This is my favorite photograph from our trip to Bluefields on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. It was pouring rain, and we were sitting on the dock at the Bluefields wharf waiting for our plane back to Managua. I don’t have the opportunity to take this kind of photograph in the chaparral and sage scrub backcountry where I live. The abstractness and minimalism of the scene reminded me of the luminists, 19th century painters obsessed with atmospheric light and numinous phenomena. There’s often a minimal quality to their work, very moody, very poetic. I’ve always loved the fog-shrouded waterscapes of Fritz Hugh Lane, Caspar David Friedrich, famous for his storms and mist, and Martin Johnson Heade.

I bought chia sold in a sidewalk market stand near the waterfront, but Bluefields was not our original destination.

Pearl Lagoon and the Pearl Cays on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, an hour away by boat, were. On one of the small islands, we were lucky enough to run into a fisherman turned biologist and passionate turtle conservationist, who showed us nesting sites of the critically endangered hawksbill turtle.

Posted by deborah small


  1. Hi Deborah, Can you advise on the purchase of planting quality heirloom chia seed (1lb or less). I’de like to try it here in the US to see of we can produce our own seed. Thank You. Your photos are lovely!



    1. Hi Skye,
      The Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants ( in Los Angeles sells both Salvia columbariae and Salvia carduacea, and they are a wonderful organization. The first, Salvia columbariae, is considered chia by Native Americans in southern California. We have a video called Gathering Chia on this blog and youtube. The second, Salvia Carduacea, is called both thistle sage and thistle chia by people. It is a much more rare plant, only appearing some years. There is quite a lot of information on this blog about gathering thistle chia on the Cahuilla Reservation in Anza, CA.

      If you’re interested in the chia that is grown commercially, Salvia hispanica, a good site for information is

      I hope this helps. Good luck.

      I just looked at your website for Skye Botanicals. Your products look amazing, and I love your idea that your carefully crafted cosmetics are the equivalent of “slow food.” —Deborah



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