Modern Nature

Hey, so where were those beautiful pictures taken? Yeah, you know, the ones with all the nature and stuff.

Oh. “Right here,” you say? You sure we're talking about the same Orange County?

I'm pretty sure all the butterflies that gorgeous have already been paved over and re-formed into a freeway by now. And unfortunately, the closest thing we Orange County folk have to a “jungle” is the concrete variety.

Every day, we invade Mother Nature's turf—rearranging what should be left alone, eroding the ecosystems of many endangered species and poisoning water supplies for the countless creatures who rely on its delicate balance for survival—all in the name of wealth and expansion.

Luckily for us, park ranger Joel Robinson can find remnants of the natural environment—butterflies, creeks, exotic plants, animals, etc.—all with his camera lens.

In this medium, he is able to create a visual platform for environmental awareness. One image in particular took my breath away: a Sara Orangetip butterfly balancing delicately on a leaf. The colors were sharp and crisp—veins of deep emerald greens poured over the butterfly's entire wingspan, clustering into lighter greens, mixed into a dainty palate of powdery yellows and oranges.

Each photo is captivating to view: clear streams with all the grace of chiffon velvet, tree frogs and flowers fresh with the morning's dew. Yet even in all their splendor, there is an inescapable sense of melancholy and loss. These wonderful places and creatures are at our limited mercy.

But thanks to advocates like Robinson and his colleagues from the Santiago Creek Watershed Preservation and Restoration Project, maybe, just maybe, these living works of art can be protected for and cherished by future generations. Let's face it—our crappy strip malls and heaping slabs of asphalt could never replace the bona-fide beauty of Mother Nature.

Joel Robinson at the Road Less Traveled. 2202 1/2 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 836. 8727; Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., noon-5 p.m. For more info, visit

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