As humans we are hardwired to build. No matter if it’s a child making mud pies or a master tradesman crafting a skyscraper we can observe a meditative like state of mind as that person works. I wasn’t present when the cairn in tonight’s feature image was built but imagine that each stone was specifically chosen with planing and forethought. I imagine that the actual stacking would have involved mentally placing each peace in multiple positions so as to prevent the whole thing from collapsing. In the past I was fascinated with megalithic works. Everywhere you find humans you find large stones arranged by human hands. And of course my favorite was Stonehenge. Everyone has a theory about why it was built and in fairness it has been used for many purposes over the past Five Thousand Years but I have to wonder if it’s simply a work of art. Assembling Stonehenge would have been a massive undertaking but what if like the random hiker stacking stones near Cathedral Falls the builders simply wanted to be remembered? After all, stacking stones is a great way to say “I was here”.
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One by one colors fall from the sky. There’s a rainbow in the wind. The forest takes on a different scent and the sounds change as well. For a moment I paused to take in the change and feel the bite of the oncoming cold weather. There’s a loud thump behind me. Cautiously I turned to face whatever beast stalks me. Emptiness. Only the falling leaves and the bare trunks of the trees. Perhaps it was just a branch that had pruned itself in the breeze. A few more steps down the pathway and this time I definitely hear the dry leaves crunch behind me and move to one side. I stepped behind a large yellow poplar as the crunch moves closer. I peek out from my hiding place and then I see the noisiest creature in the woods. A grey squirrel comes bouncing towards me. How a one pound bushy tailed tree rat manages make more noise than a Sasquatchin a dance off is beyond me. But they do. When I step back out the squirrel realizes that his prankster antics are over and in one last leap he disappeared up his own tree. Amused by the fluffy little rascal as he moved from branch to branch I smile and thank God for the beautiful fall day and the warm thermos of coffee back at my big blue truck. It time to leave the squirrel to finish stashing away his winter supplies.
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The evening light spills ever so softly into the landscape at Cathedral Falls. The tall cascade of water flows from the mountain and over the stones. The cascade is the star of the show that draws the spectators but the dozens of tiny falls that dance and play on their way to the river are just as pleasing. I have to imagine that they are the children of the Cascade above. Born out of the sense of peace and serene beauty of Cathedral Falls she sends her offspring into the river to spread out and share the mountains with the rest of the world.
Hello Friends! Tonight’s image is the Stream Below Cathedral Falls in West Virginia. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. Please also consider following Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook.
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I’ve said it before about how much I love twisted and crooked, gnarly trees. The curls sweeps of the wood speak of challenges that were overcome to survive. I’m not sure what caused the arabesque in the trunk of this one but the moment I saw the double curve I fell in love with the tree. No doubt that it had to have carried the weight of at least one or maybe two larger trees as it grew. I also have no doubt that it’s unique shape prevented it from being harvested at some point in its history.
Sometimes God allows us to go through struggles that we don’t understand. We might wonder how much longer a situation will last. We might think that the burden we carry will pull us down. But if we just keep going and we don’t give up we can make it. Sure, there’s going to be scars and we may not stand as tall as some of our contemporaries. But, that doesn’t make us any less beautiful. It makes us overcomers and it makes us unique.
As I looked around at the surrounding forest there were hundreds of trees that were straight and tall. Some of trunks were so thick that you and your best friend couldn’t reach all the way around them by joining hands. But they all faded into the background. The only one that stood out and begged to be photographed was the one who was unique. One day this tree will fall just like the rest of them. As a woodworker I can imagine some bent wood furniture being made from crooked trunk. If it ever happens it will be a centerpiece in someone’s home where the others couldn’t compete with the graceful curves produced by overcoming the struggle. Don’t ever give up. Bend and adapt to overcome and you’ll grow into something special.
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The mid morning sun has driven away most of the clouds. As I walk the gravel road that leads into the forest I’m aware of almost everything that moves just inside the trees. Several squirrels and a few chipmunks scurry around looking for the first of fallen acorns. The birds flitter from branch to branch. The buzzing of insects is all around. A few leaves tumble down from the canopy. The sounds of nature fill the air. The rapids in the Gauley River below roar and the voices of the other park patrons blend into the chorus. There are five females, two males and three children all near the playground. I can’t see them. But I know that they are there. I can follow the concentration of the bird noises which grows softer where the humans are present. Deeper into the forest the chaos of the outside world fades away. I can smell the horseshoe fungus growing in a black locus tree. The smell of Wintergreen tells me a large birch tree is nearby. As I drop over the hill the forest opens up into a small clearing. A stump left behind by the park rangers is the perfect spot to enjoy the solitude. A place where the unbroken chain of thoughts and contemplation can lead me to a place where inspiration lives. And then it happens. An idea is born and it grows into a dream. And the dream was wonderful. I’ll open the little file in my memory and tuck the dream safely away for now. I began to walk back to my big blue truck occasionally peeking into the file in my memory checking on the little fledgling dream. He has to be kept safe and warm while I prepare a place for the dream live.
If your mind can conceive and your heart can believe, then your will can achieve.
Our dreams are possible only if we work to make them real.
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It’s hard to believe that in just a few short weeks summer will be over. The pop of color from the wildflowers will be replaced by the reds and yellows of the fall leaves. The soft feeling of the the cool green grass on bare feet will give way to the dry crunch of fallen leaves beneath my favorite pair of boots.
I spent a few minutes outside of my office at my day job and there was a familiar crisp scent in the air. The wind blew a little cooler and I knew that this was the prelude to the change of seasons. The Appalachian Mountains in fall are one of the most beautiful sights your eyes can behold. The vast forests give us a grand finale with a symphony of color just before the trees take their winter slumber. The days are still warm enough to enjoy without the jungle like humidity. For a brief time the trilling song of the tree frogs will change over to the chirps of katydid. The bucks will begin to rub away the velvet from their antlers and establish their territory with epic wrestling matches. The bears are now fat and looking for a nice quiet den to sleep in. Country gardens are in harvest and those who still live off of the land are busy with canning. The wonderful aromas of stews, jellies and jams are coming from every hill and holler in the backcountry. So breathe in the last few moments of summer and get ready for the grand finale of Fall.
The gently babbling water flows over the rocks. In the shallow pools small fish dart under cover as my shadow crosses in front of them. Dragonflies and Damselflies zip around and occasionally hover. A small crayfish crawls from one pool to another. Somewhere behind me the distinct sounds of a woodpecker hammering away at an old snag echoes through the mountains.
I step carefully as I approached the spot where I will place my tripod. I am in a public park but the copperheads don’t understand that everyone is welcomed here and I’d rather not suffer another bite. Satisfied that I’m not disturbing a sleeping serpent, I begin to set up my camera. The twin falls of Glade Creek are one of our most popular places. They’re certainly not the highest falls in West Virginia but there’s something about the perfect symmetry that’s irresistible. The sun is high in sky and I want the water to come out nice and silky so I make the appropriate adjustments and set the timer hoping that the children playing nearby can stay out frame for just a few more seconds. This was ten years ago and it was one of my first with a real camera. The result is still one of my favorite images today.