Two Worlds

Koi in Mulberry Pond, Descanso Gardens

This post originally appeared in November 2008 when I was posting—briefly—on Blog.Com.

I loved this picture I shot at Descanso Gardens a couple of weeks ago. On one hand, the camera is looking at a koi in a shallow pond swimming among the rocks. A scant inch or so above his fins is an entirely different world of air and trees and birds. In one world, you need gills; in the other, either a lung or photosynthesis. Standing by the side of the pond, we can look at the fish. But does the fish look at us? Or are we some distorted image that lies on an irrelevant plane above the surface of the water? Somewhere in that world I am standing with my Nikon Coolpix camera waiting for the right moment to bring both worlds together.

As I look at the koi swimming in Mulberry Pond, I cannot help but think that the patterns they form with respect to one another as they glide by is a form of handwriting employed by the Creator. To communicate with whom? I do not understand this script, though I think it is beautiful in a fluid way. If I could understand it, would I  reach enlightenment? The camera would go back into its case on my belt, and I would reel with a weightless feeling as I was one with everything I saw and felt.

I frequently think that everything around us is a form of writing which we, alas, are too dim to understand. Perhaps, in time….


This Bud’s for You

Camellia Buds at Descanso Gardens

Camellia Buds at Descanso Gardens

Today, in the dead of winter, Martine and I visited Descanso Gardens in La Cañada-Flintridge. There wasn’t much to see, except perhaps a foretaste of things to come. Usually by this time the camellias are in full bloom, but this has been the driest rainy season on record thus far, with less than an inch of rain over the last six months. The number of camellia blossoms was way below normal, but there were a few nice blossoms, and quite a few buds (such as the above) waiting for better conditions.

Sometimes I wonder what the global climate change has in store for Southern California. Will we become like the Atacama Desert of Chile and Peru, where the annual rainfall is measured in millimeters? And this while the Eastern, Southern, and Midwestern parts of the country are suffering from record precipitation!

The Rose Garden was surrounded by a fence to protect the bushes from hungry mule deer that find their way into the gardens and devour up to twenty pounds of plants a day. There didn’t seem to be many, if any, roses; so any damage the deer might do would be mostly to future plants.

Even in a dry season, Descanso was beautiful. It contains the largest camellia forest in North America, shaded by some of the most spectacular oaks on the West Coast. We watched the koi form patterns, as if they were ink strokes in God’s own pictographic language. What He was communicating, I don’t know, but it looked nice.

Koi at Descanso

Koi at Descanso