Friday, June 12, 2020

Poetic Light

I got up earlier than usual this morning and figured I might as well get out of bed and start the day. That got me up to Grandview Park earlier than usual, and it got me thinking about the different viewing opportunities offered at different times of the day. A few of the past few days have been so foggy in the morning that you can't see the houses at the bottom of the hill, only to turn clear and sunny a few hours later.

Anyway, this morning was one of the most beautiful I've seen since I started these work-from-home walks. The low sunlight blazing from the East Bay showed off the contours of the Marin Headlands and Mt. Tamalpais to excellent effect. It was the kind of beauty that just opens you up and fills you with a sense of the sublime, like a favorite poem that strikes just the right chord. 

Joseph Campbell, by way of James Joyce, called such moments "aesthetic arrest," and felt they could be induced by great art as well as nature. Aesthetic arrest is that moment where the ripples of time recede to insignificance upon a broad sea of eternity.

This is a crop of the same image to give a better idea of the light on the distant landscape. I was tempted to go home and get my 35mm camera, but even before I finished my short walk, tendrils of fog started to feather in from the south. It wasn't much longer before the fog closed down all vistas beyond a hundred feet or so. Had I begun my walk at the usual time I would have missed the show.

Just yesterday, meanwhile, I noticed the fog was at about the right level to go for glory. It was only the second time since the lock-down that I was able to catch one, and it didn't last long. The sun would start to break through the fog behind me (to the east), only to heat up the atmosphere and make the fog rise and obliterate the glory. The antisolar point has also moved south from the last time I captured a glory, making the window of opportunity that much more brief. Soon it will be impossible to capture from this side of the hill.

After this morning's poetic brilliance, followed by a foggy whiteout, I figured the sun would eventually come out in time for my mid-day bike ride down to the beach. When it was time to go I looked out the back window to see how windy it was, and was surprised to see water droplets on the glass. Minutes later I could hear rain falling on the plastic skylight over our stairwell! Rain?! The National Weather Service forecast for today was "mostly sunny." I decided to skip the ride and go ahead and make some lunch, but the rain was short-lived, and soon the wind was breaking things up. I hoped my lunch was digested enough when I rolled down the hill in buffeting winds.

When I saw the container ship heading into the Golden Gate I pulled over along the Esplanade to snap a picture. I took this shot thinking I would get a more clever image when the ship moved in to be framed between Seal Rocks and the Cliff House, but I ended up preferring the composition of this frame.

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