Category Archives: Scott County

I’ve said it before …

and I’ll say it again.  I am much too soft-hearted to be a  nurse.  So many things that I come into contact with on a daily basis makes me want to weep and scream at the injustice of life.

I am supposed to simply speak to people and let them know that they are not just a patient, but it isn’t  that simple.  They are people to me.

They are my mother.

They are my father.

They are my daughter, nieces and sister.

They become part of my heart and being and I take them home with me.

I have cried many, many tears for those that I visit with.  I have held their hands, held their family’s hands and prayed with them.  I try to leave them where they are, but they won’t stay there.

They come home with me.  I think about them and hope that they will live until morning; hope that if they don’t, their sons, daughters, mothers and fathers will be able to cope with loss of their existence.

I want to be strong.  I will myself to be stoic and unattached, but that lasts as long as the mist under a strong morning sunrise.  I love these people.  I fall in love with their families and I feel the pain, sorrow and devastation of their loss on every front.

The older I get, the more squeamish, melancholic and dramatic I become.  I surely thought that I would be stronger and more able to control my emotions at this point, but the truth is that I am more susceptible to emotion and empathy than I ever thought possible.

Sometimes, things happen that are funny and yet, the humor battles sorrow for there is nothing beautiful or funny about someone who doesn’t know who they are or where they are or what they have accomplished in their lives.  The emptiness is devastating.  I find myself bringing people home with me in my thoughts and crying over their infirmities.

I never wanted to be a nurse.  I wanted to be a photographer.  I wonder sometimes if I don’t make a better nurse than a photographer.  And then I realize that I can be both.

One makes me a better of the other.

I photograph for the sheer pleasure of it and  yet, when photographs are forbidden, I see past what is present.  I am thankful, on many levels, for the blessings bestowed upon me.

I am a nurse.

I am a photographer.

I am myself.

I am content.

What more can anyone ask than to be content in the life they are living.

I am, above all things, thankful, for the joys, the trials, the triumphs and the the lessons.  Thankful for the things that hurt me and those that bring me joy.

One without the other is insubstantial; combined, they are powerful beyond the description of words.

I. Am. Blessed.

And I am thankful.  The images, whether in real time or captured on film are what life is about.  Life is images and images make up life.

Again I say, I. Am. Blessed.

Bodie Island Lighthouse (my OBX favorite)bodieislandlighthouse

Matt … a truly beautiful human … hatteras_lightning-59


A doe at Bodie Island hatteras_lightning-71

Beach Beauties … outerbanks_day1-327

this sounds like a Suzuki ad .. but truth is truth

Everything I know about Suziki, I have learned from this little red ATV.  I’ve always been a bit skittish with ATV’s because they can be, in direct link with the experience of the operator, unpredictable.  It can be said that it was with trepidation that I first drove this unpredictable vehicle.  I was pleasantly surprised that it went where I told it to go, didn’t spin, didn’t get stuck and didn’t make me feel like I was going to fall off.  The only thing I like better is the Ranger, but that is only for the windshield … I feel in control and feeling in control when I’m in a vehicle of any kind is important to me.  It makes me less afraid and that is priceless.   I’d still rather hike, but that isn’t always possible.  As a photographer, nature being a big part of the canvas,  this little number has been a handy tool when time was of the essence.  Thanks, Suzuki, for a sweet ride, for peace of mind and for letting me be in control.  As I said … Priceless.

looking in the right place

This afternoon, following a short nap to recover from an early morning in the field where the deer hang out, I hiked up to the old orchard to see if I could get a glimpse of one of the black bears that call our little piece of Clinch Mountain home.  I’ve heard all about them from dad and others who have seen them, but as a photographer, I have to see them for myself.  I want to know what it will look like through the lens of my camera and if I can capture the majesty of creation and do it justice. God continues to bless my photography and today, though He didn’t let me see the bear, He showed me I was looking in the right place.

A dance with shadow and light

On this past Fourth of July weekend, while many folks were out and about boating, traveling, vacationing and watching fireworks, I was walking a beat in the middle of the countryside, immersing myself in a life that I knew absolutely nothing about.  Although color and vibrancy is expected to surface on a holiday such as Independence Day, with the flag flying and fireworks blasting, there was more to what I was seeing than just color.   A wise man once told me that no photograph that is about color should be developed in black and white.  I’ve held onto that advice and have learned along the way that sometimes an image is about color…  And sometimes it’s not.  The ones I was looking for were about light and shadow and I was not disappointed.  So while the rest of the country was caught up in the celebration of freedom, I found myself caught up in the lives that live under the beauty of that freedom.  I spent the Holiday weekend with a bunch of rough, cigarette smoking, tobacco chewing men, tough, driven women, brave kids of varying ages and a myriad of horses, mules and dogs.  A small group they were, but nonetheless, an interesting bunch of people who held a common interest.  On this particular weekend, they brought their campers, horse trailers, wagons, bridles, saddles, grills, tables and vittles and set up camp.  In a flat piece of bottom land in Scott County, VA, what was just a bare place became a starting point for the week ahead.  Each day, beginning on Independence Day, the riders planned to mount their horses or mules and the wagon masters to hook their equines to their wagons and take off for the day.  There was friendship alongside friendly rivalry, but at the root, there was a love of something that bonded like glue.  Photographs can only take me so far and without the intimate knowledge of how a group of people thrive together, the story stops at the image.  When I first showed up with my camera in hand, there were, as expected, some curious glances and several “who is that” questions mouthed amongst themselves.  A close knit group who didn’t have the time or inclination to entertain outsiders, especially ones who knew little to nothing about horses or riding, they were leery of a strange woman with a camera.  I was fortunate enough to have an invitation to this event and was, after a few hours, accepted as part of the gang.  My main goal, secondary to photographing the happenings in and around the camp, was staying out of the way.  I asked questions when there was something I didn’t know, and kept my eyes open for anything that could be used to document what these people were about.  Though there was plenty of coming and going, I was drawn, not inexplicably, to the lined faces of the older men, the laughing smiles of the children and the character of the animals.  Shadows, shades, contrasts and light have always fascinated me and here, with these people, there was no shortage of real life happening right before my eyes.  No one posed for photographs or changed their habits in the event that they might find themselves caught on film.  They did what they had come to do and paid little mind to the gal with the camera around her neck.  After three days trolling the bottom field in the hot sun, I had a “tog tat” around my neck in the outline of my camera strap and a collage of photographs that reminded me, as I developed the RAW files in Lightroom, why it is that I so love being a photographer.  In each face, line, smile, grimace, frown and laugh, there was evidence of a Creator who is able to take the same features and make them different millions of times over.  I am thankful for the opportunity to, for just a little while in a span of time, be a part of something that previously had been foreign to me.  These people work hard, live hard and play hard.  They have lives outside of the wagon train, but for this stretch of days, they come together to share what they love.  And this time, I was allowed to be a part of it.  So to those who made these images possible by doing what they do and being what they are, I am grateful, for without a subject, be it human, animal or nature, a photographer is just a person with a gadget hanging around their neck. I don’t want to sit by as life happens around me and let lessons that I could have learned pass me by.  I don’t want to regret not learning what makes people tick, what makes them laugh or cry and what makes them want to work so hard to accomplish something.  I don’t want to let the colors in the world blind me to the brilliance of shadow and light.  I want to be more than just a gadget rack.

How Great Is our God – a true story

Have you ever heard a story over and over through the years and realized one day that you hadn’t really heard the story at all and had no clue what may or may not have happened.  Well, as of today, I have.  There is a story that has been told in my family for many years about a woman who was caught in a flash flood.  I guess all the recent rain and flooding brought it up…  The way I understood it  was that there was this woman who was caught in a flash flood, grabbed her kid, jumped out of the car and ran to a neighbor’s house, just as the car was washed away.  My WHOLE life, I have thought this to be the WHOLE story.  A little scary, but nothing to get goosebumps over.  At least not until tonight.  I was talking to mom on the phone and after exclaiming over the rain and puddles and streams and… well, you get the picture – she mentioned this story.  I said, as I have many times in the past, “yeah”, or something else lame like that.  But this time, I said something about the lady getting wet wading through the  water…It was then that I found out that I didn’t know Jack… or Jill either for that matter… but she gave me the real scoop… There was this lady living with her husband and little girl  up on a ridge over near where we go to church.  Driving down the side of the ridge into the valley, she was heading to work and was taking the little one, about eighteen months old, as she did every weekday, to the babysitter’s house.  It was raining, but, as I understand it, it was April… and around here, it rains in April.  Now, if you’ve ever been over in these parts, (or if you are from Ireland or Scotland) you know what rolling hills are and that often, the valley between two hills, over time and necessity, becomes a road.  That’s the way it is when you live in the rolling hills.  It is beautiful to look at, but, as mom told me this story, I realized how incredibly dangerous it could be.  But, I digress… so she was in the car driving down one of these little valley roads, and i use the term road loosely, when it started to rain harder.  She was mildly concerned but didn’t really worry because she’d driven on this road in all kinds of weather without any real trouble.  There was a creek (or a crick, depending) on one side of the road and the hills, quite steep, were on both sides…Having driven that road thousands of times going to church, I can say that it is a bit like driving in a city where you can only see the sky above you, except that it isn’t buildings on either side of you, it’s creation, which is a whole ‘nother ballgame.  Again, I digress… ANYWAY… it began to rain harder and water, which had been trickling down the hills, began to fill the ditch on one side of the car and the creek on the other.  A little further on, the heavenly storehouses of rain burst open and dumped the rain as from a bucket onto the already saturated ground.  The water running off the steep banks quickly became a waterfall of mud, rocks and debris barreling onto and over the car from the creek side.  Now, if you notice, at no point did I mention that the lady or her baby got out of the car.  They didn’t. The water was coming over the hills and onto the road so hard and fast that it pushed the car backwards several feet.  The car began to slide and turn sickly in the road and she tried desperately to turn the wheel away from the creek.  This is where God steps in… I just love it when He does that and love it more when I get to hear about it…  the tire of the car caught in the ditch and became wedged there, keeping it from flipping over into the creek. The water, even muddier than before and now full of rocks and debris, was pounding onto, and over, the top of the car.  Fearing that they would both drown if the car flipped into the creek, she rolled her window down.  This let in a deluge of water through the window.  This is the moment when she realized she was in BIG trouble.  The river of muddy water wasn’t just going over the car, it was pushing against the car with such force that she couldn’t open her door.  She was trapped, with the baby, in a car that was rapidly filling up with water.  She sat the little girl, who had been sitting in the front seat, (remember, this was over 40 years ago so there were no car seats) on the back of the seat to try to keep her out of the water, and rolled down the window on that side.  The water was running in her window and out the other side.  Hoping to let more of the water out, she leaned over and cracked the door on the baby’s side so some of the accumulating water could go out.  By this tiime, the water in the car was up to her bra.  Outside, the world had gone wild.  Lightning slashed the sky like a blade… before one strike could vanish, another one would be there to slit the sky open.  The thunder rolled down the valley like a bellowing bull… and the water continued to rise.  Mom said that at that moment, and I can just hear her saying this, she told me that we would ask Jesus to take care of us.  Time has a way of fooling you when you’re scared, but not only did the rain have to stop, but the water had to stop flowing over the car before she could even consider getting out.  After a period of time, she was able to push her door open, and get out.  The water she stepped into was a river of mud and rocks that came to her knees.  She took me out of the car, (she said this was the only time I cried… and can you blame me for not wanting to get out in that) and carrying me, walked, WALKED, through the muddy water, unable to tell where the creek or the road or the ditch were.  The rocks and debris that she couldn’t even see were there, were hitting her legs. Even so, she didn’t fall… she didn’t even stumble… God at work!!  There were rocks in the road that were bigger than the car she had been driving… in the road, I might add, where we would have been if the car hadn’t slid backward.  Her dress, underwear and bra were full of mud as she carried me, who wasn’t wet except a bit on my feet, to the house of a woman named Acklin… now it is pronounced just like I spelled it, but I have no idea if it’s spelled like it sounds.  She got to Acklin’s house and called Mamaw Daphne and told her we were stranded.  Grandaddy said he’d come on the tractor to get us.  A while later, Mamaw called back and said he couldn’t make it because there were rocks in the road that were BIGGER THAN THE TRACTOR.  So, in the front and the back, there were rocks big enough to crush the car, there was creek full of rushing water and a waterfall coming down on top of the car.  There is no reason we should have lived through that.  God pushed that car in the ditch because He knew the rocks were going to fall.  He saved us, plain and simple.  Jesus protected us, just as a frightened young mother and her little girl asked Him to.  Now I ask you…… HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD???  As I said, I’ve heard that story a million times, but until tonight, I didn’t even know the half of it. (by the way, the babysitter was Granny Minton) My mom is, by far, the bravest woman I have ever known.  And because of what she told me tonight, I feel brave and empowered myself.  I feel like I can do anything… and with the help of the same Jesus who looked out for mom and me on that flooded country road, I can.