June, 2002 Archive

Photographing Polyland 2

Monday, June 24th, 2002

Shot the second roll of film today.  I’m curious to see how they turn out.  While out on errands I stopped at the RR station to ask when the Coast Starlight would be on the grade.  Southbound now said the stationman, Northbound will leave here around 4:00, it’s just arriving.  It was 3:45.  I dashed home, changed into my boots and drove up Stenner road.  As I neared the trestle, I saw the back end of a passenger train round the curve in front of me and thought I’d missed my chance.  But how could the northbound be here at 4:05? No it was probably the Southbound heading west before the hairpin curve by CMC.  I drove to Serrano Ranch and ran up the trail and heard a train whistle behind Kestrel Crest, and I knew it must be the Northbound exiting town and leaving me just enough time to get above the tracks, load the camera and set up the shot.  Breathless, I climbed the embankment by the cut near the hanging telephone pole and waited, rehearsing the shots.  The locomotive came round the corner faster than I expected and then round the Stenner canyon hairpin curve. I got three or four shots, but don’t know if the camera had time to focus.

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Then in the afternoon light, took a number of vegetation shots, and headed back to campus for field 25 and to try to replicate Dale’s schematic landscape shots in higher resolution.

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Photographing Polyland 1

Sunday, June 23rd, 2002

I try to learn again to sit and read and write, to slow down—not to be lazy but thoughtful, observant, awake to the shadows of leaves on the leaves of this page.  Yesterday I got up at 6:00 and took the new camera to photograph the fog bank and Poly Canyon, but none as dramatic as I’d hoped for, the camera either under or overexposing, losing the contrast between cloud and sky. fogbank.jpg Regardless of the outcome, the looking and composing was thrilling.  Afterwards I came home and went to Avila for a picnic with baby Ian.

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Backyard Solstice

Friday, June 21st, 2002

Things turning brown with no watering.  Not the holly-leaf cherry and the bamboo, which remains after the removal of the hot tub.  Too much noise, maintenance, energy.  But we’ll miss it too. The side yard with redwoods remains damp, the front yard still showy with native blooms.  Next door gardeners have been digging and planting for the last two days, talking cheerfully, playing the radio.  The grounds are being transformed from a wasteland of ivy to varied panoply of large shrubs and trees. Brian arranged for all of this before last Tuesday.  They become his memorial.  His widow doesn’t come out but her light is on at night.  They came here from San Jose, after he sold his lucrative business and she retired as police officer.  Planned to have children.  Another young widow joins Amena and Barbara B.

Kenton’s camera back arrived yesterday, the lens I ordered today.  Together they weigh five pounds.  The shutter action, the zoom lens, the image stabilizer.  I’ve been told by Mary I must shoot slides.

Summer quiet back here.  Wind in the pines on top of the hill sound like ocean, finches like canaries.  There’s time to work on Polyland book

Fathers Day

Friday, June 14th, 2002

Atop the Citadel.  A perch on a flat piece of grassland 30 yards from the lone oak noticeable from all over poly canyon. Last time I was here a Yom Kippur years ago it was too windy to stay; now a gentle sea breeze in the oat grass, the last sun on my pants a weakening gold.  It will get chilly but I have a down vest, windbreaker and sleeping bag.  I’ve been snacking on cheese and gorp.

Fathers Day lunch was delicious barbeque.  I had to carry Oma up the stairs then her change her horrendously stinky diaper, but then she was fine and quietly watched the baby and ate with gusto.  Ian is the glowing center of joy for all the old and youngish folks, bringing us together in delight and concern.  Jan and I had a great Sunday morning and I phone Mary L. to discuss working on the book again.  Yesterday was graduation.  I felt (a little) honored rather than humiliated and invited to a party at the house of Bob and Sarah.  Afterwards Jan and I took a hike up a new trail in Reservoir Canyon where the flowers were splendid: yuccas, Obispo lilies, California fuschia, fairy bells, lizard tails, buckwheat and monkeyflower. Sun dropping to the horizon.

This morning I washed the windows.  I concluded that the poppy seeds are hurled as projectiles off those formerly pink launch pads.  I sat on the bench and planned to wait for the hurl.  I was thinking about sleeping out tonight when I heard a weird click, looked to my right and saw what I thought was a grasshopper leaping through the poppy patch. Click and leap.  Then I realized it was what I was waiting for: the poppy seed dispersal.  Sure enough, where the grasshopper landed, about five feet from the path, there was a split seed hull.  When Jan came home a few minutes later, I asked her to sit next to me and told her what happened.  She said, “that’s why they’re called poppies.”  Is all seed dispersal ejaculation?

9 PM  I’m awakened by the train whistle from a deep snooze.  Hollister’s top protrudes above the line of fog.

After I returned from taking Oma home from the party, a beautiful read haired woman came out on the neighbor’s new driveway and greeted me.  I said something about the weather.  She said Brian died a few days ago, under “special circumstances.” Turns out he drove up Cayucos dam road and shot himself because the rare form of liver cancer he was diagnosed with is incurable.

The train at Stenner is now very loud.  I look back at the spot by Rockslide Ridge where I watched and heard it a month ago.  The moon is a thick crescent and Venus is to the west.  I brought the star chart, but am sleepy.  No other stars.  My mission here is to get to Caballo and reshoot the central campus and Brizzolara drainage at dawn.