Almost autumn beauty by the river.

It’s almost autumn. Tomorrow we’ll experience the autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. And the weather feels a bit like it.

I rose early this morning and found myself walking by the San Diego River in Mission Valley, enjoying the cool air. I moved slowly along the river wondering when the sun might break through the gray clouds. Maybe later in the morning.

Even though the very gradually yellowing leaves and gray, wrinkled trunks of nearby cottonwood trees seemed dull under the overcast, in places I found patches of unexpected light. Here and there new green was pushing through. I even found tiny flowers.

Nature in every season is beautiful.

It’s right there in front of you.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Victor Ochoa’s Tree of Life in San Ysidro!

Victor Ochoa is a world-famous muralist, activist and pioneer of the Chicano art movement whose work can be found throughout San Diego, particularly in Chicano Park. You can learn more about him here.

Should you stroll through San Ysidro Park, between West and East Park Avenue, just north of the San Ysidro Civic Center, you’ll probably see what appears to be a raised square platform in the middle of the grass. As you move closer this colorful public art, titled Arbol de la Vida (Tree of Life), comes into focus. It’s a tile mosaic planter and bench that surrounds a tree!

I can find almost nothing about this public art when I search the internet. Written on the tiles is the following:

Arbol de la Vida by Victor Ochoa, 1995. Commissioned for the community of San Ysidro and the citizens of San Diego through the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture. Tree of Life.

It appears the overall design was created by Victor Ochoa and the tiles were painted by local children.

Do you know more about his wonderful public artwork? If you do, leave a comment!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Standing woman sculpture at UC San Diego.

There’s an unusual sculpture at UC San Diego rising high in the air between the Medical Teaching Facility and the Basic Sciences Building. I say it’s unusual because it doesn’t feature a “usual” depiction of the human form and I’m not sure how it affects me.

The piece’s title is Standing, and its creator is artist Kiki Smith. The public art was added to UCSD’s Stuart Collection in 1998.

Gazing up at the small, vulnerable figure you’ll notice what appear to be nails sticking out from her upper body. It looks like an example of a surgical procedure in a medical textbook. It makes her look like a passive, punctured thing, not a vibrant human. The form appears tired, aged, fragile, resigned to her inescapable condition. It strikes me the sculpture depicts a confrontation with our human mortality. She stands atop a severed tree trunk. Her face seems to ask: Why me? When the fountain feature is on (it wasn’t when I walked by), water drips from her hands. I almost wonder if the dripping water makes one think of draining blood.

Yet, to me, the sculpture isn’t really that morbid. It’s simply seems a clear-eyed observation of the material human condition.

An interpretation from the website that describes the piece emphasizes certain dualities: “Cast from a live model, the female figure atop Standing calls forth thoughts of human strength and frailty, and both the power and the limits of medicine. Serene and ageless, she stands in a Madonna-like pose that is both vulnerable and generous. Ribbons of water – the source of life – flow from her hands into the rock-lined pond below, with a soothing, mellifluous sound.”

Perhaps my own interpretation is too bleak. It’s hard to see past those nails. They remind me of an earthworm dissection I performed using a square of cardboard and pins in high school. Perhaps if clear bright water was flowing from her hands my feelings would change.

If there is strength and generosity in this sculpture, it comes from within the form, from a place unseen–an organ those sharp painful nails cannot reach. And the water’s sound must be the gentle sound of present living. A sonorous whisper from a human standing.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Progress at Old Town’s new Kumeyaay park.

I walked around Old Town San Diego this afternoon looking for anything interesting or new. As I passed the area that is being developed into a new outdoor park with Kumeyaay interpretive displays, I noticed great progress has been made. I last blogged about this spacious new park in early May, and provided much more information about it here.

Today, as I walked along the west side of this new park, I took some photos over the construction fence. I saw that many native trees have been planted!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Many colorful birdhouses in Santee trees!

Look what I spied yesterday! As I walked along the San Diego River Trail in Santee, a bit west of Cuyamaca Street, I came upon two sycamore trees that were absolutely filled with small, very colorful birdhouses!

I noticed that names and dates were painted on the base of many houses. It appeared to me some were created in May of this year. Others were dated 2018. I don’t know whose fun project this was. If anyone knows, leave a comment!

The nest boxes–some are very tiny–have been very creatively designed and are like small works of art. I’m not sure whether any birds have used them. It does appear spiders like them! These wonderful little birdhouses dangle like ornaments from branches that are a few feet from the San Diego River Trail where many people walk and ride bikes.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

A walk by the beautiful river in Santee.

Marker beside the San Diego River Trail in Santee.
Marker beside the San Diego River Trail in Santee.

Yesterday I walked along a section of the beautiful San Diego River in Santee.

I started from Cuyamaca Street and headed west down the San Diego River Trail. When I reached the east edge of Mast Park, I turned south onto a dirt path, crossed the river via a footbridge, then turned back west once I reached a trail that follows the south side of the river. I continued west along a wooden fence until it came to an end, then turned back to Cuyamaca Street.

Here are my photos.

Starting west from Cuyamaca Street on the north side of the river.
Starting west from Cuyamaca Street on the north side of the river.

View toward the river broadens from the trail.
View toward the river broadens from the trail. (I continued to walk west and didn’t follow this particular dirt path.)
A bat box near the river.
A bat box near the river.
Sign at Mast Park describes habitat of the San Diego River Ecosystem. Snakes, lizards, turtles and ducks live here.
Sign at Mast Park describes habitat of the San Diego River Ecosystem. Snakes, lizards, turtles and ducks live here, plus many other birds.
Beginning south down a dirt path toward the river.
Beginning south down a dirt path toward the river.
Bright foliage.
Bright river foliage.

A wet, marshy area near the river's edge.
A wet, marshy area at the river’s edge.
Approaching a footbridge that spans the San Diego River.
Approaching a footbridge that spans the San Diego River.
Looking west from the bridge on a summer's day. It hasn't rained for a long time. The river here resembles a series of small lakes.
Looking west from the bridge on a summer’s day. It hasn’t rained for a long time. The river here resembles a series of small lakes.
Looking east from the bridge.
Looking east from the bridge.
Continuing south.
Continuing south.

Light in leaves.
Light in leaves.
Duckweed in pooled river water.
Duckweed in pooled river water.

Another sign south of the river. Except for the largemouth bass, all the creatures shown are native to California and the river.
Another sign south of the river. Except for the largemouth bass, all the creatures shown are native to California and the river.
Looking back north. I now turned west again and continued my walk.
Looking back north. I now turned west again and continued my walk.
A sign tells people to keep away from the endangered Least Bell's Vireo nesting area.
A sign tells people to keep away from the endangered Least Bell’s Vireo nesting area.
Following a wooden fence.
Following a wooden fence.
More light in leaves.
More light in leaves.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Walking through natural beauty at Torrey Pines.

It’s easy to find breathtaking natural beauty in San Diego. Three of my favorite places to walk along the coast are Torrey Pines State Reserve, Torrey Pines State Beach, and the Torrey Pines Gliderport.

The high sandstone cliffs topped by rare, windswept Torrey pines, the beautiful beaches stretching at their feet, the endless surf, blue San Diego sky, lingering banks of fog . . . all of these elements combine to produce an experience that is difficult to match anywhere in the world.

Over the years I’ve taken many photographs around Torrey Pines. And it’s quite likely I’ll be taking many more!

This morning, as I sit at my computer wondering where I might walk today, I’ve decided to revisit some of those old blog posts.

Click these links to see great natural beauty…

Hiking Torrey Pines State Reserve’s Beach Trail.

Torrey Pines State Reserve’s Guy Fleming Trail.

Torrey Pines Extension hike to the DAR plaque.

The historic Lodge at Torrey Pines State Reserve.

A walk in fog along Torrey Pines State Beach.

Taking flight at the Torrey Pines Gliderport!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Beauty and mystery found by looking up.

How often do you tilt your head way, way back and look straight up?

I don’t very often. But once in a while something beautiful or mysterious up there happens to attract my attention.

Check out these recent photos that were taken while aiming my camera skyward!

(The final photograph was taken while standing inside the hollow Pacific Soul sculpture by artist Jaume Plensa. And, yes, in the photo before it you see a green lighter!)

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Oil painted walks in nature’s beauty.

It’s going to be hot this weekend. So I’m planning on taking it easy–do some reading by the water, perhaps write something.

Meanwhile, I thought it would be fun to create even more digital oil paintings!

My recent walk in San Clemente Canyon has inspired me to select a few past photos of nature’s beauty, and transform them into “paintings” with GIMP’s graphic Oilify filter.

If you think you recognize the ocean at Torrey Pines State Reserve, the San Diego River, Mount Laguna, snow at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, and Mission Trails Regional Park–in no particular order–you’d be correct!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

A hidden paradise in San Clemente Canyon!

You’d assume a hiking trail beside a freeway wouldn’t be beautiful.

Not when it’s a trail through enormous willows, oaks and sycamores in San Clemente Canyon!

Marian Bear Memorial Park occupies this narrow canyon between North Clairemont and University City–and so does California State Route 52. But when you hike by the creek through the many trees, which conceal the freeway, you quickly tune out the muffled noise of traffic. Your mind is busy with the surrounding beauty.

It’s everywhere.

Today around noontime I started from the Genesee Avenue trailhead and walked east. I passed under a freeway on-ramp, over stones in shallow muddy water, and entered a hidden paradise in the middle of the city.

The trail was easy. There were benches for resting. There was plenty of shade. I saw many birds. High above the trees I glimpsed a red-tailed hawk.

I saw families with smiling kids enjoying a day in nature. Bring water and sturdy shoes!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!