Tag Archives: Southwest Virginia

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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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.

 

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

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

In the midst of the Polar Vortex …

my heat goes out, or at the very least makes it painfully obvious that it is planning, in the very near future, to take an extended vacation.

No phone, no lights, no motor car; not a single luxury.  (this is completely untrue, but it manifested itself, unbidden, in my head) .

Not good, I suppose, but not the worst thing that could happen.

Not the song in my head, (while the theme from Gilligan’s Island wasn’t my first choice, I suppose it beats Henry the Eighth), but the heat going out.

Keeping up with my brain is a full time job and sometimes, even I want to quit.

Yet, I digress.

I still have power, which means my heated mattress pad works.

I still have hot water so hot showers are there to eradicate the goosebumps.

I have many quilts that Granny (God rest her soul), lovingly made for me.  They are warm, too, hand sewn and have enough love in them to keep me warm even if they were only threads.

I don’t know what is wrong with it.

The heat, not the shower, the quilts or the mattress pad.

It started making a noise that sounded similar to the sound the brakes on my car makes when I stop suddenly.

I suppose I will have to call the man.

I could call my dad and have him call the man, but I am working diligently on being independent, self-sufficient, self-reliant.

Funnily enough, I waited until I was nearly fifty years old to come to this decision.

That is, in part, why I don’t know how to fix my own, among other things,  poorly functioning furnace.

When I learn to fix the furnace, change the oil in my car, replace my brakes and fix the broken tail light that has gotten me pulled over three times this month, I will have made it.

I’m not inept.  I can photograph nature  like nobody’s business.

I can string words together to articulate what I want to say when I want to say it.

I can write poetry that incites tears and sketch peoples’ faces that illicit sighs.

I have plenty of artistic ability, but it is fairly useless when things break.

Oh well, it is what it is and will be what it will be.  At some point, the man will come to fix my furnace and I will once again bask in heat; in the meantime, I’m sitting here with my heavy coat, gloves, ear-muffs and scarf on.

And for each of those things, I am grateful.

One moment, one hour, one day, one month, one event at a time.

That’s how I see life.  A little thing like a crippled furnace is no reason to change that.

It will get fixed when it gets fixed.

It isn’t, by a long shot, the worst thing that could happen.

Staying warm the old-fashioned way and finding it adventurous while I do so.  I am, after all, the adventurous sort.

I simply didn’t expect adventure  to exploit itself in my living room, but being a Sagittarius, I will take it as it comes and make the best of it.

That is what we Jesus loving, faith having, wishful thinking Sagittarius beings do.

A snowy day at the base of Clinch Mountain

A snowy day at the base of Clinch Mountain

A beautiful view of a snowy Clinch Mountain

A beautiful view of a snowy Clinch Mountain

Snow-covered cows as they indulge in hay.  They seem no worse for the wear.  Encouraging.;

Snow-covered cows as they indulge in hay. They seem no worse for the wear. Encouraging.;

Politics, Religion and Coffee …

are the three things you don’t argue with anyone about as it is an argument you can never, ever, win.

I could tell you in less than five seconds what I know about politics.

Religion?  I’m not a fan.

That may be misleading to my Christian friends, but it is true.  I have little use for “religion” as the world sees it.   I tend to lean more toward the teachings of Jesus than what “religion” has to offer.

But this post isn’t about politics or religion so those of you who just bristled at my comments are off the hook.

It is about coffee.

I love coffee.  I drink it several times a day and, contrary to the popular consensus, I use it at night to help me sleep.

Mayhaps it is because I have drank it for so long and have such an affection for it, it soothes me into dreamland.

On more than one occasion when I have been sleepwalking, the evidence of coffee brewing is strewn about the next morning.

If it keeps me in the house on bitter winter  nights, I’m all for it.  Duct tape doesn’t always work.

And yet, I digress.

I like my coffee strong; strong enough to eat the end of a stainless steel spoon, but I like it light.

Extra light, with real cream.

Milk will do when there isn’t anything else, but real, honest-to-goodness cream is how I prefer it.

A friend told me that I should be ashamed for using cream in my coffee.

I’m not sure if he was offended that the cream came from a cow or that I put calories in a zero calorie drink.

I don’t really care either way.

I can’t drink black coffee.

Ok, I suppose if I were stranded on a desert island with nothing but coffee and water, I would, without doubt, learn to adapt.

But I’m not on a desert island and Food City is on my way home, so you can bet your bottom dollar that there is, at this precise moment, cream in my fridge.

I eat healthy three times a day with at least one healthy snack somewhere between lunch and dinner or dinner and bedtime.

I exercise every day and me and my Pentax hike difficult mountain trails nearly every weekend.

I will put cream in my coffee, dammit.

Real cream.

The hard stuff.

And I will close my eyes and smile like the cat which ate the canary while I do.

Challenge my politics and you will find me a poor opponent … my eyes will roll back in my head and I will retain less than zero percent of the words that come out of your mouth.

I know who the President is and I feel pretty good about that.

Challenge me about religion and I will let you talk until you are blue … it won’t change my belief that I am saved by Grace, have my name written in The Book and religion has little to do with Jesus.

Challenge me about coffee and you will find yourself in a shallow grave covered in decaying leaves while I sit nearby, drinking a stellar cup of java lightened just right with real cream.

That’s just how I roll.

Bring it on.reallly?  REALLY?

Were you talking to ME?spring_042012-29

Music to be buried by …  the clarinet is a fine choice.  Just sayin’.clarinethands

In everything you do, be yourself; nobody else on earth can accomplish that.

Even if I have to steal it …

I’m getting a jeep.

Ok, so that was a bit of an exaggeration.

I don’t steal things, especially vehicles.

Well, especially doesn’t really count when I don’t steal things.  There really isn’t an especially in such circumstances is there?

I need a Jeep so that I can get to my beloved waterfall through the worst winter weather.  The road is currently under several inches of well-packed snow that my sweet little front-wheel drive, she’s-been-a-good-car-though, PT Cruiser convertible just couldn’t go.

(note:  the convertible top was NOT down).

Grand theft auto would land me in the stoney lonesome and it would be quite some time before I could see over the barbed-wire lined wall, much less drive the winding, mountain roads that bring me such pleasure.

But today, when I arrived nearly to the falls, I found that my little cruiser wasn’t up for the task.  She tried, but there is a limit to her magnificence.

I did what I always do when my hopes are shattered by unforeseen circumstances and that which I long so desperately for is unattainable.

I cry.

It isn’t that I’m a baby, on the contrary, I’m pretty tough.

I seem, however, to have little control over my tear ducts.

They are betrayers of the worst kind and often decide to show themselves at the most inopportune times.

So I didn’t get to the falls today.

If the weatherman is worth his weight in hair gel, though, there will me many other opportunities.  According to him, who hits the nail on the head about 20% of the time, the low temps in February are going to be as cold, if not colder, than January.

Now I don’t expect to have my Jeep by then, but my dad has a truck … and he likes me.

Even though I didn’t get to see the magnificence of the falls that I am certain had to be frozen, I did get some nice shots of a mostly frozen, snow-covered creek full of lovely rocks.

I just love rocks.

Take rocks, put them in water, freeze it and add some snow … well, it helped take the sting out of not being able to reach the falls today.

Caution:  shameless self promotion – click on the photographs for some sweet Valentine’s Cay cards from Through the Eyes of the Spirit (aka:  me)

A snowy creeksnowyrocks_jan2014-53

Rocks in their Winter attire.snowyrocks_jan2014-44

The Magic of Winter.snowyrocks_jan2014-42

Beneath the Ice.snowyrocks_jan2014-32

As always, thanks for following along and remember,  be who you are because nobody does it better.