The Corte Madera Drainpipe | Mark Lindsay

The well-worn path is like a college dorm room. Old wall posters become invisible after a couple of years, even the ugliest of them. So too do the homely sights along my daily walks. Telephone poles, street signs—even abandoned tires in the local flood canal—they all melt away with repeated sightings. Mostly this is a good thing. When I was in college, there were some truly butt-ugly posters around. Grateful Dead fans, you know what I mean. And along with that omnipresent Deadhead skull of my youth, my selective vision has made a few power transformers simply disappear from sight. The human mind is a wondrous thing.

There’s a galvanized-steel drainpipe not far from my house that is right in the middle of my sight line when I’m taking a morning walk. It empties into a pond in the park. Unlike most of the homely landmarks along this trek, I actually notice the pipe every time I encounter it. I’ve photographed it a hundred times, probably more. But the results have never been successful. This morning I saw it yet again. This time I walked right up to it and watched the passing April clouds in the pond’s water. A morning storm was passing through and had left behind the most brilliant-green grass, weeds, and sprouting fennel fronds I’d ever seen. Right then, right there, I knew that I’d finally found my drainpipe photo. Sometimes you know an image is right the instant the shutter clicks.

Ironically, I chose to render the image in black & white. The green growth was seductive in its emerald glory but I’ve always seen this drainpipe in shades of gray.