Cool air fills the forest as a light mist settles across the land. Small streams form pushing the fallen leaves out of way. The rain settles out and the sun breaks through the clouds for a little while. It’s a great opportunity to get out on a pathway and leave the artificial life of T.V., internet and radio behind. The fragrance of the moss gently wafts from the wet ground and the birds fill the forest with happy chirps. On this trip they’re the only companions. In 9 weeks give or take the forest will slowly begin to open sleepy eyes. I’ve already seen a few green leaves peeking through the leaf litter like a small child opening one eye and then playing possum. They’ll pop up for a little while and then go back to sleep in the deep cold of February. One of them looks like Solomon’s Seal but I haven’t really checked it close yet. Last year’s fern fronds are still green and sprawled across their domain. Some of them are perched on top of rotten stumps and others cling to the top of large stones along with the moss. The rain begins to drizzle again but the mountain offers plenty of cover in the form of rocky ledges with shallow caves at the base. You can sit under them and just listen to rain. The tranquility of the solitude brings peace and the peace is fulfilling.
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With Halloween occurring in a few days the hobgoblins are beginning to gather and roam the countryside looking for whatever they can devour. Usually a pillowcase full of chocolate is what’s needed to ward them away. I have have also seen plenty of superheroes patrolling the neighborhoods but I wouldn’t count on them. I’m pretty sure that they are in cahoots with the hobgoblins. Never the less, they will require a few bits of candy for their services as well. You’ll know for certain that it’s a conspiracy when you spot Iron Man, Batman, the Devil and a horde of zombies meet on the corner to discuss which houses have the sugary sweet chocolate awesomeness and who’s handing out the ever dreadful and stale popcorn balls.
Then there’s the other Halloween tradition. The pranks. Older kids who are up to mischief. One of the less harmful pranks was to rub a bar of soap on the windows of those houses that were “fuddy dudies”. The soap made just enough of a mess that something had to be done but yet not enough of a mess as to lead to legal action. I was only caught once and the responding officer was content to supervise us as we cleaned up our own work to his satisfaction. (The takeaway lesson their is that mild infractions can be handled creatively).
Eventually this leads to the dare. (Queue dramatic music) The dare was the inspiration for tonight’s feature image. In every town there’s the place that’s taboo. Nobody wants go there no matter what time of year. Sometimes the path leads to an abandoned graveyard. Sometimes it’s the abandoned house or an old factory. In West Virginia there is even an abandoned amusement park. Whatever is out there it always at the end of some foreboding path. The trail seems open enough at first but then the trees seem to close in on you. Thick vines trail along the way like tentacles that just might grab you and drag you into the underbrush. Do you take the dare or face the teasing on the next day? Okay then, I knew you’d be the type who wouldn’t back down. Go ahead. I’m right behind you. Cautiously we step onto the pathway slowly walk. What was that in the shadows? Something is moving parallel with us. Shine your light off to right. Did you see it? Was that… eyes shining back at us? Suddenly the eyes are gone deeper into the shadows of the thick bush. We’re to far away from the group to head back. Whatever it is might chase us or drop from one of the trees. We’re going to have to keep moving. The trail should open up again soon. Shouldn’t it? No sooner do we start moving forward again that the sound of something in bushes starts again. Instinctively you turn the light towards the source of the noise. The eyes are back. Brace yourself. I’m going to flush it out whatever it is. I bend down slowly without looking away from the eyes and pick up several small stones from the trail. The first one is not much larger than a marble. I gauge the position of the glowing eyes and toss the stone. Suddenly it leaps out onto the trail. It’s just a cat. A black one and it’s just crossed our path. Not a good sign. After catching our breath and with a sigh of relief for not having been eaten we get back to our mission to find out where this trail ends. To be continued on part 2.
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Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “I Dare You ” and is available for purchase by contacting me on Facebook or by using the Contact Form on my website.
4X6 – $5.00
8X10 – $15.00
May require some cropping.
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Our mountains are full of little trails. Pictured here is the Lover’s Leap Trail at Hawks Nest State Park in West Virginia. The legend tells of a Native American couple who would rather leap from the high cliffs than be separated. As you descend down the winding pathway, ancient and majestic trees line the sides of the rustic staircase. The walk down is easy but if you have long legs and large feet like me, the spacing is a little off and it’s easy to fall down. It isn’t until you look back up the trail that you really notice how steep the climb back will be. You might be tempted to turn around and climb back out early but don’t. As we’ll see in tomorrow’s post the view is well worth the effort.