As I gazed upon one year old twins, I think about my own youth. Once, I was the baby on the crib, nurtured by parents who provided for my needs, sheltered me from the elements, protected me from harm. As I grew older, they grew older and so it is with every person, of every generation. We are like the sun, first rising slowly, lighting a path on a dark planet. Slowly but surely it rises higher and higher, and soon enough it reaches its zenith. Then slowly it starts to sink towards the horizon and when the last light of twilight is extinguished, the world turns dark again.
And yet, I could not escape the thought the sun is but one star in the firmament. Each of us, as we grow older, as we climb higher in the horizon, begins to blot out other things in the sky. And yet, elsewhere in the heavens, other stars continue to shine. And I am heartened to think that each one of us, each of our ancestors, is a star. Even as our lives shine bright and we become the center of our universe and seemingly outshine other lights around us, the stars are always there. And so it is that I remember my father and mother, now gone. And grandparents. And uncles and aunts, and the many people who came before me, who came before them. In the evening, before I sleep, I look at the window and see the stars that are always there. They are never truly gone. And if we listen carefully, we can still hear the voices within them. They can still teach us. If we let them. In our dreams we are in some ways always children, always protected, always loved. Awake, we know that life and love are eternal, shining forever, in the heavens around us.
It takes out the frizzies! Or so I am told. I wouldn’t know, since I don’t seem to have enough hair to have them. Still, I really do like the desert, in this case the Oregon high desert near Bend. What can I say about Bend. A beautiful town. The mountains, the lakes, the snow and the desert? Yes, the high desert. While it’s not as hot and dry as the Mojave, it has a beauty all its own. These pictures were taken in an outdoor homestead exhibit in Fort Rock.
The Cherry Blossoms Rush at the Tidal Basin in Washington is in full swing. Peak bloom is forecast for this weekend. I hope the flowers survive the wind storm forecast for this afternoon (40-50 mph wind gusts) and the snow(!?) on Saturday. Still, have at it, guys (and gals). Traffic will be horrible, so if you can, take the metro. The Smithsonian station is not far from where you want to go (art museum anyone?).
One of the interesting things to see at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is the nuclear power plant in the not so far off distance. It is a tribute to nature’s resilience and diversity that one of the symbol’s of mastery of the resources available to him is readily seen in what is a reminder of the place that we live in. The little blue marble that hangs like a jewel in the night, that delicate ball of water, minerals, air, the third planet from a smallish yellow main sequence star, the rock that we call Earth. To walk at Bombay Hook is to appreciate nature’s gift to man. A place of beauty, a place teeming with life, a place that must be nurtured if it is continue to be a dwelling place for all the creatures that live and visit there. A place that is a microcosm of the ecosystems around the world that we live in. We have diverse environments around the world, many of which are threatened by unbridled and undisciplined human activity. Why do we throw out so much plastic every day, every year? What happened to water fountains? Or at least that reusable jug that we carried water in? We think that the most visible and egregious symbols of environmental destruction are the wanton release of hydrocarbons in the air, the precursor to an unstoppable, runaway greenhouse effect that will doom the planet into a Venus like existence. The nuclear plants that can release dangerous radiation into the air are often seen as threats to the world we live in. And yet, they are efficient power generators that provide the electricity to millions of people and make industry and technological advances possible. There are arguments for eliminating or at least reducing our reliance on systems that threaten the health of our world. Lost in the discussion is something that we see with our eyes every day. Our disposable society has made as much of a negative impact on the health of the planet as any other man made “intervention.”
I have some training in science and engineering. I believe that someday, we will be able to remove gases from the air to lessen the effects of global warming. We will be able to generate power more efficiently, more cleanly (though I worry about migrating birds running into vast power generating turbines on the shores and in the open fields). And yet, will the climatic changes that are currently under way be stemmed (or reversed) by some future scientific endeavor? Also, the debate presupposes that we have all the facts and that the answers are already clear (when it comes to the global warming debate). I have some questions still. How much of the perceived global warming is an artifact of human activity and how much of it can be attributed to a natural cycle that we do not understand? The sun’s radiation output is not uniform. Random events that release dust and gas into the atmosphere (volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, meteor strikes) have short and long term effects on the environment. If we pass through a “dusty” part of the galaxy, will there be a measurable drop in the amount of solar radiation that reaches the planet and what effect will it have on life? So many questions left to be asked. And answered.
All I know is that we must be better stewards of the world that we live in. Higher efficiency power generation, less reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear power plants. Less pollution, more recycling. The mantras of today’s environmental movement. All good things. And yet, we can start our own revolution at home. Use less water when washing clothes. Use less plastics. You say they are bio degradable? If they take hundreds of years to degrade, is that really harmless? Drive less, walk more. Use the bicycle a little bit more. This would mean that the cities and suburbs that we live in may actually look like neighborhoods again. Accessible stores, libraries, restaurants. And if you walk enough, you may even meet someone new and interesting. And if you walk enough, you may see that there are a lot of things that we individuals can do to keep our planet cleaner. Safer. If you walk enough, you give yourself time to think about your own life, and maybe make it better. So, here’s a random thought. Walk a mile or two and in your own small way, foster a revolution that will make our planet a better world for all of us. Today. And ensure its future as that blue marble teeming with life, a world of varied ecosystems, all in harmony with each other.
I spend a lot of time trying to avoid flare when shooting towards the sun. In many instances, however, flare adds to the beauty of the shot. This picture could have been just a picture of a house with the sun rising behind it. With the flare creating diffracted sun rays (and the more pronounced oblong shaped projections towards the bottom of the image), life is injected into the light, so to speak. While flare is not always a desirable feature in a photograph, it can be used to great advantage.