Tag Archives: nature

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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Over the curvy mountain road …

the thought occurred repeatedly that the falls could be, due to lack of rain, diminished.

I momentarily forgot about the recent storms that plagued the area.

‘The Falls’ to anyone who knows me or follows my blog is Stony Creek Falls, deep in the heart of Jefferson National Forest in Southwest Virginia.

No matter what I may see or experience from this point on, the falls of Stony Creek will always be my favorite place to go.

Where I live and play, find my sanity or cry my tears, speak aloud my fantasies and find perfect solace.

However ridiculous this sounds, they encourage me.

They were, however, full and bountiful; loud, mesmerising and astonishing.

Gloriously singing the song that never has the same words but is, without fail, recognizable.

Nature’s music.

God’s melody.

I tried to keep one eye on my nieces, but I was so intensely focused on the falling, pooling, bubbling, laughing water that I forgot they were there.

If I were a babysitter, which I am NOT, this would reflect poorly on my resumé.

The curvy mountain road driven way too fast to the joyous shouts of my companions only enhanced the natural high of the falls.

They were formidable in their magnificence and while I am pleased to introduce my nieces to nature, outdoors, the sky as seen with the convertible top down and indescribable rock formations, the falls are mine.

They have been since the moment I saw them.

God speaks to me there; through the wind, the water, the noise, the silence, the swaying of the trees, the rocks.

He recognizes me when I am there.

I recognize myself when I am there.

Enough said.

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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

 

And like a mist …

spring came to Southwest Virginia.

More specifically, to Clinch Mountain and even more specifically, to Big Moccasin.

The temperatures and weather over the past couple of weeks has been like riding the world’s most vertigo-inducing roller-coaster immediately after eating corn dogs, grilled sausages with onions and funnel cakes.

Better than Ipecac syrup, that.

But this past Sunday … wow.  Just wow.

A perfect day filled with fog, clouds, blue sky, sunshine, a spring breeze, and a trip into my mountain.

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Like my orchard, the mountain isn’t really mine.

It isn’t really anyone’s.

Even though someone may hold the deed to a particular part of the earth, that part thrives and takes what it wants and has little regard for that little piece of paper that claims ownership.

The trees grow, the flowers bloom, the grass thrives, the leaves bud, the creek flows and human existence is of little relevance.

I found this to be true when I went into “my” mountain on Sunday.

If it was glad to see me, it didn’t say so, not with words, but I think, at least I like to think, that it missed me a little bit, anyway.

I went to the Orchard first.  It was just beginning to bud.  I kissed the tender buds, the gnarled branches and the crooked trunks.

Was I worshiping the trees or the orchard or the sun or the sky?

Of course not.

I was worshiping the Creator of those lovely things.

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I laid on the newly-greening grass beneath the apple trees and thought deep thoughts about everything and nothing.  I thought forbidden thoughts, dreamed lovely dreams, and reveled in the sense of contented aloneness that I feel while immersed in nature.

I can be myself beneath the trees that I love, without pretending or hoping or wishing.  They have an understanding of who I am and what I aspire to be.  That is the nature of trees.  They are unassuming and accept me, along with my dreams and fantasies, without condemnation.

Just me.

Just as I am, without filters or regrets.

Thank you, Jesus, for the Orchard.

I find peace in no place like I find it behind the lens of a camera watching the world that God created play before my very eyes.  I feel, sometimes, like an intruder into the perfect world of nature but I cannot look away from the magnificence.

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Of course, as on any successful excursion, hike or trail shoot, I became unbelievably filthy and muddy by crawling beneath branches and vines on the edge of the creek in order to preserve, through images, the delicacy of fragile blooms that help to define spring.

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I didn’t, on this journey, find any fiddle-heads, but it is a bit early yet.  I am already looking forward to my next trek into the spring mountain, for with every trip, every journey, there will be more to see, to experience.  More to overload my already overloaded senses and send me to a place that one can only get to by being in the mountains in springtime.

I am, without doubt, blessed beyond measure and I am thankful.

Isaiah 55:12 ~ For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

 

What is it about music …

that has the ability to soothe the soul while it simultaneously sends it reeling in turmoil and heartache, joy and sadness; reminiscing and rebelling even as it brings us back, unto ourselves, full circle?

That is is the beauty of it, is it not, to touch the untouchable space in the soul and spark the imagination? To make us think beyond what we know so that we try to touch on that which we weren’t even aware we wanted to know?

Part of the mystery?  The enigma?  The fascination?

I listen to music for hours every day, various genres ranging from hard, head-banging rock, to soothing  yet heartbreaking cello, to piano concertos. There are soaring arias, operatic manifestations that vary widely from my beloved Bryn to local, struggling, yet resilient talent, all of which move me on one one level or another.

Move me to seek, to find, to think, to imagine, to embrace and learn what I’ve always wanted to know.  It, music, is a kind of courage that makes one feel worthy to not only want to know, but to feel that they have right to discover.

It is empowering, this music of which I speak and it belongs to all of us.

Listening to music and interpreting it is no different really, than developing the photographs I take and finding in each one something magnificent or a flaw that makes it unintelligible and useless on every level.

Music is the same.

There are pieces that I listen to daily because I cannot help myself.  I love them, the sound of them, the places they take my mind whether I want to go or not and that is part of its power.

The power to take one on a journey, maybe pleasurable, possibly painful, but a journey that will leave the listener feeling more than they felt before and less because now, they realize that they were, prior to this moment, incomplete.

It is a humbling experience, understanding music and feeling a connection.

Anyone can hear music, but only some can comprehend it understand it and seek it because the choice, once they have experienced it, is no longer their own.

They are a slave to the sound, the vibrations, the magic that music has to offer.

There are composers who enamor me more than others, some very well known, some known not at all.

It makes little difference, at the end of the day.

There are composers I love to hear and conductors I love to watch. Some, at their very core, are nothing less than brilliant.

There are songs that are sappy and sentimental that pull at me just as there are instrumentals that draw from the depths of my inner being and make me feel things that I had either forgotten or purposely hidden away.

I’m still not sure how I feel about those except they evoke emotions that I’m not fully prepared to embrace.

It is during these indecisive moments that I throw things at mirrors, shattering them and feeling perfectly fine about it.

Whether it soothes my spirit, fries my brain or breaks my heart, I need music; it is the language, fourth to words, shadow and light, of my blood.

I can’t play a note of it, but I have an innate understanding of it.

It moves me like the river flowing over the rocks that I so dearly love.

Without music, everything else in my life would go on as it always has, but all of the emotions would be diluted. That, to me, is a sobering thought.

ClevelandOH-34Severance Hall … Cleveland Orchestra … Mahler’s First.

tay_musicMy favorite trumpeter …

Lightning over Big MoccasinProof that nature is full of music and miraculous things…

powelvalley_windsofmtnempire-301The joy of simply knowing what music is about …

clarinethandsA clarinetists’ hands … music and beauty and awesomeness lives therein …

Ignorance is bliss …

but unfortunately for most of us, ignorance is a luxury.

I have found myself spellbound by the idea of someone.

The thought that they were what I might, had I actually been looking for someone, have been looking for is like a siren’s song.

It is easy to become sidetracked by the fantasies we weave in our own minds when we aren’t paying close attention.

I did that.

I wove fantasies, thought thoughts, dreamed dreams and built castles in the air when there were no fantasies to be fantasized about, no pertinent thoughts to think and no castles to build.

It is the downside of an active imagination.

Reality takes a back seat and the fantastical takes on a life of its own.

There is no shame in that; the imagining, wishing, dreaming.

No shame at all, however, it is important to know where dreams end and reality begins.

Otherwise, you are left scratching your head and wondering where you went wrong.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent way too much time becoming whole and confident in my own thoughts and abilities to throw it away by putting all of my eggs in one basket.

If you put all your eggs in one basket and then  drop that basket, all of the eggs are ruined and you are back where you started when you didn’t have any eggs at all.

I, for one, want to have at least some whole, unbroken eggs in my basket.

I have, up until my husband passed a few years ago, never lived on my own.

Never experienced the pure joy of doing what I want, when I want, the way I want or not doing it, whatever it may be, at all.

I came very close to throwing all of that away by thinking I needed validation for this or the other thing.

I don’t.

Need validation, that is.

I am happy being by myself.

Alone, I am not lonely.

Instead, I am free in a way I never imagined.

I find myself pulling back from what I once longed for and realizing that I am perfectly content as I am.

I don’t know how I would react to a relationship, but the past few months have taught me that I do not need anyone to complete me.

I always thought I did, but I don’t.

I can ‘t remember a time when I felt so content.

Yes, sometimes my brain overtakes my soul and I’m manic to the point of madness.

But that, as it always has, passes and I am left, once again, serene in my solitude.

I have my thoughts, my words, my music and the magnificent creation of my Father to sustain me.

It makes me want to encourage others who feel they are not whole unless they are paired with someone to rethink their priorities.

I don’t know what I would, at this juncture in my life, do in a relationship, but I feel, at this point, that I have become too self-sufficient to rely on anyone to complete me.

When I need completion, I grab my camera and head to the mountains.

Companionship comes to me in the form of moon, sky, trees, water, light and shadow.

Seek what you will, but know, before you seek, that even if you don’t find, you are, as you are, enough.

Everything else is simply icing.

The magnificent song of Winter silence

The magnificent song of Winter silence

My Orchard Awaits …

a visit from me.

Or maybe it doesn’t.

It isn’t really my orchard, but my father’s, and his father’s before him.

Maybe it doesn’t need me nearly as much as I need it.

It is lying, quiet and serene beneath the mountain peak, on a little flat on top of a rise.  It is perfectly happy to be there, in the cold, soaking up the rain and snow that will make for succulent, sweet, juicy red apples in the summer.

The gnarled trees will stand, stalwart and solemn through the worst that Winter can bring without ever missing my presence or needing me among their barren branches.

They take no glory for the music the wind makes as it weaves and wanders through their wonderfully crooked branches.

They accept no praise for the beauty they exude as they stand firm against a gray, snow-laden sky.

They refuse thanks for the fragile seeds of  the fruits they protect through the bitterness of cold nights so that when the times comes, they can say come, eat of me, for I am sweeter than nectar.

They entice the bees and butterflies from their hiding places so that they, too, can partake of the bounty.

I imagine if God had a taste, He would taste like the sweet apples born from the mountain orchard that waited silently through the harsh winter.

They stand and they wait and they will live.

They have no idea how much I need them.

My orchard.

My solitude.

Laying on the brown grass of winter looking up through their branches and knowing that I, for this moment, am part of what grows beneath the earth.

No, it has no need for me or anything that I can offer, but part of my sanity, my strength, my well-being comes from what the orchard gets from God and passes on, without ever being aware, to me.

I suppose, because I love it so, it is my orchard, after all.

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I wish I could promise to lie in the night
And think of an orchard’s arboreal plight
When slowly (and nobody comes with a light)
Its heart sinks lower under the sod.
But something has to be left to God.
~ Robert Frost