The rays of the warm sun dance in the ripples along the banks of the beautiful Kanawha River. She watches close as her children play in sunbeams. The look of total contentment on the little hen’s face is infectious as I watched her through the lens. Taking care not to disturb her moment of total bliss I stay back and take advantage of the zoom. I believe that she is living in her purpose. She finds her fulfillment in the joy and well being of the flock. She is a part of her world as opposed to passing through it. I watched as the others pass by her rock one by as if inviting her to join in with the aquatic parade as they gather into a cluster. Eventually she gives in and they all swim single file upstream and disappear behind the rocks. I returned my lens to its case as I set out to find my next subject and the next moment of peace to preserve. This image now hangs above my bed to remind me that I’m also a part of God’s creation. And, that I’m at my happiest when I’m living in my purpose.
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Softly the brightly colored wings float in on the warm breeze. The sweet smell of water mints mingles with the Virginia Bonset and Goldenrod. The sun is low in the marbled sky and I let my big blue truck drift to a halt. The Monarch Butterfly has been playing on edge of the parking lot all day. Gently it flutters from flower to flower sipping the nectar. I roll the window down and raise my camera into the ready position. The Monarch teases me as it feeds by fluttering it’s wings quickly. Further up into the bush a mockingbird gives it’s long song. The shutter snaps at just the right moment as the Monarch pauses. A peaceful feeling washes over me as I preserve the mountain beauty in my lens. Soon the sweet scent of all the bloom will fade and the warm breeze will be chilled by the changing seasons. But, I will have this moment to warm my heart and this beauty to sooth my eyes against the coming grey. With my task complete I start the motor and turn my big blue truck towards home.
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.
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?
My Appalachian Mountains are full of wildlife. Directly across from the trees I posted yesterday is a cattail forest. Just standing on the edge of the road I could see how diverse the wetland. Climbing up one of cattail stalks a wild Morning Glory. And climbing up the Morning Glory was a tiny Crab Spider. Now, Crab Spiders are not particularly dangerous to humans. In fact, usually they are welcomed in gardens. They are often brightly colored and sometimes have beautiful patterns on their bodies. The colors and patterns are part of their natural camouflage. The little spider crawled across the bloom and backed down into the center and set up it’s ambush. I closed in for a tighter frame and I could almost hear a tiny voice in my imagination say, “Psst, move along. You’re scaring away my prey.” “Okay little hunter. But, no more stringing your web across my path. Deal? I replied in my imaginary voice. “Okay deal, now get outta here” was the imaginary reply. With my childish impulses well satisfied I snapped the shutter and left the little guy to his hunting.
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.