I took the photo above almost a year ago (on February 21, 2016). It had been raining a lot then but few of us were complaining. The winter rains of 2015/16 were finally beginning to end the drought for (parts of) California that we’d been suffering for years. This winter’s storms have definitely completed that drought-ending job but have also brought serious and wide-spread property damage, and even loss of life.
On one recent rainy day, I was going through older archived photos with the goal of reducing the amount of storage I use by removing duplicate images and others that I know I’ll never use when I came across the one above. It reminded me that last year, during a multi-day break in the February rain, I had decided to take my camera gear on a hike along a new local trail that had recently opened. That trail, called the Matadero Creek Pedestrian Trail, resulted from an agreement between Santa Clara County and Stanford University in which Stanford built a public-access hiking trail across some of its undeveloped hillside property.
The trail is only 1.5 miles long but does rapidly gain more than 280 feet to reach 370 feet at its highest point (definitely got me breathing hard) and provides some wonderful view points of the southern San Francisco Bay Area. In the photo at the top of this post (which is a north-facing view) you can see some of the south bay and the east bay hills, dominated by Mount Diablo, in the distance.
The nearby curving, multi-lane road is Page Mill which continues out of the frame to the left for a bit to connect with Highway 280 (roughly, a north-south corridor connecting San Francisco and San Jose). If you follow Page Mill in the other direction, it goes through the Stanford Research Park and then merges with the Oregon Expressway to go through a residential portion of Palo Alto eventually connecting with Highway 101 (one of the major highways running the entire length of the state).
When I started that hike in late February a year ago, it was just about 4:15 PM. By the time I was in position to take this post’s top-most photo it was around 5 PM. Fortunately the days had been growing nicely longer since late December so there was still plenty of light. Even better, the shadows were getting longer and the light was getting better (as it does when sunset approaches).
I took that top-of-the-post image just to establish locale but as I hiked the trail I focused my camera primarily on individual objects (like the California Poppy and the oak tree, above). Those are the things that remind me of my surroundings and how lucky I feel to be living when and where I am.
The beginning of every year always seems to be filled with activities like preparing for tax returns, getting the coming year’s house projects planned, and other seemingly endless administrative tasks. In addition I have a birthday in January which, as a senior, gets me in a more introspective mood than usual.
I’m glad I added the additional administrative task of cleaning up my photo archive. Because of that, I came across this reminder of last winter and its promise of spring. It metaphorically ‘shook its finger at me’ that I should not spend all my time in front of the computer but get out whenever I can and start shooting again.