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On one of the boulders bordering the river at the Sooke Potholes, I saw a design that I thought looked like an aurora, or maybe even the Milky Way. What an amazing pattern, I thought to myself as I pressed the shutter release on my camera.

Curious about what had caused the pattern, I sent a copy of my photograph to the Earth and Ocean Sciences people at the University of Victoria. Their reply: striations and weather discolouration. Just lines and colours on a rock. Yet my artist’s eye, seeking to makes sense out of what I was observing, came up with the Milky Way.

I was reminded of the words I’d read years ago by Patricia and Paul Brantingham, professors of Computational Criminology at Simon Fraser University:

'The human brain after all, remains the most powerful pattern recognition engine available'.

Their comment was made in relation to the analysis of crime patterns. It also applies though to the natural designs and patterns that I see out in nature.

Looking for pictures among the rocks at the potholes that day, my mental search engine came up with… the Milky Way. Maybe you don’t see it. That’s okay, it’s what I saw. And, because I was taking the time to look, I also saw the little plant in the foreground and the scattering of blue flower petals. Not just a photograph. Here, is a story.


Brantingham, P., & Brantingham, P. (1999). Studies on Crime and Crime Prevention. National Swedish Council for Crime Prevention, 8(1).

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