This weekend we were lucky enough to have a bit of morning fog here in Portland...well, unless you ask the local weathermen, who seem to find fog more terrifying than flying piranhas armed with assault rifles. While I spent Saturday morning taking photos around the garden, I decided that if it was foggy again the next day, I'd head up to the Japanese Garden.
As luck would have it, Sunday was just as (if not more) foggy...so Norm and I left the house at the horrifically early time of 9:30...a time that, on weekends, is generally reserved for coffee, pajamas and episodes of Parks and Rec on Netflix.
As we parked and strolled up to the entry gate, I was already enchanted...I've been here many times, but never in the fog, and it lent such an air of mystery to things.
Never before had the backdrop of conifers seemed so perfect...as they towered above, disappearing into the mist.
There were A LOT of people...more than I've ever seen at one time in the Garden...but the fog seemed to dampen most of the noise.
The crane sculpture is always a good photo opp...kudos to whoever was in charge of placing it.
While normally I'd have to make sure not to include too much of the sky, with the soft haze of fog, I could pull back further.
Koi passed languidly under the Moon Bridge.
While beautiful, this is by no means the peak of color...in a week or two, this tunnel through the Maples will be even more intense.
This is another shot that normally would have been much tighter, as I'd have to avoid that background area in favor of foreground...but the fog let me pull back for a wider shot, even including some of the overhead canopy.
So often, in the Japanese Garden, I'm constantly looking down, constantly scanning the ground for interesting vignettes with fallen leaves, but this day, I found myself looking up more...noticing the knobby colonies of moss amidst the denuding branches.
I was looking down the stream at this lantern when I heard movement beneath me. Unbelievably, a photographer had crawled through the garden and was UNDERNEATH the bridge...totally VERBOTEN! An alarmed Garden employee rushed up to chastise her. This was part of a trend for the day...obnoxious photographers.
Shaking my head, I continued across the bridge and up a small incline...and was struck by this area, which I've walked past numerous times before. Suddenly, however, like so much of the garden, it was transformed by the fog.
The stone lantern from before, looking back at the bridge. It's hard to tell, but this lantern is as big as a person!
More glorious, saturated Maple foliage.
This is one of my favorite vignettes in the garden...everything here works perfectly together, from the placement of the trees to the undulation of the ground...the carpet of fallen leaves is the proverbial icing on the cake.
I guess I couldn't get enough of those Maples!
While I usually prefer the water here to be covered in fallen leaves, I have to admit, it's nice having a clearer view of the beautiful koi.
I walked up this path, smitten by the scattering of golden leaves...and when I inhaled I knew...
Katsura! There is no mistaking that tell-tale scent of cotton candy!
There is just so much detail here...the plants, the hardscaping, every bit so meticulously planned.
Further into the garden, a gate beckons you forward.
And a twisting stone staircase winds plunges down to a lower area.
I had to squeeze my way across a narrow stone bridge here, past a photographer who had decided to set up camp.
I needed a little Zen after that...and found it here, at one of the raked gravel gardens...again, the fog adding a perfect note of mysticism to the scene.
For some reason, this is the loveliest the upper gravel garden has ever looked, to me.
There was just the perfect balance of color, light and structure this day.
As I may have mentioned, for some reason, the photographers this day seemed especially oboxious.
No where was that more evident than right here...at THE FAMOUS TREE. There was practically a queue of people waiting to take pictures there.
The worst was this guy in the foreground...he was camped in that same spot when we got to the garden...and was still there when we left...at least 90 minutes later...RUDE!
I'll admit, we photographers can get a little crazy at times...and I nervously asked Norm if I had ever been so annoyingly oblivious...he assured me that I hadn't (although I have a feeling he may be biased)!
Either way, I resigned myself that I wasn't going to get "that shot" from under the tree...which is ok...I have quite a few. I settled for taking other photos...details that sometimes go unnoticed.
It was kind of fun, in a way...not feeling pressure to get one amazing shot...I was free to explore and look around.
It was then that I noticed just how many spiderwebs there were in the garden...and how many leaves seemed to be floating in mid-air because of them!
I was kind of obsessed with finding as many as I could...although most were hard to photograph.
And, of course, you have to take a moment to appreciate the artistry of the webs.
They really are quite beautiful.
I was craning up to get a picture of this particular web, above my head when I suddenly realized...
...that the ENTIRE TREE was festooned with webs. I'm such a dork, I grabbed the sleeve of the stranger walking by and exclaimed..."Whoa...look at all those crazy webs". He almost fell into the stream behind us as he started backing up, mouth agape at the spidery spectacle.
It was sadly at this point that my camera stopped working...much to my chagrin. I must be getting more mature, because I didn't burst into tears and stomp out of the garden, pushing small children into the pond on my way out. I sighed and continued on, enjoying the day.
If you are ever in Portland, especially in the fall...and ESPECIALLY on a foggy day, I recommend you head up to the Japanese Garden for a visit.
There's no other place in Portland quite like it...for a brief time, you feel transported, and even with all the hubbub on a busy day, you can still find a moment of Zen.