I have an older brother, Paul, two years older than me, and a baby sister, Terri, eight and a half years younger. My baby sister turned sixty a few weeks ago. Do I still get to call her my baby sister?
When she was little, we called her “eagle eye”. I think that was because she could be counted on to find things others couldn’t find. There’s another kind of finding she can do increasingly well — the finding, the seeing of beauty. She has an eye for it. This eye she developed slowly, over time, without proclamation, without touting her own photographic eye or skills. That’s the way she rolls. Always with humility.
“Eagle eye” at about 9 or 10: I was at the U of A.
While we all grew up in Arizona, no one in the family was particularly an outdoors person. Our father played handball (competitively winning on indoor courts), our mother eschewed physical exercise and the outdoors pretty much altogether. No one hiked or camped. Boy Scout camp and Girl Scout camp was an ordeal my brother and I (respectively) endured for one week each summer.
Small as Phoenix was back then (approx. 100,000 population), if we thought about it at all, we thought of Phoenix and ourselves as “urban” at the same time we were totally hooked into the mythology of being part of the “wild west”. Rather than thinking of myself as a latch key kid, I think of myself as having been a tumbleweed kid, living with small (ecological) footprint on the arid land, always searching out infrequent patches of cool green grass to cool my burning bare feet upon, aimlessly tumbling, turning cartwheels, and tree-climbing.
Mom and Dad both worked, but on weekends, while mom and I cleaned the house or went shopping (for food and clothes) my dad and brother mowed the lawn and trimmed the hedges. This was about as outside as the family got (though we would sometimes take long drives to different parts of Arizona so Dad could photograph them). It’s also true that for a number of years I logged inordinate numbers of hours at the Encanto Park public swimming pool — all day, every day, each summer. Beside cartwheels and tree-climbing, swimming was as outside as I got.
Terri, however, married into a different lifestyle. Thirty-five years ago with her new husband Alex she took off on a 2000 mile bike ride throughout the northwest. It was only the beginning. Since then, while working full time for 29 years at Patagonia — currently co-creating the Patagonia Archives in downtown Ventura with her colleague Val — in her free moments she and Alex have biked, hiked, camped, and rowed their way through the western states.
This starfish photo was taken by Terri along the Lost Coast of Northern California
In addition, for the last eight years, Terri has been the main organizer for the annual Salmon Run in Ventura — a 5K run to benefit a different local non-profit environmental group each year. About 400 people participate in the run each year.
Another project of Terri’s, the Los Padres National Forest — several different mountain ranges that run between Ventura/Ojai and Monterey — is home to most of the threatened population of California Condors, the largest bird in America with a wing span of up to nine and a half feet. Condors continue to be imperiled by coming into contact in different ways with humans. One of the biggest problems is their ingestion of microtrash — bullets (Los Padres is the the Only National Forest that allows open shooting on its land), plastic, bottle tops, and assorted human-created garbage. In addition to being on the Board of Directors of Los Padres ForestWatch, Terri and her husband Alex hike regularly with other volunteers into the wilderness on expeditions to remove as much microtrash as possible. They trek through open land collecting the remnants of target shooting — the bullets and improvised targets that people haul up to the wilderness to shoot at and then leave behind.
In addition to all that, Terri has delighted in being a volunteer art teacher at a local grade school.
Terri in green cap
Lastly Terri and Alex row with the Casitas Rowing Association, where over the last three years Terri has photo-documented the drought-wrought disappearance of Lake Casitas.
Rowers on Lake Casitas. As water levels dropped this tree began emerging.
“The Lake Casitas Tree” photo series by Terri. I also call it “Terri’s tree”. Two years ago, this 30 foot tall tree was submerged in Lake Casitas; its presence unknown. Today it stands about 200 yards inland.
Recently Terri and Alex went on a Patagonia group trip to whale watch in Baja California.
Whale watching very up close and personal… (photo by Terri)
Terri’s photos knocked my socks off. Especially this one.
Those are whale vertebrae, and that is the sunset illuminating and colorizing the otherwise opaque white bones. The sunset is also seen reflected on the rocks at the beach, which appear to be glowing embers. It’s one thing to see a beautiful sunset in the sky; another to see its beauty explode in color on things of the earth. For me this one photo tells the inter-relatedness of land, water, sky, sun, and animals. Its impact is both in its separate elements and the extreme beauty of their interconnection.
For a variety of reasons I’m feeling a greater than usual need for beauty. I’m aware of too much darkness, too much danger in the world, too much sorrow. It’s imperative I balance all this with light and beauty, kindness and hope. When beauty and/or kindness comes my way, my feelings of gratitude are ocean deep, whale wide, and sky high.
There IS a lot of beauty and kindness in this world. Sometimes I just have to re-focus my eyes, or have someone send it my way so I can take notice. Then it’s my “job”/pleasure to absorb it, share it, and give praise. Bowing today to the beauty my sister is, sees, photographs, and gives to the world.
Self-portrait of the artist/photographer in Baja, genius-ly framed.
Bravissima Terri Laine from your admiring big sis!