Dry as a Bone

Being a naturalist I tend to celebrate the end of the year with the harvest at the end of October. The earth quiets down waiting for winter and the cold days to come. I took a walk very early this morning in Topanga Canyon, where I go a few times a year, to see how things were wrapping up for fall. Although I know California is going through an extreme drought it was sobering to see how dry it really was. 

Bleached out.

Bleached out.

From the ridge. Looking lush until you look below the canopy.

From the ridge. Looking lush until you look below the canopy.

Even in the cool hollows of the trail where there is always just a faint patch of mossy rock to be found it was bone dry. Dusty and gray. The areas where I always see the trap door spider homes that I did a piece about a few years back was cracked and barren. The eucalyptus leaves hung sadly and the dust rose around me like a cloud when a jogger passed by. There were two deer at the entrance to the trail munching on something, but I couldn't imagine what it was since I only saw a single plant that actually seemed fresh and green. I know the plants here store water for years, but lately it must be a struggle.

 

Dry hollow.

Dry hollow.

Drooping Eucalyptus

Drooping Eucalyptus

The only fresh green I saw.

The only fresh green I saw.

Although the trail was dry, the morning sun still lit up our beautiful canyon plants and somehow even the dry branches seem to glow. As I exited the trail I noticed a new information area outlining the animals of the area, and I was dismayed to the the deer tick is now in the LA canyons. I watch carefully for scorpions, tarantulas and snakes, but now to keep an eye out for that nearly invisible monster seems too much. I guess every living thing here is looking for something to drink!

More info here about the drought and how to conserve water.

Golden stalks.

Golden stalks.

The former home of the funnel web spiders.

The former home of the funnel web spiders.

Critter trails.

Critter trails.

Common Ground tests

In June of this year I received a travel grant to go to Finland to work on a body of work about walking through landscapes I have lived in, and the effect it has on my body and memory.  In Finland I explored a forest landscape that I had never lived in but one that was from my mother's ancestry and is visually very similar to the one in Connecticut that I grew up in. 

It is probably well-known to world adventurers but it was my first time traveling overseas and I was struck by how simultaneously alike and how different the people I met were as well. Certainly the internet has connected the world visually in a whole new way, but I didn't expect the actual "mirror world" experience described by William Gibson in one of my favorite books, Pattern Recognition. Where everything is the same, but just slightly askew. 

I'm editing images now and deciding how they will fold into a larger scale installation I am working on about this idea. These are some photo "sketches" for an piece called "Common Ground", which is loosely about the land in both places looking so much alike that it is hard to tell where each one is located,  but one is imbued with deep memories, and one has nearly none.