also while in California….

I spent a few days with Lydia, my dear friend and long-ago mission trainee.

My Wisconsin-centric brain was so giddy to spend Christmas Eve playing outside in 60 degree weather. I went barefoot as often as I could.

Lydia’s great family and I shared colorful stories, ate mind-numbingly-delicious food, hiked abundant countryside, discussed heart-expanding topics, evangelized the wonders of kefir (which may or may not actually be manna), sweat liters at the Bikram yoga studio, and slept in as long as we wanted. Looking back through my camera, it turns out I mainly just took photos of plants.



Merry Christmas everyone.

Color Migration

(Maple Canyon. Mid September.
 ps- I didn’t even saturate this photograph. These colors are the real deal.)

Fall colors. I guess that’s what they do. Colors fall. Over a month ago I danced in firey trees, but I had to drive high into the canyon to find the most extreme color palettes. In following weeks, the yellows and oranges and reds came dripping down towards me. The lowest skirts of the Wasatch Range were an unbelievable patchworks of lobulate colors, decorating the dips and channels where water flows.

Then the colors flooded down to the valley floor, starting at the upper tips of branches and working inward to each tree’s core. During summer months, plant life agrees on various hues of green. But come fall, each family proudly flags a different color. And the heavy branches reveal how successfully each species reproduced.

Now the high mountain paths are fading to brown and the valley floor is swallowing up its rosey copper meal. Only the lowest tree branches still wear firey gowns. The earth will hold the fallen colors in until spring.

As the earth thaws in spring time, the valley floor will awaken and the colors will travel—in reverse direction now—slowly across the valley floor, up into the tree canopies, and then up the mountain sides. It’s a journey that takes many months. Not until very late summer will the mountain tops again be decorated in a rainbow of flowers.

(Big Cottonwood Canyon. Late August.)


Nature rarer uses yellow
Than another hue;
Saves she all of that for sunsets,–
Prodigal of blue,
Spending scarlet like a woman,
Yellow she affords
Only scantly and selectly,
Like a lover’s words.

Thank you, Emily Dickinson, for helping me to appreciate
the spectacular colors of this season.


For a few years now I’ve been welcoming in the new year by greeting the sun. This year at sunrise I hiked up a mountain with a dear friend…for eight hours…in 25 below zero weather. Stunning…in many ways.

Painting with the moon

Light is fascinating. In honor of the Perseid Meteor Shower‘s peak tonight, I wanted to share some of my playing and learning and loving of light. This summer I came across something I wrote back in the early 90’s:

So I’ve liked bright things for a long time. Quite possibly my favorite bright thing is the moon. (Some day I’ll probably name a daughter Luna). Recently I was lying on my crusty grass, shooting hopelessly inadequate photos of a full moon, and I made a discovery. A long shutter speed makes is possible to paint with the moon! Here’s a little collage of a sampling from my first round of paintings (I’m particularly proud of the letter “A” that I drew):

The only reason I can say that the moon ranks higher on my list than the sun is that they really are the same light source. One of my assignments at work is to help design an exhibit about photosynthesis. Richard Feynman has been a great source of inspiration for this project. I recommend you take 4 and a half minutes and listen to this Nobel Prize-winning physicist talk about light. He is a brilliant teacher. The sun, moon, plants, fire…it’s all pretty similar when we look through the lens of energy. And, some notable text would add that the same light of the sun, moon, and stars are fueled by a more transcendent light. “And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings; Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space— The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things” (D&C 88:11-13).

A week ago, camped along Bullfrog Basin at Lake Powell, I captured some images that rival my moon paintings. Four small children, siblings, were giggling as they ran in the dark parking lot. Each one had a small headlamp.

That same night I captured my first lightning bolt in film. I love light.