Remembering Wintertime Camping

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The big chill of 2019 in full swing tonight. I look out my window at the crystalline world that surrounds me and thank God for my warm home with it’s gas heat. I thank God for the modern conveniences and the large bed with a deep pile of blankets. I haven’t participated in deer camp for several years but I do have memories camping in the winter climate. It wasn’t as cold as is this year but there was more than one occasion when the temperature was down in the teens at night. I remember one night in particular, when I was out with an ROTC group that we dug ditches to sleep in. Because we got down below the frost line we didn’t freeze. Being out in the extreme cold is certainly an experience that will test your will. It’s not something that I recommend unless you are well prepared and you’re only a few feet away from a warm shelter. Aside from sleeping in a ditch I would try to get out of wind by trying to find a spot that’s high enough up out of valleys that the cold air doesn’t settle down on top of my camp but not so high that the mountain doesn’t buffer the wind. Finding thick fir trees is also a good place to get out of wind.

I’m sure that you’ve seen the memes that advises people that “if you’re cold they’re cold” that raises awareness about pet safety in cold weather. Pets are family too and as such they’re adapted to live in the conditions we live in. Which means a warm fire and good shelter. But what if the rolls were reversed? What if we were suddenly thrust into wild on a cold night? Well, we’d need to adapt ourselves to do what the wildlife does to survive.

1. Community. Herd and pack animals rely on each other to keep warm. They keep the young near the center in order to provide the most shelter.

2. Burrowing. Foxes, chipmunks and some birds escape from freezing cold by digging below the frost line like I mentioned earlier.

3. The den. Beavers and squirrels make nests of thick piles of brush to stay nice and cozy. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this.

This kind of thing is a young person’s game. The older I get the less need I have to challenge myself. I’ll take a warm fire and cable television over a frozen landscape any day.

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Winter And Wild Teas

In the natural world winter is a time for rest. The animals tend to stay in their dens. The hardwood trees are in a deep sleep as are the bears. Even the deer find a nice place in the deep woods where they can shelter from the cold. The days are still short and the cold nights are long. Just perfect for deep rest.

The giant elm tree in tonight’s feature image is just as beautiful in the winter as it is with its leaves on in the warmer months. One of the special treats of the colder months when I was a kid was bark teas. I’d be careful about where I harvested the bark (see note below) but elm actually has a nice spicy flavor. Several years ago I was able to try it for the first time. Traditionally it’s used for sore throats and colds ( I’m not a doctor or a certified anything so this is historical statement and not medical advice) due to the gelatinous fiber it yields. The flavor is similar to the Balsam Poplar that grows in higher elevations. In just a few months the buds will begin to swell and they make a good tea as well. In the old days, the Basswood (Linden or Lyme in Europe) buds were a source of winter food for my ancestors. Winter hikes in my teens always included stopping by a grove of black birch for a handful of wintergreen flavored twigs to nibble on. Sassafras was also a wonderful bark tea with an aroma that filled the house. There’s also the Carolina Spicebush who’s twigs provide a very lemon like flavor and the red berries of the stag horn sumac which has to be filtered well but gives us a pink lemonade in winter.

Perhaps that’s why I like this big old elm tree so much. It’s not only because it’s awesome to look at but it reminds me of all the cool stuff that the Appalachian forests provide even in winter.

(NOTE: WHILE THE TREES AND FOOD USES MENTIONED IN TONIGHT’S POST WERE TRADITIONALLY USED IN APPALACHIA THERE ARE HAZARDS AND FOOD ALLERGIES TO CONSIDER. FOR EXAMPLE, THE ELM IN TONIGHT’S POST IS GROWING NEAR A PLACE WHERE HAZARDOUS SOIL CONTAMINATION IS A RISK AND THEREFORE I WOULD CONSIDER THIS PARTICULAR TREE UNSUITABLE FOR CONSUMPTION. IT’S A SAD REALITY OF THE MODERN WORLD AND JUST NOT WORTH THE RISK. MCHM IS IN USE IN THE REGION AND LOCALS KNOW ALL TOO WELL THAT BY THE TIME A SPILL IS REPORTED IT’S ALREADY TOO LATE TO PREVENT CONTAMINATION. )

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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The Shaking

The small Virginia Pine stands out in a sea of Broomsedge. The open ridge line invites a harsh wind on most days. The winter here in this spot is ruled by freezing rain as well as blizzards. The wind has come through with enough rage to shake my big blue truck from side to side and knock down the power lines but still the crooked little Virginia Pine continues to flourish. I have watched it for several years now and it’s growing stronger with each storm. While it’s obvious that wind shake can damage trees it’s also true that a certain amount of wind is necessary for the trees to grow strong. If the tree isn’t shaken as it grows it never develops the mechanisms to deal with storms.

Often in our spiritual life we become distraught when troubles come and our faith is tested. But, it’s in these challenges that our strength develops to our full potential. Without them we never develop the coping mechanism that that gives us the strength to survive the storms.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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Letting Your Light Show

We all have that person in our lives who seems to light up the room. They never really seen to have a bad day. We tend to think that these people are impervious to life’s problems. Or in some cases you might think that they just don’t really understand how troubling things are. If you think that a positive outlook on life is effortless for that person… well, you’re probably wrong. Even if they don’t know it that person has more than likely spent years if not decades training their mind to react in a positive way. In the martial arts stories are told about the Zen Archers who are required to draw an empty bow thousands of times before they’re given an arrow to nock. This is because the repetition actually strengthens the neural pathways. When they are finally given an arrow the shot is perfect. The same thing goes for our emotional nervous system. If we practice a positive outlook over and over again it will strengthen that response in our neural pathways. Eventually the reflex will strengthen to point that it’s the natural response and you will be that person who’s inner light is undeniable.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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Visit My Website

Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Tree Of Light” and is available for purchase by contacting me on Facebook or by using theContact Form on my website. (Note, I do not share or sale contactinformation. EVER)

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The Tree Of Dreams

There are places on this earth that just seem to call out to you when you are passing through. Sometimes it’s a rock. Sometimes an abandoned house or a barn offers to whisper secrets to your imagination. For me, it’s usually a big old tree that says it’s someone’s special place. A place where games were played and families bonded. A place where children climbed up into the branches and and looked out with wonderful dreams of all that they could see. Maybe later in life young love blossomed under a summer’s night sky while a couple sat on the tailgate of an old farm truck and counted the stars as they planned where the home would be built. A house with a view of that very special tree. They would watch their own children play and grow up under its branches. Afterwards, the same couple and that same old farm truck under a different constellation embrace in the cool of the evening and reminisce about the good old days when they had nothing but love, a rusty old truck and a special place. A place where their dreams came true, beneath the silent witness to the dreams of many generations.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I would like to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook. Or, if you don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on the bottom of my Welcome Page on my website. Tonight’s image is titled “Tree Of Dream” available for purchase by contacting me either through Facebook or via the Contact Form on my website.

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Stepping Through A Gateway Into A New World

I grew up watching old black and white reruns of the Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. A lot of the plot was always an analogy of the cold war but there was often the idea of an alternate reality. A world that almost identical to our own only with a few key differences. Tonight I’m wondering “what if I had chosen to do X instead of Y”? Our lives are a collection of the small choices that we make on a regular basis. So what if A gateway opened in front of you? On the other side of the reality you could see all the maybes that were the options that you didn’t choose. Would you step through? Would you really want to know what you missed? And what if by choosing to do things differently you changed the here and now? Would you have the life you really wanted? And what if I told you that every grain of sand that slips through the hour glass of our lives was it’s own little gateway to change? What if you discovered you didn’t have to change everything all at once in order to effect the outcome? What if by changing where and how the next grain of sand falls just a little we could effect the overall impact on our lives and that those changes compound into a big difference?

What does it take to make these changes? I guess it’s going to depend on what you want to change. For most of us the goal is to enhance the life we have instead of trying to replace it all together. We want to learn a new skill but don’t want to pay for a class until we see if we enjoy it. So the answer is look online and I’ll bet you can find someone on YouTube or other platforms teaching for free. If the goal is to get in shape or improve overall health the answer could be a pleasant stroll at some point in day. The hard one is a change in attitude. You have to consciously decide to alter your reactions over and over throughout the whole day. But eventually something happens and the change gets easier until you’re a new person.

We don’t need Rod Sterling to open up a magical vortex into the brave new world in order change our reality. All we need to take the opportunity as it arises and commit to the action.

She Works Best Alone

The late summer sun beams down into an abandoned pasture. The Ironweed is tall and tipped with bright purple flowers that seem to resemble a fireworks display frozen in mid burst. The plants sway back and forth as if the breeze is shaking them but there’s no wind today. As I step closer I can hear the constant hum of thousands of tiny winged workers. The bees are too busy collecting the pollen to bother with chasing the photographer. However, I don’t to encroach to far into their workspace. I walked up to the closest flower and the huge carpenter bee doesn’t really react to lens hovering just above her head. She checks each bloom one at a time mentally keeping notes about which ones will be ready tomorrow. Unlike the honeybees she is a solitary bee. She loves her neighbors but avoids the hustle and bustle of a hive. She has only her own brood to care for and she likes it that way. As she gave the flowers one last double check she moved into the right position for me to snap the shutter. I take a few more shots so that I can choose the best ones to keep. Then it’s time to let this working girl get back to business and I take my big blue truck to the next destination.