Emergence 2019

The bright sunshine beckons me to step outside and steal a few minutes of fresh air. The light filters down through the canopy and illuminates the tiny green specks that seem to float in the air. I have been watching the color of the mountains as they slowly shed the dull gray scale of winter and transform through the browns and reds into the light green. Small purple flowers carpet my yard as I make my way through the native ground cover. Today is the day of emergence. The swollen buds that I’ve been observing since mid February have finally opened. Tiny perfectly formed leaves unfurl to greet the Sun. From this point forward I live in a green world. Along with the new leaves on the yellow poplar trees a bright yellow Swallowtail butterfly has been playing in my honeysuckle bush. My world has returned to me and I welcome it with open arms.

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Panning For Appalachian Gold (And why I named it so )

The soft rain falls steadily from from the darkened sky. Late fall and early winter in the Appalachian Mountains of my West Virginia home is usually marked by gray skies. Most of fall leaves are now on the ground but a few cling to the branches above. As the world around me swims in cold mists of the season a single leaf drops from the ridge line above and comes to rest in a pool of water near my home. As it floats in the pool against the dark background the mists collect on it’s surface. The leaf is from a Yellow Poplar and so is the seed that floats on the right side of feature image. I was struck by simple beauty of the scene that God created before my very eyes and preserved it forever in my lens.

I have given tonight’s feature image the title “Panning For Appalachian Gold” not just because of the yellow color of the leaf but because of the economic importance of the lumber. Yellow Poplar is a fast growing tree and is used to make plywood for building materials. The logs are peeled in layers on a giant lathe and the resulting sheets are cut to standard sizes. Knots are cut out of sheets and plugs are planted firmly in their place by a hydraulic press. The sheet are then stacked so that the grain of the wood is transverse with the adjoining layer making it very strong. When people think of West Virginia they normally associate our state with the coal industry but the timber industry is also one of our biggest resources. It’s gold that actually grows out of the ground.

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Strong in the Storm

It the middle of a open field on the property where I grew up stands this lone Yellow Poplar. Now, I presume that quite a few people won’t understand why that’s a little odd. These trees do not resist strong winds very well. They tend to be found in clumps. Alone, this tree has no protection against storms. And yet, it’s been there surviving everything the weather can throw at it. I’ve seen it covered in ice, heavy snow and blasted with cyclone strength winds. This tree should have broken a very long time ago. Yes it’s got a few battle scars. These are reminders of the storms that failed as it stood defying the gale force winds.

Sometimes we wonder why the storm happened in our lives. There will always be a storm. But branches and leaves will grow back eventually. Like this tree our strength isn’t in the branches that can be broken. Our strength is in our strong roots than anchor us in the storm.

Yellow Poplar on wet pavement.

For my second attempt at a blog post I decided to include a recent photograph.  There’s a place where I like to go and be a part of God’s creation. As I walked there the other day the rain fell as a heavy mist. I liked the way the water beads on the leaf. There was something interesting about the texture of the worn pavement interacts with the beading water that invites me to be drawn into the image.  I can recall the sounds of birds going from branch to branch looking for a dry place to wait out the shower.  The smell of the surrounding forest fills my memories.  The Gauley River runs in the valley below.  When I look at this leaf I can fill the pull of river beckoning me to be come along with the collecting water droplets and seek out the sea that lies many miles away.