Thanks to Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack? for yet another lovely theme!
I am tremendously honored to have my photos/words featured today on Broken Light Photography, a wonderful blog about people with mental illness and their photos and stories. Please check them out! Mental illness is horribly stigmatized in the dominant culture, but it is fundamentally NO DIFFERENT than any other illness–in fact, other illnesses (e.g. heart disease, diabetes) often have bad lifestyle habits contributing to them, whereas mental illnesses are a product of the stress and pollution and sociopathology of industrial civilization!
Photos taken by Jan Austin Smith, a 27-year-old man living in Northern California. His mother, a Psychiatrist, has depression, and his closest aunt is bipolar, so he has been around people with mental health issues his whole life, and has a tremendous amount of compassion for them. He thinks that mental issues are so maligned in the dominant culture, it is tragically sad. Jan has also suffered from depression and anxiety himself, which has been hugely exacerbated by disabling chronic nerve pain in his knees, and 5 knee surgeries. On his website, TheRewildWest, he writes about human, Earth, and animal liberation, as well as displays his beloved nature photography. He’s also a novelist, and editor/book reviewer for the Green Theory and Praxis Journal.
About the photos: “These photographs were shot at Mono Lake in northeastern California. This is one of my favorite places in the world, a magical place. In…
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I was only planning on doing a single Mono Pictorial, but a couple weeks ago I finagled myself a tremendous opportunity: David Carle (whom I quote in the first Mono Pictorial), agreed to meet with me for an interview! We emailed back and forth about it a couple years ago before I got locked up, but it never panned out because of my legal troubles. But he remembered me, and agreed to meet with me on my way down to Southern California–the next day!! So I had to haul ass and leave a day early, drive through Yosemite–and barely stop at all in that cathedral of wonders, because I was running late–to meet with him on time. He even let me crash at his place, which was wonderfully kind and compassionate (I would’ve otherwise had to try to sleep in the trunk and back seat of my tiny Corolla, which would’ve been liquid hell on my knees and back). AND he gave me free copies of his two novels! I plan to review Spotting Scope, his newest, hopefully for print publication.
Anyway, I got some gorgeous pictures and information to go along with it, as Mr. Carle was with me most of the time. Hope you enjoy! (Terrific interview and Spotting Scope review to come in due time)
The Mono Lake Committee, of which I am a former and future member, does TREMENDOUS work. I have three of their bumper stickers (which they give away for free at their Center in Lee Vining, right across from Mono) on my car. Here is a link to their information about Mono Lake/Basin birds. It is a great organization that does a huge amount for the imperiled Mono Lake.
“Of all the birds that come to Mono Lake, the Wilson’s Phalarope stands out as the hardiest traveler. These small shorebirds, not much larger than a fist, arrive at Mono Lake in mid-summer after breeding in the northern U.S. and southern Canada. At Mono Lake they molt their feathers and double their weight after several weeks. By the middle of September they have mysteriously disappeared. Leaving in stages during the cover of darkness, they depart for a journey that takes them all the way to South America. The fact that these birds fly over 3,000 non-stop miles to South America is amazing enough, but what is truly astonishing is how fast these little birds reach their destination–an unbelievable 3 days!” [emphasis added]
-From the Mono Lake Committee
See the black band in the middle-bottom of the picture? Those are a few thousand of the literally TRILLIONS of alkali flies at Mono, specially adapted to survive, in a symbiotic relationship with the brine shrimp, with Mono’s unique chemistry. According to Carle, scientists recently determined that Mono Lake is, in terms of sheer biomass produced, the most biologically productive lake in the WORLD.
Until next time, hope you enjoyed this week’s Pictorial Highlight of the Mono Basin, one of my most beloved bioregions of this incredible part of the our amazing Earth.
The Mono Basin, whose grandeur includes but is most definitely not limited to the famous Mono Lake, is one of my absolute favorite places. It has so many stunning features. Hopefully I capture and convey some of them to you, Dear Reader, with these pictures.
The “suds” seen on the bottom of this picture are from the incredible alkalinity of the lake; it’s like swishing around saltwater and baking soda!
The magnificent tufa formations are comprised mainly of calcium carbonate, formed when underground springs bubble up with minerals, coalescing and hardening and growing over thousands of years. Mono Lake is one of the most unique lakes in the world; it was birthed from nearby geologic activity over 1,000,000 years ago! David Carle is one of the foremost authorities (and writers) on Mono Lake and California ecology in general, and one of my inspirations for The Rewild West, my narrative nonfiction book for which I’m slowly gathering experience and research and material, of which this blog is a part. Here’s a terrific piece Carle wrote about the tufa. As he says therein, “Sure, a picture is worth a thousand words, but the real thing is always worth a thousand pictures….words strain to do [the tufa formations] justice.”
Thank you for viewing! Nothing compares to the real thing though…hope you enjoyed this week’s Pictorial Highlight ❤