When You Suddenly Realize That You’re Not Alone

Hello friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Deer Family 81019” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

My big blue truck rolls through my uncle’s pasture as I approach the old grove of black walnuts. The little meadow down in the lower corner of the farm was always a special place for me. As a child I would sit for hours on a flat rock in the middle of a marsh and just take in the nature at the base of a spring.

On the particular day I took the picture I was milling about when I suddenly felt like I was being watched. You might think it’s just cliche but it’s real. I have seen bears and other predators in this spot before so I froze in place and rolled my eyes in the direction that I felt the gaze coming from. My eyes are not what they used to be but I saw something moving in the deep shadows. Fortunately, there were no bears this time. It was just a family of deer trying to figure out if I was dropping off food for the cattle. They like to hijack the sweet grain and mineral supplements if they get a chance. In fact a low tech way of removing a tree stump is to salt it. A mixture of mineral salt, vitamins and molasses is poured into the stump around the roots and over the stump until it’s saturated. The stump is then abandoned. Within a few days the deer will dig it out for you as they try to get their dietary supplements out of the ground. At this point there’s no feral pigs in my area but it’s a safe bet that they would be even quicker at rooting out the stump.

Today however, there’s no prizes for the deer that show up. I began to move and behave as if I never noticed them and they soon slipped back into the shadows that lay beyond the ferns.

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Forage Friday #9 Wild Grapes ( just the vine for now )

Last weekend we missed Forage Friday due to a weather event so this Friday we’re going to pick up where we left off.

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Wild Grapes and Snake Tongue “. The image was taken specifically for tonight’s post. All of the photos on my blog are available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

We’re all familiar with Grapes. The fruit of the vine permeates our culture world wide. Everything from fine wine to to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich uses the grape berries. I have recently learned that the leaf is a huge Mediterranean delicacy. A quick internet search revealed that other parts of the world use the leaves in a lot dishes. However, the leaf is not the focus of tonight’s post. It’s the tendrils that I’m interested in on this foraging excursion.

As a kid we called them snake tongues. And it was probably while doing a silly snake impersonation and using the forked tendrils for a prop that I discovered the flavor.

The tendrils of wild grape resembling the forked tongue of a snake.

The taste of local wild grape tendrils reminds me a little of sweet tarts candy. I normally only grab a few while walking around the mountains. The candy like flavor helps me with dry mouth and it’s a little pick-me-up. Although that later trait is probably due my association with childhood.

I have been curious to chop a few up and toss them into a salad but so far I’ve just used it as a trail nibble like most of the wild edible plants that I’m familiar with.

I believe that the particular variety of grape in the feature image are Porcelain Berry. The reason why I think that is because the property where I took the photos is thick with Porcelain Berry.

Porcelain Berry looks nothing like the grapes in the grocery store.

The Porcelain Berry is a really interesting grape visually. The cluster often contains a variety of blues and reds in multiple tones. They are edible raw or cooked but I’m told that the flavor of the fruit is somewhat disappointing so I have never bothered to try it.

One last thing about the actual leaf. Specifically on Porcelain Berry. Because I have just discovered that grape leaves are edible I did a little digging around the internet and Porcelain Berry leaves are said to only be edible when cooked. Porcelain Berry is not a true grape even though we commonly call them wild grapes. True grapes are in the genre vitis. True grapes leaves can be eaten raw while Porcelain Berry (genus Ampelopsis ) leaves cannot be. I also need to warn you of a toxic look-alike to any kind of wild grape is Canadian Moonseed which contains a substance similar to curare. For more information about Moonseed here’s an old video from my YouTube days.

As always please do independent research and keep in mind that Forage Friday is only intended to be used as a starting point and a conversation starter.

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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Take Time To Grow

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Hickory Seedling 43019″and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

It’s not how you start out but where you end up that’s important. Growing as hard as it can this little hickory tree is barely a foot tall. But if it lives long enough it could end up being one hundred and twenty feet tall. But that’s not going to happen overnight. It’s likely to take hundreds of years of hot summers and icy winters. It will have to survive multiple windstorms and seasons of drought before it can be a giant.

In our age of technological wizardry when you can fix a hot meal and download your favorite feature length film in less than five minutes we have come to expect instant success. We want the “cheat codes” of life. But then what? You can’t cheat life without cheating yourself out of the reasons why winning is awesome. A one hundred and twenty feet tall tree that has never weathered the storms will be doomed to crashing down in the first gust of wind. Like our own bodies, a tree has to develop its strength and flexibility by being exposed to the harsh conditions. It takes time to develop that kind of strength. It’s a battle that often leaves scars inside the wood. Not every tree reaches its full height. In fact, the average hickory tree is only sixtyfive feet tall. About half of its potential. And still we sit beneath it’s branches in awe of its size not considering that at one point in its life it was just another plant growing in a ditch. Most of us would have mistaken it for a weed.

A hickory seedling looks like just another weed

We shouldn’t measure our lives by where we are now. We need to consider that reaching our potential means weathering many storms and taking the time to develop those strong roots that hold us fast.

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/

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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!❤

Red Maple & Forester’s Trick

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Mountain Fire In Spring”and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the article.

All along the Kanawha River we are beginning to see the mountains change color. There are light green spots full of tiny new leaves, the pinkish-purple of the redbud bloom and the blood red of the red maple. Tonight’s feature image is actually several years old but it was taken on April 15th. When I was studying forestry in college my instructor taught us that a good timber man could estimate the diversity of a stand of timber by the colors seen in fall and spring without ever climbing the mountain. Brown twigs are sugar maple and red twigs are red maple. He had a color scale in his mind that covered a multitude of hues and variations. He would use this technique to determine which stands of timber were worth a closer look and that way he could avoid wasting time on lower value timber.

I never made it into the timber industry but I have observed that by closely watching the colors of the mountains during the seasonal changes I can not only estimate the mix of trees in the forest but I can judge the progression of the changes. Like all things in life nothing is ever 100 percent but this technique allows me to get relatively accurate guess what nature is about to do. It’s all about the observation of natural time. So as you go about your day take note of the small changes in color and texture of the world around you. It’s God’s creation and you are a part of it.

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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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.

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Every Frog Has His Day

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Gray Monday” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the page.

Rainy days and Mondays are not to be desired or so it’s been said. Admittedly, I would have rather spent the day sitting in the sunshine and enjoying the birds singing while watching the ferry diddles play in the trees. But even the rainy day has it’s own joy if you look hard enough. Just beyond the trees and down the hill a piece is a ditch where the water pools. This is the frogs gather and sing for a mate in wet weather. It occurs to me that for a frog rainy days are one of life’s true joys. If it’s a warm sunny day a frog has to stay close to water and in the shadows to keep from drying out. But if it’s a warm rain a frog gets to come out and play. He spends his whole day making up songs that express his appreciation of the clouds. I can picture the scene in my mind. Mr Frog jumps out of the water and gazes skyward. A frog’s smile might be hard to detect but promise you that it’s there. He wiggles his webbed toes in the fresh mud. Then he takes a breath so deep that he blows up like a green balloon. Then he lets out a song like no song has ever been sung before. For a frog it’s the best Monday ever! One for the books! As the rain continues to fall gently the birds gather in the thick evergreen trees and the ferry diddles go to their dens. Everyone sits quietly waiting for rain to stop as they listen to frogs make beautiful music. Eventually I move from the window to the awning on the back of building and listen myself. Suddenly the gray sky doesn’t seem so bad. Monday isn’t so tough when your world is full of music.

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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Did you know that I also do portraits by appointment? If you’re interested in a portrait session either message me onFacebook or use the Contact Form on my website

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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! 😊

Some Days Are For The Birds

Recently the warm weather allowed me to get out for a few minutes and visit the bird feeder at my dad’s house. Dad goes all out for his little feathered friends. The TV is on but he has his binoculars pressed to his face looking out the window at all the activity in the chestnut trees on the edge of the yard. The term “yard” is kinda used loosely at dad’s place. In general it’s any place where you mow plus just under the trees where the woods begin. As we observe the feeding dad recounts the events at the feeder over the past few days. He hasn’t actually named these birds out loud but he knows all of the species and individuals who frequently visit his yard. He tells me that the Common Flicker in tonight’s feature image is the boss of the yard and how he even challenges and keeps at bay the murder of crows that are larger and outnumber him. He talks about the covey of mourning doves and how one always lands on the feeder and tosses food down to the ground for the rest of them. A Pileated Woodpecker swoops in as dad talks and lands on a dead limb of a hickory tree. He hits the dead wood like a jackhammer and sends wood chips flying everywhere in his search for insects living in the wood. ( I tried to get a nice shot of the Pileated Woodpecker but he’s far too camera shy and took flight as soon as I stepped outside.) Dad has one mortal enemy at his bird feeder and surprisingly it’s not the squirrels. It’s a mob of Common Grackles that have run the bluebirds out of his yard and have even overwhelmed the Flicker on occasion. The former Marine came out in dad’s eyes when he postulated on how to defend his songbirds from the Grackles. A few minutes later he softened a little and said that God had a place for the Grackles too. Most of shots from the window didn’t really turn out well and so I put my wilderness stalking skills to work and began to ease myself closer to the feeder. Most of the birds scattered at first but soon the chickadees returned. Small and agile the chickadees figure they can be gone with a mouthful of food before the human can react. I remained as motionless as a stone until they began to ignore me. As soon as the others saw that I wasn’t chasing after the chickadees they also returned. Then finally the Flicker decided that it was time to let me know that this was his feeder. The others gave way to him as he came in for a landing. He dug into the seed mix and found the one he wanted. Then he flew directly at the camera so fast that I couldn’t adjust the focus. He pulled up at the last moment and landed on the branch above me. Few a few minutes he seemed to play peekaboo by popping out from the tree with the nut in his beak. Finally he tucked it into his hiding spot on an upper branch.

Common Flicker hiding a nut in a tree branch

I watched him repeat this stunt a few times before I went back inside to visit with dad some more and share the photos with him. I’ve been told that some days are for the birds but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I want to encourage you to spend some time birding. The songbirds not only bring much needed beauty to the dull winter climate but also share their beautiful songs and impart a little peace to your morning.

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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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.

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