Monday, June 30, 2014

Never the same arrangement twice

Corn Lilies and Lupine, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

My style of photography has always been to capture a "living wilderness." I believe the Earth is as alive as we are. And that means it is dynamic — always changing.

Because our lifespans are so short, it's hard to fathom a time when Mount Rainier wasn't there, when the Hawaiian islands were tiny buds on the bottom of the ocean, when the Grand Canyon was filled. But there are plenty of changes that we can witness.

For me, one of the most visible changes is with the wildflowers in the mountain meadows of Washington state. Some of the meadows are buried under snow for more than half the year. As summer arrives, a carpet of yellow glacier lilies replaces the snow. A few weeks later, they're replaced by white avalanche lilies. Eventually, they're replaced by a wide assortment of flowers, including lupine, bear grass, and paintbrush.

In addition to that change within a year, there can also be dramatic change year-to-year. If the weather is ideal, wildflowers in every imaginable color can completely cover a meadow. In an average year, there are fewer wildflowers both in terms of variety and absolute number. And some years, the wildflowers may not bloom at all.

The annual change can be a reminder not to take anything for granted. Miss this year's bloom and you may not get another chance for a few years.

But it can also provide an exciting opportunity. Even if you've photographed a particular meadow before, it will be different this summer. And next summer. And the summer after that.

I can't wait to see what this summer's wildflower season brings.

(This fall, Kevin Ebi will be publishing his first comprehensive portfolio of his nature photography in a book called Living Wilderness. Join the Living Wilderness email list to learn how to order your copy. Your personal information will not be shared with anyone.)

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