Thursday, May 20, 2010

365 Photo Project - Day 139

Taken: May 19, 2010, 7 p.m.
Location: Healdsburg, Ca

Late in the day, I went for a long drive. It had been raining on and off all day and as I drove along the winding, narrow two-lane Westside Road looking for something to shoot, the light was fading and sky, dreary and cloudy, hung over everything like a white shroud.

A few miles down the road, I turned around to park across from a local dairy farm, where I could shoot some cows that were grazing on the side of a hill. A squirrel darted in to the road but it juked at the same time and angle that I did and that was all she wrote.

It’s not unusual to see and sometimes hit animals around here. My husband, driving up our long dirt road shortly after we moved here, accidentally ran over a neighbor’s dog who had gotten loose at night. When he got out to see what he’d run over, the dying dog had the same flat-nosed face as our pug. Broke my husband’s heart. A few months after that, I hit a small bird that just like the squirrel, swerved with me as I try to avoid it.

It sucks of course, even if it’s part of living in a rural area. Confrontations between creatures and car wheels, gardens, lawns, swimming pools – are common. I hope the karma police give me a pass for the poor squirrel I hit last night, though.

Later, as I headed back to town, I stopped on a small bridge to take photos of the sky as it was rapidly changing from cloudy to light even as the sun was setting. As I was shooting, it started to rain again. The droplets were big almost like tiny snowflakes and you could see them against the backdrop of the bridge and the trees and the sky as if the view was an old grainy movie. It was strangely affecting, beautiful and I stood there transfixed. I stopped taking photos so I could breathe in the moment and then suddenly like a tap on the shoulder, I felt it.

I turned around and stared at the rainbow I knew was in the sky even before I saw it. Not the prettiest rainbow I’ve ever seen nor the biggest and I was caught in a pretty terrible position to take a good shot of it (which is why it isn’t my shot of the day. You can see it here on my Flickr page). But with the light falling rain and the rapidly evolving sky, the weirdly warming temps and the sharp rays of sunlight peeking out through the darkening clouds, it was breathtaking. Almost a religious experience.

Another reminder why I love being in a place where nature is always visible, always changing and  unpredictable.

I had a similar experience the first time I drove through the Colorado Rockies. I had only been in Los Angeles twice before I moved out there in the summer of ‘92. My travels had been limited to a few places along the eastern seaboard, some spots in the Midwest for some sportswriting assignments and one trip abroad to England, France and Switzerland.

My first view of the West by car came at the end of my cross-country drive Washington DC to LA over a seven days at the end of that July. I stopped to visit a friend in Denver and then drove south over the Rockies, to see the Grand Canyon before heading for the City of Angels. As I drove up into the mountains the weather kept changing, alternating between light and dark, blue skies and white and following me through the pass, a heavy threatening cloud.

When it rained, it rained hard and more than once, I had to pull off the road because I couldn’t see two feet in front of me. But the storms were short-lived, just like every other weather change. I’ve since learned that mountainous areas can be that way, the constantly changing and evolving weather patterns bringing sun and rain, sometimes in the same fifteen minutes.

I was awed by the views, most of them seen through the ethereal mist of low-lying clouds. The high mountains in the background, rose above the scene with a kind of hyper detail, some of them snow-capped even though it was well into summer. I pulled over at a touristy truck stop to call my parents from a payphone so I could describe the scene to them. I knew then that, despite my Dad’s prediction I’d be back east within a year or two, I had found a place to call home.

It’s natural to wish you could bottle moments like this. But I think maybe that might ruin the rare times when you find yourself in the same place again. Believe me, they are worth waiting for. Like falling in love with the same person all over again.

No comments: