Saturday, February 6, 2016

Hike 2016.004B -- Huntington Library and Gardens, San Marino, CA

Hiked Monday, January 18. Spent a lazy day at home with my wife. But you can only watch so much Netflix. So, finally, late afternoon, I decided we needed to go for a walk. A nice, easy walk, but something to get us on our feet for a little while. And since we've got a Huntington Library and Gardens membership that she doesn't get to use very often, here's where we went.
Having just gone to Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden the day before (still not blogged--I'll stick a link in here, after I've blogged it), I was not expecting much to be in bloom here, either. That's part of why I shot the brown seed pod; I thought the theme was going to be, "Winter." Yet, as we made our way to the Chinese Garden, I was surprised by the sight of cherry blossoms. What? In mid-January? Yep.

What an odd bit of weather we've been having. A few weeks ago, we had a stretch of days when the highs were in the 50s or maybe the lowest of low 60s, and the lows were down in the 40s. Naturally, by the way, that was when my furnace was dead. I spent several nights waking up to general inside-the-house temperatures down at 58-60 degrees (but warmer in the bedroom, where I had a space heater).

Yeah, that sucked. But then, a string of days in the mid-70s. So, apparently, some of the trees there didn't need much chilling, and much of a stretch of warmer days, to decide that it was time to bloom.

Most of the plants are still in hibernation-mode, but those cherry trees were well on their way.

At the same time, the heavenly bamboo was a mixture of fall reds and spring light greens. As I said, weird.
Fruit blossom are often hard to photograph because their colors are usually pretty subtle. They're mostly just white, though I see the first tree I encountered was pinkish (looking sort of like peach blossoms, except I'm pretty sure the sign had them in the "prunus" family, so a cherry of some sort).

Both were of the double-blossom sort--instead of just five petals, they had ten or so. Double-density. Ornamental.
In addition to the cherry, there was also quince in bloom. They're always striking, and also usually an early bloomer.

Somewhere along the way, I passed some daffodil, as well.
The was also a section with numerous "bonsai forests" -- on trays, collections of small "trees." They were fully in hibernation, and presented very wintery appearances.
The water features of the Chinese garden make it an easy place to spend time. It can be very peaceful. There are also often waterfowl visiting. Canada geese and mallard ducks are both common.
Plenty of very large koi in the water, as well. So you can add that to the bridges, the trees, the blooming flowers, etc. Lots of things to attract your attention. It's probably one of the more popular sections of the gardens, even among non-Chinese.
So probably half the time at the garden (out of a stay of maybe 90 minutes) was just wandering around a very small area, taking pictures of and around the water features.

I had a ball, shooting the area, then reviewing my shots, after the fact. I was happy that, despite my many trips here before, I managed to capture something different.

People might wonder, "How can you enjoy something when you're always looking through your camera?" It may take me out of the moment. It may cause my actual memories of a place to be replaced by my photos of the place. Could be.
For me, I like taking pictures because it's about picking out the moment--focusing on the small things, or the fleeting things, and trying to capture a feeling or a representation of one particular moment.
I do know that when I feel like I have succeeded, like, "Yeah, that's it," perfectly-timed, catching something as it happened, where two seconds earlier or later, or ten feet to the left or right, and the moment would have passed, unnoticed. But I *was* there, at just the right time, in all the history of the universe, and all of human existence, I got something.
Yeah, that sounds pompous. I don't mean it to be. In fact, it's not supposed to be about me, at all. It's supposed to be about the moment: The moment when the colors mesh just right, or the shadows and light create an aesthetic pattern, when a couple pauses at the bottom of the stairs for a moment, or the seemingly-hyperactive child stops for just a few seconds and appears lost in contemplation, even if only for a few seconds. And, so, there's that moment, that never happened before and never will happen again, that no one else will ever be able to experience directly, but they can still experience that moment, second hand.
Anyway, that's how I feel when I'm walking around a place like this, and shooting literally hundreds of frames, trying to capture little moments that tell little stories, or fleeting emotions, or interesting colors and patterns.
So, on that afternoon, it was a short bit of walking. Not much of a hike, by itself. But nice to stretch my legs. Nice to be able to experience a little slice of time in San Marino. And, undoubtedly, a place I'll visit, again.
This year seems to be unfolding as a different sort of hiking year. Well, I still intend to do some "real" hikes. But a lot of my time recently (and possibly during at least part of the coming year) is walking around these very highly modified parks: Here, at the Huntington. Further east on Huntington Drive, at the Los Angeles County Arboretum. Descanso Gardens, in La Canada. Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens. Those are the places I've already been to, this year, and it's only a little over a month old.
I also plan to visit South Coast Botanical Gardens. Probably go back to the so-called "Springs Preserve," in Las Vegas. Probably keep looking for other places that my Arboretum membership will let me visit for free. Just spending some tie enjoying a different sort of walk in the park.
Still having trouble setting time aside for my blogging. Still much to catch up for on last year, never mind the three or four I'm behind this year, too.
Next week, I'm hoping to make it out to Death Valley, so maybe a few hikes from out that way, next week. Probably heading out there again, in April. Probably Mojave Preserve, in May. Probably Red Rock and Lake Mead, a few more times this winter and spring. So it won't all be these manicured gardens. Just some, as a different sort of experience, for me.

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