STATES of BEING: Preparing

1.

It’s the day before we leave for our first road trip since the pandemic throttled our travel plans. I have forgotten how to get ready for a trip. Everything requires more thought and seems a little harder. And it’s spring, my favorite season, so I’m distracted by the flashes of color everywhere, all vying for attention after a long, quiet winter. Part of me wants to be walking outside, looking for early wildflowers and inhaling the fresh air. Another part nags about packing and remembering the chargers and sunglasses. I check the weather in southern Utah for the second time today; the forecast seems to have changed again. A few days ago I thought we wouldn’t need warm clothes, this morning it looked like we would, now I’m not sure. I remove a T-shirt and substituted a long-sleeved, insulated shirt, a beanie, a warm scarf, even gloves. Maybe I need to rethink it: space is tight.

As I’ve been preparing for my trip the earth has been preparing for the season when reproductive tasks must get done. Flowers push through the cool, damp earth, woodpeckers drum love songs on hollow trees, and yesterday I watched harbor seals whack their flippers hard on the water and twirl in circles as other seals looked on, hopefully admiring the show as much as I did. One very unusual mammal (for this area) is preparing for the next stage of its life; a two-month-old elephant seal born nearby is getting ready to enter the water. I believe he’s the first elephant seal to be born on this island – most Northern elephant seals are born in California. When he’s ready he’ll swim down the long Strait of Juan de Fuca and into the Pacific, perhaps heading for deep water off Alaska. He needs to teach himself to dive deep for fish and squid. That’s the way it works with this species – they’re on their own after they’re weaned. Once he leaves we may never see him again. A few weeks ago I became a marine mammal volunteer to help protect the pup from human interference, intentional or otherwise. I learned a lot in a few short hours about the intricacies of the human/wildlife interface. In a word, it’s fraught.

The last few weeks have been full of distractions, making it difficult to concentrate on my own preparations, but gradually, I got my head into it and made some progress. By mid-afternoon yesterday, I was ready for a break: a trip into town for one more errand and an espresso. As I stepped outside I felt a chill but also had an urge to stop and admire the daffodils that opened yesterday. They’re late again and their numbers don’t seem to be expanding; I planted them under a tree where the sun barely shines. At least they’re protected from the landlord’s overzealous mowing. Looking up, my eyes paused at the sight of fat Bigleaf maple buds, ripe with the green energy that busts them out of their tight winter jackets. I thought I should document the yard today so I can compare it to the way it will look when I get back. All week I’ve been thinking about how different everything will be after the 13 days we’re away – this is a time of great change.

With my head full of such musings, I wandered over to my car and got in. Joe had parked at the opposite end of the driveway from his usual spot in front of me. I backed up, turned to my right to avoid the telephone pole, and let my foot off the brake. A heartbeat later I heard the startling, eye-squinching crunch of metal on metal. Worse, I was a little slow to stop because I haven’t slept well lately. A remark Joe made just minutes before sprung to mind: he said we seem to be getting things under control.

Maybe not. I got out, inspected both cars, frowned, and called him. He rushed out to assess the damage. Quickly apologizing, I said I’d take care of both cars when we get back home. Thankfully, Joe had the grace not to let loose with the first thing that must have come to his mind.

On the way into town I told myself to wake up or there’ll be a bigger accident. Deep breaths. I took care of the errand and made my way to the bookstore/cafe. It was pleasantly busy: familiar faces behind the counter and eager customers on the other side. Studying the baked goods neatly displayed in their glass case, I ordered my usual macchiato, but with a third shot. While I waited I saw a front-page article in the NY Times about a White House photographer from the Trump administration who’s been taken advantage of by Trump – it’s about money, of course. I read a few paragraphs and moved on to the Arts section, where there was a piece about the Whitney Biennial, a New York art world staple that I used to look forward to. It’s morphed over the years and is back now after a pandemic hiatus, with a less flashy, more thoughtful, perhaps darker-toned show. I opened the paper to the double-page spread, full of dark images. That prompted a passing thought about my own propensity for darkness in my photos. I wondered if there’s a connection between how I photograph the world nearby and the state it’s in. Or is it a coincidence?

The coffee tasted good. Browsing the shelves for a minute or two, I moved from art to fiction to the travel section. A used book called “The Names of Things” caught my eye. It’s beautifully written but it wasn’t a good time to buy a book so I made a mental note of the title. Suddenly the caffeine teased the neurons in my brain and I felt that bright light of inspiration, thanks to Susan Brind Morrow’s words. In the back of my mind, I’d been wondering if I would post anything before I left or during the trip. Now I had an idea – I’ll just describe my day, trying to include passing thoughts as well as observations.

Exiting the store, I got in the car, backed up (carefully), and headed back home. The sky was gray and white but not flat. The cherry trees were as frothy as a strawberry milkshake, magnolia flowers were opening bit by bit, and the willows weren’t weeping, no, they were rejoicing in their swaying, lime-green skirts. As I drove down R Avenue I glimpsed the soft blue silhouette of the Cascade foothills to the east through the dull gray repeating diamonds of a chain-link fence: it was a pleasing graphic image. All the way home I saw trees in bud, chomping at the bit of spring, ready to break into song. Preparing for the next thing.

*

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7.

We’ll fly to Las Vegas today, then drive to Utah, where we plan to visit Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, and other less well-known places. With any luck, I’ll have a few photographs to post when I get back. I hope you’re enjoying spring in your own way, wherever you are on this great, turning planet.

7. Red rock country.

***


66 comments

  1. Hello Lynne … so very glad to catch you before your big tour of a beautiful part of your country we visited some years back … aah I’m rather envious, it really would wonderful to visit again but in the meantime I’ll very much look forward to your all seeing eye and perspective on Utah and it’s monumental treasures !
    It’s very easy becoming distracted these days I find too, but as you say car business can be sorted once home again. Tick 🙂
    Spring is definitely is happening .. and your super photos capture that sense of burgeoning .. I’ve no doubt that you will see a terrific change on return . Have a fabulous trip . Poppy xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • How wonderful to hear from you! I’m sorry this reply took so long – between jaw-dropping scenery, altitude exhaustion and slow internet connections, it was a challenge. We got back yesterday to the lush spring scenery of home, a perfect contrast to the red rock high desert. I’m glad you were able to see some of that country. And I’d love to see spring in your part of the world someday but until then, how about a post? Come on!!!
      Seriously, thanks so much for stopping by and wishing me well, it’s great to hear from you. xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Welcome home ! It sounds like you’ll have some real treasures to show us with your unique perspective of Mother Nature ( gosh are we still able to use that expression I wonder 😉) Lynne ! Ah I am back here .. I think you maybe have to search as it’s a ‘new’ blog but the same name I think … I’ve not quite got the hang of all settings etc yet Lol x

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  2. A post with more movement than usual, reminiscent of a “logbook” and perhaps revealing a certain restlessness. Which is easy to associate with the trip you are going to take, something that always causes some excitement.
    May the trip allow for more tranquility and better nights sleep too.
    Meanwhile, Spring will continue in force and giving beauty to nature. Nice pictures!
    I wish you an excellent trip!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m sure you’re right about that restlessness I was feeling. Wise woman! Sleep is hard to get when traveling but there are other benefits. 😏 Spring brings wild swings in the weather here, which is exciting, if not comfortable. Thanks for your good wishes and I hope your spring is inspiring. 🍃🌿🌱

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Lynn, An enjoyable read…sorry about the cars…but fun to imagine you going about your day and preparing for your trip. How exciting! And your wonderful spring images are a perfect analogy to your emergence into the world. Wishing you a safe and thrilling trip to Utah- a photographer’s wonderland! 😀🌈

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I can so relate to the difficulties of packing for a trip after the pandemic. Even packing for the first longer day-hike was a struggle. Last Sunday, you wouldn’t believe, I thought I had everything — and left my camera at home! xD (this spared me from hauling heavy lenses at least, on a day that would become way too hot.)

    Over the years, I’ve come to accept that I’ll never have EVERYTHING that I might need packed. Something will always be missing, and another thing will always be unnecessary. Makes it easier to laugh about the whole ordeal. Enjoy your trip, take everything in, and whatever piece you missed to pack will surely be readily available for purchase somewhere along the way. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • You brought a smile to my face with your packing story, wow. Lucky I kept checking the weather – were prepared for both the warmth and the snow that came last night. Agreed that we will always forget something but can I say that some omissions might be worse than others? 😏 This time we only needed minor stuff.
      The rocks, as I said somewhere above, just keep giving and giving. I think I saw Desert almond in bloom yesterday, and finally saw my first Mountain bluebird, as well as a Pygmy nuthatch, way up there with the Bristlecone pines. Perhaps 2 different Opuntias on yesterday’s walk. Not many flowers blooming yet but those that are, are such a delight. I know you get that.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I found it very exciting to accompany you through this day, dear Lynn. Hopefully the car accident will have caused little damage and you can forget about it for the duration of the trip.

    It almost seems like there’s nothing you can’t unlearn if you don’t use it, even packing your bags. You’ll have to practice it regularly again, then it’ll work again.

    You say goodbye with some spring motifs so that we don’t miss you too much, thank you, they are beautiful as ever and in no way too dark. I wish you an intensive and beautiful journey, have a good time, both of you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What happened to me? I’m so sorry I didn’t reply to you sooner. I know I replied in my head but that doesn’t count, does it?
      We had no problem forgetting about the cars once we set off. Despite struggling to breathe in the extremely dry air at elevations we’re not used to (and elevations we never experienced before) we both consider the trip a success. We share positive feelings for the more sparsely populated part of the state where we spent most of our time – I was glad to go back there after almost 20 years. We both would be happy to return, too. It’s extraordinary country.
      You’re right of course about packing and all the other “skills” that go into traveling well. Just practice.
      I was a little worried that we would return to a full-blown spring, having missed too much, but no, it’s still very sweet here, very much a slow unfolding and I don’t think I missed anything – in fact, it’s delicious to come back to this moist, happy world of green-on-green after the desert. It was good timing (other than the fact that many children were on their spring break from school so lots of families were on the road and in the parks). Thank you for your good wishes, Ule. I hope all’s well with you & Ben. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. beautifully reflective narrative. beautifully pensive shots.

    bon voyage, lynn

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    ▫◽◻◽▫▪◾◼◾▪▫◽◻◽▫▪◾◼◾▪▫◽◻◽▫

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    • I know you’re familiar with this part of the world and I wonder if you had trouble with the altitude…we sure did! We’ve been at sea level too long! 😉 But it was gorgeous, especially in the more remote places. Thanks for your comment, I appreciate it.

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  7. “Preparing for the next thing.”

    Isn’t that what Spring is all about. Stunning photos as always. I mean really, really mindblowing composition and editing. So glad I read this today, where the sky is gray and the wind cold. I also love daffodils and watch eagerly for them to “spring”.

    Enjoy your travels. I visited Arches National Park several years ago but never made it to Bryce or Zion.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yow! Not fun to hear that crunch of metal; glad that your dear Joe took it well, and that you were able to take that triple-dose respite/jolt (!) while catching up on news and inspiration.

    The work with the seal has to be so very rewarding – not only intellectually but also witnessing this very special time – perhaps seeing a slight change in how nature is adapting.

    Buen buen viaje!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lisa – you’re right about the elephant seal – it’s a very unusual situation and this little guy is surprising everyone. He may not be there when I get back but if he is, I’ll help protect him from visitors.
      Meanwhile, it’s incredibly beautiful here. What else can I say? Sorry I’ve been far behind on reading blogs. I hope you’re marvelous! 😏

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  9. Hoping I’m not too late to wish you a delightFULL travel… I’m sure it’ll all come back to you once you’re on the road. It seems a perfect time to meander and explore that wonderful red rock country.
    Wishing you happy trails and a return with your enchanting observations… 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought of you when we visited a special botanical area – nothing like what you showed us but also really amazing. The adaptations to harsh environments are incredible. Scenery is fabulous as you know but the altitude is really tough for both of us. And dry! I guess we have adapted too, to a very different environment than this one. 😏

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yikes! That altitude can be a nasty. It takes the body awhile to acclimate. Thought nothing of it when I lived in Utah, but after living near sea level for decades, we camped one night up around 10,000′. I clearly remember that night gasping for breath until we headed for lower altitudes. Don’t get me started on ‘dry’! 😉 Hope you manage to love that radical change. It took me a while. I know it isn’t something I could take come summer. ☺️

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  10. Wonderfully written and photographed, Lynn! But no shots of Emerson?!! I signed up for WordPress, as you suggested, but have to figure out next steps. In the meantime, I have found the search function and searched for “elephant seals”. Yours was the first post to pop up but I will read some of the others as that seems to be the “top of mind” topic for me these days. Have a GREAT trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jann, it’s great to see you here. No E-shots, mine weren’t good enough.😏 but it looks like I may get another chance. Glad you enjoyed this post, and tried the search function. How could you not be obsessed with elephant seals at this point??? We’re taking it slow as the altitude and low humidity are tough. Scenery is way more beautiful than I remember from 20 yrs ago. Thanks for leaving a comment…go Emerson!

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  11. Such a wonderful post Lynn. I enjoyed this glimpse into your day (oh the cars! 😢) and your lovely descriptions. I’m inspired to do the same soon; we’re off to Croatia and Greece for 7 weeks on May 3 and I can imagine the same last minute frenzy about what to take.
    Have a fabulous trip!
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comment is appreciated, Alison – this post was a little different. What a great trip you have coming up, wow. Won’t it be nice to be back on the road? Our last minute planning included frequent weather checks; as a result, we’re prepared for the very warm weather in Las Vegas & Southern UT and the snow and below-freezing temps today near Capitol Reef. Wild swings and fierce winds pushed the weather through. A 5-hr drive tomorrow, an overnight, and back home Thursday if all goes according to plan. I’m guessing your packing will be super streamlined. 😏

      Liked by 1 person

    • We have a snow day, can you believe it? Catching up a little now but we’ll go out for a drive soon – sun’s out and it’s beautiful. Wish we could hike/walk today but between the wind chill and the elevation, it’s tough. Thanks for your appreciative words, Linda.

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  12. Very much looking forward to your new impressions during your new trip. We are looking forward, as well, to our first trip back to the US this summer, and dearly hope that it works out. Simply love your (first) #7.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Have you been to this area (southern UT)? The rocks just keep giving and giving, every turn reveals another extraordinary formation. I’m so happy to hear that you’ll be coming back to the states, that’s great! Thanks for commenting. 👍

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    • Great to hear from you, Penny. Classy, that’s nice. 😏 I found an excellent coffee source here in Torrey UT, pop. 316. It snowed last night but mostly it’s been comfortable. Thanks for the good wishes. ✌️

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  13. Preparing for the next big thing indeed. Happy Spring Trip. Looking forward to your photos from it when you return. As for now, your beautiful captures of buds remind me that I need to go outdoors and notice what’s making the news in nature in my neck of the woods. Wishing you well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Julie, and the question is whether the photos will reflect the experience, I guess. Spring indeed, a cold front came through where we live so who knows how the plants will look. Then it flew all the way down here and we woke to a few inches of snow. Icy cold out there! Keeping us on our toes. 😏

      Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, snow at this time of year, at your elevation – amazing, I guess it’s climate change. We have to expect the unexpected, right? We had snow, too, but we were at 2000m. The wind was fierce! But the scenery was extraordinary. I spent a short time in southern Utah almost 20 years ago and promised myself that I would go back. I’m glad I did. Joe loved it, too. The landscape never failed to amaze us and we had some interesting conversations with local people.
      I’m sure you guys made the best of the situation in Garderen…hopefully I will get back to looking at blogs in a few days and see what you’ve been doing. I thought of you several times while I was there, especially when I saw beautifully twisted, old, fallen-down trees.
      Thanks for the good wishes!

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  14. Such a beautiful spirit and reflection of spring with this photo series ~ and your trip to Utah must have been magical, it is a place that never disappoints with its unique and incredible scenery. Safe travels, Lynn, and look forward to the photos you capture during your travels.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Beautiful spring visuals. I love your reflection shot #7. The bright yellow near center enhances the vignetted effect. Getting ready for travel can be stressful … especially when flying. It always requires 2 flights from where I live … that’s why I prefer going to places I can drive to … Utah’s parks included!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Denise – I’ve looked at that reflection a number of times. It’s often fairly dark there but that can work sometimes, right? 🙂 Having to change planes sure adds to the stress. And I think the lack of travel for most of us over the past 2 years makes it even harder. A road trip is the answer and there’s no question that you have countless excellent destinations from where you live!

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  16. It’s fun to see images about a month later, as if all the blossoms around me had retreated back into their cocoons. I love your essay of your day. I just took a class on Creative Non-fiction, which this fits perfectly. A mix of somewhat topical information with occasional research and plenty of impressions filtered through a mix of the writers past and present impressions, musings and direct experience. Your style captures it so well, and the addition of your own photographed images completes the package into as good as being there… just in a different way. Thanks for sharing!

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