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Friday Slide Show: Bucks Lake Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

18 May 2018

Almost nine years ago, we got up in Quincy, Calif., one morning at an ungodly hour, made espresso for Joyce and our friends and stumbled into the kitchen of the B&B where we were all staying for a hearty 7 a.m. breakfast.

Sandy, who ran the place, told us about the sugar pine cones that grew over a foot long and dropped from the trees only every other year. And this was the year they dropped.

They're sticky, she warned us, but you can put them in a low oven for a while to bake the sap into a nice varnish.

And a good place to look for them, she added before we checked out, would be Bucks Lake, a recreational area just 17 miles to the southwest.

We found the place easily enough and rolled down to the shoreline. For a recreational area, it seemed deserted. Even uninhabited.

That's not entirely true. According to the nearest census at the time, 10 people live there. None of them, apparently, get up at ungodly hours.

We were smitten with the beauty of the small lake. Even with small rippled across its surface, it shown like a mirror, reflecting the evergreens that rimmed its shores.

The sky was crystal clear. The water deep and transparent. It seemed an oasis of peace. The world before anything disturbed it.

So we took a few photos.

And, returned home, we were delighted to see that we had captured that color and peace in these shots. We often return to them in our mind, remembering how it felt that fall day to stand at the water's edge in the cold morning and look out at that beauty.

Even though the low angle of the sun provided unusual contrast, the images don't work in black-and-white. See below. So it was not an Ansel Adams moment.

Monochrome. The sky disengages from the water, the trees become muddled.

The trees have a lot to do with that. The color brings out the detail. But so do the blues of the sky and the lake water. You don't get that echo in black-and-white, which detaches the sky from the water.

We got back in the car and hunted for the mythical pine cones. They were hard to spot from the road. So we pulled over here and there, catching a view of the Feather River and railroad tracks way below us, to forage and found plenty of the sticky things.

They were indeed monstrous. The usual big pine cone around here is four inches long. These were twelve. We stuck them in a plastic bag, stuffed them in the trunk and drove on.

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