Category Archives: Southwest Virginia Photographer

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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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.

Five years later …

or nearly so, I am still sorting through my late husband’s things.

I should be past overpowering sadness by now.

I suppose I am, mostly.

But being a writer and photographer hinders that absolution.

Just when I begin to ascertain peace in my life, words intervene; I write about him and tear those nearly closed wounds open again.

It is as though he died this day, this moment, this hour.

Sadness seeps through the crevices the words carve.

Normal humans move forward, live their lives, make something of themselves from the shattered remains.

I want that, too.

But I’m a writer.

I’m a photographer.

I keep tearing those wounds, just as they’re healing, open.

I love writing about everything and photographing God’s perfect beauty; but it has a price.

I pay dearly through my words for they rip open wounds I’ve desperately attempted to close.

I bleed, painfully, and use photography to heal me.

Each image I capture stitches the brokenness and, simultaneously, pours remembrance on not quite yet healed hurts.

If one is not an artist of some kind, time will ease your pain.

For the rest of us, those with creative pieces in our soul, time simply laughs.

When the words, melodies and images are in our head and heart, there is little time can do.

What it can do is soon undone by what we are.

Sadness is my destiny, peace my hope.

And yet I write.

I photograph.

My hope is great.

My healing never really comes.

I have to ask myself if I would be willing to sacrifice my writing and photography for peace.

No, I answer.

I can live without peace.

To live without words and images would truly and altruistically destroy me.

That which brings me sadness will fuel my hope.

I am a writer and photographer.

Therein lies my hope.

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The obituary column …

is an essential component of living in the South.

Without it, life would take an incomprehensible and irreversible turn.

Every few days, my mom says to me “we’re going to the funeral home”.

The “we” is she and my dad.

I never know what’s going on so, as far as I’m concerned, it could be a relative or close personal friend.

Tonight, it was the wife of a preacher I’ve never heard of.

I don’t take the paper myself and even if I did, I wouldn’t read every word of every obituary looking for familiar names so I’d have a reason to go to the funeral home.

When I was a kid, growing up on a dirt road miles off the “main road”, the obituaries were read on the radio.

You late forty and older crowd, who live or have lived in the South, know what I’m talking about.

There was one AM station on the radio that was only part static and most words could be understood.

First came the Pledge of Allegiance, then the obituaries followed by the madly popular “Swap Shop”.

Since there was only that one discernable station, everyone around our parts listened to it.

They swapped hogs and chickens for mule harnesses and tractor tires, then met at the funeral home to talk about it because someone they didn’t know, who was a relative of someone they hadn’t seen in years, had died.

Congregating at the funeral home; it’s a Southern thing,  I suppose.

Or maybe it’s just a Southwest Virginia thing.

I think we’ll find, however, it’s broader than my little neck of the woods and call it a Southern thang.

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My lovely little …

convertible is, so I’m told, on the mend.

For six weeks, I’ve been without her.

Begging and borrowing vehicles on the fly.

Never knowing from one day to the next what I’ll be driving.

As much as I miss my car, I miss my Outer Banks bumper sticker, which I proudly displayed on my hood, more.

Pirate’s Paradise it proclaimed.

On my hood.

I miss that sticker nearly as much as I miss my car.

I want a Jeep, yes, but on my timeline.

And the OBX sticker is a dealbreaker.

I suppose the only thing (family not included) I love more than my car is the OBX.

I want that sticker, preferably still attached to my car.

Hope springs eternal, right?

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And so it does.

Spring eternally, that is.

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.

Over the weekend …

I had a total bipolar meltdown on my dad.

He was, at first, completely blindsided, and then perplexed.

I usually meltdown on my mom, who knows to just let it ride until the event is over.

But she wasn’t there and I was melting down in real time.

I think it was good for him, my Dad, that is, to see me as I have a propensity to be.

Totally crazy, on the edge of straight-jacket territory.

A mess.

I try to shield him from this side of me, because, well, at the risk of starting a riot, he is my dad and is, with abject certainty, a man.

Men rarely understand the astounding psyche of women.

Don’t roll your eyes and pretend to be insulted.

We know that maneuver.

Add bipolar to the mix and a total discombobulation takes over.

I love my Dad.

He is my, second only to Jesus and third to John Robert (who is dead, by the way), my hero.

A man who’s integrity I would bet my last dime on.

But he isn’t my mom.

He wants desperately to pat me on the head and tell me all is ok.

All is not okay.

I’M HAVING A MELTDOWN, WHERE IS MY MOTHER?

In my own defense, I didn’t say that.

I wanted to, but felt the ramifications would skew the effort to find out WHERE THE HELL my mom was.

So I cried, sobbed, made little sense while blindly clinging to my Dad.

I seriously doubt he will
ever be quite the same.

It’s a bit, I suppose, like trying raw oysters.

It sounds gross, but the rewards … well, they, by spades, outweigh the risks.

I hope, some day, to eat raw oysters with my dad.

A small, and yet ambiguous dream.

He hugged me while I was sobbing incoherently and told me he loved me, no matter what.

Major points for that.

Major.

Points.

Major.