Oil and algae in California

From time to time, Google Photos sends out “Rediscover This Day” messages, showing users their pictures from the same day a year or years earlier. When you’re grounded and the coronavirus outlook is uncertain, these reminders can be disconcerting: “Will I ever get to see those lovely places again?” I’m not even asking for that – just for something different and pleasantly faraway.

On the other hand, it’s a pretext for uploading old photographs. The pumpjacks on the left, as seen from a car window, seem vaguely Russian but are actually Californian. (Most Russian crude is produced with submersible pumps but some regions, especially this side of the Urals, rely on pumpjacks heavily.) The pond on the right is the Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle a few weeks after its reopening. It was supposed to be azure blue but the algae had proven unstoppable. Surprisingly, the verdant water looked clean and transparent.

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