Friday I took a drive with my daughter to Santa Barbara to visit my son, her brother. She had to be home early in the evening because friends were visiting. He assured us he wouldn’t be able to spend too much time because he was working on his music. We all knew it would be an up and back trip. A bit over three hours in the car for a three hour visit.
Driving up in the bright sunshine of the January day, talking about not much and everything, we arrived on the coast to see the ocean flat, like a lake. The Channel Islands were visible in the distance, not as vague shapes, but as clearly defined peaks and valleys, separated across the waveless sea. My focus on them, I didn’t notice the oil rigs that dotted the channel between the coast and the islands.
We decided to spend the first part of the visit eating at a Japanese restaurant. We talked about nothing and everything. Next stop was the Goleta beach where we walked onto the very long pier to its end. I snapped pictures of the seaweed in the water, the gulls along the pier, the river entering the ocean, a flock of pelicans, and my son and daughter delightfully hugging, posing for a picture at the end of the pier. On the way back I snapped pictures of the shore, a shipwreck in the distance. I looked down on the wooden planks of the pier and noticed the knothole. I bent to take a picture through the hole, then noticed the eye shape. Even on macro the camera would not click. I was too close. I called my 6 foot plus son to come and take the picture. I told him he was further away and I wanted the picture. I love to find human presence in unexpected places. I especially like to find it in wood. He took three pictures.
As we walked away I wondered about creative license. Who held it? I found the shot, he pulled the shutter. I decided I’d give us both credit. After all, my original intent was to take it minus shadow.
As I look at the eye, I don’t now see it as human. I think the skin around it distracts me. An elephant perhaps? I do know the knothole reminds me of something living. Something alive. Like the day.
We left the pier and went to the Monarch Butterfly preserve. The butterflies mesmerized us as we sat on the logs and looked up in the glen. I could have sat for hours. But, she had to get back for her friends, and he had to get back to his music. Reluctantly, each of us left, commenting about the connection to the experience. A quick trip to his music space, a quick meeting and hug with my daughter-in-law, then back to the freeway and to home.
The restaurant, the beach, the pier, the preserve, the day. Memorable. Connecting. Freeing. Floating. Like the monarchs on their yearly path. Like the watchful eye. Waiting for discovery. Patient. Peaceful.