Fall colors change in the Northeast, a tourist destination, an annual economic spike drawing individuals from all over the world to view the green foliage of Spring and Summer turn to yellows, oranges and reds of all shades and tones. Under the colorful canopy lies a world of kaleidoscope warmth as sunlight filters through, providing the last kiss of warmth to the cooling ground.
The Rocky Mountains boast Aspen trees that transform to shimmering silver dollar leaves of gold and bronze as temperatures descend toward their winter slumbers. Without question, a grove of Aspen is a tranquil sanctuary as the breeze gently blows through and the orchestra of colored leaves moves into song.
The California coastline has a magical Fall occurrence as well, not well publicized, it doesn’t draw tourists, in fact it drives them home. It can be dangerous, prompting warning for low visibility along the spaghetti mazes of roadways traversing the “Golden State”. I first recall being seduced by the encroaching fog in Santa Barbara while attending Brooks Institute of Photography. The summer throngs of visitors meandering up and down State Street and Stearns Wharf had all returned to their abodes and a resident could once again travel across town via the 101 and main roads without the crowds. I still often chose the back roads to return home atop the Mesa neighborhood I called home for three years. I noted the thick blanket that appeared to be rolling over the Mesa as though it was tucking a young child to sleep. As I slowly traveled up the two lane road along the back side of the Mesa I saw the patches, rolling, sliding….flying through trees, across yards, soft patches that had broken from the main blanket. By the time I reached home, visibility was minimal, pairs of glowing lights becoming slowly visible as cars tread carefully to and thro. I walked the few blocks down to the beach access, Thousand Steps, known affectionally for the number of steps required to feel the sand between your toes from the elevated mesa perch. I couldn’t see the Pacific, but was drawn down the steps to its edge.
Since that day, as Summer turns to Fall, and the air temperatures fall rapidly atop the Pacific, I look to the coast as the day turns to dusk, searching for signs…..signs that my love may be approaching. In November 2009, I saw the blanket in the distance beginning its descent, I headed to the coast. Often, extreme tide coincide with the Fall fog, and this evening greeted me with the perfect pair. I visited alone this first evening, reveling in the sound of the sea, unseen but heard coming from the west. To the east, the sound of unseen cars traveling the coast highway, an occasional voice as someone comes into view, but speaking in soft voices. The softness of the fog, the silence of it, brings it visitors to a quiet peace. A sanctuary of unseen clarity truly, nothing to distract from ones thoughts, simply a blanket of gray and distance sounds. The following afternoon, I invited a guest, my wife. I wanted to share with her, hoping she would “see” what I “saw” in the vastness of nothingness. That evening, inspired by her and the elements, I captured this image, a visual representation of the feelings within. The lone seaweed patch, like I, before the soft tones and movement of the sea through the vision of the Fog.
Do I hope the Fog of the California Coastline becomes the next tourist attraction in the Fall season? Selfishly, no, I don’t, but just like that quaint new restaurant or unknown artist you discover, you want to share with others so that they too can experience and admire your found passion.