June 05, 2023

Photo Essay: May Gray at UCR Botanic Garden, Riverside

May Gray has been the bane of my existence since I first discovered it on a business trip to LA in 2006, while I was still living in New York City and still thought that California was all sunshine and palm trees.
It was hard adjusting to the gloomy months of late spring and early summer when I first moved to LA in 2011—but now, after more than 12 years, I'm not just getting used to it. 

I'm embracing it. 
Sometimes I need a break from sunglasses and sunscreen and sweat-left salt on my neck and forehead. 

The morning dew lingers longer in May, drops desperately clinging onto leaves so they don't drip to their death. 

Everything glistens for just a little while longer. 

And when the sun eventually comes out, which it doesn't always do on any given day...'s glorious.

But it's temporary—because when May is gray, and the gloom comes to June, the clouds and the fog are always ready to kick back into gear.  

The flowers wither either way—too little sunshine, or too much. 

You've just got to poke your head out and see what's happening right now. 

But you can't plan your day by what it looks like in the morning...

...because you never really know how much time you've got. 

And if you wait too long, you might miss something—like a cactus flower that only blooms for a single day. 
I was reticent to go to the botanic garden at the University of California, Riverside back in May because I was certain that I wouldn't get any good photos. 

But I was producing a video for KCET—and I've found that videographers prefer the filtered light rather than the blast of a full-on sun ray. 

By the time we reached the South African section of the garden, we were both happy...

...the birds of paradise living up to their name...
...and the North American desert section living up to its reputation...

...dry, prickly, and spiny...

...yet still with a touch of spring.  

Watch the video we shot at UCR Botanic Garden in the embedded player above.

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