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7 April 2021

Above the Muni Metro station in West Portal, where the tunnel under Twin Peaks begins (or ends depending on your direction of travel, although there's[!]been none during the pandemic), is a park.

Stump. Captured with a Nikon D200 and 43-86mm Nikkor at f3.5, 1/1000 second and ISO 200. Processed in Adobe Camera Raw.

Like everything else these days and despite its singular role (not counting a school or two) as the only grassy green space within miles large enough to kick or throw a ball around, it's been closed for a year.

The ill-timed closure (considering what a relief the park would have been during the lockdown), was occasioned by a renovation. The grass field was left to recover on its own after most of it was used as a staging area while the playground endured one of those once-in-a-generation redesigns only ambitious urban planners love.

It is now presumably a safer place to play in an urban area extending beyond city limits defiled by the crimes its adults increasingly commit. And, of course, the dog walkers are back.

We wandered by the other day.

We were not in the admiring mood but we didn't have a bad taste in our mouth either. We were just, in a word, curious.

Being curious is how you fall in love with something.

If you merely keep score, you won't ever like any change you observe around you. And if a city is anything, it is a machine for change that generates heat from the friction of competing ideas, only one of which can ever be realized. So, just keeping score, it would appear nothing ever gets done.

Our curiosity was attracted by this stump. We tried to remember the tree but we couldn't. The stump has certainly been there a while. And it surprisingly survived the renovation. With all the earth-moving equipment on site you'd think the bright idea to remove the thing would have occurred to someone.

Why didn't it?

It might be, we hypothesized, a famous stump, the remnant of some cherished monument that came down in some particularly violent storm off the Pacific. Perhaps especially cherished by the kids at the adjacent grammar school. Maybe even the site of the first lessons taught there.

Who knows?

As our camera found it, though, the stump appeared to be a throne. We lined it up on the rise, cropping out any hint of concrete. We were troubled only by the row of bushes blocking the view of the backyards that would otherwise be the recipients of foul balls, errant passes, hooked goal kicks. The bushes were not quite perpendicular but leaning downhill.

It was hard to arrange them to avoid unbalancing the image.[!]But that's what editing is for.

When we got to that stage, though, we realized that while our f3.5 aperture had kept the stump in focus in the corner, the row of bushes was not sharp. That provided a good excuse, at least, for our severe crop. Here's the full image:

We also went back to Adobe Standard for the color treatment in Camera Raw. Adobe Vivid is the default but it's often garish. Adobe Landscape was just a bit less so. But Adobe Standard gave us something to work with that resembled natural color.

It still puzzles us why the stump was not removed. Like all thrones, it presents a hazard. It seems it would have been prudent to remove it when the occasion presented itself. It's a mystery why it wasn't.

So we suppose we will just have to remain stumped.

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