The Kissing Trees

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “The Kissing Trees” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

Out near the forest edge and by the creek is one of the most unique things that I have ever seen in nature. Technically, a natural graft between two trees would mean that they share a root system and are at least the same genus. Two Apple trees grafted into one by a nurseryman can yield a tree that gives different kinds of apples. But here are two trees that aren’t even the same family much less the same genus. What is occurring in the feature image isn’t really a graft. It’s more of a kiss. I’ve enjoyed these two trees that seem to be locked into a kiss that spans centuries. So much so that I decided that they need their own legend…

Once a long time ago, two young children would meet by the water and play in the mountain stream. A boy and a girl. They did everything together. They would catch crawldads and minnows for fish bait. They played hide and seek in forest. And they would climb the trees and look out at the world from the branches. As they grew up a little they decided to build a cabin out of sticks and play house. The boy would pretend to come home from working in the mines and the girl would serve him mud pies. One day the boy came walking up the creek on his pretend trip home from work and the girl met him in the usual spot. Only this time something was different. The boy had a funny look on his face. As if for the first time he realized that his best friend and playmate was a girl. A difference that she had already realized several times. As they met at the threshold of the little play cabin they each paused and for the first time in each of their lives, they kissed. That day their friendship grew into something that included something more. As they matured into a young couple the little stick cabin and it’s mud pies game gave way to plans of a real house and a real family. They had a long a happy life and when they passed away their family spread their ashes in the spot where their love was born. Shortly after the brief but meaningful ceremony these two trees sprung up. And that first kiss now plays out forever.

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Among The Bracken

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. Tonight’s feature image is titled “Baby Bracken Fern” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

Just below the blanket of last season’s leaves the infrared light of the sum warms the sleepers. They’ve spent the winter curled up into little balls dreaming of the day when they will push back the blanket and reach out for the light. Their line is one of the oldest in the forest. They’ve completed this spring ritual since the day of their creation. They even remember the thunder of the dinosaurs feet. Although they can sprout from spores the braken commonly sprouts from underground runners. The unfurling of the fronds can take on the appearance of ballet when viewed through the magic of time lapse photography. The term “fiddleheads” can refer to any emerging fronds but is most associated with the ostrich fern and it’s edible form. The dense coating of fur on the bracken and the hazard of possibly causing cancer makes the bracken unappealing as an edible. But as part of the landscape it adds just the right amount of a primeval feel to inspire visions of mist covered landscape from long ago. Perhaps even an alien world covered by a dense jungle.

As l look around at the fiddleheads in various stages of unfurling I have to imagine that the first one to finish makes a “Ta-Da!” sound as it does.

I wasn’t able to find the ostrich ferns that I was looking for but I was able to get out and enjoy the fresh air and spend some time in one of my natural sanctuary spots. I took a few minutes to breathe the fresh air and listen to the birds for a while. Finding that moment of peace was the real prize on this trip.

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In Defiance Of Darkness

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is untitled but if you spot any image on my blog that you would like to purchase just follow the instructions at the bottom of the article.

By now the whole world is aware of the tragedy of Notre Dame. The mainstream media has presented images of the burning spire that will be in the minds of the people for the rest of our lives. As they recount the story ad nauseam emphasis is placed on the lost history and art that was housed in the historic cathedral. Later today they presented the uplifting message of the works that were saved and the bravery of the people who risked everything to rescue artifacts. Those heroes deserve every bit of the praise they receive. But the mainstream media also bookends that praise with reinforcement of what a tragedy for western Christian culture. And it is. But the whole time I could hear that still small voice speaking peace to my soul. God kept reminding me of what was written.

As the flames engulfed the spire and melted the stained glass I could hear these words. As cinders fell among the works of art that verse played over and over again in my mind. And there was more.

By the time I began to put this article together in my mind people were out in the street in front of the church singing hymns. The news was showing us a picture of the cross in front of altar that was untouched by the flames. The French President Macron was vowing to rebuild the church better and stronger than before. I have it in my mind that the new church will be spectacular. But at the end of it all will God be there?the answer depends on the people.

I myself am not Catholic. And as Christians we might have a few different doctrines. There are divisions about how to baptize and church hierarchy and such. But as part of the core belief in Christianity is the fact that God dwells in the heart of the believer. If buildings all burn,if the Bible is banned and if hymns fall silent the church is not gone. Western culture lives on as long as we hold on to our core beliefs.

To the people of France, I encourage you to rebuild the cathedral. Salvage as many of the historic relics and works of art as you can but remember that history is not static. There’s room in Christendom for a new Renaissance and new masterpieces to glorify Christ. The world might be a dark place right now but that’s when your light does the most good. As Christians it’s our job to let our lights shine in defiance of the darkness.

Image is titled The Defiance Of Darkness

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On The Edge Of The Storm

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “On The Edge Of The Storm” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

The sun hangs low in the sky and a cold damp chill sweeps through the Appalachian Mountains. In the distance I hear the frogs singing as they prepare to invade the newly formed puddles that sprawl across the old logging trails. It’s rained off and on most of day but the nightfall brings a downpour. We’re on the edge of a storm. I have been running about ten minutes ahead of front and that has kept me out of the high winds. Behind me the sky hangs in ragged tatters as the gathering clouds are ripped apart by the oncoming surge.

A quick snapshot of the oncoming storm as seen through my windshield

Yet in spite of the ominous signs of a major weather event the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains brings you sense of peace. Perhaps it’s the expectations that the mountains provide a degree of shelter. Or maybe it’s knowing that God has a way of working things out regardless of the storms.

I always feel more at ease once I pass by the old trestle bridge in Gauley Bridge. Not only does it mark the point where I’m almost home but it’s also the point where I enter the most sheltered terrain. We’ve had some bad storms in my area. In 2012 a straight line wind came through and did a lot of damage. Then there was the flooding in 2012. But through it all God took care of us. He never really promised that there wouldn’t be storms. He did promise that it would be okay.

As the big blue truck carried me deeper into the hills and mountains the storms were nipping at my heels. As I stepped into the house the rain finally caught up with me and the wind howled in the trees on the ridge line above. There will be the dead and broken branches in the yard to clean up and the odd piece of trim to replace but I thank God for the shelter of my mountains and that we’re all safe and warm.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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Emergence 2019

The bright sunshine beckons me to step outside and steal a few minutes of fresh air. The light filters down through the canopy and illuminates the tiny green specks that seem to float in the air. I have been watching the color of the mountains as they slowly shed the dull gray scale of winter and transform through the browns and reds into the light green. Small purple flowers carpet my yard as I make my way through the native ground cover. Today is the day of emergence. The swollen buds that I’ve been observing since mid February have finally opened. Tiny perfectly formed leaves unfurl to greet the Sun. From this point forward I live in a green world. Along with the new leaves on the yellow poplar trees a bright yellow Swallowtail butterfly has been playing in my honeysuckle bush. My world has returned to me and I welcome it with open arms.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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Thinking In The Fourth Dimension

Hello Friends!Tonight’s feature image is titled “Morning Reflection On Three Rivers ” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

The early morning sun casts a golden hue across the three rivers. The calm water echoes the sky’s dance and God paints another masterpiece. I have only a few minutes of peaceful contemplation on the river’s edge as I prepare for the daily rituals common to my day job. It’s a small window of opportunity to be the real me on my own terms. As I form the picture in my head and plan out what I hope will be the final edit I carefully consider the elements contained within the margins. Light, shadow, color and texture come together in the form of points rays and curves. The goal isn’t as much to capture the shapes formed or the color perceived by the eye as much as it is to preserve the moment imprinted on my soul. I have set a goal for myself to use my lens as tool for expressing life in four dimensions. To do that I have to learn to think in the fourth dimension of time. By the time we graduated from elementary school the three dimensional concept is pretty well drilled into us. That of course being height, width and depth. But outside of the advanced sciences very little effort is commonly spent on time as a coordinate. I can’t really blame the education system. Even the advanced sciences tend to debate about the nature of time. To some of the experts it’s a scale and to others it’s a vector. But neither side of that debate has been able to actually hold time, dissect it and find it’s limits. It’s a feat that is beyond the reach of the laboratory. Oh they can observe it’s effects on the known universe and make mathematical models and predictions but that’s not the same as actually holding onto the substance of time. No, for that task you need an artist. Capturing time is a function of the spirit. It’s only possible to contain small amounts. The tools vary depending on the art form. Canvas and paint, molten metals, earthworks and cement as well as the poet’s pen and the musician’s notes are all tools for dipping into the river of time and bottling up the moment. I have chosen the lens to cage small pieces of this universal force of nature. I have poured into it bits and pieces of myself in an effort to preserve those moments indefinitely and share them with you. Perhaps one day science succeed in bottling up time. If so they will sell it to industry and industry will certainly put it a shelf and for the right price you’ll be able to add hours to your day. But if it were possible to add time to your life would it be satisfying? Or is it better to simply sit by the water and life to your time. I have chosen the latter option. A lifetime is more than the number of days on planet earth. It’s the fulfillment of the soul in those moments.

In closing, let me encourage you to set aside a few minutes of peace to experience a connection with God in His creation. I promise that it will add life to your time.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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Trout Lilies – Forage Friday 4

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is untitled. However, if you want to purchase a copy please use the contact instructions at the bottom of the article.

There’s a lot of wild edible plants on my land that I only have theoretical knowledge of. I have read the materials, checked sources, double checked the references and learned the plant’s “face” so I could recognize it when I saw it. One such plant is Trout Lily. My land is on the shady side of the mountain. It’s a wet site which means that the soil stays moist most of the time and there’s a few spots that are downright swampy. I have noticed that the Trout Lilies are always found in those spots that are moist enough for the moss to grow but not actually wet. On the edge of the forest or in the more open portions where the ferns grow well.

The mottled patterns of leaf is pretty hard to mistake.

The nodding yellow flowers are also pretty distinctive. Several of the references I learned from stated that the flower wasn’t really in large supply and that care should be taken as not to over harvest. Other sources say that they’re plentiful but should only be eaten in very small amounts. The reason why is that they are Ematic. In other words, they make you sick to your stomach. Even to the point that it was suggested that it would be useful as a medicine for purging a stomach that has ingested a toxic plant. ( Just a reminder, Forage Friday is not intended to be a substitute for proper training and education. It is for entertainment purposes only. )

With the potential for a foraging excursion gone wrong and not in need of being purged of ingested poison I elected to abstain from Trout Lilies. However, the reference books describe the flavor as being similar to cucumbers and a good addition to salads but emphasis on the vary small amounts within a twenty-four hour period. This made the plant unsuitable for my purposes of finding alternative staple crops and so I never pursued the possibilities. The short availability season also had something to do with that decision. Like the Squirrel Corn and Dutchman’s Breeches they do add a lot of beauty to the edges of my yard. And since I have never actually tried them myself I can’t really say if they’re good. But since they are included in the field guides I’m including them in Forage Friday. As with all of the Forage Friday posts I have to recommend that you don’t rely solely on this post for information about wild edible plants.

The comments are open to the public and if you’re a person who has actually tried this one I’d love to hear about your experience.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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