We were at a party on New Year’s night when the talk turned to what Palm Springs offers us. One by one, we found ourselves revealing that, most of all, we love to sit and gaze at the mountains. They are majestic and rugged. They rise abruptly from the valley floor right here, up close. And as the light changes during the day, so do the mountains – from the clear white light of morning to the softer golden light of late afternoon, with each successive receding range appearing hazier in aerial perspective. Sometimes the mountains trap fat clouds of moisture just on their rims, and we can see the rain up there, but it seldom makes it over the mountain tops and down to us.
In the afternoons, I think of the warm light as “Leonardo Light.” Leonardo da Vinci preferred to paint his portrait subjects in late afternoon when the light was softer, more golden, when sharp lines softened, and began to blur. When studying the mountains, I often think about Claude Monet and the series he painted of the facade of the Rouen Cathedral, and also his series of haystacks in the fields after harvest, near his home in Giverny; both sets of images were painted over and over again, usually from the same perspective, and almost hourly to show how the subjects were perceived differently in the changing light, and in different types of weather. How he would have loved to paint our mountains!
The point is – our mountains are magical not only in their size and proximity but also in that they appear so differently to us at different hours of the day, so beautiful at any time of day. They cast a spell that is calming, soothing to the soul. Gazing at the mountains is like sitting at the ocean’s edge and just watching the waves roll in for hours. Our majestic and ever changing mountains help us to put everything including ourselves in perspective with the universe and all its vastness. Lovers of Palm Springs could go on for days talking about all the wonderful things to experience here, but on New Year’s night, we turned our thoughts to the beauty of our mountains and their calming power over us.