The soft rain falls steadily from from the darkened sky. Late fall and early winter in the Appalachian Mountains of my West Virginia home is usually marked by gray skies. Most of fall leaves are now on the ground but a few cling to the branches above. As the world around me swims in cold mists of the season a single leaf drops from the ridge line above and comes to rest in a pool of water near my home. As it floats in the pool against the dark background the mists collect on it’s surface. The leaf is from a Yellow Poplar and so is the seed that floats on the right side of feature image. I was struck by simple beauty of the scene that God created before my very eyes and preserved it forever in my lens.
I have given tonight’s feature image the title “Panning For Appalachian Gold” not just because of the yellow color of the leaf but because of the economic importance of the lumber. Yellow Poplar is a fast growing tree and is used to make plywood for building materials. The logs are peeled in layers on a giant lathe and the resulting sheets are cut to standard sizes. Knots are cut out of sheets and plugs are planted firmly in their place by a hydraulic press. The sheet are then stacked so that the grain of the wood is transverse with the adjoining layer making it very strong. When people think of West Virginia they normally associate our state with the coal industry but the timber industry is also one of our biggest resources. It’s gold that actually grows out of the ground.
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