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dreaming in the shadows of the Sleeping Maiden

Posts from the Afternoon Light Category

Mt. Tamalpais, December 31, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from that path along Corte Madera Creek, Greenbrae

Sure, it would have been absolutely lovely to have that perfect photo of Mt. Tam to show on the last day of this project. But that only happens in the albums of a mind framed by the hard wood of perfectionism. Not that I didn’t spend a good part of the day taking pictures from the time the sun came up until now. In fact, I had taken more photos today than probably all the days of some months in the last year.

There were some richly green pictures of the slopes from this morning, but in the end, I chose one of the last-minute pictures I took on my bike ride along the Corte Madera Creek. I haven’t been on the bike for weeks and by the time I got out there, the sun was slipping fast behind the ridges and the clouds were gathering near the peaks, flattening the light. Still, even with the lesser greens and poorer light, I chose this picture as the last one because of the boat hauled unto the dock in it. After all, it’s the end of the journey in a year of daily photos of the mountain. The mountain will still be there, always in plain view, even in that of mine … that is, for as long as I live in this region.

Mt. Tam will keep on posing for others who are much better at capturing her profile in the changing light of the seasons and of the days. For my camera, for now, she’s saying good night … and so am I….

Mt. Tamalpais at sunset

Mt. Tamalpais, December 30, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from the path along Corte Madera Creek, Greenbrae

Well then, it’s getting mighty close to “last call” around here. One more shot to come, so to speak, of trying to pour the spirit of the mountain into the glossy container of a single image for the day, and then it’s closing time around here.

Already I am wiping down the counters with the frayed cloth of neglect, stacking the empty glasses that never got filled with heady mixed offerings, capping some of the bottles of bubbly gone flat that I opened in haste, thinking they would make for quite the cocktail of words and images.

While I wait to ring the bell on that last call, I’ll just take a step back, as a rehearsal for tomorrow … watch the sun set on the mountain. I’ll just bask in the light a little more, seeing it for its alchemy, for the ways in which it has turned the fleck of every day into the solid gold bar of a year … at least in memory.

Mt. Tamalpais, December 29 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed by Peggy Butler at Loch Lomond, in San Rafael

Three days left of the year … and of this project. This morning, the skies in Vancouver are densely packed with extra thick layers of clouds. The waters of the bay through the lightly tinted hotel windows appear dulled beyond any hope of teasing reflections out of them. Little seaplanes, but looking much like seagulls on steroids, swoop in and out taxing on the tinned water as they come and go to places on the island. The small forest at the point of Stanley Park is a color I can’t describe, but even if I could, green wouldn’t be one element of it right now. Beyond Stanley Park, Lion’s Gate Bridge, barely visible, but enough of it revealed to suggest an illusion of a shrunken Golden Gate Bridge that has been painted the wrong color.

It is now a little past five in the afternoon and I am ensconced in a chair at the Vancouver airport, waiting to board my flight back to San Francisco. Finally, a less-than-wonky connection to the Internet today, so that I could fetch the lovely photo Peggy took of Mt. Tam earlier today. By the looks of the skies over Mt. Tam, it appears that what I had to say of the landscape in Vancouver is applicable to Marin today as well, except that the waters of that more southerly bay are more coppery and the cloud cover over the mountain a little fluffier….

It has been an odd experience to attempt to post about Mt. Tam while trying to get reacquainted with the winter landscape in Vancouver – not to mention with relatives at holiday time. As I sit here, waiting to board my flight, I keep thinking that I failed a little at each of those things. Even with the wonder of the internets that can make you be in all sorts of places at once, talking to people apart, more than just in terms of geography, it is impossible to fully inhabit all those spaces, not to mention engage with all those people at once.

Mt. Tamalpais, December 28, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed by Peggy Butler from the Town Center in Corte Madera

From Peggy’s picture of Mt. Tam today, I gather that clouds flattened shadows and leached much of the color out of the landscape in Marin. I spent the better part of the day with my relatives, with a long break in the afternoon at a delightful spa … which is my excuse for today’s lax prose. That, and the delicious dinner with old friends….

Mt. Tamalpais, December 27, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed by Peggy Butler from Alta Vista, San Rafael

It’s overcast in Vancouver, with thick layers of clouds hanging low and obscuring the wide bowl of sky I recall from my days of living here. To see the picture of Mt. Tam with blue skies and sunshine from where I am now makes for a feeling that is at once familiar and strange. It’s as if I were at home in both places at once, and, at the same time, away from any home I’ve known. The Internet, through which posting this is possible, gives me the illusion that home is always and simply a click away. But, as I am finding, that click can just as easily displace me from any place in which I thought I had solid roots. In fact, that click can just as easily dislodge the idea of place itself….

Mt. Tamalpais, December 20, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed in the morning

Winter is less than a day away. It’s set to arrive in the dead of night, so, in a way this picture of Mt. Tam, aglow in the light of morning’s sun, marks the last sunrise of a season … but not that of the world mind you, even if it happens to be the end of the Mayan calendar and there are those readying themselves for the end, as they have throughout much of humanity’s history…. There are storms in the forecast for us in Marin, ordinary winter storms, and not the apocalyptic kind, so it may well be that this picture is the last in this project with the peaks visible, but not last of the pictures.

The dawn of this storm, as the clouds are gathering this afternoon, is just as beautiful, in terms of illumination, as the sunrise was this morning. If it is the end of the world, well then, at least it’s not done with style, or rather, beauty, yet.

Mt. Tamalpais, December 20, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed with clouds gathering for a storm

Mt. Tamalpais, December 19, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from the path along Corte Madera Creek, Greenbrae

It was a gorgeous afternoon by the Corte Madera Creek. A lot of people of all ages, and ambulatory abilities, and many more dogs, were all out there trying to soak up the brilliant sunshine that came to us today seemingly unfiltered and with such grace and gentleness, even as the temperature wielded a cutting edge in the shadier spots.

On a day like this, during winter’s miserly ways with light, and in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy that left so many of us numb and wordless, the sight of the same people on the sunlit path, the same mischievous dogs nipping at ankles, and some of the same walkers still oblivious to all around them as they talk and text on their phones, was more than a welcome sight for me. I felt as if I wanted to hug each and everyone of them and thank them for their presence.

As I walked and said hello to the many people I now know from sight, but still not by name, I thought about the small changes my friends and I are trying to make so that we can move not just ourselves from this place of helplessness, but perhaps nudge the tide of darkness so that love and light can get through, even if only one trickling good deed at a time for now.

Sally Kuhlman of Sally Around the Bay wrote about “paying it forward 27+ times,” because, as she points out, sharing one’s opinion is not necessarily a way to improve the situation.  Tamara Holland, another Marin blogger and artist, and post-conviction death penalty lawyer, wrote a post in which she questions the notion of divine underpinning in human affairs and urges for more love and collaboration as the truly human, and “grownup” way, to move forward and make the world a better place.

Indeed, personal opinions or speculations about divine purposes may make us feel better temporarily, but, by themselves, they do not make for a better world. So I urge you to follow whatever plan you can make to pay it forward, to exercise kindness in whatever way you can.  Check out the hashtags #20acts, #26acts, #27acts on Twitter to see how others are bringing acts of kindness to brighten to world again.

Mt. Tamalpais, December 16, 2012

Mt. Tam, impossible to glimpse again, obscured by clouds and rain

We are still living in the clouds these days. The clouds that have hugged the earth so fiercely that they have obscured the mountain. A couple of nights ago, the moon shone brightly, its silvered sliver crescent like a door left ajar, spilling a small amount of light from a place where darkness is unfathomable.

Though it’s still fall, winter is certainly upon us. Here, where I live, this means a verdant ground, new shoots from earth and trees abound … all under the waterlogged layers of clouds that flatten the skies and keep the light as if in store for another day, even as we go hungry for it.

Mt. Tamalpais, December 15, 2012

Mt. Tam, invisible behind clouds and rain

Rain…. I have no poetry for it today. It’s just rain, plain old rain out there, cold, miserable, bone-soaking rain. And grey skies, thick clouds, flat light. Later there will be a little more edge to the light … artificial light, but plenty of it, at a party. Warmth — of light, of candles, of people … all to keep the winter at bay, for a little longer.

Mt. Tamalpais, December 7, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed as a reflection in a window

Where did the day go? Then again, when I happen to catch the reflection of Mt. Tam in a window, it wasn’t even close to 5 o’clock yet. I used to love December’s short days and long nights some of which were chilling to the bone. Not so much anymore. The darkness is too much, and there is not enough chill in the air. It doesn’t seem like winter is upon us, and yet the light is not enough to make the best of the temperate temperatures.

The light seems to be fading in a more metaphorical sense as well these days. The space of this project is shrinking by the day. Soon there will be only 3 weeks left of the daily photos and posts. The chill is there in the prose already, at least for me it is. As if frost were biting off the color from the edge, leaving brittle impressions….