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Pausing to appreciate the view from Panther Mountain.

Hello friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “A Panther’s View Of The Gauley River” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

The road across Panther Mountain in Nicholas County West Virginia is rough and gnarly. My big blue truck is built for off road travel but the road up the mountain is quite narrow. In some places the tires on one side are only a couple of feet from dropping off into the valley below. But, those spots offer spectacular views of the mountains that I call home. Most people only travel this road on ATVs but I have yet to acquire one. Meeting up with another 4 wheel drive on this road means that someone has carefully back up to a spot that’s wide enough to let the other guy by.

I have often wondered why my ancestors would choose to settle in a place where the mountain’s shadow means short days and dark winters. Where the rocky terrain means poor agriculture and travel beyond the property line was a challenge. But then I look out of window to see something like this and it all makes sense.

We call them our mountains but truth be told the mountains don’t belong to us. We belong to the mountains. Or with them if you prefer.

I have high hopes the rains will come in time to save us from a brown fall. If it does then I think that I’ll travel back to this spot and try to capture the fall colors.

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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https://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Click here to visithttps://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me on Facebook or Use the Contact form. The YouTube link below takes you one of my slideshows.

https://youtu.be/FDcrY6w8oY8

Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simply message me on Facebook oruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer

Thank you again for your support of my page! ❤

Making Molasses & Rediscovering Heritage

Hello friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Purification Of Molasses”. Typically this is where I state that the image us available for purchase however tonight’s post is a little different. The photos in this post are not for sale.

The alarm on my phone insistently assaults my ears as I rub the sleep from my eyes. I haven’t had to get out of bed this early on a Saturday for a long time. Even my little buddy Scout raises his head slowly and opens one eye as if to say, “Dude, it’s still dark outside.” But I’m excited to get out of house even if it is a rough start. Today I get to do something that I have not been a part of for over thirty years. Today my cousins are making molasses.

My big blue truck rolls down the long gravel driveway. I neglected to ask what part of the farm they’ll be set up on but it wasn’t long until I heard the familiar rumble of the tractor’s diesel engine. Daniel and his son Matthew have been already been working for quite a while.

Daniel and Matthew working the cane mill.

 

 

Daniel’s father Wesley was a master farmer in my opinion. As I questioned Matthew about his renewed interest in making molasses I learned that my great uncle Wesley used to make 300 gallons of molasses per year and one year he produced 500 hundred gallons of the sweet treat. To put that in perspective, it takes about 10 gallons of Sorghum juice to make a gallon of molasses. Which means that he had to process about 3K gallons of raw product.

Gif depicting what processing 3000 gallons of Sorghum juice must have felt like.

 

In real life Daniel makes it look easy. That’s what I lifetime of experience does for you.

Matthew says that his interest in molasses was rekindled by stories of his grandmother’s molasses cookies. I remember those cookies. Every year at family reunion and again at Christmas. As I read Matthew’s answers to my questions I can smell and taste those sweet spices from my own childhood memories. Nothing from a factory could ever compare to food made with ingredients that was raised and processed on your own land.


A tractor load of Sorghum going through the mill.

Matthew became intrigued the process because his dad (Daniel) started raising sorghum to help suppliment the crop of another farm in the area. If the sorghum wasn’t needed then it could be fodder for the animals they raise. Even when they strip the leaves from the cane they’re fed to animals. Nothing goes to waste. Matthew and I both have concerns about how well most people in the world would survive if they had to go back to living off the land. It’s one thing to raise a few veggies in the garden but it’s another thing entirely to provide proper nutrition for your whole family plus the animals.


Daniel works steady feeding the mill and it wasn’t long before the wagon was empty. But we’re far from done.

Our ancestors were able to provide everything for themselves but they didn’t do it all by themselves. The comunity was extended family and no one branch could provide it all. One branch might specialize in sorghum, another might raise corn and still others would be good making clothes or welding equipment. The cane mill was built in a factory with cast iron parts but gear system that allows the tractor to power it was custom made.


A closeup shot of the linkage between the tractor and the mill. The running gears are mesmerizing to watch.

While they were working they told me that one molasses maker uses a similar mill but it’s powered by a horse walking in circles.

I asked Matthew if making the molasses made him feel closer to our Appalachian heritage. He says yes that it somewhat does.

The mill has only been set up for a couple of weeks but the father and son team has been working together for 40 plus years. They barely need to speak in order to coordinate the efforts. They’ve got most factories that worked in far outpaced in efficiency.


Sorghum juice flowing from the mill.

As the cane is crushed the juice drips from the 4 drums inside and runs down the spout into a large tub.


The first stage of filtering

The juice is first filtered through a burlap cloth. This takes out large pieces of crushed cane and catches most of the foam.

The fine pulp must also be removed.

 

 

The next filter is a fine mesh bag that takes out small pieces of pulp and more foam.

The evaporation pan has to be scrubbed before you can start cooking

 

The evaporation pan is an outside piece of equipment and has to kept with a coat of vegetable oil to prevent rust. The oil is scrubbed off before the cooking process can start.

Daniel lights the first fire to heat the water for scrubbing.

 

The water is heated up for scrubbing process.

Adding juice to the evaporation pan

 

Most people think that the raw juice is clear for some reason. The finished product is brown but the raw juice is green. There are still impurities in the mix that has to be removed.

A second fire is lit to evaporate the juice.

 

The second fire is lit. Fire is called a purifying element. The juice will be slowly simmered over the next several hours. This not only drives off the water but it also causes impurities to come out of suspension.

A handmade skimmer

 

The impurities form a film on the surface and handmade skimmers are used to remove it.

“If you don’t get all the green out it will taste green.”

“If you don’t get all the green out it will taste green.”

The skimming is labor intensive but it’s a necessary part of the process. Daniel never takes his eyes off of the evaporation pan as the juice simmers. His face is a portrait of concentration and discipline as he works. I made a comment about how important it is to keep the skimmer moving. He said that if you don’t get all the green out it will taste green. Earlier, another camera man was filming for local access T.V. and dipped a finger into some of residual juice that didn’t drain out of the first catch basin. He said that the unprocessed juice tasted like peas only sweet.

I wasn’t able to stay for the final product this time but I’ve eaten molasses that Daniel and his father made when I was a kid. It’s probably the best quality food around and certainly better than the corporate version found in the big box stores.

What’s more is knowing that Matthew is preserving a taste of my childhood and an important part of our Appalachian heritage.

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

If you would like to Follow me on Facebook the web address is

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If you’re enjoying my blog and don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website.

https://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Click here to visithttps://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me on Facebook or Use the Contact form. The YouTube link below takes you one of my slideshows.

https://youtu.be/FDcrY6w8oY8

Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simply message me on Facebook oruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer

Thank you again for your support of my page!

The Unfaded Echoes Of Summer

Hello friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Unfaded Echoe Of Summer” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

Every September the soundtrack in my head gets stuck on Don Henley’s Boys Of Summer. I guess that the part that sticks with me is “Empty Lake, empty beach, the sun goes down alone.” The somewhat somber tone of the lyrics us so fitting for end of Summer. The song goes on to tell the story of lost love and the persistent memory of the Summer romance.

The Summers of our youth do seem to linger in our minds like the last light of the setting sun. As part of the Mtv generation, the song plays with it’s own video created from a montage of memories.

I believe that still have a few weeks of lake season left but the time has come to savor every sunset. Soon the gates of the dam will open and the waters that were once the domain of day cruisers and party barges will be the playground for kayaks and rafts as the Gauley River swells and rushes down to meet the New River and form the Kanawha. But those memories of the flat water and the life of summer will remain unfaded.

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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https://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Click here to visithttps://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me on Facebook or Use the Contact form. The YouTube link below takes you one of my slideshows.

https://youtu.be/FDcrY6w8oY8

Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simply message me on Facebook oruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer

Thank you again for your support of my page!❤

The Last Bloom

Hello friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Rose Of Sharon 82019B” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at thre bottom of the article.

The last bloom on my Rose Of Sharon has folded up marking the change of season from Summer to Fall. I know that we’re still a few days away from the calendar date and the official change but God doesn’t follow our calendar. Instead He sends the change when He is ready. The wonderful colors of the wildflowers give space to the yellows, reds and oranges as the Appalachian Mountains end the growing season in a blaze of glory. At first it makes me a little sad to see the birds flying South and to see the bees fold their wings and crawl into the hive but then I think of long walks through open forests. Cool crispy mornings with a cup of coffee and fog rolling in from the river. The smell of wood smoke mingled with the aroma of a homemade stew that has simmered for hours on a woodstove.

Over the next few weeks and into October we’ll have different signs and signals that change is in the wind. From this point until spring I’ll be watching the buds on my Rose Of Sharon. As part of my natural calendar they mark the start of Spring and the end of Summer.

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

If you would like to Follow me on Facebook the web address is

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If you’re enjoying my blog and don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website.

https://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Click here to visithttps://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me on Facebook or Use the Contact form. The YouTube link below takes you one of my slideshows.

https://youtu.be/FDcrY6w8oY8

Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simply message me on Facebook oruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer

Thank you again for your support of my page!❤

Beauty Lingers

Hello friends Tonight’s feature image is titled “Beauty Lingers” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

Gently resting in the soft purple flowers the monarch butterfly slowly opens its wings and folds them up again. The steady rhythm is mesmerizing. As I continued to watch I found myself berating in time with the wings. With each pump of wings the day’s stress and negativity just drain away. Science tells us that the reason why a butterfly does this while feeding is because it’s wing muscles are connected to it’s feeding muscles. The reason why we find this so calming is because we’re just as much a part of creation as it is. When we are out in the natural world we instinctively sync up with natural rhythems. Not in some oogie-boogie way but in the same way that water knows it’s course to the sea. If you’re in tune with yourself you’ll notice that when there’s a soft breeze that your heart rate drops a little. When the sun shines we smile more. When wildlife approaches we become still. We might have to be taught how to react but we know that something special is happening.

The Monarch lingers on the bloom long enough for my spirit to completely settle and leave the artificial world of computers behind.

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

If you would like to Follow me on Facebook the web address is

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If you’re enjoying my blog and don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website.

https://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Click here to visithttps://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me on Facebook or Use the Contact form. The YouTube link below takes you one of my slideshows.

https://youtu.be/FDcrY6w8oY8

Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simply message me on Facebook oruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer

Thank you again for your support of my page!❤

Forage Friday #25 Goldenrod

Hello friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Golden Morning In The Mists” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

Please remember that Forage Friday is only intended to be a conversation starter. I highly recommend that you do further research before trying any wild edible / medicinal plants for the first time.

As the morning mists roll back and allow the mountains to welcome the morning sun my big blue truck rolls to a stop near the defunct strip mine. The goldenrod stands tall in the the thinning fog. This specimen is large. the base of the main stem is about one quarter of an inch thick.

goldenrod is one of those plants that often catches a bad wrap. While its true that some people have an allergy to Goldenrod it’s reputation for causing hay fever is a bit distorted. The truth is that Peterson’s Field guides recommends it for treating hay fever. A lot of folks in Appalachia and in rural America in general say that honey that is made from goldenrod is the best treatment for allergies. I have wondered if it was just the presence of the pollen & nectar in the honey or if the bees somehow enhance the effect during the process of making honey. It’s also said that crushing the flowers and chewing them so that the juice is slowly swallowed can relieve a sore throat. The most common medicinal use is as a diuretic and is indicated for just about anything that increased urine flow might help. The guides also say that Native Americans would use th roots on burns.

The food uses seem to be as a tea. Both leaves and flowers can be used fresh or dried to provide a tea that has a flavor similar to anise. Here’s where we transition into the utilitarian qualities of goldenrod. Anise is not just a flavoring for old time candy. It’s used as fishing lure to enhance bait. I’d miss my guess if golden rod couldn’t be used the same way. And, if you’re a successful fisherman without a match or Bic lighter that Goldenrod stem is there to come to the rescue. The Stem of goldenrod is an almost perfect friction fire tool. I say almost because it’s a bit easy to break. Friction fire in the Eastern Woodlands is a challenge to say the least. I’ve tried several methods and devices such as bow drills and pump drills and I’ve gotten to the point of creating a thin wisp of smoke but I’ve never got the red hot coal that brings flames. However, I’m convinced that the fault was in my technique and the most successful attempts that I have ever had was using the Goldenrod stem as a drill bit.

Image Title “Black And Yellow Locust Borer On Goldenrod” available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

On the right side of the page we have a familiar sight. The “W” pattern on the back of the beetle tells me that it’s a Black and Yellow Locust Borer. While they are pretty hard on the locust trees they’re harmless to people. After they emerge from the locust tree they feed of goldenrod. In fact the sweetness of goldenrod is so attractive to insects that you’ll need to make sure that only the leaves & flowers are going into your tea.

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

If you would like to Follow me on Facebook the web address is

https://www.facebook.com/aviewfromthelens/

If you’re enjoying my blog and don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website.

https://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Click here to visithttps://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me on Facebook or Use the Contact form. The YouTube link below takes you one of my slideshows.

https://youtu.be/FDcrY6w8oY8

Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simply message me on Facebook oruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer

Thank you again for your support of my page!❤

September Sky 2019

Hello friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “September Sky 2019″and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

As I travel East on Route 60 just beyond the Glen Ferris Inn I’m struck by the sky above the Three Rivers. I have always been a Sky wathcher. As a little kid I’d run outside every time I heard an airplane and look for the contrails. Today I still look up and count the contrails. But eighteen years ago my world changed.

I was working as a framer in a prefab home plant. The housing bubble was just in the early stage of collapse but the company managed to give us enough work to keep the machines running. We kept a radio up at full volume but you couldn’t really hear the music well over all saws and nail guns. We were working steadily but not hard because we wanted to try and get in a full shift. Suddenly all the machinery stopped. A slight feeling of panic washed over me because the last time this happened there had been a life threatening injury on the floor. I looked up to see who had pushed the emergency stop button and why. There was no blood on the floor and that was a slight relief. Then the voice on the radio announced that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. We switched over to NPR to hear more news just in time to hear that news announcer say “Write this date down.”. One of my coworkers knelt down and wrote in the sawdust. 911, Emergency. At this point we thought about the Hindenburg going down in flames. Then the second plane hit. I was in denial and having been allowed to shadow a radar operator as a kid I said that this was some kind of routing error. Then, the Pentagon was hit. The plant manager called for an extended break so everyone could gather their thoughts and deal with the fact that we were suddenly at war on our own land. The crew moved out of the plant and into the lumber yard. I looked up to see the deepest blue sky in my entire life. The crystal blue was completely unbroken by clouds and contrails. The old gospel song Uncloudy Day began to play in the back of my mind and I felt the peace of God replace those unsteady feelings. I wasn’t really sure what the future would hold but I knew that it would be okay.

It wasn’t long after that when they closed the plant but every year on September Eleventh when the T.V. shows those images again and those who were closer to Ground Zero tell their stories I can smell the sawdust and see that deep blue sky. And I can hear Uncloudy Day in my mind and spirit.

The sky is full of contrails once again. Even though I look forward to the Uncloudy Day spoken of in the song I’m comforted by the sight of passenger jets roaring through the sky.

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

If you would like to Follow me on Facebook the web address is

https://www.facebook.com/aviewfromthelens/

If you’re enjoying my blog and don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website.

https://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Click here to visithttps://lloydslensphotographyllc.com/

Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me on Facebook or Use the Contact form. The YouTube link below takes you one of my slideshows.

https://youtu.be/FDcrY6w8oY8

Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simply message me on Facebook oruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer

Thank you again for your support of my page!❤