Besuty or Not Besuty? That is the question.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I meant to type beauty but I fat-fingered besuty, instead. I was going for the thought of subtle beauty but the sound of the malformed word seemed to capture the idea I was trying to express better than the original. Why not have an explicit word for subtle beauty? Serendipity is the bastard father of many an idea.

Well, any decent word should have an antonym and the opposite of besuty is the opposite of subtle not beauty. The phrase “raging beauty” comes to mind. So the antonym of besuty, in the interest of symmetry, must be beruty. So there you have it, besuty and beruty, my two attempts at new contributions to the English language. And as a kicker I’ve extended the grammar with the idea of an infix, meaning a change of root directly and systematically as an alternative to using a prefix or a postfix, as fitting to modify the root beaut-, a new twist on the expression of inner beauty.

But I digress and enough neology and cleverness for the moment. Let’s get to the hypothesis I originally intended. In this time when so many leaf-peepers are posting the beruty of fall foliage in four-season climates, those of us living through the hot and dry season of our two-season Mediterranean climate still have much in the way to offer with besuty, but we will have to work harder for it. It’s there. It may be small. It may be hard to see. It rarely reaches out and grabs us like the radiant colors of pre-dormant trees or the mega-blooms of spring or the majesticness of a mountain. As besuty suggests, it’s subtle and easy to miss.

Given the alternate hypothesis, I now state the null hypothesis as, “Hot and dry is not beauty. It is common and dull.” Let me see if I can change your mind. What do you say?

The first capture is a dried-out fern I found under a bush. The sunlight lit up the fern like a revelation. I post-processed it to black and white. I think black and white shows off the interplay of light and shadow better than color.

Fern Tree

How about this star-shaped flower carcass? It inspires images of weathering windmills that have lost their willpower to wait any longer for the winds.

The Windmill

The curtain hangs in Hellhole Canyon, consumed in Paradise and Witch fires in 2003 and 2007. The black char has faded to grey and new foliage grows slowly out of the base of the post-fire stumps. The wavy arms of the gray limbs could very well be the skeleton of the flames themselves.


The dark centered circle gives this the appearance of a bush of eyes, the all-seeing tree in the chaparral. It’s quite common along the trails in the area, but does common preclude besuty? Or is it exactly the reason we fail to see it so often?

The Tree of Eyes

I love the abstract pattern of the whorl, the contrast of purple and green in the blades, and the threat of sharp-tipped barbs.


How about the forest of fronds? The brown and gray make one last stand before crumbling back into the ground. Does it remind you of an above-water coral reef?

Frond Forest

Besuty or not besuty, that is the question? My brother would ask, art or not art? I enjoy the thrilling beruty of grand images and intoxicating colors as much as the next photographer but don’t forget to look for the besuty in the common as well.

High Rises (in a Dr. Suess book)

Poetry in a Picture

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Freeway Bird

Bird still, on a chain-link fence,
Its backyard interstate, racing whence.

Shimmy of shiny reflection exposed,
Disappears menacingly into dark holes.

Goldfinch Pair

Finch pair perches, differences abide,
Surveying the same differently, side by side.

Golden Puffball

Golden downy tuft of fluff,
A thorny thistle once sheathed it tough.

Diamond Back

Diamond-studded viper lies in wait,
serpentines away when I don’t take the bait

Scrub Jay

Jay chased from its day,
squabbles at me, “Get out of my way”

Orb Weave Spider in Web

Cross king centered on its thrown,
the threaded palace is its home.

Kit Rabbit

Wide-eyed kit sits alone,
Naive to a world, it’ll barely know.

River lake to the ocean wends,
Under a sea of fog, it ends.

Taking photos, leaving only prints,
You now have the record of my stint.

Quest for the Green Flash

Reading Time: 4 minutes

A flourish of trumpets. Not a grand entrance, think a quest, like King Arthur from the most Holy Grail of Monty Python. The holy grail in this case is the green flash. It’s one of those things you can wait your whole life for and never see, like Mercury or a full solar eclipse.

The Tale of the Fog.


It’s summer. It’s hot. There is not a cloud in the sky. If I’m going to hike, I’m going to hike on the beach. I figure if I time it right, I might be able to catch a sunset. So I pick up my son and drive over to Torrey Pines. Instead of finding clear skies and a sunset, we find fog and high tide. The fog is so thick it is night time in the day. Instead of pelican’s plunging into the ocean for fish, I see phantoms in the shadows dive-bombing into the unknown. Creepy crustaceans with big black eyes coat the sandy walls of the cliffs, which we are forced up against as the waves of the high tide lap at our legs. The murky fog is a minimalist dream, if only for some more light.

A man passes asking me if I know if it is the high tide. It most definitely is high tide. But he is heading south into the rocks and cliffs. He wants to know if it is THE high tide. I don’t know. I would have thought that high tide occurs when the moon is straight overhead or at the exact opposite side, but it is not so, this is only true in a perfect spherical world, one of all water. Alas, the tides know no table and the world is not perfect. Landmasses and other effects determine the exact times. THE high tide is still to come in about an hour but three hours ahead of midnight about the time I would expect the full moon to be straight overhead.

The Tale of the Mountain View

Fog Bank

I hiked up this rather steep trail before to a ridgeline from which I discovered you can see the Pacific Ocean in spots before. I thought it would be a great spot to catch a sunset, particularly if the sunset lines up with views to the Pacific. I made it a point to return.

So suffering from acute cabin fever on an off Friday from work, I decide about an hour before sunset to see if I can’t hike up the mountain and score a few pictures. Because of the steepness of the trail, the lack of anything remotely resembling traction on the bottom of my shoes, and dusty, slippery, grain-sized granite, I bring my hiking poles with. In my mind, I glide to the top like a cross-country skier with the intensity of an Olympic champion. In reality, I am fast enough to make it to the top with about fifteen minutes to spare before sunset.

I find a decent rock to take pics from, but I can see the huge cloudbank covering the coast dashing my dreams of the sun dropping into water and its yellow-orange tail following it over the horizon. I set up the iPhone for a timelapse setting of the sun, admire the deepening colors of the golden hour, and snap a few pictures. A fog bank and a sunset have their own charms.

On the trip back, in the blue hour, I say hi to a pretty girl walking a dog who admired my walking poles, watch bats dart across the trail, and follow an owl as it glides silently in front of me. No pictures of any of them. Not sure how I would do that anyway. Skittish girls, flitting bats, and gliding owls, never listen to my requests to stay still long enough to take a picture in the dark.

So, what does that say about me and the times that the highlight of my day is escaping the confines of my house for a sunset on a Friday evening? When I later checked the pics, I discovered a hint of green in the sliver of the sun as it disappeared into the fog bank. The green flash? Okay, not quite but definitely caught some green. An image of the Holy Grail hovering over a castle in the distance.

The Tale of the Most Holy Grail

After a five-mile hike up and down the beach from Torrey Pines to Dog Beach in Del Mar, the sun drops out from behind a purple cloud curtain, not quite the eye of god poking through an opening in the clouds, but nevertheless, an impressive game of peekaboo. As the sun reasserts itself, surfers ply their trade in the foreground in a mild surf, fishermen troll the shallow waters for surf fish, and shorebirds plunder the plentitude of sand crabs.

No sooner then the sun pops out from behind one curtain it begins dropping behind another. The red-orange ball of fusion morphs from a full sphere to the outlines of an exploding earthly fusion bomb to a blip. The blip doesn’t disappear over the horizon, it turns green, fades, and disappears into a point just above the horizon.

The green flash. The most Holy Grail of sunsets. This is the real deal. A life long quest satisfied. I see it. I have a witness. I have a picture. It really exists.

I admit it is not a great picture. But that is how it goes with mythological creatures. Ask the Bigfoot photographer. Ask the Loch Ness monster photographer.

The quest is not at an end, only a beginning, now that I know it is real. You never know. I know I can see it again even if it takes another sixty years. I will be looking for it or die trying. Besides, what else am I going to do on a Friday night?

Sunset Pics.

Torrey Pines.