Category Archives: Mother Nature

October is …

unrivalled, my favorite time of year.

It is a month of contrasts for me.

The joy of Autumn.

Leaf-strewn country roads, leaves falling as I drive with the top down, deep colors in the forests, tobacco hanging in aging barns, hay waiting in long fields and orchards full with ripe, red apples.

These are the joyous things that lift me high and make me feel as free as the raptors migrating along the spine of my beloved Clinch Mountains.

The sad parts have a say, but they are muted; dulled by the magnificence of Mother Nature as she concedes, under the watchful eye of Father Time, her reign to Old Man Winter.

Time, which has no regard for anyone, will pass without fail or regard to any of us.

The voice of things past becomes harder to hear as years go by.

That, in and of itself, is a good thing.

If I stumble and fall over what is in the past, then it’s not possible to say that I have moved on, adapted, regained my balance.

I could wallow in what can’t be undone, but to what purpose?

I could brood (I’ve been told that I brood in the fashion of my Irish and Scottish ancestors).

And sometimes, I do, simply because I feel like brooding.

During those times, I throw breakable things at breakable things and have completely awesome meltdowns that leave me purged, yet restless.

Most often, however, I just go with it.

Time doesn’t care about me, mine, you or yours.

It simply passes, and once it’s gone, it’s gone.

I’m claiming this October for myself.

Not for what I’ve lost, but for what it is.

My favorite time of year.

A peaceful, easy feeling.

That, for the here and now, is how I intend to roll.

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Being broken …

is a blessing.

Yes, you read correctly.

I am broken; have been broken and will, God willing, be broken again.

I am closest to God when I am broken for He loves me enough to be with me during the times in my life when I have nowhere else to turn.

I don’t seek out opportunities to be broken, yet find myself there.

I try to be good, to honor my Lord, yet I fail Him more often than not.

Ones who don’t love me have long given up on me.

That number is many.

People I have loved and adored as friends have cast me away as flawed, unworthy and incapable of love or friendship.

I don’t blame them.

I see myself that way.

But He sees me differently.

In His eyes, I am, though I’m broken, redeemable.

He sees something in me I can’t imagine.

Something worth saving.

Something He can use to help me reach out to others like me.

I am broken, yes, and being so, I am blessed.

I’ve lost so much, endured many trials, felt the hatred of those I held close to my heart.

It hasn’t been easy, but in order to be of use, it has been necessary.

I’ve been to the worst places;  destitute, friendless, homeless, persecuted, forgotten, scorned, and yet have survived the flames that threatened to burn me to ashes.

It could have hardened me but instead, it gave me an understanding I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

The fire refines me and, with each refining, I am stronger than I began.

Given a choice, I would have chosen an easier path.

An easier path, however, would have likely made me hardened and judgemental; useless to the work He had in store for me.

He lifts me above the flames so that I might relate to another’s trials.

I’ve been there.

In the fire.

In the desert.

In the wilderness.

Alone in the darkness surrounded by shattered pieces.

And wherever I was, whenever I was there, I wasn’t alone.

I will never, as He promised, be alone.

I once thought myself cursed, but now I find myself chosen.

How lovely to suffer for my Lord so that I can understand the heartbreak of His children.

I cry often, yes, but each tear that falls, falls into His hand and is treasured.

I understand who I am because He understood who He made me to be.

I love because He first loved me, though I was so often unloveable.

All of us, regardless of what we perceive ourselves to be are, at one time or another, unlovable.

That, we have in common.

Don’t follow my example, but learn from it.

That is my blessing and I am thankful for every heartwrenching trial.

Without them, I would be just like everyone else and, to my delight, He has set me apart.

Grace, mercy, tolerance and understanding are mine so that I can see, without blinders, His people.

Thank you, Lord, for eyes to see and an often broken heart to help me understand.

Amen.

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If I had a song to play …

I would play it now.

But I don’t.

Not because I don’t love music, the sound of it, the melody, the thought-provoking, beauteous sound that it makes.

No, none of those.

I don’t because I can’t play a note.

Not one.

I haven’t even mastered Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, which most kindergartners can play on their I-Pads.

It is pathetic, in a profoundly sad kind of way, that I depend of others to give me my music fix.

Ok, let’s be specific.

My piano fix.

I love many kinds of music, but there is something about the piano that takes me to that other place.

I love hands, and that may be part of the obsession.

Hands can tell so much about a person.

Being a photographer, I spend a good deal of time photographing hands as each one has a story to tell.

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Some are gnarled and twisted with arthritis and yet still maintain the ability to button a jacket.

Some are destined to labor and become calloused and sore as they work, year after year after year.

Some are chosen to be used to create music, others, prose.

Some are used to touch the afflicted, without fear of contamination, and to comfort the comfortless.

Some are of no use at all, hanging silently and without guilt or guile at what they, were they so inclined, could accomplish.

Some are at the ready, pressing the shutter button to capture images that will take the present well into the future in images.

Some are folded, reverently, in prayer as they pray and give thanks for all manner of things.

Hands, more than any other feature, have a story to tell but, as hands, they are too humble to say so.

Look.  See.  Experience.

And know that simply by looking at someone’s hands, you have had a small glimpse into their soul.

handsPapaw’s hands

rideforjuvenilediabetes-22A Cyclist’s Hands

fishermanhandsA Fisherman’s Hands

littlehandsA baby’s hands

violinhandsA Cellist’s hands

clarinethandsA Clarinetist’s hands

bassoonhandA musician’s hands

 

Through His creation …

He speaks to me.

Who, you say?

Why Jesus, of course.

How, you ask?

By showing me what He sees through the eyes He sees them with.

And by allowing me to capture on film that which He chooses to show me.

Being a photographer is one of His greatest gifts to me and I don’t take His beauty lightly.

I am, in the space of time that I walk through the beauty of creation, one with that creation.

I am part of that which lives, thrives and survives.

I am His.

He reminds me every day of His love for me by showing me the wonders of the earth He created, of His beauty and, for whatever reason, He allows me to see it through His perfect eyes.  I am often blinded by life, by moments, by disappointments and disillusionment, but He reminds me, every single day, that I am His.

Through the fragrant blooms of springtime that make their way even while winter tries to force his hand.  They are strong and resilient, those blooms.  Strong-willed and fearless as they burst forth with courage and strength.

The Creator's fragrant palette

The Creator’s fragrant palette

Through the fireflies of summer, which frolic beneath a summer moon and compete with the magnificence of the stars.  They blink and fade, wander and mesmerize, bringing magic and comfort and the promise of something wonderful.

Like a moth to a flame, so the fireflies are drawn to the moon of summer.

Like a moth to a flame, so the fireflies are drawn to the moon of summer.

Through the colorful leaves that adorn the trees that catch my eye, the smell of decay on the ground mixed with the subtle scent of of beauty that can only be felt in the heart.  The joyous chatter of the brilliance of fall as it rains down on forgotten paths and leaves the mind reeling with possibilities.

the beauty and mystery of fallen leaves

the beauty and mystery of fallen leaves

Through the winter, the cold air and frigid temperatures that can freeze a waterfall in her tracks, making her song one of unrivaled silence as her beauty emanates praise and thanksgiving.

The magnificent song of Winter silence

The magnificent song of Winter silence

Creation, frozen in time, for a time, for a season

Creation, frozen in time, for a time, for a season

A bubbling creek becomes suspended in something, motionless and full of such magic that only the heart can understand it.  Some things are  so rare, so precious, so full of beauty that nothing is left but to offer praise.

Rocks, suspended in silence, yet singing their winter song

Rocks, suspended in silence, yet singing their winter song

Winter speaks with a strong voice even when it is silent

Winter speaks with a strong voice even when it is silent

Seeing it, immersing myself in it, becoming a part of it reminds me that I, too am, a child of the creator.

A beautiful view of a snowy Clinch Mountain ... one that I call home

A beautiful view of a snowy Clinch Mountain … one that I call home

My cup runneth over.

His beauty unfolds before me in the misty rain of barren landscapes, foggy sunrises behind mountains and beneath a black sky glittering with stars.

without rain, there can be no rainbow

without rain, there can be no rainbow

From my front porch

From my front porch

I am blessed and, when I forget that, He reminds me with His magnificence.

From my driveway, I am reminded that i am worth His magnificence.

From my driveway, I am reminded that i am worth His magnificence.

I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence:  Two road diverged in a wood, and I — I took the ones less traveled by, And that has mad all the difference ~ Robert Frost

Trust should be …

a four letter word.

It is one of those things that can make or break us as we amble aimlessly along our path of life while trying to build friendships, relationships or other ships.

It is elusive to me.

I admit it.

I trust rarely and with great trepidation.

I suppose if I were to consult a shrink about the essence of my mistrust, I would be given an earful of information about inadequacies on my part, past issues and other useless reportage.

As a photographer, however, and all that nonsense aside, I trust nature.

I trust light, shadow and beauty.

I trust that every sunrise will bring a new and magnificent beginning.

I trust that every full moon will fill me with awe.

I trust that Winter will bring snow-laden limbs of bare trees and stark, gray landscapes against the exclusively winter aqua sky.  A force, in itself, to be reckoned with for it occurs no other time of the year.

A magnificent color in a desolate season.

Nature at a pinnacle of  his and her beauty … Old man Winter working with Mother Nature.

They don’t get along all that well, but in the aqua sky surrounding the evening sun in the throes of Winter, they are flawless.

I trust that Spring will bring with it fragrant blooms of recently sleeping trees and streams filled with heavy rains.  Waterfalls that exceed my expectations, fiddler-heads unfolding, moss as green as the  hills of Ireland and rocks sublimely submerged beneath heavily watered creeks.

I trust that Summer will bring the heady, intoxicating scent of honeysuckle, sunlit spiderwebs, lightning bugs, views of the ocean, seas of wheat and barley, acres of wildflowers and stunning, irrepressible  heat.

I trust that Autumn will bring the smell of decaying leaves, foliage in a myriad of colors, an early frost, snow in the high places and an incredible peace of mind that only fall can bring.

I cannot be certain if I love Spring or Autumn most of all …

I suppose I love them both equally, as I do Summer and Winter.

How can I choose when each one brings unfathomable beauty unequaled by any other thing?

hands … old and  young, with a daisy between them hands

A fiddler-head unfurling on my mountain.mountainspring-12

The Outer Banks of North Carolina … my centerouterbanks_bodieislandlight-62

Standing outside in the snow …

is one of the most freeing of experiences.

I liken it to standing in the midst of a summer rain while nature falls all around, touching, caressing, permeating my very being and making me one with its magnificence.

How wonderful it is to feel the snowflakes, each different and individual, falling on my skin, touching my lips, landing on my lashes?

The peace of the falling snow is, in itself, a wondrous thing, but to feel it on my skin takes me to a place where my dreams live.

I suppose, to some, it will sound irrational to hear that someone purposely stands outside while the snow or rain falls, or while the wind whips through the air.

It shouldn’t.

It should, instead, be an invitation to feel nature in real time, to partake in her joy as she showers the earth with beauty and marvelous things.

Bask in the magnificence of nature … stand in the rain, stand in the snow, feel the wind on your face.

Find peace in the solitude and realize who you are at your core.

Who you are meant to be.

What you are meant to be.

Listen to the voice of the earth for it is the footstool of Jesus.

Find solace.

Find joy.

Find what you didn’t even realize you were looking for.

Simply be still and let all that creation has to offer overcome you.

It will, without doubt or reservation, change your world for the better.

Listen to the wind, feel the sunshine, bask in the light of the moon, hear the pounding of the surf …

Find sustenance and sublimity in the beauty that surrounds you.

I promise you won’t be sorry.

But don’t simply take my word for it … immerse yourself and find, for yourself, the wonder of nature.

The joy of snowfallSeriously?

A winter wonderlandsnowfall

Finding joy in every momentkisses blown from an angel

When October goes …

there is an emptiness.  A change in the air, the sky, the trees, the grass, the morning, that reminds us that time is passing.

In a few short weeks, it will be winter and before that even, all of the color of Autumn will be gone.  The trees will become bare, the landscape brown, colorless and bleak, but …

In those long months of seemingly colorless moments, there is a beauty that can only be found in Winter.

Just as each season has its own to offer, Winter is no different.

The trees will be bare of leaves and standing tall and proud, naked sentries during the cold and dreary months of winter.

And then there is snow.

Snow cannot be discounted as one of the most marvelous sights of all creation.

Mornings quieted under a blanket of white that transcends all rational thought.  How can something be so silent and still be so beautiful?

The sound of snow falling, the soft “pfft” it makes as it falls, one flake upon another until there are inches to be measured, is a sound of solace.

solitude

It reminds me a bit of a piano.  It is no secret that I love the piano and have a deep and awe-inspired respect for piano players.  And the snow, as it makes its soft sound while falling makes music that nothing else in nature can duplicate.

I look forward to the snow, laying heavy on the bare branches of the trees, covering the brown grass and leaving the road white, tire and animal tracks evident in its otherwise malevolent stillness.

October is gone, November is here and before we can be fully accustomed to the cold of winter, the tulips of spring will be blooming.

Mother Nature will have her turn again come springtime, but the here and now belongs to Old Man Winter.

He is a shrewd and unpredictable one and I tend to think he likes it that way.

Although October has officially ended, I feel the need to share one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite artists just to make it official.

Enjoy the remnants of Autumn, relish every day, live every moment and take nothing for granted.

There is, after all, no promise of another day so in actuality, this may very well be the last one.

Look at it, really look at it and see the beauty that surrounds you.  There will never be a moment exactly like the one we are in now.  Time marches on.

That is what time does.  Don’t hold its nature against it.  Instead, embrace it and enjoy each segment as though it were the last.

There can, if each moment is enjoyed and embraced, be no regrets for a life not lived.

Until next time, be well, my friends … be well.

It has been a long few days …

or has it been weeks?

I haven’t posted anything new.

No blog posts.

No photographs.

Nothing.

I have been in a holding pattern of sleepwalking, nightmares and erotic dreams that leave me confused, wondering and bewildered …

and all the while, trying my very best to make it, without losing my cool, through the seemingly endless days and eventful nights.

I have had patients cry on me, their families strike me, people pulling at my heartstrings which are linked directly to my tear ducts and during all of this, trying to find out if I am to blame for something I had no control over.

I wonder if I have severed a crucial friendship and have already began to mourn the loss of it.

I have a way of ruining beautiful things because I rarely feel worthy of them.

I have slept outside, sent messages I wasn’t aware of and tried desperately to hold it together.

A difficult few days, indeed.

But tonight changed all that.

It came a storm.

A big one, with lots of lightning and torrential rain.

Normally, during such an event, I would be set up on the porch with my tripod and camera, but this time was different.

This one wasn’t to be documented and photographed.

It was to set my spirit free.

And it did.

I stood on the porch with my jeans and t-shirt, getting soaked.

But as time passed, I wanted no earthly barriers between me and the blessing that God was giving me.

A cleansing.

A fresh beginning.

Letting the past be past and bygones be bygones and memories no more than a blip on my radar.

One piece of clothing after another was discarded until I found myself standing nude and vulnerable under the rain, with the lightning flashing, the thunder bellowing, echoing between the mountains and valleys …

tears running down my face.

I prayed to a God that I had decided had forgotten me.

He hadn’t.

I think He was just waiting for me to remember Him.

It was frightening.

It was freeing.

I was liberated from the hold this world had on me.

I was, for that span of time, one with nature and the God who created it.

I still struggle with the emotions and thoughts in my head, but He designed my brain and is well acquainted with my mindless and sometimes senseless ramblings.

He doesn’t hold them against me and so I won’t hold them against myself.

Not everyone believes in my God.  I don’t find fault with them.  I know what I know, they know what they know.

I can only be who I am and, despite all my faults, and they are many, I feel at peace.

And despite that, my friends who don’t believe in my God like me anyway.

I am humbled by that.

Just  as I accept them, they accept me.

With our differences of opinions and thoughts.

It is irrelevant.

Isn’t that what it was supposed to be like?

Love one another?

Are my thoughts still burning through my head? Yes.

Do I still sometimes feel out of control? Yes.

Do I have someone to share the thoughts and emotions with? Yes, and I am thankful for them.

Do I wonder if I am making the right choices? Yes.

Following Christ doesn’t mean that everything is just peachy.  In all honesty, it is the opposite.

I don’t do it right, I never have, but I hope to at least encourage somebody along the way.

And selfishly, I hope to be encouraged.

I wonder sometimes if I am nothing more than the punching bag of the universe.  I don’t mind it if it keeps someone else from suffering, but every now and then, it wears on the soul.

And then, an incredible storm comes, I stand in the rain, and all is right again.

The circle of life.

It is what it is what it is what it is.

It is what we make of it that counts.

So make it count.

a beautiful human, inside and out.

a beautiful human, inside and out.

Here comes the rain …

as it has for the past several days and, if truth be told, off and on during the entire summer.

I have heard much complaining and lamenting about the rain but I am not one of those lamenters.

Lamenters, for those who are shaking their head and saying that Gina is making up words again, is a real word.

I love the sound of the rain.

The song it sings, the  music it makes, the symphony it employs, the instruments of nature it brings into its midst; wind, leaves rustling, grass shuddering, thunder bellowing.  There are few things more magnificent than the first drops that fall only to be followed shortly by a cacophony of sound that only God can make.

And soon, it will be Autumn and the leaves will be, much in part due to the gratuitous rain, brilliant.

Anyone who lives in the mountains where seasons meld one into another knows that a rainy summer brings on an awe-inspired, much-anticipated, brilliant beyond imagination, much sought after, Autumn.

I shiver in anticipation of October.

Tit for tat.

It can’t all be perfect.  Can’t all be just exactly what everyone wants for everyone wants something different.

My dreams are different from a hundred others’.  Their dreams are different from mine.

But with patience, they all come to fruition.

Patience is the key.  That and faith, which makes the patience less daunting.

James Taylor sang “I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end’.

I feel like that sometimes.

Feel that if there isn’t rain, or a storm or some wind and some lightning that I will simply wither away into nothingness and everything I ever hoped to accomplish will be in vain.

I need the rain.

I need the thunder.

I need the storm.

Without it, I am insignificant.  And I don’t want to be insignificant.

Embrace the rain.  Stand in it and let it saturate you to the skin.  Revel in the wonder and magnificence of water falling from the skies.

It is beautiful if you let it be.

So let it be.

Play in the rain.

And be joyful.

without rain, an impossibility

without rain, an impossibility

I am not a fan …

of Mother Nature’s pranks … her dark clouds, whipping wind and errant bands of rain should not be allowed to play with my emotions.

It is, on many levels, unfair, to anticipate the power, brilliance and soothing qualities of a wild summer thunderstorm only to find the clouds whisked away; the sunlight filtering through, laughing and dancing as though it were there all along.

Dark clouds, upturned leaves in the wind, the enticing smell of rain in the air … these things tell me a storm is imminent.

I quiver in anticipation as I prepare to absorb the extravagant power of it.

The mood of it.

The overwhelming presence of it.

And then …

As though it never was, it is gone.

I hear many folks complaining about the rain.  I don’t complain about it, even when it threatens to wash me out of my valley.

I love the sound of it, the feel of it, the thought of it.

Add some thunder, lightning and wind and I am in my own personal Heaven.

Nothing, at least to my way of thinking, is quite so soothing as the sky split open by slashes of lightning while the rain falls; big, fat drops that soak the earth and water the trees all the way to their roots.  The sound of thunder, bellowing, rolling, rumbling is a beautiful thing.

It reminds me that I am alive.

That I am a part of, however insignificant, the whole of the world.

The sky, the grass, the mountains, the trees, the wind, the rain, the clouds … I am part of each of them and they of me.

For a space of time, we are one with one another and I am as free as the birds that inhabit the space between earth and sky.

It is hard to feel insignificant when surrounded by such incredulous power and energy that beats within my heart and soul and takes me into itself.

I am the storm.

I am the lightning.

I am the thunder.

For those moments when I am standing in the midst of the chaos, I am one with nature.

If there is a greater feeling than embracing the full fury and magnificence  of an awesome storm, I fear it; I’m not certain that I could bare the emotional and physical magnitude of it.

I’m content with the storm.  Nothing else is required.

lightning