This Place, This Moment

1.

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2. Wave, kelp.

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3. Windstorm.

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Knowingly or not, we respond to place and moment. Our responses are particular

to a set of eyes, a body-breathing-in-skin,

a certain brain

with a singular set of experiences,

predilections, knowledge, needs,

desires. In my case, there is also a black box

with certain lenses,

a keyboard, software (clever software!), and

a beaming, bright screen.

This bundle of cells, functioning together

as they have for decades

(but differently in each moment) produces rows

of image files in concert with the black box and the software.

Is it magic?

Choices are made: less here, more there, lighter,

darker, softer, sharper, colored, or not.

And here is the fruit.

These responses to place and moment mean something to me,

something else to you. Flung across digital space

they resonate or they don’t. Either way is a response

and this vast, sparkling network of responses across

space and time encompasses

more than we can imagine.

That’s magic!

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4. Reflection.

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5. Reed, reflection.

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6. Windstorm.

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7. Windstorm, sunlight.

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8. Scattering, disintegrating.

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9. Windstorm waves.

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10. Return to water.

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11. Last light.

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12. Rain.

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WATERSIDE, WINTER

The weather has quieted.

A parade of typical winter days and nights

plods through the month,

not terribly cold, certainly not warm,

some sun, lots of clouds,

rain that comes and goes.

The weather doesn’t keep me indoors but

I have to push myself more than I would in spring

when wildflowers pique my curiosity, propelling me outside

day after miraculous day.

But in this dimmer season, devoid of birdsong,

I can’t complain.

There’s plenty to see –

small bits to stumble across,

wide views where the soul can rest,

modest miracles, startling finds,

refreshment

each time I venture outside.

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1. Our life-giving sun is setting in the west over the Salish Sea, illuminating the Deception Pass bridge.

2. A broken blade of Bullwhip kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) lies on the beach where the outgoing tide left it (for me?). This giant seaweed is an alga that reproduces by way of spores, not flowers. From a tiny spore, it reaches 30 – 100 feet (10 – 30 m) in less than a year. Then it dies and pieces wash ashore all winter, like this one.
3. The prolific Bull kelp is found from central California to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands in cold, fairly deep water. A root-like holdfast anchors it to the seafloor. Near the water’s surface, the stipe (like a stem) widens into a hollow, bulb-like float that contains gas, allowing the blades (like leaves) to float near the surface and gather sunlight for photosynthesis.
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4. Winter storms have left countless pieces of kelp on the beaches. This one nuzzles up to a fragment of Sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca).

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6. A lone figure stands on the rocks (in the middle) enjoying a cloud-laden sunset view of the Olympic Mountain Range, 60 miles (96km) to the southwest.

7. A Bullwhip kelp stipe floats on the gentle waves of an outgoing tide.
8. A hieroglyphic kelp bed viewed from a rocky promontory called Rosario Head that juts out into the rich waters of the Salish Sea.
9. These Bullwhip kelp blades are still attached to the stipe. When the tide comes back in, where will the kelp go?
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11. King tides and winter storms have pushed heavy driftwood logs into an old Sitka spruce tree (Picea sitchensis). Every time I pass this tree I wonder how much longer until the tides undercut its shallow roots enough to make it lean and finally fall. Like Bullwhip kelp, Sitka spruce ranges along the American west coast from southern Alaska, through Washington and Oregon, to northern California. Bullwhip kelp is a very large alga; likewise, the Sitka spruce is a very large tree. One Sitka spruce, named the Queets spruce, lives on the other side of the mountains seen above in #6 and is around 250′ (76m) tall. In Canada, the Carmanah Giant is much taller, at over 314 ft (96m).
As Sitka spruce trees and Bullwhip kelp coexist in this bountiful region, pieces of kelp wash ashore to rest at the foot of this spruce tree, or even in its lower branches. And perhaps spruce needles blow across the water to land atop a bed of kelp. While Sitka spruce trees can live to 700 years, Bullwhip kelp completes its life cycle in less than a year, but both depend on the grand cycle of the rolling earth, soaking up the sun and resting in the dark of each new day.
12. Bits of shell, rock, wood, plants, and who knows what else: a pleasing puzzle found on a nearby beach.
13. The tide rolled two logs onto the old boat launch. They’ve been there for weeks. I like the formal simplicity of repeating parallel lines.
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15. The old pier in the distance also suffers the insults of storms and high tides. A few days ago workers began to dismantle it. The plan is to slowly allow this bay to return to the form it had before people built a fish hatchery here back in the 1940s. It is well on its way.
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