I rarely photograph myself, but the mood struck on a hike to Whiskeytown Falls. With my camera and tripod already set for a long exposure of the cascading water, all it took was a short dash to add myself.

20 seconds seems like a very long time when trying to keep perfectly still.

Ephemera Photo: Max Odland

Photo: Max Odland

But those twenty seconds reveal just how temporary our presence is on the land. Watching the water crash and down against hard rock and spew out into the open air, it’s easy for the mind follow it. Flowing down boulders and cobbles, trying in vain to reach the center of the Earth. After a brief rest in Whiskeytown Lake, its journey leads to more streams and rivers, and finally the sea. Each drop of water that sprays through the air next to the falls is here but a moment.

The people who come here are no different. Ephemera means guest, which is exactly what we are in a place like this. We come because some force draws us here. Not gravity (my legs can vouch for that). But maybe the desire to go somewhere new, or to exercise, or both. And after our visits, we continue on, pulled toward other experiences.

Myself and the water: we’re both here for just a fleeting visit.

But we each leave a mark, too. The water carves through a little more rock each moment, and I leave my footprints on the trail. I also chose to leave this digital record of my presence. What mark do you want to leave on the places you visit?


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