Summersville Lake is unique in West Virginia in that we have the only lighthouse in the state. Standing on private land the lighthouse overlooks both the lake and the Route 19. The lighthouse is recent addition but when I was a kid there was a beacon light from the local airport. In stormy weather we would see the flash from the airport and think that there was a lighthouse that only lit up in storms. We couldn’t see the actual tower. Just the beam reflected off of the clouds into the window of our bedroom. It would light up the bedroom as we slept and we knew that somewhere out there it wasn’t so dark.
It’s good to have a guiding light when times are dark and dreary. We need a fixed point to center ourselves and a light to sweep away the darkness no matter if you’re on dark foggy water, traveling on a four lane highway or snuggled up under the covers on a stormy night.
Don’t you just hate to be blamed for something that you didn’t do? I’m not even talking about having an an accident and feeling that it was unpreventable. I’m talking about being in the wrong place at the wrong time and having nothing to do with what happened but still taking the blame. Such is the life of goldenrod. It beautiful yellow spikes are easy to spot and in late summer when eyes are itchy and nobody can seem to shake the light coughing that lasts for weeks goldenrod takes the heat for it. The real culprit is the ragweed but we don’t really have to talk about that riff-raff. Goldenrod on the other hand continues to be a giver. The plant is not only beautiful but has an array of medicinal qualities. (Always check out multiple sources when researching medical plants). The dried stems are used to start friction fire and make string by survivalists. I’m sure that if I sat and thought about it I could enumerate more gifts that goldenrod provides freely in spite of the reputation that it didn’t earn.
As summer season comes to a close in the Appalachian Mountains it’s important to enjoy the sunshine as often as possible. Already the morning air is beginning to feel crisp and cool. As we draw nearer to September the afternoon is generally warm but without the oppressive humidity of July and early August. It’s a great time for a walking some ignored backroad or forest path. Occasionally I meet a fitness walker who’s just trying burn off a few extra scoops of ice cream, but I’m here simply to decompress from the day. I turn off the music and podcasts. Let my Facebook notices wait a bit and keep an eye towards the roadsides. I’m looking for anything interesting to catch in my lens. The little tortoise shell butterflies dance and play in sunbeams as I walked. The one in my feature image circles around my head a few times as if to say “Look at me! Look at me!” And begins a game of catch me if you can. First it lands on some golden rod and I step over for shot. Before I can focus it flutters over to an elderberry bush on the opposite side of road. Then it’s off to explore some red clover. I’m trying to keep it in frame and getting a better workout than the fitness walker who giggled slightly as she passed. Finally the little guy comes to rest on the lespedeza and unfolds it’s beautiful wings for me. Who needs a personal trainer when mother nature is so playful?
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.
What is it that we love about very old things? I like nothing more than stumbling upon an old well weathered piece of wood or a rusty hunk of iron. Last night I talked about God’s perspective of time and how time carries us along as it flows. Tonight I’m thinking about our perspective. As time pulls us ever closer towards a destiny we cannot see clearly we can only measure the progress by looking back. Those things were once shiny and new now serve as landmarks. The old rusted trucks, crumbling stone and this old barn are like anchors that help us navigate the raging river of time. It’s even better if there’s a personal connection with the object. I have to wonder if anyone ever passes this barn and relives a special moment? Was there a first kiss that happened here? Was this the place where a spark grew into true love and then into a family? Was this the place where a parent answered a child’s important questions about life’s mysteries while doing the daily chores? Did a grandparent tell stories about when the parent was a kid? Do these stories still echo across the river of time? Yes. I think that they do. These very old things are the sentinels of memories that are still being made today.
A good farm tractor is a lifetime investment. That old machine may not be as sleek as a new sports car but it will serve you well long after the sports car has rusted out. I remember when my grandfather bought this one in the early 70s and my uncle still uses it today. It’s hauled tons and tons of hay. It’s plowed gardens. It’s cleared the snow and ice from the long driveway and the public road.
A few years ago I was being interviewed for a new position and the interviewer asked what kind of car would best describe my personality. I’m sure that he was thinking about race cars, minivans and the normal cars you see on the highway. My answer? I want to be a tractor. The piece of equipment that you keep for a lifetime.
Summer should be spent on or around boats. Summerville Lake in West Virginia is a great place to be a teenager with a boat. It was just a little day cruiser with a small cabin but it was an adventure machine. We did the usual stuff with it. Fishing and white I never mastered the art of water skiing we did have a knee board that was a lot of fun. Perhaps the most interesting knee board story would be the time I didn’t quite get my shorts properly secured. The way to start off on a knee board is in the prone position. Dad hit the throttle and the boat was running particularly well that day. Yup, pulled me right out of my swim trunks on a crowded lake! I dove as deep and as fast as I could. I could almost touch them but I was running out of air and had to surface. Head only of course. I spent the rest of the day wearing a brightly coloured towel as a loincloth and in fear of breeze created by a boat at full throttle. Most of the time we just puttered up river (The Gauley River runs underneath the lake.) Into one of coves and when the fishing wasn’t really all that great we’d have a swim. Camping isn’t allowed on the shore except in designated areas but you can anchor off shore and spend the night on your boat. One morning we was cruising out to a quiet spot on the lake and encountered a lady who was totally freaking out. We thought maybe she was in trouble so we pulled along side their boat to offer assistance. She produced a broken fishing rod. A large one similar to the ones used to fish the shore of the ocean. The rod was broken at the base and the hook was pulled out straight. She had experienced one of the monster catfish from the very bottom of the lake. The Department of Natural Resources maintains that these unnaturally large fish do not exist but we have certified Scuba Divers who will not dive Summersville Lake after spotting one. Life on Summersville Lake is an awesome experience. I hope to see you there sometime and be sure to bring good strong fishing tackle. You might be the one who pulls a monster out of one of submerged caves.