A Year in Pictures – Salt Like Snow

Salt Like Snow
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

That isn’t snow on the ladder and tools; it’s an encrustation of salt crystals, built up over I don’t know how long — decades at least. This part of the Wieliczka Salt Mine looked like a winter wonderland.

A Year in Pictures – Petals on the Water

Petals on the Water
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Bodies of water are a mixed bag in photography: they’re very boring and flat and featureless, unless they’re reflecting stuff well or have something floating on them. This is a case of the latter making the image far more interesting than it would have been otherwise.

A Year in Pictures – Antelope Medallion

Antelope Medallion
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Maybe it’s a gazelle? I don’t know; I can’t tell my ungulates apart. It’s some kind of four-legged creature with horns, and it is one of the countless animal figures adorning random bits of the Natural History Museum in London, aka the Victorian cathedral to St. Darwin.

A Year in Pictures – Lights in the Darkness

Lights in the Darkness
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Okay, so it isn’t a menorah. (Actually, these candles are in Notre Dame, so really not Jewish.) But I love the image of little flames burning against the dark, and this is the most suitable picture I have to mark the beginning of Hanukkah. May those of you who celebrate it have a wonderful few days — and those of you who don’t celebrate it, too!

A Year in Pictures – Stairway to the Temple

Stairway to the Temple
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

I mentioned earlier this year that you have to walk barefoot up to Sravanabelagola, the Jain temple we visited in southern India. This is what the staircase looks like: steps carved into the enormous barren rock on which the temple itself stands. They bake in the sun, and therefore bake your feet, which is possibly part of the reason you’re supposed to walk there barefoot — I don’t know for sure.

A Year in Pictures – Temple of Hadrian

Temple of Hadrian
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

This is one of the more thoroughly reconstructed bits of Ephesus in Turkey. The people in charge of the place only rebuild a structure if they have enough pieces and enough sense of where they originally went to be confident of what they’re showing you; this one is obviously still missing quite a bit, but you can get a good sense of what the temple looked like back in the day.

A Year in Pictures – Also Not a Stave Church

Also Not a Stave Church
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

I have a deep and abiding love for this kind of green. Add in the warm tones of the wood and the beautiful architecture — this is another traditional-style church in the Zakopane region of Poland — and I am exceedingly happy with the result.

Sometimes the weather is actually a thing to discuss

I am a solar-powered person, and as such, winter is often a difficult time for me. Not just the short days, but the dreariness: grey skies and — at least theoretically, since I’ve come to live in the Bay Area — frequent rain. It makes me grumpy, and I long for sunny weather.

Of course, this hasn’t been so true of late. Not just that we’re in a drought, and saw almost no rain last winter, but my response to it. A month or two ago my mother asked whether we were still having “beautiful weather” out here. I said that at this point, my notion of “beautiful weather” is a nice steady downpour. Rain is no longer a cause for complaint; I feel like I ought to be grateful for what we get, and (so far, anyway) I am.

We’ve just been through a spate where it feels like the dry spells are things that interrupt the rain, rather than the rainy spells interrupting the dryness. It is, in a word, a godsend, and I hope it continues — though as my husband pointed out, the real question is how much snowfall the Sierra Nevadas are getting. What falls on the Bay Area as a liquid right now is nice, but what falls on the mountains as a solid is what we’ll be using all next summer. I’ve glanced at some sites trying to answer that question, but they’re all geared toward skiers, and I care less about how many lifts are running than about where we stand vis-a-vis the averages for this time of year. I feel like this much rain here must translate to some amount of snow inland, but I don’t really know the weather patterns of the region well enough to be sure.

There’s a storm coming in soon, though, and apparently we’re at risk of flooding because the ground is already saturated. This actually sounds like a good thing to me. (Much better than the kinds of floods Dallas is prone to, where everything runs off because the ground is so dry and hard, and the storm so brief and fierce, that nothing has time to sink in.) It’s a price to pay, of course, but if I have to choose between saturated ground and the winter we had last year, I choose the rain, every time.

Even if the weather does get me down sometimes.