Friday, February 27, 2015

Photographic Memories

My friends and I did a hike last weekend to a place called Gothic Basin in the Cascade Mountain high country. It was one of those days that was just so great: There was the sunrise I watched on the early-morning ferry ride;  and the beautiful, snowy landscape where we hiked; and, finally,  the sunset that painted the peaks red-orange as we trekked out of the basin.  I just can't stop pulling out my iPad and reliving the day through the pictures you see here.

I'd never been to Gothic Basin before, which is amazing, even to me.  I mean, with all the hikes and climbs I have done in the 35 years I have lived in the Pacific Northwest, how can there be a place this cool that I have never visited? Go figure.

Friday, February 20, 2015


I stepped out my front door yesterday morning and off in the distance I could hear cars moving along a highway that is about three miles from our house.  That sound struck me as odd. "This is a holiday," I thought to myself. "There shouldn't be much traffic."

Then I smiled, realizing that it was not a holiday here in America.
It was Losar, Tibetan New Year. I had plans to travel to Seattle and hang out with my friends from the local Tibetan Community. The day promised to be festive.

For those folks I could hear making their morning commute, it was just another work day.


Gathering outside their monastery, the Tibetans threw barley flower into the air, a traditional welcoming-in of the New Year, and my cameras got covered by the auspicious, white dust. The crowd lined the sidewalks to greet their head lama as he arrived. Then everyone went inside for Losar prayers.

This weekend we'll get together again, this time for a Losar party.  There will be a catered dinner of Tibetan food, lots of happy conversation, even exchanging of gifts. I had a local photo lab make 60 prints of a photo I shot last summer of the Dalai Lama, and I'll give a print to each Tibetan household. There will be singing, dancing, and general fun-having.

I'll make photographs, of course, but I might also try, finally,  to learn a dance step or two.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Moments of Childhood

A lot of the kid friends I had when I was growing up were Catholic, and, though I can't remember now why it was, my friends were all very afraid of Catholic Nuns.  Maybe it was the severe, black and white habits the nuns wore, or the scary stories Catholic kids told about strict, disciplinarian nuns who taught in Catholic school.  Kid Legend had it that nuns would supposedly whack one of our kind on the knuckles with a ruler for bad behavior, or order a seven-year-old to stand in a corner and leave the kid there till he was 15.

Whatever the reason, even I, a non-Catholic child, was afraid of nuns…and it makes me smile now to remember back on my kid days, and to realize that the Catholic nuns were probably quite good teachers. I wonder whether my friends, now adults with white hair, are still afraid of nuns.


One of the things I enjoy seeing and photographing as I document the culture of the Tibetan Community in Seattle is how comfortable the kids are with monks and lamas, and how kind the spiritual teachers are with the young.

The photograph above was made a couple of weeks ago at a funeral service for a Tibetan elder, and, even though the event was serious and somber, you can see the sweetness of the moment.

The image below is from a birthday gathering the community held for one of the Lamas -- kids crowding around the lama as he cut the birthday cake.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Melt

My hiking friends and I have been wondering of late where Winter has gone.  We head to the mountains where, yes, a bit of white stuff still covers the very high peaks, but what we encounter on the lower-elevation approach trails is either bare ground,  or patchy ice.

It seems like it's been weeks and weeks since we had our last significant high country snowfall. Winter white that came down in November and early December is gone, or fading fast.  Creeks are melting in the valleys, and, on a six-thousand-foot summit we visited last week,  only a couple of inches of crusty, icy snow lingered.

This low snow year is not good news for the farmers in Central and Eastern Washington who depend on Spring runoff to fill rivers and reservoirs, precious water that will be used for irrigation of crops.

It's still early February, of course,  and there is certainly a chance the Pacific Northwest will get more mountain snow. Let's hope so, because without it, we're in for a dry summer.