Category Archives: nature

My family has been asking …

what I want for Christmas?

It isn’t an easy question to answer for most people, but for me, it is simple … I want socks, soap and candles.

That has been my go-to answer for years because I don’t really need anything specific and although I don’t want to sound rude, I don’t entrust my camera and electronic equipment into the hands of my family and friends.

This year’s answers were pretty much the same as all the others until a unexpected event occurred.

I didn’t expect, when I was making my Christmas wish, that Gatlinburg, TN would be so torn by wildfires that threatened to destroy them.

It changed my Christmas list.  I no longer wanted soap, socks and candles for myself, but wanted them for those who had suffered from the fires that raged through the Smoky Mountains for days.

I now ask for Christmas that anything my family and friends were preparing to give to me, they divert and send their gifts to those in need in the Gatlinburg community.

They have need of everything I’ve asked for and I would love for anything that was meant for me to go to them.

I bought way more than my nieces need or want, and know that with their their network, they will get more than they know what to do with, so, excepting for a few gifts, I’ve decided to divert my haul to Gatlinburg so that those who have lost everything will have something.

I don’t have bundles of money to give, but I can give what I have and I can give my time.  I’m not particularly great at anything, but I’m adequate in many things.

It is my hope that I can help those trying to rebuild in my own inadequate way.

Send my socks, my soap, my candles and any other thing my family or friends may have bought me for Christmas to people who can use it more than I can.

I’m going to go to the Gatlinburg area the first chance I get to help in any way I can.  I don’t always swing a hammer straight, but I can swing one.

I could photograph the damage and catastrophe, but that’s been done.  I have other talents and am willing to break my back to help my neighbors.

I have need of nothing, can not think of anything I can’t live without, but those who lost everything, and the Smoky Mountains that I love so dearly, and cry so hard for, have lost everything.

It isn’t just the people who lost something, the mountains lost something, too.  They lost so much, but there is nothing that I can do to replace the loss of wilderness and wildlife.

My heart breaks thinking about it and I’ve cried myself dry over the loss of the mountains.

I want to give back, not to be noticed by anyone, but to know that I was there when these people needed me.

Give my gifts to the shelters who are accepting them and know that there could be no greater Christmas for me than to know that my family and friends cared as deeply about the people in need as myself.

I am in need of nothing.  They are in need of everything.

No gift wrapping required.

 

View from Clingman’s Dome 2014facebook_1481687296239

 

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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Above me …

a vast and beautiful sky spreads endlessly in varying shades of blue.

Trees dance as I pass, waving their leaves in rhythm to the erratic strings of Vivaldi.

The wind plays cheerfully with my hair as the afternoon sun warms my face.

My soul is free; my spirit soaring.

For this moment in time, my thoughts are my own.

I find myself giddy with the pure joy of it all.

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My beloved …

much missed and cherished convertible is back.

She still makes noises and currently has no back seats, but she’s running.

I have missed my little car.

I mistreated her by making her pretend she was a Jeep, but she took it.

I will mistreat her again to get to the places I need to go and she, as she always has, will understand.

She knows me, my dreams and aspirations.

She understands my yearning to see and photograph.

I’m very happy to have her back and hope she knows how much I’ve missed her.

She’s mine; she was always meant to be mine.

I won’t trade her when I am finally able fulfill my lifelong dream and get a Jeep.

No, she’s safe here. She will always have a place in my heart (and in my driveway).

I’m pretty sure she knows that.

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She took me to my falls many, many times.

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She took me to the high places at Clingman’s Dome in the Smoky Mountains, where snow fell heavily in October.

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She took me, in the pouring rain, to Hungry Mother Park in Marion, VA

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She took me up and down Big Moccasin every day, stopping often so I could photograph my favorite trees.

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She took me, more than once, to the Outer Banks of NC.

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OBX again …

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and again.

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She took my girls with me many times …

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      many times.

Yes, I’m very happy to have her back.

Very happy, indeed.

Being a photographer …

these days means little more to most people than having a phone or buying an expensive camera and setting it to full auto.

Taking what they get because an image is just an image, right?

I feel sick when I look at photographs that have been photoshopped into submission.

Jpeg files that leave little room for development because so much is lost.

I still shoot film quite often and develop my prints in a borrowed darkroom.

The possibilities of what an image can be are endless.

When I shoot digital, I shoot RAW.

I’m amazed how many digital “photographers” I come across who have no idea what RAW means.

Maybe it’s wrong, but I dismiss them immediately.

Getting lucky now and then doesn’t make one a photographer.

It makes them lucky and cowardly.

A true photographer realizes that yeah, once in a while, we get lucky, but knowing when and where to shoot is an art.

Up hours before sunrise.

Hiking miles in the dark.

Sunburned and thirsty, dirty, scraped, wet, exhausted and sometimes bleeding.

I will likely never be a “discovered photographer”, but being real is more important to me than faking it.

I feel the light, hear the wind, understand the rain.

As do my fellow photographers.

We see beyond the end of our lenses.

We are what we shoot.

And proudly, we work for our shots.

We are a dying breed, but at the end of the day, understand what it really means to be a photographer.

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Light, to me …

is much more than simply the absence of darkness.

I watch it.

I chase it.

I adore it.

The golden hour, and there are two, are my favorite times to be alive.

I didn’t take courses in photography, though I wanted to.

I learned through trial and error.

Light is unforgiving.

If I miss the perfect moment, it doesn’t offer a do-over.

It is Edwardian in its boundaries and doesn’t allow room for foolishness.

I love that about it.

It is constantly changing.

Sometimes, it is indescribable and others completely intolerable.

It gives what it gives; therefore putting the burden of catching it on my shoulders.

It keeps me centered.

It makes me yearn for something that, to a layman, is intangible.

As a photographer, however, I understand the language of the light and revel in it.

It is what fuels me, sustains me, makes me who I aspire to be.

I work as a nurse so I can be a photographer.

It is all I ever wanted to be and the light, inexplicably, seems to understand that.

I’m a child of the Creator and He has given me an eye for His magnificence.

I am, beyond description, blessed.

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Light, in every season, in several circumstances and with unimaginable awe makes me fall, literally, to my knees in thanksgiving.

I adore and will, as long as I have breath in my body, seek the light.

It is HIS gift to me and I praise HIM, through photography, for it.

Amen.

I watch …

as the sun spectacularly and rather regally, sat behind ominous clouds while casting brilliant light across an unsuspecting sky.

This is my solace.

I did not photograph it for that is, right now, beyond me.

I look for that part of my mind that hoards rational thought, that part that keeps one foot on the road even when the road is broken.

I no longer know, precicely, who I am.

I am gullible.   Now, then and likely always..

I was struggling to separate reality from fantasy and now I find myself simply trying to tread through unfamiliar water.

The sunset and following moon and stars will, this night, be my comfort.

At least until the fireflies come.

I feel lost and misunderstood.

I don’t expect to feel differently tomorrow, but I am tougher than I look.

I could give up, but that is a coward’s way.

Tomorrow might be different, and if not, mayhaps the day after.

I am beaten, bruised and bleeding; but I’m not broken.

And soon, the fireflies will come.

I await the arrival of fireflies, or as referred to in the South, lightning bugs.

Either way, they will save me.

I await them.

This is a watrebug, not a firefly. Hoping for points for not being an imbecile.

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