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.
I’ve always liked to just sit quietly by the water and look at the reflections. The shallow waters of Muddlety Creek is a great place for thinking time. On this particular day I was looking at these trees and bushes. The rest of the world just faded away into nothingness leaving only the occasional ripple where a small sunfish broke the surface. Tiny tortoise shell butterflies darted through the tall grasses stopping only for a moment to catch their breath. Sapphire blue Damselflies hover just above the water and the only sounds are the songbirds calling out from some hidden branches. A slight mist drifts in the breeze and droplets form tiny jewels at the tips of each leaf. I found myself wishing for a boat. I wanted to paddle upstream just to see what treasures lay just inside the trees. The mist began to thicken into a sprinkle and I knew it was time to move on. Placing my camera back into its case I climbed up into my big blue truck and took my journey just a little further down the quiet country road and on to my next destination. I’ll definitely be back to this spot.
This one is the reflection of a cloud on Summersville Lake. I snapped the photo on a whim and it’s one of the first photos I ever took with a quality camera. What I like the most about this particular image is contrast in harmony. The cloud is a symbolic representation of the element of air floating on water. In order to get the image I had to point my lens away from the sky. The photo shows two forms of water in the same place at the same time. The cool blue-green color of the lake belies the near tropical weather we had the day I took the photo.
Nature loves balance. We tend to think of world in terms positive and negative depending on how something impacts our lives. Sometimes I like to think of these situations more in terms of ebb and flow. A balanced life will experience both sides of the equation. The old adage is that “in every life a little rain must fall.” I assure you that Summerville Lake is drained every year and that without a lot of rain there would be no peaceful days floating on that beautiful blue-green water. This is the simple concept that pulls me though the tough times. There will be a wonderful calm after the storm. Balance will eventually bring the nice things back around in my direction.
A morning stop at the junction of the Gauley River, New River and the Kanawha River was rewarded with a display of the mists rising up from the surrounding mountains. Fog and mists are inspiration for the imagination. While looking at the scene before my eyes it was easy to conjure up what it must have been like during the settlement era. There were no houses or roads. Just the river and the tree covered mountains with the occasional rocky ledge. If I close my eyes and focus on the image I can hear a Shawnee playing his flute as he sits on the bank. He’s working on a love song for his true love, drawing inspiration from the song birds. The tune has to be perfect because it’s the only dowry he has. I can also smell the fire from his camp as his breakfast cooks. He’s having fish from the weir he made yesterday. He’s wrapped the fish in wild aromatic herbs and the scent is amazing. The leaves of Carolina Allspice impart a lemon flavor to meal.
The young warrior pauses to make a mental note of the tune and turns towards his meal. He pretends not to notice that she has been watching him the whole time. He smiles as he watches her reflection in the calm pool along the river’s edge. Playfully he calls out, “If only there was someone who would share this meal with me!” With slight giggle his true love emerges from edge of the bushes. They embrace and I am called back to the real world. I pulled my truck back onto the highway and began my morning commute. However, as I did could have sworn that I saw the two lovers reflected in the river.
I think everyone has had that feeling that they just don’t fit in at some point. In fact I’d say it’s multiple points for most of us. The temptation is to forsake one’s individuality for sake of the crowd. But isn’t that lying? It’s one thing to be polite and respectful towards other opinions but it another thing altogether to fein total agreement. What’s more is that when the truth eventually comes out the others in the group will feel betrayed. A true friendship can handle some individualism and if it can’t then it was never a true friendship in the first place. It was only mimicry.
Being your own person is often difficult. There’s going to be conflict and in today’s world a large portion of population is under the misunderstanding that disagreement and hate are the same thing. They most certainly are not. God could have created a world of clones where everyone is exactly alike. Everyone would have the same opinions, the same ideas and the same looks. How boring would that be? There would also be no fresh ideas, no variety and no excitement. I’m starting to meander here so I’m just going to get to point. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Sure there’s going to be people who don’t accept you because they can’t handle anyone who doesn’t mirror them but do you really want to burden yourself with such a shallow person? Just be yourself.
I remember when the crosses started showing up along the highways. The man who started this project was Bernard Coffindaffer and He was from Craigsville, West Virginia. Not too far from my home. He was certainly a man on a mission. My understanding is that the Spirit of God spoke to him and gave him a commission for the work that needed to be done. He was a six year veteran of the Pacific Theater in World War Two and as a Former Marine nothing was going to stand in his way.
I never met him personally that I can remember but I remember the talk in the county. He had a lot support from his brothers and sisters in Christ but he also faced a lot criticisms and laughter. He didn’t let negative opinions get in the way. He just stood for what he believed in and continued to work anyway. I have read that the project never ended even though Bernard passed away in 1993. I have also read that some of crosses have been planted in the Philippines and Africa. It just shows that when God gives you some inspiration you should go with it. You might not realize how far it will go or how many lives will be touched.
There is something meditative about watching the river roll gently by. With the sky reflected on the water’s surface I began to understand why ancient cultures looked at bodies of water as gateways to the “other world”. The river itself is a contradiction. It’s always in motion but always in the same place more or less. Beneath the water’s surface truly is another world. Fish, crustaceans and turtles roam around exploring an alien landscape that’s just beyond our vision. What sunken treasures roll by unseen on the bottom? What secrets lie beneath that second sky below?