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Wild Cucumbers, Random Reviews

On Saturday, I took a walk up towards St. Joseph’s Hill over Los Gatos, California. I’ve been walking on this hill about once a week for some twenty years so I guess I’ve been up there nearly a thousand times. It’s always new to me, because Nature’s a fractal.

It’s been raining this week, but the rain let up for a day, and I could enjoy how green everything is.

I took my new 100 mm macro lens along and shot mostly small stuff. This is the tip of a tendril of an early spring vine called wild cucumber that we get out here.

I really love the shapes of the tendrils, they form conical helices, and latch onto lots of other plants.

In a month or two, the wild cucumbers bear their fruits, which are spiky green pouches akin to scrotums, filled with a pair of big seeds and milky juice.

Here and there, I could even spot the vestiges of last year’s wild cucumber crop. I see more details when I’m carrying around a macro lens—I’m looking at the world in a special, detail-oriented way.

The sun hit these berries in just the right way to set three hanging water drops alight. Whoah.

What else did I do this weekend? We saw Paula Poundstone do a stand-up comedy gig at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz. She was pretty funny, with that edge of bitterness and misanthropy that so many stand-up comics have. But she showed up a frikkin’ hour late, and kept telling us some boring B.S. story that she’d slept through the plane’s landing in San Jose, and had ridden it on to Portland. Right. Like the plane people aren’t going to clear out the plane at ever stop?

I didn’t like that Paula thought she could stand there and lie to us. But, like I say, she made me laugh. She did a thing about a near-death experience and she didn’t see any dead friends and relatives or any white light, and she’s like, “Even in the afterlife they’re avoiding me! They’re, like, ‘Quick, hide the light!’” The light is a water drop on a cucumber vine, you understand.

We watched “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” on DVD. It had a few laughs, but not quite as many as I’d expected. Earlier this week we saw “Revolutionary Road,” which was somewhat better than I expected, I’d thought it would just be lots of bitter yelling—there was a lot of that, but they had a good crazy mathematician.

I finished reading Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs’s early work “And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks.” It’s amazing to me how weak their writing was at that early stage, considering how good they got later on. It’s a complicated process. In some ways, their writing later on seemed better because by then each of them had built up a “brand” and a personal legend.

I think Buddha means “grow.” So this bud is Buddha. It’s a chestnut tree. They’re always in such a hurry to grow up, these chestnuts. They turn yellow and lose their leaves by August. “Live fast, die young, leave a beautiful buckeye.”

I totally zinged this shot—I saw it, this giant hilltop tree that I love, and a nice tasty cute single-unit cloud overhead, and I had the 100 mm lens and I was able to frame it just right. The hill was all in shadow in the original, but I ran the Photoshop Shadow/Highlight adjustment and got the light back on the hill. The thing about digital photography—a whole of information about the scene is present in your image file, and you can excavate things that you can’t even see to start with.

I’ve shot these vents before, but today I was able to get more of them into the picture thanks to the telephoto effect.

Up on the hill, I have this nice view of San Jose, it’s an isolated whole, the downtown. And I always think of a story about a boy meeting up with an old hermit, and they’re walking towards the actually rather poky little market town nearby, and from a hilltop they glimpse the city, and the hermit, who’s a religious fanatic, starts railing against the town, “Yea the mighty shall be brought down, the walls of Babylon shall fall, woe unto the wicked.” And, really, its just ordinary people living their lives down there, and the furious hermit is hopping up and down shaking his gnarled fist. The boy—he’s eager to get into the town. Like Mason Reynolds in The Hollow Earth.

M. C. Escher made some nice etchings of things reflected in puddles. This shows a tree with some branches and leaves dandling over a muddy puddle near a spot where I usually crawl under a fence to get back down to my house. I miss having my dog Arf along for that part.

5 Responses to “Wild Cucumbers, Random Reviews”

  1. Peter Turney Says:

    I love your photographs. Not just this latest batch, but pretty much all of them.

  2. Squidhelmet Says:

    Those branches reflected in the puddle of the last shot are so vivid! This blog is always a really calming and meditative read. Thank you Rudy!

  3. matt Says:

    “I think Buddha means “grow.” So this bud is Buddha.”

    I like this. Officially, buddha means “awakened”, but i really don’t see the difference here.

  4. Priscilla Coit Murphy Says:

    Love your photography, your eye; really enjoyed these and commentary – a nice, unexpected interlude for me.

  5. Steve H Says:

    It’s the way you look at things and what you choose to inspect out of all the possibilities, and having Arf there to stick his nose into things would indeed have added another dimension to it. Interesting angle, that there is hidden data in digital pictures; wonder what we’re missing? ‘What senses do we lack that we cannot see another world all around us?’
    Hey, maybe you can’t get into the next world if you are a thinking being; you have to have a dog along to find the door or seam for you. Or a yuel to find your way back . . .


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