Tilly was very pleased with her home on the lake. She and George had such a great life with so much love that they had to start a family. And as soon as the kids were able she took them to her favorite cove on McKee’s Creek. She couldn’t wait to share the cool emerald water with her babies. Being children and full of curiosity the kids often drifted out of formation but she lovingly called to them with soft whistles and gentle nudges until they pretty much complied. She trained them on how to fan out and flush out the minnows for food and how to swim in a tight pack to fool predators into thinking it was only one very large duck on the surface. Among the more important skills for a lake duck was how to look cute for visitors and get a free meal. This one was easy for the kids to master. They learned how avoid the big snapping turtles that lay on the muddy bottom and that sometimes you can hitch a ride on the back of a tortoise if you’re not in a hurry. They learned that the big geese were usually friendly but to keep back when they seem cross. Shallow dives are fun and it’s important to shake your feathers dry when you come back up. One of the baby ducks wandered off to explore what he thought was a clump of reeds on the edge. They were standing so still in the breeze that it made him curious. But suddenly the reeds blinked which sent him hurrying back to Tilly. They all had a good laugh when it turned out to be an American Bitteren waiting for a crayfish to make the same mistake. The Bitteren squawked a disapproval at having his hunt disturbed before moving to a less crowded part of the shore. Tilly decided that this was enough learning for the day and gathered everyone into the grass to nap in the sun. She cuddled her children close and was very thankful for her life on the big lake.
Good night friends and be blessed throughout your days.
For those who have been following me on Facebook and know of the struggle content providers have to get circulation from big tech I’ve been recommending for people to adopt MeWe as a social media platform. One of the problems I’ve run into on MeWe is that people don’t know how to navigate the platform. So to help with that I’ve created a permanent page on my website as a basic Basic Beginner’s Guide To MeWe I’ve tried to anticipate all basic questions there and You can bookmark the page to have as a reference and if you have any questions or suggestions don’t hesitate to contact me. I do still have a day job and I help admin several pages on both platforms so replies might be a little slow but I will answer you.
We also have the Lloyd’s Lens Photography Discussion Group on MeWe that is set up as a fully functional community. There you’ll not only be able to see and connect with me but you can also make your own posts and interact with each other.
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The engine of my big blue truck growls as I carefully ease my way up Panther Mountain on a foggy October morning. I have the windows down and have turned the music off so that I can listen to the forest. I have become accustomed to paying attention to the bird calls as a kind of “radar”. The forests speak to you if you know what your listening for. Even with the windows down and the radio off I have to stop the engine and step out to be able to get a good ear shot of what’s going on. The fog seems to close in on me like a cloak and the morning light dims a little as I find a spot wide enough to exit the vehicle.
I took a little peek over the edge but the valley below is completely hidden by the fog. After a few minutes the birds began to chirp. I was hoping to get a nice photo of the fog on the Gauley River below but the fog was so thick that you couldn’t see beyond a few yards. I thought that maybe if I sat still enough some wildlife might stumble into range of my lens. This is actually a public road and even though it’s seldom used I can’t leave the road blocked so I stay within sight of the truck. I noticed that the leaves near the edge of the road were moving and suddenly a chipmunk popped up right at my feet. Before I could focus he let out a squeak and disappeared back into a sea of fallen leaves. I chuckled softly and was watching to see if he came back when the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Something was moving through the area. Something big enough to silence the birds. Normally I’d notice the holes in the bird chatter but I was too focused on the chipmunk. That eerie feeling of being watched flooded my gut so strongly that I became nauseous. Whatever it was that made the birds fall silent was close and I allowed myself to drift out from the truck a bit too far. To be continued on Part 2
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The September sky was crystal blue and the time of the Equinox signaled an end to Summer’s warm carefree days. The sun hangs low on the horizon. She meets him by the boat launch as her father and brother packs the camp. The last weekend is nearly over. This is last hour of their summer romance. Here on the edge of the fading lake they embrace beneath the sun and moon. Like the celestial bodies above they can only share the same sky for a short season. The lake boy looks deep into her eyes which are the same color blue as the sky. She noticed how the summer sun has left it’s golden tone on his skin. They continue stare silently into each other. Memorizing every line of the other’s face. Every freckle on his face and every colorful fleck in her eyes. The summer was a time when two worlds met and joined as one. But like the sun and moon the forces of nature will only allow the sharing of the sky for so long. As the embrace for summer’s last kiss, he reaches into the pocket of his shorts and pulls out a small box. “Close your eyes” he whispers. She’s a little bit nervous about what comes next but she trusts him and does as he asks. He places a golden chain around her neck. Suspended from it was a locket. It was small but elegant. Inside was the picture of the two of them on the local fishing pier. Her brother had taken the snapshot when they wasn’t looking. “Don’t let me be forgotten” he whispered once more as he clasped the necklace about her neck. A single tear rolls down her cheek and she thanked him for the gift. By now her family waits patiently in the packed car. “I’ll be waiting here for you next summer” she replied with her voice cracking. “True love is faithful no matter how long and cold the nights to come will be.” She added. With no way to delay their parting any longer the young lake boy stepped aboard his day cruiser and drifting off of the shore. He watched with anguish as she got in the car and went home for the school year. Throughout the coming months they would call, text and even attend prom together. The following summer they met again in the same spot by the boat launch. And never parted ways again.
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Some days it seems like a dark cloud just hanging over my head everywhere I go. I look up and there it is trying to look all innocent. The one in feature image is trying to disguise itself and look like a unicorn. “Pay no attention to me. I’m just a unicorn ” it says. But I know better. That cloud is just waiting for me to relax so it can rain all over me. But I wasn’t born yesterday and I’m not fooled by crafty shapeshifting. I keep my trusty oversized army surplus poncho close at hand. As I turned to open the door of my truck to retrieve my camera a cold wet sensation is felt on the back of my neck. A single raindrop runs down towards the collar of my shirt trying to find the best place to spread it’s chill. With cat like reflexes my hand moves on it’s own to close off all entry points. The other hand finds the umbrella and in one motion I spin around to face my attacker. The spring loaded umbrella pops open with blinding speed. Whump! Defiantly I glare at this nebulous aggressor from behind my nylon shield. Okay sucker, you asked for it. It’s well known among Frontiersman that Davey Crockett once grinned down a bear. Nothing, no force of nature can resist the power of such a grin. Now, I don’t know if it was the spirit of old Davey Crockett channeling through me or if my grin is really just that silly but when when I sprang from behind my umbrella and grinned at that cloud something happened. At first I thought it was thunder. Then I realized that the cloud was beginning to snicker. Just a little at first but I kept grinning. Then, the cloud just couldn’t hold back any longer. That cloud let out a full on belly laugh! In fact it laughed so hard that it wet itself all out into the river and is passing through Mississippi on it’s way to the Gulf of Mexico even as you read this post! I know it’s hard to believe me but you can ask the blind man. He witnessed the whole thing. 😉
After learning the secret written in the stone. I began to make my calculations. The maiden was carefully observing my every action as I removed the jackknife from my pants pocket and started scraping small shavings from the log where she had been seated. Ever so cautiously I collected them in the tail of my shirt. Next I would need a large piece bark and dead twigs from a nearby elder bush. I cut a notch in the bark just like my grandfather had taught me as a child and began to spin a twig in the notch. In no time at all I had a hot coal and was able to sustain it with the shavings. I took the next twig which longer split it perfectly in half. The pithy center was easy to remove and once that was done I bound them together with strands of the tall grass in meadow. I studied the broken dulcimer and committed it’s outline to memory. As I worked I looked up and saw the maiden looking onward in amazement and the raven still circled me above the trees. I placed the first hot coal on the dry wood and began to kindle it with the elder blow tube. I occasionally stepped back to the stone and checked the mathematical formulas carved there by ancient hand that was long since gone. The legacy written was instructions for a new dulcimer. The precision burning of the wood and removal of the char would need to be perfect. I became so involved with the task at hand that time lost all meaning. There was only the fire and the wood and my breath. Periodically a large drop of sweat would fall into the coal and erupt with a long stream of steam. With the jackknife I would put the finishing touches on the piece. Hand carved dovetails to hold it together and keys for tuning the strings recovered from the old one. There it was. My dreamworld had a new voice. I turned to the maiden and offered my finished product along with the parchment entrusted to me by the raven. She spoke not a word but the newfound joy in her eyes was the most profound expression of gratitude I ever experienced. Her eyes danced over the open scroll as she read the music. Then, she tuned the instrument to perfect pitch and took a breath. As she played the first few notes that gray sky rolled back and the birds all began to sing with her. The newly awoken sun pushed back the remaining clouds. With my task completed I began to make the return journey back to the waking world. As I approached the iron gate a now familiar shadow passed overhead. As turned to cast one last gaze on my dreamworld the raven landed on the road. He spoke in a raspy voice. “There is more to see here. You are as much a part of this world as you part of the one beyond that gate. You are the Fireweaver and a prince of the dreamworld.”
The drone of the alarm clock grew more intense as I slowly rose from my bed. The sun was shining through the blinds and just outside my window I could hear a mockingbird singing a song that was oddly familiar…