Monday, October 31, 2016

Pareidolia and Fall Foliage Art from the Sierra Nevada

Pareidolia is a trick of our minds that can cause us to interpret random images or patterns of light and shadow as faces. We were in the Sierra Nevada the other day ahead of Sunday's storm, looking for some fall colors around the meadows along the Clark Fork of the Stanislaus River near Sonora Pass.
I was mostly looking upwards towards the trees, but eventually my attention was deflected downward at the many aspen leaves that had already fallen to the forest floor. The bright yellow color of the leaves was giving way to brown, but the pattern was different on every leaf. The first one above immediately made me think of a face, or even a jack-o'-lantern (thus making a connection to tonight's candy obsession).
Conditions are changing rapidly up in the high country. We've been able to travel to the highest elevations all summer, but the latest storms have begun to drop snow over the passes. Sonora and Tioga closed Saturday in anticipation of the big storm on Sunday. They might reopen if conditions stay dry in coming weeks, but the writing is on the wall (and on the leaves): winter is coming.
The leaves were almost gone from the aspen trees up on Clark Fork. I hope the omens are good for a big snow year. We need a break from the horrific and continuing drought here in California and the Southwest.

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