Morning fog in the Coastal Range

When I first started looking at classical Chinese landscape painting seriously, I never thought of it as realism: those steep fantastical hills, the mists that so conveniently provide a sense of distance and perspective, none of that looked real to me. But when you live on the Pacific Rim, you see that much of classical Chinese landscape painting is realism.

For the past couple of days, I have been staying at a retreat center on a steep hillside in a redwood grove in the Coastal Range of northern California. This morning the mist drifted in the valley below us, and this is what I saw when I looked out my window at about eight o’clock: