto Beach

“I never watch a sunset without feeling the scene before me is more beautiful than any painting could possibly be, for it has the additional advantage of constant change, is never the same from one instant to the next.”
— Sigurd F. Olson, Reflections from the North Country

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The sunset over the Pacific Ocean on this particular evening was an experience of pearlescent pageantry.  It was an evening of lustrous pink and gray skies.  Here is the play-by-play:

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“Fold upon fold of light,
Half-heaven of tender fire,
Conflagration of peace.
Wide hearth of the evening world.
How can a cloud give peace,
Peace speak through bodiless fire
And still the angry world?”
— Edwin Muir, from “Sunset”

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Nearing sunset, Lake Crescent

Nearing sunset, Lake Crescent

“Some of my favorite definitions of wealth include the number of sunsets the family sees each year.”
— Mary Pipher, The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families

On two of my evenings at Nature Bridge, I took the time to walk to the Lake Crescent Lodge to watch the sunset.  These moments, and my early mornings on the dock waiting for sunrise, most closely approached what I expected from the retreat — time to settle, sit still, and quiet my thoughts, and rediscover my groundedness in the world.

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While painting was my personal focus for these days away, I was very happy with the photographs I took, too.  I got so many good ones.

It was perhaps a bit jarring for my colleagues on retreat to see me on my iPad so frequently, but I use this technology to help me manage my photographing work.  I took over 300 photos while I was at Nature Bridge, and I have learned that it is overwhelming to edit and caption so many photos at the end of a trip.  So I use my iPad as a handy tool to upload, edit, and caption my photos in small batches as I go along.  So for me, this was not a retreat from the tentacles of technology.  But I can see why people might wonder why I was on my computer so frequently when I was surrounded by all the natural beauty of Olympic National Park.  Perhaps watching me made visible all the time and effort, hidden from viewers, that I put into my photography and this blog.

One of my new friends asked me how much time I spend on the computer every day.  I suppose I am a bit embarrassed and a bit defensive about how much time I do find myself looking into a screen.  More time than I care to admit.  But I don’t have a cell phone, so I am not tethered in quite the same way as millions of other people.  I don’t have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest accounts.  But I do depend on my iPad for email and for uploading and editing photos.  So, yes, I am on the computer a lot.

She also asked me why I take so many photos.  Well, that’s a good question, too.  I take photos because I love to photograph!  I think I am good at it.  It gives me pleasure to share my images with readers of my blog.  But most important, I suppose, is that — like drawing and painting — when I look with a photographer’s eye, I see more attentively, and that gives me a deeper appreciation for the world.

These words of Frederick Franck about drawing, apply for me to photography as well:

“SEEING/DRAWING is not a self-indulgence, a ‘pleasant hobby,’ but a discipline of awareness, of UNWAVERING ATTENTION to a world which is fully alive.  It is not the pursuit of happiness, but stopping the pursuit and experiencing the awareness, the happiness, of being ALL THERE.”
— The Zen of Seeing: Seeing/Drawing as Meditation

While being on retreat did not turn out to be as contemplative an experience as I had expected, I do appreciate being prompted to think about the choices I am making to spend time with my camera or paintbrush.  It’s always good to look at habits and decide whether to continue and recommit, go deeper (to the exclusion of other activities), or let go and find new pursuits.  I’m still committed.

 

 

North Head Lighthouse at sunset, Cape Disappointment State Park

North Head Lighthouse at sunset, Cape Disappointment State Park

“Far away in the west the sun was setting and the last glow of all too fleeting day lingered lovingly on sea and strand . . .”
— James Joyce, Ulysses

We had a short, but truly wonderful, weekend getaway to the Pacific Coast.  Our friends invited us to share their camping spot at Cape Disappointment State Park, so we enjoyed prime oceanside “lodging” for the price of an extra car at the campgrounds.  What a bargain — good company, fresh sea air, spectacular surroundings, good food, sunshine, and an amazing sunset.

Multicolored sky nearing sunset

Multicolored sky nearing sunset

“A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going.  And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.”
— John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

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Several years ago a stranger who was standing next to us while we were watching the sunset said, “Don’t leave the moment the sun sinks behind the horizon.  Most people leave too soon.  The best skies come in the five or ten minutes after the sun has set.”  Good advice.  Always linger.

North Head Lighthouse, Cape Disappointment State Park

North Head Lighthouse, Cape Disappointment State Park

 

Enhanced photo

Enhanced photo

“There is no way in which a man can earn a star or deserve a sunset.”
— G. K. Chesterton

 

 

 

 

The itinerary for our first day on tour with Al Andalus

The itinerary for our first day on tour with Al Andalus

Following check-in at the Seville train station, we settled into our rooms and then were whisked away for a quick tour of Seville.  Carol and I were glad that we had toured Alcazar on our own, because we did not return there.  We did have a cursory tour of the Seville Cathedral before we returned to the train for lunch and the start of our journey.  Our destination:  Cadiz, a port town on the Atlantic coast of Spain.

Cadiz nearing sunset

Cadiz nearing sunset

“Cadiz, from a distance, was a city of sharp incandescence, a scribble of white on a sheet of blue glass, lying curved on the bay like a scimitar and sparkling with African light.”
— Laurie Lee, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning

Walk-on ferry, a catamaran which took us across the water to Cadiz

Walk-on ferry, a catamaran which took us across the water to Cadiz

Leaving the breakwater at Puente

Leaving the breakwater at Puerto de Santa Maria

Crossing into Cadiz

Crossing into Cadiz

Arriving at Cadiz

Arriving at Cadiz

We arrived into Cadiz from the water after a short ferry crossing.  Meanwhile, our bus driver drove into town and met us off the boat.  We set off for a driving tour of Cadiz, on a route which skirted the shoreline.  Cadiz looked like a working city, a port town more than a tourist destination.  The homes and buildings looked weather worn.

“I am relieved now and then to visit a place that has no obvious claims on my admiration; it throws me back on the peculiarities of the people, on the stray incidents of the street, on the contents of the shops.”
— William Somerset Maugham, The Land of the Blessed Virgin:  Sleches and Impressions in Andalusia

Cadiz

Cadiz

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Family playing in fountain, Cadiz

Family playing in fountain, Cadiz

“Cadiz is said to be the gayest town in Andalusia. . . . But I doubt whether Cadiz deserves its reputation, for it always seems to me a little prim.”
— William Somerset Maugham, The Land of the Blessed Virgin:  Sleches and Impressions in Andalusia

“Nor do I know that there is in Cadiz much to attract the traveller beyond the grace with which it lies along the blue sea and the unstudied charm of its gardens, streets, and market-place . . .”
— William Somerset Maugham, The Land of the Blessed Virgin:  Sleches and Impressions in Andalusia

Afterwards, we were given just a scant one hour of free time, so we really did not have time to discover Cadiz’s charms.  I would  have loved to take a long walk along the beachside promenade, but there was simply not enough time to go far.  We were happy to enjoy a beautiful sunset.

Cadiz nearing sunset

Cadiz nearing sunset

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Sunset over the Atlantic, Cadiz

Sunset over the Atlantic, Cadiz

 

 

Driving Colorado

March 31, 2015

Pawnee Grasslands, CO

Pawnee Grasslands, CO

We drove back to Ft. Collins, CO from Nebraska along Highway 14, which passed through the Pawnee Grasslands.  This sea of short prairie grass and wide open spaces gave one a feeling of expansiveness and timelessness.

Colorado Highway 14

Colorado Highway 14

Haybales (edited photo)

Hay bales (edited photo)

Snow fence

Snow fence

Snow fence

Snow fence

We saw wide open prairie, wind farms, feedlots, and snow fences.

“Snow Fence”
by Ted Kooser, from Flying at Night: Poems 1965 – 1985

The red fence
takes the cold trail
north; no meat
on its ribs,
but neither has it
much to carry.

Fence posts capped by cow skulls

Fence posts capped by cow skulls

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Abandoned house along Hwy 14, CO

Abandoned house along Hwy 14, CO

Country road with Rockies in the distance, Colorado

Country road with Rockies in the distance, Colorado

Distant Rocky Mountains, nearing sunset

Distant Rocky Mountains, nearing sunset

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“The very flight of birds is a writing waiting to be read.”
— Loren Eiseley

Cranes at sunset, from the bridge at Fort Kearney Historical Recreation Area

Cranes at sunset, from the bridge at Fort Kearney Historical Recreation Area

“The Sand Hill Cranes”
by Lola Haskins, from The Poets Guide to the Birds, edited by Judith Kitchen and Ted Kooser

The blue air fills with cries of regret.
The cranes are streams, rivers.
They danced on the night prairie,
leapt at each other, quivering.

The long bones of sand hill cranes
know their next pond.  Not us.
When something is too beautiful
we do not understand to leave.

Sandhill cranes in flight

Sandhill cranes in flight

Sandhill cranes returning to the Platte River at sunset

Sandhill cranes returning to the Platte River at sunset

“Migration of the Sandhill Cranes
Sulphur Springs Valley, Arizona”
by Alison Hawthorne Deming, from  “Short Treatise on Birds”

Perhaps they would forgive us our
greed if they lived with moral codes.
Instead they take our leavings, corn-
fields crowded with migrants ’till they
rise, wheel, stream apart in columns
then join again.  If they have a
purpose, it must be communal
flight, swarms that meet to read the sky.

Sandhill cranes in flight

Sandhill cranes in flight

Bird watchers gather for the evening move to the roosts near the Rowe Sanctuary

Bird watchers gather for the evening move to the roosts near the Rowe Sanctuary

 

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