Today would have been my father’s 81st birthday. Dad was one of those people who did everything well, but I don’t think there was anything he enjoyed more than photography. His work kept him so busy that the only time he ever got to take pictures was when he was on vacation, but he made up for lost time then. I’ll be eternally grateful for his love of the outdoors that laid the foundation for my own passion for nature.
Because our family vacations were spent camping, hiking, and fishing, I grew up believing that a camera was a standard outdoor accessory. When I became old enough to pursue (and fund) my own interests, I purchased a camera of my own and pretty much never let go of it. But like Dad, personal imperatives (family, work, bills) kept photography in the hobby category for most of my adult life. And with our own conflicting, demanding schedules, we found little time to shoot together, though I think there was an implicit understanding that those days would come. Alzheimer’s disease was the last thing anyone expected.
Sentinel Dome is the site of my most vivid photographic memory of my dad, which I wrote about in my first WordPress blog. My brother, Jay, and I go shooting together quite a bit and we share the feeling that Dad is watching and maybe even pulling some strings for us, a feeling that’s never stronger than it is at Sentinel Dome.
The color of this Sentinel Dome sunset was off the charts. There’s really not much I can say to people who doubt the red in this image, except maybe to suggest that they should get out more. Color in nature far from subtle, and the color of this sunset, while not unprecedented, was at the most vibrant extreme of anything I’ve witnessed, one of the few times when it’s seemed that the air actually buzzes with crimson and the entire world assumes the color of the sky. I remember in the middle of it all looking down and seeing the hair on my arms literally standing on end, vibrating red.
These goose-bump moments are pure joy. I know Dad experienced them, and I can’t help thinking of him when they happen to me. While I’m sad Dad never got to see the product of his legacy, I know he’d be proud of my success, just as I’m proud of him.