Encounter With A Forest Curmudgeon

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

A soft breeze sweeps through the old homestead site as ebb closer to the spot where the old chimney stood like a spire. In this place there always seemed to be the echoes of yesteryear and the promise of what may be coexisting. To those who are still a child at heart the forests of this world speak with a voice as true as any that was heard in classroom. I was a little bit peaked from my day’s adventure and decided that it was time for a snake. I retrieved a bottle of water and a packet of trail mix from my gear bag and surveyed the area for inspiration. As looked down the hill I leaned a bit and balanced myself by clinging to a nearby tree. “Would you kindly remove you hand from my nose!” A muffled but raspy voice demanded. My compliance with the demand was sudden indeed. The simple truth is that I rebounded from the tree so hard that fell backwards and uphill. I looked up from my position of indignantly sprawled out on my back like a misfortunate turtle to find the blue eyes glaring at me from a bark covered face. His brow was deeply furrowed and his sparsely toothed mouth was twisted into a frowning grimace. “It’s bad enough that the crows are constantly holding Congress in my branches and that I have to wait for rain to clean up the mess those starlings leave behind and now there’s a human literally in my face!” By that time I had managed to recover from the inverted turtle stance I had found myself in. “Well, speak up child! What have you got to say for yourself?” The tree continued. “Child!” I exclaimed. “I’m a full half century old!” I retorted. To which the face in the tree chuckled. “Most of my family is at least 150.” He sneered. “Great! I thought.” Thousands of acres of forests in the mountains and the tree that speaks to me is a curmudgeon.” “Look, I’m a conservation advocate. I’m a friend of the forests.” I announced. “Friends don’t go around grabbing others by the nose and swinging from it!” The tree observed. “Not that I have any friends but if I did they’d call me Walt.” The tree proclaimed. As the conversation progressed Walt’s edge softened a bit but not much. He eventually expounded on the secrets of the forests and how his brothers and sisters kept in touch through the fungi that fed his roots. About how regularly the deer pass and which paths t hey trod. About how the woodpeckers were a bigger nuisance than even the starlings. But the songbirds were okay because they kept the beetles off of him. I can’t really say that conversations with Walt are pleasant but he does seem to have a lot of knowledge to share. Perhaps when he’s in a better mood he’ll give us some interesting stories.

The only alteration that I’ve made to this tree was to add the eyes. The “face” is the work of God through nature.

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Daydreams Of A Legend

About tonight’s feature image, this is the same clump of willow trees that I have been photographing in different seasons for almost a year. I processed several versions of the photos but decided that the blue of the selenium filter gave the best feeling of a cold winter day. The image title is simply “The Wading Willows In January“.

The spray from Kanawha Falls seems to freeze in the air on this cold January morning. The wading willows seem to be wandering out of the mists as if they are on their way back to shore. The scene takes on an otherworldly feel that’s right out of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. If not for the soft whine of the turbines belonging to the hydroelectric dam it would be easy to forget that Route 60 was just a few steps away. Still, I have to wonder if there’s a monster lurking in the icy depths below. Not some “Devil Fish” of folklore with tenticals such but a real world monster. Every body of water has a legendary fish that’s more than just the one that got away. In my area it’s usually a catfish that’s large enough to swallow a man whole that live at the base of dams and bridges. Occasionally someone sees a V shape in the water or spots one near the surface. I’ve met at least one person who showed me an expensive fishing pole designed for fishing the ocean surf that was snapped off at the base and the hook was pulled out straight. They say that when the water is up that the really big ones come looking for new hunting grounds around the stumps and logs that are inaccessible otherwise. It would be great to rig up a big fishing pole with just the right bait on a day like this. Perhaps I could build a small fire to keep warm and settle the monster catfish issue once and for all. However, the real world need to be on time for my day job pulls me away from the quest and the really big one gets away again.

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Sweet Summertime

One of my favorite things about summertime is the blackberries. I have fond memories of finding a patch of ripe berries during long hike on a hot summer day. The wild blackberry is collected and brought home by the bucket load. June and July is cobbler season. Often a wonderful Sunday dinner is followed by the extra special treat warm cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream. The berry grows on a cane lined with thorns. I’ve created all sorts of contraptions in attempts to pick the berries but I seem to come home looking like I’ve been wrestling a wildcat. Sometimes the sweetness is worth the pain. A few years ago I found a patch that been mashed down in the center. I cautiously entered the patch. Something to remember when collecting blackberries is to keep your ears open for the velvet tailed glow worm. (An old-fashioned term for the Timber Rattlesnake). Satisfied that no venomous serpent was close by I began picking. I started at the top of the canes and worked my downward. I had about a half of a bucket when I suddenly realized why the berry patch had been mashed down. Do you know that old saying about what a bear does in the woods? You know, the cliche that sells toilet paper? Yeah, that one. Well, they seem to do it in the berry patch as well. In fact, as I looked around I saw that they do that a lot in the berry patch. At full alert now I finished filling my bucket before the bear came back for a second helping. Today I manage a small patch on the edge of my property. Bear free of course.

DIGITAL DOODLES 1. The birth of a star.

Sometimes when the photography projects are slow I like to do what I call digital doodling. Basically, I take a photo of a cloud or something (the image above was fireworks). Sometimes it’s food coloring suspended in water and add some out of box effects. Then I warp and bend and change color until the original object is unrecognizable. I usually wind up with swirling patterns of color. The whole idea is really just a creative exercise. The set here turned out well enough to publish. I tend to follow the concept of blending opposites. The set here are themed around the Yin/Yang icon seen in martial arts schools in America. The balance of opposing energies like fire and ice is something that I’ve always been fascinated with. The series of images should imply that the energies are coming together in the creative process.

Everything starts with potential.

Energy is derived from opposite potentials that interact.

The potential energies begin to move closer to each other.

As the energies come together they began to swirl.

The pattern tightens up with the synergy created.

Finally, there’s an explosion and a new star is born.

The Angel Story

Luke 2:10


“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” 
King James Version (KJV)  

By this time tomorrow most of the United States will be covered by a blanket of wrapping paper.   I can picture in my mind that the responsible member of house is standing by with a snow shovel ready to plow through a brightly colored avalanch of Christmas joy. Great care must be taken during this task lest small chilchildren be lost within an embankment paper and empty boxes.  It’s easy to be swept up in the trappings of the celebration when you are only two feet tall.  As an adult,  it’s easy to to get lost in the excitement and preperation of the season. We have a tendency to focus on the doings  and overlook the beings.  I imagine that when the angel visited the shepherds that they may not have noticed at first.  Tending livestock requires multitasking.  Hedges must be maintained, animals are constantly wandering off, adequate food and water needs to be available and sibling rivalry has to quelled. Its very much like managing a family gathering. The Herald Angel would have needed to use that trumpet to get everyone’s attention.  “HEY, OVER HERE! EVERYONE FOLLOW ME! WE’RE HEADING INTO TOWN TO SEE THE BABY JESUS!” 

When they arrive there is more chaos.  The sheep are still wondering off, the wisemen’s camel train has taken over the parking  and now the cattle are lowing. Mary would have been a nervous wreck without the grace of God.  Everybody is there to see the precious gift laying in a manger.   The noise and clamor of the inn fade away into the night as the baby opens his eyes and the true gift is realized.  

It’s easy to get lost in the excitement.  There are plenty of distractions. Everything from twenty-four hour T.V. specials to making dinner and enjoying the surprises under the tree. Take a little time to stop and let all these things fade into the background and appreciate the true gift of Christ.  

The Beacon final chapter.

I’m bringing the story to a close.  I’ve enjoyed daydreaming and writing. The story started out as a way of  drawing attention to the digital art I’ve produced and it took on a life of its own.  I’ll probably have other stories from time to time.  I hope you’ve enjoyed The Beacon. 


The past few weeks had been pretty uneventful.  The caretaker and his young guest passed the time with sharing chores and playing chess near the fire. Every so often the young man would take out the telescope and scan the horizon for any signs of a passing vessel.

He had been on this stormy and rocky little island for months.  Even with the supplies he salvaged from his little ship they would not have much longer before rationing was not an option.  The young man thought about his options as he prepared for sleep. He looked into the mirror as he washed his face in the basin on the far side of the little bedroom.  He thought for a moment that he heard a voice calling out.  He walked into the kitchen but it was empty.  He checked the supply room and found nobody there.  The top of the lighthouse was also void of any presence.  The lamp was lit but no one tended the flame.  Outside the window the wind howled as the clouds began their march towards his shelter.  He strained his eyes and searched the rocks for the signs of the caretaker.  Panic began to set in. He opened the glass door and stepped out to the balcony but it was gone.  He looked up into the night sky as he fell. Just before he hit the ground his body jerked and he woke up in a sweat.  The nightmares started with the fever but were growing steadily worse. He could see the sunshine peeking through the window.  He got out of bed and washed up. The caretaker was sitting at the table with the morning meal ready.

The young man wondered what the dream meant.  He had spoken of it to the caretaker before but their language barrier was still too great for a clear conversation.

As the caretaker slept the young man walked the shoreline. This had become his daily routine.  As he walked in silence he continued his contemplation of the reoccurring nightmares.  Once more he could hear someone calling out to him. He continued to walk. The voices were growing louder.  He could hear them above the crashing waves this time.  There was something familiar about the voices. The young man quickly spun around to see three men running up the shoreline in his direction.  They were speaking his language! “Hello!” He called back.  Behind them was a ship’s launch on the beach and on the horizon was a ship flying the colors of his home country.

“We’ve been spotting the light in the old tower for days but could not get a safe anchor until today.” The oldest of the three spoke.  The young man was shocked and found it hard to form a reply.  The oldest sailor spoke again, “We’ve got to hurry.  We don’t know how long it will be before the wind picks up again. ” My things are in the lighthouse.” Was all the young man could say at the moment.  The leader of the three men ordered the other two to go with him and help him carry out what possessions they could.  As the entered the cottage the young man called out for the caretaker but there was no answer.  Confused the young man began to head up the stairs calling out for his friend when one of the sailors grabbed his arm. “Sir, we’re leaving with or without you. There’s no more time.  We have to get back to open seas before the next storm.” The young man understood.  He regretted that he wasn’t able to let the caretaker know what was happening.

As they rowed for the ship the others just did their work without speaking.  They were quickly hauled aboard as soon as they arrived.  The young man was instructed to go below deck and get himself in order. His possessions were placed in storage and he was assigned a berth.  As the ship was getting underway the young man ventured back to the deck for one last look at the rocky island that had been his home for nearly a year.  There was something wrong with the lighthouse.  The lamp was out and the storm was gathering.  “We’ve got to go back! He shouted.  There’s something wrong,  the caretaker wouldn’t fail to light the lamp with weather like this setting in! Everyone just stared at him strangely.  It was then that the captain placed a hand on the young man’s shoulder.  “Son, this lighthouse has been abandoned for almost one hundred years.” the captain spoke calmly.  The young man protested and began to recall all that occurred when the captain handed him a telescope.  “See for yourself” was all he said. The young man raised the glass.  The lighthouse was falling apart.  No smoke from the cottage fire, no lamp in tower. He just stared in disbelief as they sailed on.

The young man couldn’t explain the experience. The captain suggested that he go back below deck and try to recover.  His personal surgeon would check in on him in a bit. The young man stuck his hands in his pockets as he walked due to the cold wind. Something brushed his hand in his right pocket.  When he pulled out the chess piece get knew that something supernatural had preserved his life until his rescue could be arranged.


It was a full 2 years ago since the young man had been rescued.  He worked hard and saved enough money for a second one man ship.  He was able to gather extra supplies and was now beached on the island where he sheltered from the storms and helped the caretaker maintain its Beacon.

He hauled the cans of lamp oil and food to the small cottage.  It was dusty and the rooftop was falling in.  On the table was the chess set.  He returned the missing piece to the board.  He called out a few times but there was no answer.  He returned to his ship and set sail for open sea. As he looked back to island the lamp began to glow once again.  The young man whispers “I love you too father.” and returned home.