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Sweet baby girl. I photographed her last week, along with her sister. The moment her mama set her down upon the blanket her gaze lifted up in this amazing, wonder-filled curiosity at my camera lens that was perched a few feet from her face.

I have done nothing to “edit” the image other than to brighten it up. Those translucent blue eyes, rose-blushed cheeks, and lips that look like they have devoured a strawberry popsicle are all her own–painted upon her within the womb, rendering her utterly perfect and sweet as all babies are created to be.

To me she is the unmarred image of what it looks like to be fully engaged and connected with the world. An image of innocence, of uninhibited curiosity and openness, of authentic vulnerability, of purity….all of those elements of our being that become clouded and polluted with each passing minute that comes between us and the safety of our mother’s womb.

I cannot stop gazing into her face. Every time I come back to it I respond with equal parts delight and sadness. Delighted at how such a small soul can touch a place deep within me, bring about connection, trigger a smile. Sadness over how much of my life is spent undoing the complicated tangle of my being so that I can return to that place of faith-filled, childlike wonder that I too once owned.

 

 

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  • Stacey - Wow. I can see why you keep coming back to it. Absolutely perfect.ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - Those eyes. Such innocence and such wisdom all at once. What a precious sweet girl.ReplyCancel

  • Angela - Love the blue eyes!!ReplyCancel

 

We drove the two lane winding road out to Shelter Cove and Black Sands beach and were greeted by a north western pallet of dense grey fog, forest green, and touch of ocean blue. For a while we were the only ones along the stretch of shoreline until we spotted the small silhouettes of people appearing out of nowhere at the north end of the coast. As they drew nearer I could see they were back packers returning from a long journey. Later we learned that Shelter Cove was the ending/starting point of a 24 mile, three-day, strenuous but breathtaking coastal hike from/to the Mattole River up north. Over the course of our time exploring the rocks and the shoreline at Black Sands we saw a family of four return and another set of young men set off. I felt like I was witnessing the first and last chapters of stories that had been, and yet to be, written.

The Lost Coast is stretch of coast along the northern California region in Humboldt and Mendocino counties that is untouched by heavy population and freeways. You can really only access it via two-lane winding roads or by foot. There was an attempt to populate it in the early 1920′s but frankly it was too costly to build state roads through the mountain passes and so to this day it is an area that remains cut off from the rest of the state. I assume that people who live there do so to do exactly that–detach themselves from the rest of civilization. They require quiet, personal space, and perhaps anonymity.

So while my friend and I invaded the coast line for a few hours we took note of the stark and quiet beauty of the place. I filled my pockets with some rocks and pieces of driftwood. I watched the sun attempt to make its presence known while the fog clung to the tree line with its misty grip. I felt myself appreciating the loneliness of the place. A place where people began and ended a journey with only the sound of the crashing waves and the packs on their backs. Part of me wanted to be one of them. Maybe I’m romanticizing this, but I wanted to know the challenge and accomplishment of taking a 24 mile journey that required perseverance, risk, and hard work without the luxuries of life to make it comfortable and easy. I am not sure if I have ever pushed myself that far and at my age I am beginning to wonder what lessons I have been missing out on by avoiding such treks.

All I know is that the Lost Coast stirred in me a desire to feel the weight of a pack upon my back, carrying only the essentials.

I wanted to be a silhouette along that misty shoreline.

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  • michelle - What a cool place. And the foggy dark images make me think of my own favorite Oregon beach. So similar looking.ReplyCancel

    • admin - Yes, it felt very much like Oregon and it made me want to go to Oregon!! On my bucket list for next summer!ReplyCancel

  • stacey - The contrast of that brilliant blue water against the dark gray sand… so beautiful. So different than your other beach photos. Love them and your words.ReplyCancel

    • admin - I thought the same thing. The colors were of such a different pallet for sure. Very north west-like!ReplyCancel

  • Mom - Your dear sweet mom took her 1st backpacking trip at age 43. I did it for 10 years. Of course it wasn’t the ocean view, but the western slope of the Sierras,, pushing ourselves to 10,000 ft. You know my stories. However, I learned much about myself when I thot I was old! Ha! Too be so old! You can do it! xoxomomReplyCancel

  • Heather - Wow, T, these photos are stunning. It looks like such an incredible place. I would love to do that trek. I miss my backpacking days, pushing my body to the limit and the many, many lessons learned along the way. Sounds like somewhere I would love to live, quiet, secluded, and away from the noise and busyness. Hmmmm… So good to see you blogging again. ❤️ReplyCancel

    • admin - I could definitely see you doing this hike, H. I’ve heard it’s grueling on the feet. Lots of boulders and rocks and sand walk. But the views are amazing!ReplyCancel

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The last few weeks have been full of summer time activities and adventures. I have a million photos to share and every time I sit down to cull through them and post some here I lack the energy to do so. And whenever I look at this photo I realize that my heart is not here in front of my computer but instead is back on the lake, or along the coast, or climbing atop an ancient fallen redwood tree.

I realize I love summer, not because of the heat and warm weather, but because it is a chance to escape from the realities of life. For a week or so we can take off and not be bound by a schedule or errands to be run, or homework to be completed. We can pack up the necessities, even it is for a day, and take off for a destination that will refresh a routine-tired soul. Summer.

Today the clouds are hovering even though it is hot outside. I heard an odd noise coming from my front porch and when I stepped out there I realized it was the sound of heavy rain drops hitting the leaves and the concrete walkway. It rained for a minute. Just a minute. Enough to make us thirsty for its presence all the more. Summer rain is not that common here but when it does come I realize it is an experience that I love….which takes me back to the time it rained on my June birthday a few years ago…or when it rained that summer day way back when I was college and I sat on my couch with the window open enjoying the quiet because all of my roommates were gone….or when we were on our road trip last summer RV’ing through Wyoming and Idaho, driving under dark and bold clouds that dump rain on us the second we arrived under their cover. Summer.

Maybe this coming week I will sit down and sift through my summer photos I have accumulated thus far. Or maybe I will continue to put it off a few more weeks and instead enjoy what is left of our summer instead of sitting at a computer and talking about it as if it has already come and gone. Until then, here is a photo of my daughter and her buddy sitting on the diving board….that was attached to the dock….that was attacked to our lake-front home we got to stay in for a week with friends. It had been raining/hailing for the afternoon and as soon as the weather cleared they donned their swimsuits and ran out to jump into the lake.

Summer.

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  • Jessica - I love my life right now. Changing like we did has been very stressful, but we are finally in a place and time where we can truly enjoy summer. Florida summer is the yucky time of year, so I was always envious of your summer adventures, but Washington offers so much beauty and possibility in summer! Matt’s home now with lots of free time as well, so we’ve been packing up and heading out on spontaneous escapes. It’s wonderful. Over the years I’ve had such hard times and have often been grateful for your words of encouragement, so to be able to say these words to you now is just plain amazing.ReplyCancel

  • Heather M. - Love this. And yes to the escape of the daily realities. I love that. I love summer.ReplyCancel

  • Yi-Ching Chen - Beautiful! Looking forward to seeing more when you feel like posting before or after Summer. (waiting patiently..) :-)ReplyCancel

  • stacey - We are on the same wavelength today, T.
    xoReplyCancel

  • Andrea - Beautiful.
    Enjoy the rest of summer friend. I’ll be here waiting to see some lovely photos and hear about your adventures. For now just enjoy.
    This photo has such a classic summer feel to it.
    It makes me feel relaxed.ReplyCancel

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Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.

Yousuf Karsh

I realize how very true this has been in my life…how the very things I would rather run from are the very things that render a more richer, deeper, truer “photograph” of me, should I choose to yield to the refining power of them.

I do not often like who I am when I am experiencing darkness. It is painfully humbling. But I have come to love myself more and more every time I exit the darkroom.

*********

p.s. I stumbled upon this excerpt from a book the other day. It asks the question of whether or not you are emotionally healthy? I found it thought provoking, challenging, and also encouraging in the sense that I found myself answering “yes” to many of the things written about—things that I could not answer “yes” to just a few years ago. It was affirming to me that the darkroom serves a greater purpose in our lives than we sometimes wish to accept. 

p.s.s. I am heading off for a couple of summer trips these next two weeks and will not be able to post here. However, you can follow along on my adventures on my Instagram feed if you so desire. I will be heading up north to visit the ancient redwood trees and then off to my favorite lake. I am looking forward to being in nature and with good friends.

p.s.s.s. Lastly, I am currently booking fall photo sessions and have only a few dates available. If you have been thinking of booking a session with me, now is the time to save your date! Late summer and fall is a wonderful time to take advantage of clear coastal days and golden evening light. If you are interested in learning more you can check my “session info” page or contact me via the contact form in the menu above. Also, take the time to view some of my galleries as they are great examples of what a photo session with me might look like. If you book with a $50 retainer fee by July 20th I will include a beautiful photo book with your final package. I would love to meet you with my camera!

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  • Heather M. - that quote. wow. powerful and a lot to think about.ReplyCancel

  • michelle - Yay! Summer adventures~ We are leaving on Friday to my very favorite beach in the world and cannot wait! I’ll IG some pics so you can see my little piece of heaven on Earth. That excerpt was good. I see some things, like you, that I can answer yes too that I might not have a few years ago. I do love the maturing process when I can look backwards at it and see growth. :)ReplyCancel

    • admin - Oh! Is it Manzanita?? Can’t wait to see those photos and I’m glad you get to be there. That makes me happy. :)ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - Can’t wait to follow along on your vacation adventures on IG! :-)
    Love that quote you begin with. :-)ReplyCancel

    • admin - Such a good quote, right? Have been loving your bw’s of your little peanut. :)ReplyCancel

Along the coast of California during the month of June a foggy gloom arrives and settles in for a month-long sleepy summer nap. He tucks himself in between the horizon and the shoreline, obscuring the sun and the blue sky, sending beach goers back to their cars for extra blankets and sweatshirts. Those beach goers who live inland….where the sun and heat camp all summer….who are fooled into expecting that a glorious day at the beach awaits them upon arrival. For this reason I am a religious weather.com checker. When I spot a clear glowing sunshine icon on my weather app for any coastal town I am quick to pack up the car and head to the promised blue-skied destination.

But often the weather app is wrong. Somewhere a weather person has, to my utter frustration, inaccurately predicted and reported a false blue sky and crystal clear horizon. I have actually stood on the sand of a freezing foggy beach while looking at my weather app telling me that where I am standing is actually a clear sunny 70 degree day. I wonder how such blatant misreporting by the experts (or their expensive technologies that they rely upon) could happen when an entire set of weather obsessed people rely on them to operate in within their expertise. I wonder where they draw their information from because clearly I could more accurately report the weather than they! Would it be so hard to pay me, the actual beach goer, to do a better job?

I get that predicting the weather is not an exact science. I have had enough experiences in my life to know this and yet for some reason I am irritated every time at the forecast inaccuracies. Or maybe I am just irritated at my own gullible tendencies to trust humanity’s ability to predict a future that is always uncertain?

I am not a pessimistic person. But I do border along the lines of being realistic and hope-filled. Every foggy day I unexpectedly encounter continually reminds me that all that I actually know for certain is the moment I live in. I can make my plans, check the weather report, pack the car, head to my destination but once I “arrive” I may find that all I have is actually all that I had before that: just a bit of shoreline in front of me.

What a paradoxical place to be, you know?  To surrender to a future that is never guaranteed, to accept the bit of sand in front of me, and yet continue to live my life with a hopeful, prayerful expectancy–one that involves making plans, following dreams, checking weather forecasts. I am pretty sure that somewhere in between is where my faith resides and grows. The kind of faith that trusts a God who gives me peace when all I have is the shoreline in front of me and hope that the horizon still exists even when the gloomy fog of life obscures it.

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  • Mom - I know you are disappointed by the fog, I would be too. However, it is the natural air conditioner that God provides us in the valley, that keeps the heat reasonable & not in the 100′s. I’m thankful for it:)ReplyCancel

  • stacey - These photos are so beautiful. I think I like them even more than all your sunny ones.
    And I needed to hear this today, so thank you. xoReplyCancel

  • Andrea - June Gloom. I’m already looking forward to it when we relocate down south. This Northwesterner will enjoy it. ;-)
    I love your words in the last paragraph.
    And what beautiful photos.ReplyCancel

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