Tag Archives: photography

Yosemite in summer…

… is not something I’d really recommend.

It is the Disneyland of Nature, at least down in the valley, where it parodies itself (the Yosemite that once might have existed): You can go to the gift shops to buy postcards of the scenes you can’t see because you’re in your car, stuck in traffic, unable to park and get out and being yelled at by the park “ranger” who’s mad that she’s really a traffic cop.

When you do finally get out, there are fences with signs posted about how there’s restoration going on and ‘please don’t enter this area.’ The subtext of course is that there have been too many people entering the area and now it has to be “restored” to some “more natural” or “more pristine” state. My guess is that those areas will never be reopened. They would just get trampled and trashed.

I’m conflicted between a desire for experiencing that pristine state and recognizing that humans are part of New Yosemite’s ecosystem. We’ve essentially overrun it, but we’re part of it. As are our cars, our waste, our noise. THAT is Yosemite.

I tried to find a way to have a suitably reverent state of mind. It is awe-inspiring, those sheer cliffs rising above you and framing the sky or the vista encompassing massifs and vast horizon, forest and falls. I was selective about the photos I took – they’re distinctly NOT pictures of the crowds on the handrail-lined trail, of the milling about in the gift shop (or of the gift shops at all), of the heat shimmering off the lined-up roofs of cars. Those photos would have been more honest, though.

the honest picture

I think I have a very unpopular opinion – that maybe it’s inappropriate to make it accessible to all (from the comfort of an air-conditioned gas-guzzler). Maybe such grandeur deserves to be met after some amount of effort on our part (not just handed to us after purchase), after, even, some degree of struggle following which we are grateful for the beauty and the wonder instead of just expectant that it’ll appear around the road’s next bend.

Also, my opinion reveals my hypocrisy. I’m thinking of driving there in the fall, so that my limited-mobility dad, who, by the way, is obsessed with our driving culture (the irony does not escape me) can see it. So, I won’t be trekking in or through Yosemite, or backwoods camping or climbing Gary-Snyder-like into a fire lookout to end up formulating an environmental ethic or a novel or great works of poetry infused with the spirit of place. Instead I’ll be one-eye on the road, one on the hunt for the next bathroom  or picnic-lunch spot or vista.

I’ll be wishing for contact with something that’s just out of sight.

***
and, as if the intrusion of automobiles and the extending of infrastructure into the region didn’t provide enough catalyst for change, there’s evidence that the forests themselves are changing and drastically. Drought, climate fluctuations, and concomitant stress and weakness leading to pest infestations are taking their toll. It’s a whole new world.

image credits: Wendy Smyer Yu

Into the Light – a short story

Göttingen, Germany

Standing on the sidewalk, Hannah loosened the ring on one tripod leg and lengthened it slightly until the level-bubble was centered, then she re-tightened it. She sighted through the viewfinder again and verified that the doorway was within the frame. She focused on one of the double door’s pair of brass doorknobs. The shutter clicked.

Gabe watched, amused by Hannah’s careful advance of the film. He pretended impatience, tapping the body of the digital camera slung around his neck.

“Patience for the sake of art,” said Hannah.

“Patience for the sake of you, my dear,” he said. She didn’t reply.

“Come on, Hannah, no grudges, alright? Don’t I earn extra points for spending hours on the sidewalks of San Francisco fielding questioning looks about why we’re photographing doors?”

“At least they’re just looks.”

“Yeah, but everyone’s really wondering if we’re stalkers or paparazzi or, I don’t know, casing a joint.”

“Whatever,” she waved it off, sliding the tripod’s legs together and setting off down the street, almost without him.

“You still haven’t told me what you’re doing,” he said, skipping to catch up.

She laughed, softening a little, “I thought you’d noticed, I’m photographing old doors.”

“Duh! But why?”

“Because they’re beautiful maybe? Because I like them. Why do I need another reason?”

“I don’t know. I guess you don’t. You just seem so adamant about it, I thought there must be something behind it. Going into business, catching the coattails of the calendars-of-common-objects fad?”

Her faint smile assured him.

“Nope…just… I don’t know, G., maybe we fixate on the things that block us the most. I think it’s good to face that, shine a little light on what’s shadowed and secret, you know? To not let it have too much power.”

Gabe looked at an ugly grey stucco townhouse last renovated in the mid ’80s. As they as passed it he nodded grimly, recognizing something of his childhood in the hollow core door with its peeling varnish and three deadbolts and said, “Yeah, maybe you’re right.”

Later that afternoon Hannah would be in her darkened bathroom with a red-lit Hello Kitty desk lamp balanced on the sink, and her alarm clock on the only available surface area in the open medicine cabinet as she counted off the minutes until she could squeegee the water droplets and hang the negatives from clothespins strung on the shower curtain rod.

When they dried, the black and white transparencies of newly painted or not-touched-in years or peeling or postered-over doors would offer to lead into something, into somewhere. Hannah loved the doors into people’s lives, loved the things that, charmed or locked, kept the rest of everything out, admitted something or nothing, blocked the view or peeped out slyly. So many options gave her hope even if they were so many ways of being all just out of reach, their plane of existence flattened yet again on each reverse-shaded negative.

With darks turned to lights and light cast in shadow, she’d hang them in strips, a gallery of doors, in front of her aluminum-framed balcony slider — and the sunlight, when it finally crested the neighboring building would shine through and drop soft shadows. The shadows would land on her and Gabe, lying on the beige shag carpet. Maybe she’d be lost in her thoughts and he in his, locked in their own minds in a way, but each also slowly moving out of their private corridors, through the doors and into the light.

***

This story brought into the light of day by

perpetualbloghop

which also brings you these fine stories:

Emily Plesner Time Stops When I’m With You
Barbara Lund Separate Space
Shana Blueming A Melting Heart
Juneta Key Don’t Drink the Water 
Angela Wooldridge Midwinter
Lee Lowery All Aboard
Elizabeth McCleary OverWhelmed
Viola Fury The Day the Cat Got Out
Karen Lynn Dragon Smoke and Wind
Katharina Gerlach Lobster One
S.R. Olson Malakai’s Gift

***

I hope you enjoyed my story and have a chance to read the others. Let me know what you think in the comment section, I’d love to hear from you.

This story got me to wondering about what else doors symbolize and how they represent something besides just a barrier. For more nifty door pictures and thoughts on the worlds revealed by different doors, see this blog post. Thanks for visiting!

*image credit: Wendy Smyer Yu, Göttingen, Germany