Friday, July 30, 2010

Random Acts of Flowers

I have my friend and mentor, Clayton Spangler, to thank for this wonderful story about artist, Andrea LaHue, and her "random acts of flowers project" in leaving a mark of loveliness upon our Capital City, Charleston, WV. I could use a dose of this type of news everyday.

Look for beauty, find beauty.

Please check out his blogpost to read the full story and see his colorful photographs.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Friendly Mountain

At the beginning of July, my daughter & I made a trek to western NC to attend the annual gathering of Scottish Clans at the Grandfather Mtn. Highland Games, held at McRae Meadows at the foot of the mountain. We had a wonderful time, although it was way too short. We only had a few hours to catch the music, dancing competitions and vendor tents. Next year we’ll plan to spend an extra night.

Wee one with her new "pet" ...a stuffed Yorkie that looked so real, passerbys kept adoring it

Chance led us to arrive at the festival just in time to hear my favorite Scottish band, Albannach, perform! Their raw, almost tribal sound of drums and pipe are worth the 500 mile trek alone.

Jacquie, of Albannach, below

Aya, to the right

Aya, Colin and Jamesie, of Albannach

The following day we traveled to the top of Grandfather Mountain, least, as far as the road will take you to the Visitor’s Center on top. The mountain is 5,956 feet above sea level with an absolutely breath-taking view of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. If you look to the south, toward Tablerock Mtn., you’ll note the area where the closing scene in the “Last of the Mohicans” was shot.

Cougar and River Otter @ the wildlife habitat

The River Otter was playing with a chunk of ice, probably containing bits of fish

Grandfather Mountain has been named one of the world’s Biosphere Reserves by the United Nations. This exclusive international family includes only 553 reserves around the globe. This diverse region, surprisingly, supports 73 rare and endangered species and at least 200 species of birds have been found to make their home here. A birder’s paradise! (Black Bear @ the wildlife habitat below)

Ah, this place inspired me and my photos hardly do it justice as I didn’t take the time to set up and create any landscape images; there was just too much to do and see and we wanted to experience it all. It is the place that John Muir once wrote about ...after ascending the summit of Grandfather Mountain, “I couldn’t hold in, and began to jump about and sing and glory in it all”

Glory in it all, indeed! We like to visit the eastern shore, too. But while the sand and surf lends itself to feelings of peace and serenity, mountains seem to have the opposite effect; making my adrenaline surge and creative juices flow... breathtaking, exhilarating and a bit nerve-tingling, as we drove back down the mountain. These feelings are the hallmark of my visit to western North Carolina.

The only “bump-in-the-road” , as my friend, Liz would say, occurred while we were at the restaurant and nature museum atop Grandfather Mtn. I noticed my driver’s side rear tire was going flat. Ugh. Since it was just the two of us traveling, and because I don’t have much confidence in changing a flat (just WHERE is my spare located, again?) I did the next best thing I could. I sought out a friendly face of one of North Carolina’s finest.

The lady State Trooper followed me out to my van, followed by a member of the mountain’s maintenance crew (unfortunately I didn’t learn their names) and together, they spent about 25 minutes with me, asking how our vacation was going, if we enjoyed the Highland Games, if I knew the number to call Highway Patrol while on the road...along with various other road-care tips and the locations of service centers on the route home in case I needed to buy a new tire.

They were most generous and friendly; I felt fortunate for the opportunity to meet them. Next, they filled my tire with air and told me the location of their maintenance garage. The good-natured crew said if I would stop by on our way out, they would gladly check my tire again and add more air if needed.

I’m happy to report that we made it home without further trouble and I soon had the tire repaired; we’re ready for our next road trip!

Praise God for creation that sings of His glory; Praise Him for helping hands!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Christ is in our midst, wherever we shall go...

View from Long Point, in the New River Gorge

I should seriously consider renaming this blog, since “Daily” hardly describes my time here. Sigh. Thanks for checking in, anyway. It does my heart good to know this blog is still finding its way in the search engines and can offer some words to people looking for prayers, scripture, or something about the lives of a saint. That is an answered prayer.

This blog is never far from mind though, even in my busiest times I am weaving words together in my mind to share here at a later date. One such occasion was a few months ago, during May as I was on location photographing members from a blue-grass band. The photo shoot - gleefully - took me out to one of my favorite spots in West Virginia: Long Point.

Long Point is accessed by a 40 min. hike into the New River Gorge, eventually arriving at an awesome outcropping of rock and wind-swept tenacious shrubs and evergreens. The view from Long Point is spectacular, with a full-length, unimpeded view of the New River Gorge Bridge in the distance and the New River winding its way through the narrow gorge over 800 feet below. It's a place of inspiration and natural beauty - and, to be able to go to this place and work, well... I feel blessed indeed!

We arrived at Long Point just as the sun rose over the Appalachian Mountains... a glorious morning, with a gentle fog lifting slowly out of the gorge like soothing wafts of incense stretching upward to heaven. It was sheer bliss and I relished the idea of coming back again and again just to sit and watch the dawning of day. How can anyone witness such a singular moment and not see the Creator’s Hand?!

Rhododendron, West Virginia's State Flower

Add to this euphoria my love of photography and the excellent people I was working with and you have a morning that went way too fast. Upon our hike to and from Long Point, I enjoyed the conversation of my companions and realized I was in the company of those who love and serve God. It dawned on me, not for the first time, that where I go, Christ goes... there is no secular society where believers are.

Christ is in our midst; He is and ever shall be!

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