No Peeking

Our cat Sam sits underneath the Christmas tree beside a box from Really Right Stuff on December 22, 2020. Original: _RAC1661.arw

We’re out of wrapping paper but the Tree Guardian makes sure there’s no peeking before Christmas morning! Although in this case I already know what’s inside this gift from my mom, it’s an L-bracket from Really Right Stuff for my Sony A6600 camera. I’ve had their sister bracket for my A6500 for a few years and love it. Most of my pet shots are handheld, as in this shot of Sam lit only by the lights of the tree, so I like that their brackets also feel good in the hand.

True Love

Our cat Emma walks away from the Christmas tree she knocked over while sleeping in its branches on December 17, 2009. Original: _MG_3243.cr2

It’s the time of year to repost one of my favorite images, from 2009, Emma and the tree she loved too much. Of all the loves through all of time I think none was as pure as her love for this tree. It only had to survive 7 years of her affections as she died far too young, but even so we decided when we left Portland that after a couple of decades it was time to say goodbye to the bedraggled old thing. We went without a tree our first two years in Arizona but I put up the new one last night, holding back a few tears thinking of how much easier it is to assemble without a black cat jumping into its branches before you can even piece it together.

Sled Dogs

A Christmas lights display of two dogs and a dogsled on a snowy Christmas Eve in the Irvington neighborhood of Portland, Oregon

I felt as though I had stepped into a Jack London novel as I walked my neighborhood on a snowy Christmas Eve. Ellie normally wants to greet every dog she meets so I was surprised she was uninterested in these two, but probably for the best, so focused were they on the task at hand.

Misconceptions

A house with Chritmas lights on a snowy Christmas Eve in the Irvington neighborhood of Portland, Oregon

I lived in small towns and cities growing up so the only urban neighborhoods I saw were the ones I saw on TV, which tended to be a sea of concrete and asphalt. So I was surprised when we started looking at houses in Portland years ago and found established neighborhoods full of unique old houses and old trees. This is our neighborhood of Irvington, covered in a light dusting of snow on Christmas Eve. I’m going to miss how walkable this neighborhood is, I’m going to miss these old houses, and I’m certainly going to miss these old trees. People talk about the heat in Arizona but the thing that struck me when I visited on a cooler day was both the dry air and the lack of shade due to the lack of trees.

It’s not just that it will be hot in the summer, but that you can’t escape the sun. I have an old bottle of sunscreen, I can’t even tell you how old it is, because I only use it when I’m up above the tree line or when I travel. Normally I hike in long sleeves, long pants, and a brimmed hat, and since I’m usually hiking in the forest I don’t have to worry about the sun. That’s about to change, but lest I sound too negative, I am genuinely excited about exploring the desert and photographing the completely different landscapes, plants, and animals.

My hunch and my hope is that I will love both places, my old home and my new home, and that I’ll appreciate each for what they are.