Friday, July 6, 2007

I can see clearly now...

Opening the window blinds this morning sent me dashing out the door so fast that I left without my binoculars! Last night's rain and this morning's sun combined to create a lovely and rare "temporary fog event" in the valley, and I wanted to be out in it.

The binnies were sorely missed, as the morning was far "birdier" than it's been of late, but I did have my little camera in my pocket.

Part of the reason I nearly sprinted down to the lake was that the back of my mind has been occupied for several weeks with images made by my friend Michael. He caught the valley on a fog-bound morning last autumn and took a series of photos that I just love. The thing was, I couldn't quite describe why. Yes, yes... nice atmosphere. Yes, yes, striking compositions. "Something I might paint." But why?

Eureka! This morning the haze made it all clear. (No, really. I'm serious.)

There before me was a familiar landscape transformed and simplified. The fog isolated a single hill in a complex piƱon-juniper slope and suddenly I saw the shape of THAT hill for the first time. Those pesky, attention-demanding mountain peaks? Gone! Rubbed out by a cloud. The mind-boggling profusion of leaves? Smeared to a lovely soft green shape.

Of course, the fog also created a charming soft and subtle color palette. The kind I can appreciate but never, ever pull off successfully either in paint or in ink.

I scribbled the words "isolated landforms" on the back of my hand, and later on a little piece of paper I found in my jacket pocket. (Along with the cryptic notes: BUOR FY, choco rio, catalyst, foreign air, stillborn fawn, no bins.) Make of all that what you will, there is something about pared down, stripped down, fogged down, even desolate landscapes that drops me every single time.

But, as with most atmospheric weather events here in the 300-days-of-sunshine-a-year Center of the Universe, the magic was short-lived. A short climb up from the river to the mesa and I was eliminating the middle ground instead of the background, squinting into crystalline light, and wishing I'd eaten some breakfast before I bolted from the house.

In all, a satisfying walk... bins or no bins.

1 comment:

  1. Exactly- fog is a reduction tool for the graphically inclined. It would be nice to have a real gizmo you could take into the field for detail elimination. For now, squinting and removal of glasses will have to do.

    You live in a beautiful part of the country! Thanks for the great pics.