Groundhog Day Desert Heat

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Joshua Tree, Hot Day, Mojave National Preserve, California, USA

Joshua Tree, Hot Day, Mojave National Preserve, California, USA

Punxsutawney Phil says six more weeks of winter! Happy Groundhog Day, Campers! Rise and shine!!

Here is some dry heat as an antidote!  This photo screams hot and arid.

But first, what is Groundhog Day?

In the USA there is a tradition of publicizing whether a certain groundhog sees his shadow on February 2. If he does, then it is supposed to predict more winter. The small town of Gobbler’s Knob, Pennsylvania picked up on an ancient myth from the Roman holiday of Candlemas. When candles were blessed and handed out a tradition grew that if it was sunny then there would be more winter. The Romans took this tradition with them on their northern conquests and eventually German settlers brought these beliefs to Pennsylvania. In 1887 Gobbler’s Knob groundhog hunters formed a club and the local newspaper saw an opportunity for publicity and commerce and the American Groundhog Day celebration was founded (State of Pennsylvania website).

Now, why this photo and how can I make a segue from Groundhog Day?

Candlemas and Groundhog Day both seem like efforts to bring light and celebration to the darkenss and cold of winter. They are a proactive way to deal with gloom that some people feel in winter. (It doesn’t seem like knowing the prediction is for more winter would help those people, but that must be the goal.) It is a diversion and time for celebration.

So this photo is my effort to offer an antidote for winter, for those who need it. If you love winter like me, then it is just a reminder of summer places.

Even though this photo looks desolate, there are many burrowing animals in deserts like these. But I don’t know if Punxsutawney Phil would survive here.

I had spent two weekend days trying to photograph the long vistas of the Mojave National Preserve near Kelso, California, USA. I didn’t end up with many photos that I liked, but I had a very interesting time. I am always impressed with the quiet. Occasionally there are breezes that rustle through the brush, but not many other sounds. There are very few passing cars and no other sounds of civilization. I did get caught in a strong thunder shower and had to take cover in the rental car. It passed after 10 minutes.

This photo was just an ad lib photo on my way back. All of my planned photos had really not worked. But, I saw this old Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia Engelm.) near the road. I was interested in the lighting and the sky. The rugged granitic mountains in the background add to the harshness of the scene. I worked around the tree until I could get its leaves highlighted against the clouds and sky, but still showing the mountains in the background. The clouds kept spreading and getting more interesting as I photographed. The tree itself looked like it had been battered by weather or fire and had grown back. The gravelly and sandy soil helps complete the picture of dryness.

This is a different world than winter in Gobbler’s Knob, far from the cold, contrived commercialism, noise, and spiced cider. Hot and dry and quiet. I hope that helped!  Photo: 1/160 s at f/20




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