After musing for decade or so on how to capture this solitary stand of cottonwoods growing on a ridge in the dunes, the challenge was met through dérive or drifting.

In the past, these cottonwoods had been observed only at a distance from across a wide sand bowl. Trying to snap them had been a futile exercise.

Doing justice to the expanse of the bowl with wide-angle optics, the cottonwoods showed up as tiny sticks in the far distance. Zooming in with telephoto optics, deprived them of any relationship with their terrain.

On a hike through these regions on a wintry day, a snowstorm erupted. Instead of retreating back into the woods, we avoided the punishing winds in the sand bowl by drifting along the back of the ridge enclosing the bowl.

Suddenly, I found myself face to face with my old cottonwood friends.

For map lovers, a Google terrain and corresponding satellite maps show the trail through the bowl and the location of the trees on the ridge.


Today, I am drifting through the snowy streets of NYC, looking for other happy surprises.