First Bloom.

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “First Bloom”. As with all of feature images on my copies can be purchased by following the instructions at the bottom of the page.

Tonight we’re having a little cold snap and as expected there is ice, snow and cold rain all on the same day. But I’m actually encouraged by the turn in the weather because historically there’s always a couple of snowy days before winter actually ends. Today’s snow means there’s only one or maybe two snows left to deal with. The next sign will be the emergence of the Serviceberry. Also known locally as Sarvis tree Serviceberry is probably the first thing to bloom in the Appalachian Mountains. As I understand it, the name comes from the old days when traveling during the winter months dangerous at best. Oftentimes when a person passed away in the winter the body was burried whenever it could be and the memorial service was delayed until Spring. There was little in the way of flowers to bring to the grave and thus the bloom of the Serviceberry tree filled the need. The tree would have been planted near churches and graveyards to ensure that flowers were available for those who came to the service. There’s other stories about how the tree got it’s name and there’s a long list of names for this family of trees. If I remember correctly from my forestry classes ( 20 years ago) the trees do hybridize frequently making exact identification of species and strains best left to tree nerds.

Because of the early bloom these trees are an important source of food for honeybees. It’s a mistake to think that honeybees sleep the winter away. They are busy all through the winter keeping the hive warm with their bodies and that means that they need fuel. A quick Google search says that a hive might need as much as thirty pounds of honey to make it through until Spring. TALK ABOUT A SUGAR BUZZ! By the time the weather warms up they’ll be ready to resupply and a good crop of Serviceberry bloom is just thing to tide them over until the rest of the flowers wake up. Honeybees feed the world so if you’re the kind of person who plants ornamentals and your local environment will support Serviceberry then you can do something that will actually make the world a better place by planting Serviceberry. Not only will you feed the bees that pollinate crops that feed the world but you’ll be rewarded with crop of your own. The Serviceberry fruit is edible and delicious! When I was a kid we would eat the raw when we could beat the wildlife to the berries but there’s a whole list of puddings, pies and preserves that use the berries.

I’m betting that some of my fellow Appalachians have some wonderful stories about picking Serviceberry fruit in late Spring and early Summer and I’d love to hear about your memories in the comments! If you’re reading this in one of the Facebook groups that have comments turned off then come on over to the Lloyd’s Lens Photography page on Facebook and tell me your story there. The weather is bad outside but we can look forward to seeing those delicate white flowers soon. The feature image for this post was taken in the last week of March a couple years ago.

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Looking Down To Fayette Station & A Little Boy’s Dreams Of Flight

Tonight’s post contains extra information for Facebook users who are being blocked from using the links on my blog.

The New River Gorge is one of the most beautiful places in West Virginia. Normally photos taken of this area feature the New River Gorge Bridge spanning the gorge 876 feet above the water. However, once per year the bridge is open to pedestrians and there’s a chance to get the opposite angle featuring Fayette Station. The view of the canyon is as good as it gets without a helicopter. I remember back in late 70s and early 80s there was a hang glider craze and at least one time I saw gliders on the canyon rim. I have no idea if it was a good idea due to wind but it sounded like fun. The big concern would have been winds blowing the glider into a rock. I’ve stood up on a ledge along the canyon walls and experienced the rain coming up from valley below due to those winds.

Walking the bridge and the high cliff overhangs of West Virginia always inspired the sensation of flying for me. As a child with a very active imagination I always pretended that I could build a giant paper airplane and sail it from the edge of canyon. In my little fantasy I would bank by leaning one way or the other and sail all the way to Gauley Bridge. It’s a fantasy brought back to me by standing on the edge of the New River Gorge Bridge and looking down at Fayette Station.

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Spring Dreams

Tonight’s image is Titled “Spring Dreams”. If you would like to order a copy of this or any other image on my blog please see the instructions at the bottom of the page.

Today I noticed that the moon was still fairly high in the sky at around 11:00 AM. I felt a little thrilled to see it against the crystal blue of daytime because I knew that this means that winter is winding down. Yes we’ve got several weeks of cold air that hurts your face and by the weekend we’ll have temperatures well below freezing but change is on the way. The rest of day I dreamed about balmy breezes, green leaves and open toe shoes. It’s only a matter of time before the low hanging grey clouds transform into high wispy curls and swirls that dance above the mountains. The ice in the rivers and streams will give way to kayaks the leisurely paddle around the old bridge and tiny minnows who dart around in the creeks. A friend who lives in South Carolina told me that he’s already hearing the frogs singing in the evening! So as I brace for the oncoming polar blast that will have started by the time some of you read this I do so with anticipation for oncoming thaw that’s just a few short weeks beyond it.

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Twilight Stillness

The ebbing daylight lingers a little more each day. Slowly but surely the melting ice soaks into the earth or makes it’s way to the river. I’ve begun to hear birds singing throughout the day. Already the Tuffed Titmouse and the Sapsucker gave been spotted on the sides of the trees. These birds are here year-round but tend to stay sheltered in the deep woods during the darkest days. I’ve also noticed that the wind is shifting from Northwest to Southwest. It will bounce back and forth over the next month or so before settling down. The exciting part for me is the increased opportunity for twilight and sunsets. Most of the photos I post are taken on the fly as I travel to and from my day job. Tonight’s Feature Image was taken in the parking lot of Tractor Supply. Silhouette of the windmill and fading light was something that I couldn’t resist. The contrail from the passing jet gave me the impression of a shooting star. So much so that I almost made a wish when I pulled up the file. Within a few minutes of snapping the shutter the last rays of light faded behind the mountain and the window for shooting closed. I clicked the button on my key fob and the headlights of my big blue truck came to life to guide me home to my wife and pup.

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January’s Crossings 1

The winter winds whip across the three rivers as the steam rises up from my morning coffee. The wintery scene makes me feel like I’ve woken up inside if a snow globe. If not for the fact that I’m on my way to my day job I’d engage the four wheel drive and just idle my big blue truck through the Appalachian Mountains looking for magical places to just sit and watch the snow. The mists and snow seem to merge together as I begin to set up the shot making it look as if the other end of bridge disappears somewhere beyond the known world. For a moment I’m tempted to call off from the day job and allow my inner child to explore the frozen wilderness.

I know that if I travel beyond the bridge and up Gauley Mountain there will be frozen waterfalls with long icicles hanging from the painted sandstone cliffs. There will be little alcoves formed by snow covered bent trees that bright red cardinals play in. Across the forest floor squirrels bounce from tree trunk to tree trunk trying to remember where they stashed their acorns. It was just about that time that the real world recalled me from my daydreaming and I eased my big blue truck back onto the main road.

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The Explorer

I remember watching Mutual Of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom every weekend when I was a young boy. I wanted to be a famous explorer and wildlife biologist like Marlin Perkins Marty Stouffer or Jacques Cousteau. I would sit and watch them on t.v. for hours upon hours. I also had a healthy appetite for the world of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek and Johnny Quest. All of this came together in my young mind to form the view that the world was created just for the specific purpose of being explored and documented. All I needed was a ship, some technical gadgets and a crew of science guys. And oh yes, A few bodyguards. Johnny Quest was constantly getting into a tight spot and bad guys seem to target young explorers for some unknown reason. But I digress.

I suppose that the entertainment of my youth is where my desire to follow a stream like the one in the feature image until I just can’t go any farther. An exploration of anything is more than just reaching the goal. It’s taking the time to experience the quest. One of the most memorable moments of Wild Kingdom was when Perkins rode a monitor lizard through the water. Perkins wasn’t really a young man at the time but he often did things like that. Looking back I see that there must be two kinds of explorers. The goal oriented explorer who just wants to find the finish line and the experience oriented explorer who needs to be truly absorbed into the journey. I tend to gravitate towards the later. I find myself staring downstream from this spot wanting to pack as much gear as I can possibly carry and turn over every rock in the creek just to see what’s down there. So what if there’s no giant lizards to ride like Perkins did or cold war intrigues like Johnny Quest but there’s adventure none the less and the world was created just to be explored.

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Making Time Away From Clocks

As I make my way down the long wooden staircase that leads to the base of the falls I’m mentally transported to a different world. A place where there are no time cards. A world where the only clock is the arch of the sun and the day belongs to the one who lives in it. That’s really the trick isn’t it? To have a little more life in the day? As the water flows over the rocks at Blackwater Falls the roar of cascade overtakes the noisy parking lot on the canyon rim and the modern world is pushed farther away. It’s easy to see why the ancient world explained creation as being made from only four elements of Earth (The stone cliffs), Wind (The breeze coming off of the falls), Fire (The warm sun beaming down) and Water ( The river itself). These things were the most powerful forces in existence outside of God himself. I recently read a headline that said that doctors in Scotland were now prescribing exposure to nature as a medicine. I definitely concur with them. God in all of his love and wisdom created a perfect world for his children. Even in it’s current fallen state it still exists to nurture and sustain his children. It stands to reason that in order to be healthy we need a certain amount of unspoiled nature in our lives.

Once more I’m fully invigorated by my time out from the world of ticking clocks and constant bombardment of ads on T.V. and whatever other media is encountered in the modern era and it’s time to make my way back up the mountain.

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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Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Blackwater Falls October 2015 and is available forpurchase by using theContactForm on my website. ( justclick on the the bell below)

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