Saturday, March 26, 2011

Road trip to Joshua Tree National Monument

I have given myself the gift of a road trip to one of my favorite places on earth: Joshua Tree National Monument. It's about 225 miles from Santa Barbara, but driving through the park, you might think you were on Jupiter.

Coasting the winding two-lane highway of Joshua Tree, and seeing the fantastic and out of this world rock formations—set in a landscape of endless space—transports me to a different realm. And then, there are the Joshua trees with their contorted branches twisting skyward. And the air too is extraordinary, light, pure and free of pollution.

As I walk across the pristine soil of the park, and hear the sun-washed sand crunching beneath my feet, I realize my words have disappeared. I seem to have left them at some lower elevation. And I miss them not one whit as I bask in the fullness of this open and wonderous terrain.

* Click (or double click) on the first two photos below to enlarge them and find the rock climbers :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

rain's refrains

Rain is pounding my roof and pummeling the plastic walls of the shed. The Santa Barbara sky is dark and heavy. Long tendrils of pepper trees and eucalyptus thrash wildly in the wind. And though we are diligent here with flood control: clearing out brush, creek beds and drains, I sense, from the persistent intensity of this storm, that somewhere in Santa Barbara, it's flooding.

This morning when I awoke to an eerie darkness and rain that had continued throughout the night, I thought of my friend, S., how she jokingly whines, "Eeew! It's cold, it's rainy; this is Santa Barbara; it's suppose to always be perfect!"

And then, there is our local philosopher, Ashley Brilliant, whose ironic (and slightly twisted) cartoons appear in the city paper every day. Last Wednesday, his words went something like this, "Please, don't send any more disasters. My schedule is full."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wearin' O' the Green in Santa Barbara

can be seen today in the jewelry and fingernails of my grocery bagger and on the concrete statue of a great Dane. For years, this life-sized replica, on the corner of Mission Street and Garden, has been saluting every holiday, be it Easter, Christmas or Girl Scout's Day, by wearing a colorful, whimsical costume.

Monday, March 14, 2011

While we're on the ocean...

contemplating its beauty and its power, my mind keeps returning to a photograph I took last week: a serene display of the channel with Santa Cruz Island in the distance.

When I first moved to Santa Barbara over thirty years ago, I had fallen in love with the mountain range behind us and the tall palms that flank the ocean in Chase Palm Park. But I had never seen the islands and wasn't aware of them. They are often completely obscured by fog and haze. On my first morning of awakening in my new apartment, I looked out the window to a sight something like this photograph. My jaw dropped and though I was alone, I spoke out loud, "Oh, my gosh! This can't be real!"

Last week, as I drove across the foothills on Alameda Padre Serra, I caught sight of this view with the aloe blooming in the foreground. I had to turn around, find a place to park and try to capture the image.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

black, white and shades of gray

Though I catch a glimpse of the ocean almost every day, I continue to be surprised by its changing colors, patterns and shapes. This week, after a rain, with long clouds casting shadows, and brisk winds stirring the water's surface, the ocean took on a rare texture. It reminded me of fabric: a sumptuous tweed.

And then, yesterday, in the afternoon, reflecting the light of a low-slung sun, the water appeared slick and silver like a mirror. I think it must be the absence of color in these two photographs, that gives them the look of pen and ink.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Recently, I've noticed that many of Santa Barbara's natural gifts are orange, from the monarch butterflies that spawn here in winter, to the orange trees that bear fruit in almost every yard.

And then, there are the California poppies that paint the rural hills and fields with color. When early explorers sailed toward this coast, they saw the bright orange, poppy-laden hills in the distance, and thought they were in flames. For this, they named the area, "Hills of Fire."