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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As the morning sun breaks over the distant ridge I can hear the voices coming from the rushing water in the valley below. The mists slowly rise up the mountain reminding me of something that might be seen in Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth. One by one the large rubber rafts come bouncing over the rapids . They’ve traveled from all over the world to experience the thrill of the Gauley River. The Corps Of Engineers and draining the lake for the oncoming winter. I believe that there’s magic in our mountains. All of the fun and joy of summer on Summerville Lake is stored up in the lake itself and released in the fall as whitewater. The fun then moves up paddles and is absorbed into the hands. Eventually this magical essence of fun travels through the heart and comes out as excitement and laughter. The magic is amplified by the canyon walls until it spills over high cliffs and I smile as it touches me. Switching to my long lens I capture a few frames of the rafts passing by and enjoy the last of my coffee. The big blue truck is waiting to take me to the next leg of my journey so I pack my gear and slip behind the wheel. Just before pulling out I roll the window down and allow the magic to fill the cab. Call it “one for the road”.
I stood there by the water’s edge as the morning sun smiled down on the Kanawha River. The fog rose sleepily from its bed just below the falls and continued upwards to become clouds. The cool mists are something to be enjoyed before the heat of the day becomes unbearable.
As I sip my morning coffee and watch the awakening of nature the last echo of a night bird calling from it’s roost falls on my ears. I don’t really know if it was bidding me good morning or if it was finally saying good night after being on the third shift. I listened for a few minutes. There was no second call. My friend was bedded down for the day. I took another drink of coffee and whispered “sleep well my friend. Day shift has you covered”.
By now the fog was cleared from the river and from my head. It was time to make good on my promise to the night bird and climb back up into the big blue truck and head to my day job.
Gently floating on the Kanawha River just above Kanawha Falls the fishermen works his line. I was a bit envious when I spotted him peacefully maneuvering his one man craft across the river. He seemed to be so free. The morning mists were cascading down the mountains and spilling out over the falls as he casts out and slowly retrieves the bait. The ducks on my side of the river slyly slip into the water unsure about the big blue truck that came to an abrupt halt near their perches. As I scan the water a trail of bubbles break the surface. That’s the tell tale sign of big mud turtle lumbering on the bottom. With my camera in one hand and my ever present coffee in the other I step out of the truck to enjoy nature for a few minutes and thank God for the new day. Silently, I wish the fisherman luck as I preserve the peaceful scene in my lens. The ticking of my internal clock urges me to resume my daily commute. The engine purrs and I check the mirror as I pull out taking the peaceful feeling with me as I drive away.
Drifting silently among the willow sprouts she comes. The heavy fog keeps her hidden from the outside world. Her only goal is to enjoy some quiet time and listen for the voice of God as He speaks peace to her soul. It’s in the early morning hours that she gathers her strength and prepares for the day ahead. She is thankful for the new day and her moment of being at rest.
Early mornings are a way of life in the Appalachian mountains. Many of us chose to live well away from where we work. I remember when I was a kid lying in bed and hearing the door close and then the car start before daylight. My dad was off to work. (My dad was a telephone lineman. He didn’t work with trains or coal.) I pass by this railyard every day and every time I do it looks like the morning crew had been at work for hours. I’ve never worked for railway but I know the kind of work that’s done there. It’s hot and grimey in the summer and bitter cold in the winter. I imagine that the coal dust gets into every little crevice of your skin as the coal comes off the beltline and pours into railcars. I have been told that one of the more dangerous tasks is keeping the chute clear of “clinkers”. Clinkers are large clumps of coal that clog up the chute and have to removed by hand. The work is hard and dangerous. The train here is a short one. It’s only about three quarters of a mile long. (A little more than 1200 meters) once it’s full it’s probably heading to a power plant where it will boil the water that drives the turbine that makes electricity that powers the servers that runs the internet that makes our lives so much easier. It all happens because someone got up before daylight and did the dirty work.
The cool morning air glides gently off of mountain and pools over the water’s surface. The only sounds I hear are chirps of dawn chorus as song birds wake from their perches and greet the day. An ancient mud turtle leaves his nest on the bank and swims to a sandbar and begins to sun himself. I drop the tailgate of my big blue truck and carry my camera in one hand and my coffee cup in the other. I only have a few minutes to soak in the peaceful morning but I only need a frame or two. I keep an eye out for the eagle that I spotted a while back. I’m hoping that God has ordained another meeting for us. I really want a good shot of him catching his breakfast. I have played out the scene in my imagination nearly every day but so far he’s managed to avoid being captured by my lens. There’s been a near misses where he’s just a fuzzy dot in the sky. Perseverance will pay off eventually. These are the thoughts I was having with my morning coffee when I noticed how gracefully the willow bent over to touch the water. The branches seemed to bounce playfully as the river lapped at the twigs. With the eagle successfully eluding the camera and the coffee running out I decided that the willow would be my subject of the day. I think that sometimes God allows us to have a goal that’s just outside of reach so that we will stretch ourselves. After all, it’s the moment that we rise to the challenge that we become more than we were yesterday. It’s more about the effort than the success. I believe that eventually I’ll take a great photo of that eagle. It will be a bittersweet moment for me because I have truly enjoyed the chase.