The Garden of Eden is placed somewhere in the area of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers by those using the Bible as a source; however, current archeological evidence points towards Africa as the birthplace of humans. We've spread out a bit since then.
Still, it seems to me that there are many places where the real Garden of Eden - the natural world in which we evolved - can be enjoyed. During the seasons when the weather is well above freezing, I'm good for the day with a bottle of water and a snack.
This place might be pretty far west of Eden, but it sustains abundant life, and has its own rugged beauty. And - - - no talking snakes or power-tripping deities.
A Northern Harrier [Circus cyaneus, female] glides by.
Broad-tailed Hummingbird [Selasphorus platycercus].
Returning home, I find some deer resting in the shade in the yard, and the bird feeders busy.
A Black-billed Magpie offers pest removal services.
I am pretty sure this is the first time I have ever seen the spectacular Lazuli Bunting [Passerina amoeba]. Wow.
At around 7000 feet, in the Big Elk Meadows area west of Lyons, CO.
Hoary Comma, Polygonia gracilus
Lupine Blue, Plebejus icarioides
Perhaps Speyeria atlantis, the Atlantis Fritillary.
Cedar Hairstreak, Callophrys gryneus
Streamside Checkerspot, Chlosyne nycteis
White Admiral, Limenitis arthemis
Small blue butterflies gather to feed on nutrient-rich water in a drying stream bed.
OK, so what if I don't have my good camera gear? These beautiful summer mornings cannot be wasted. And even if I can't get a shot worth printing and hanging on the wall, I can still get the feel of the light around here, and scope out some places to go back to with the SLR and a couple of good lenses. And enjoy the peace and quiet, the beautiful light, and the delicious air.
Left the hotel at what my old friend Jerry would call "o-dark-thirty" again - about 3:15 AM I think - and got out of the car at around 4:30 and started climbing.
The trail switchbacked quite a bit. Climbing to the east, I had a chance to watch the progress of the sunrise [photo below left]. And then turning back west, a look at the mountains, with the tail lights of a few other early risers on the road in the valley bottom [photo below right].
4:28 AM: Climbing towards the sunrise.
4:34 AM: Switchbacks turn me back up the valley, towards the mountains.
Even though it is nearly pitch black and I am using a head lamp, the camera can see subtle differences in the light that my eyes cannot - if I give it a chance by using long exposure times - these are shot with the shutter open for 15 seconds.
After about an hour of climbing, I reached the crest of the hill. Too late for any pre-dawn shots - making a note to get there a half-hour earlier next time - but in time to circumambulate to the east side to catch the sun hitting the mountains over the lake:
5:36 AM: Mountains painted red by the warm morning light.
After that, taking my time to complete a lap around the lake, enjoying the air, the light, and the solitude.
5:45 AM: Old stump on the lake shore.
6:25 AM: Alpine Fireweed, Epilobium latifolium.
6:10 AM: Light spreads over the lake.
6:35 AM: A Leafy-Bracted Aster, Symphyotrichum foliaceum, hides among the grass.
Then back down the hill, and into town for a bit of breakfast!
7:15 AM: Back down the hill.