August in the Marin Headlands means a heavy dose of wet, white fog. It is my favorite time to hike here—a rare chance to climb way up into the sky. They say that the hills here were formed by the tensions of the San Andreas Fault. It is here that the invisible stress of Mother Earth is made visible for all to see. The hills are gentle reminders of the grumbling that's going on far below the surface. And with this strain and with this fog we're allowed to scrape the heavens. That's why I so love August in these Marin Headlands.
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Short and nasty. A heatwave hit us here in Northern California last week. The summer had been the coldest I can remember. It was fog for weeks, maybe months. After awhile the days blur together into a diffuse mass of whiteness. Then, in a moment, everything got hot. Very hot. A few days later, just as quickly as it came, it was over. The fog whipped in and the whiteness once again prevailed.
Head stuff swimming around in the skull—if I don't get out and move, my brain moves around inside itself. Kinetic energy. I've been on the phone too much, blabbing with far-away voices. Recorded voices, technical-support voices, customer-service voices. My brain goes round and round, trying to grasp the post-modern world. It isn't working.
The quail in song.
It was during the standoff with the rabbit that I met the quail. He was standing in the brush. In the fog. Deep in the dream of the morning I heard his song. Like the soft gauze of fog, his coo swirled around the hilltop. His beak opened with a smile. He laughed at the rabbit and me, wondering who would move first.
"Keep moving," I said to myself, almost aloud. I was retracing the steps of a hike I'd taken a few weeks before. Memory plays tricks. I had no map, just the sketchings of a currently-distracted mind. My head was trying to remember a trail set against azure skies. However, on this day there was a fog so thick I could barely see my feet. "Was this where I turned?" This time I said it out loud for sure.
The cloak of summer fog makes the Marin coastline a play land of imagination. High in the coastal hills the chilly stew hugs land like a translucent shroud. One can walk straight into a dream—eyes wide open. It's a short trip to a land of eternal childhood.
High atop one of the tallest hills in the Marin Headlands is an FAA antenna. Looking like an odd, little silo, it can be seen from quite a distance. As one approaches it, its strangeness emerges. It stands in utter silence, braced against the ocean wind. Surrounded by a gleaming white fence, it is unapproachable. Warning signs tell hikers to stay away, stay off, don't tamper. Lives are at stake. In the post-9/11 world one dares not go near anything related to air traffic safety. I figured the fence was electrified or had some weird force field emanating from it. I steered way clear of the damned thing.
"Do you guys know how to get back on the Coastal Trail, going north?" I asked two hikers. I was getting desperate. I'd been hiking for about twelve miles on a hike that was supposed to be less than eight. I'd passed the stage of being curiously lost.
I just finished a new gallery on my website entitled, Marin Shadows. The body of work has been emerging unconsciously, which I suppose means, I really can't explain it. It is the result of the mystery of creativity. If one truly lets go and allows the creative process to do work, unexpected things emerge. I never planned to photograph dark, dreamlike images of Marin landscape in black & white. It just happened. And right after I proclaimed, on this very blog, that I'd had enough of it, I found more to say, more to do, more images in my database that wanted to be shown the light of day. And so, on it goes.