On Wednesday afternoon I decided to take a hike on the very last day of winter. The buzz is that the wildflower bloom this year is early with flowers blooming up and down the state, maybe not as extensive as in years past but definitely blooming. On a good year, Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve, the place where photography first took hold in my heart, is THE wildflower location on the San Francisco Peninsula and I wanted to see if anything had started there.
It was a day where you did not know where you ended and the sky began. The air was so soothing that you could not tell that you were actually outdoors. It was perfect. As I hiked along I realized the flowers were nowhere to be found. But nonetheless, the hike was great and the scenery, as always, was comforting.
At about one mile into my hike I detoured and headed to the ancient oak grove that resides on Russian Ridge. As I approached the grove, the sun was getting close to the horizon and I realized that this was the very last day of winter – March 19th, 2009. It was as perfect a sunset as one could hope for.
I then noticed this live oak basking in the last rays of the winter’s sun. It was backlit and was poised against a distant hill that was in the shadows. It immediately caught my eye and I dropped my pack and pulled out the Large Format camera and began to work. Once I finished I also captured this image digitally as this oak was still waiting to leave. Still in its winter slumber, the early warm temperatures and life giving rains were not enough to coax the leaves to come out – but I am sure they will be out to play in the sun very soon.
I then turned to the sun, that golden warm torch in our sky as it sank lower in the western sky I waited until it was just moments away before it bid us, and winter, a farewell and tripped the shutter once more.
Then I just stood there and watched the sun slowly vanish beneath the horizon – silently and without any fanfare. And suddenly, the last of winter was gone.
The air, laden with moisture, began to chill as the cold wind off the Pacific raced up the canyons and ravines filling it with a delicate mist that began to enshroud the mountains below me in mystery. Mixed with the final rays of the sun, the mountains blushed as Spring began knocking on the door asking to be let in.
Light has always amazed me. It is everywhere in our world as it surrounds us, but at the same time it is invisible until it interacts with the objects in front of us. Then those objects reveal their many shades, tainted if you will, by the light that showers them. Sometimes they glow while other times they come on harshly and force us to look away as if they are trying to tell us to leave them alone. No matter what however, without light they could not manifest themselves for us to see. Without light we would be in perpetual darkness, lost without direction or the courage to step forward. Blinded and bereft of the beauty that appears due to light’s countenance. As spring is now upon us, the days will soon be vibrant with new life basking in the warm light and calling us to come out and play. Let us join the beams of light as they mingle with the Earth and be happy, we all need that.
Peace – Youssef