Lunchtime Photo

California has had an excellent rainy season, and for the first time in years no part of the state is suffering a drought at the moment. This moment probably won’t last long, but while it’s here I’ve been celebrating by taking pictures of water and its relatives: wildflowers, green hills, surging creeks, and so forth. This week’s photos are dedicated entirely to California’s water bounty, starting yesterday with my pictures of our local poppy bloom. It continues today with this picture of Ortega Falls, rendered in the long-exposure silkiness that everyone loves:

March 18, 2019 — Cleveland National Forest, California

And now for the sad story that accompanies this. In last week’s superbloom post I mentioned that I had only seen the bloom accidentally: I was on Ortega Highway for a different reason and accidentally overshot my destination. Well, this was my destination.

I had driven out to Ortega Falls hoping that it would be nice looking what with all the water we now have. But I also chose it because the falls are only a short quarter-mile hike from the road. That sounded perfect.

And it turned out to be true: the hike was only a quarter of a mile. Unfortunately, it was a quarter mile almost literally straight up and down in places, something I didn’t quite realize until I had already gone too far. Normally, even for an old fogey like me, this would be an annoyance but not much more. Unfortunately, several years ago I lost a big chunk of my breathing capacity for reasons that remain a mystery to everyone. Then a few weeks ago I got a cold that settled into my chest, and I discovered that with my breathing already compromised chest congestion was a real killer. By last week, however, the chest congestion was nearly gone, I thought, and a quarter mile would be no big deal.

I was so, so wrong. On my way back up from the falls, I was pulling myself up about ten feet at a time before stopping for five minutes to catch my breath. Rinse and repeat. I finally made it back to the top, but I almost collapsed doing it. It took me five hours to fully recover, which is about 4½ hours longer than I’ve ever needed to recover from anything in my life. The combination of breathing problems, chemotherapy, and chest congestion was something I should have taken far more seriously.

And to make it worse, I only got one picture out of the deal. It’s an OK picture, but certainly not worth the effort it took.

TOMORROW: The green hills of Irvine.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.