Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Watery Wednesday

October 26, 2004
Sunrise over Wheeler Lake

One of the things I miss most about living on the water is the sky. Waking to the sunrise was easy because it came right into the window onto my face, bathing me in golden light that gently caressed. Usually, I was up well before the sun, sitting out on the deck, coffee and camera at hand, waiting, listening, soaking in the peace. Sunsets had to be enjoyed differently for a house blocked our western view. Instead, we relished watching the reflecting colors shift and swirl in the lake and the golden light dance upon the trees to the east. We called it the "Golden Tree Hour," for they lit up like candles. Because we faced the south we were positioned perfectly for storms driving up the channel or coming from the southwest. Rolling clouds and mist and whitecaps and winds that rocked the trees. We would stand outside until the first large drops pelted our faces before running into the house, laughing at our silliness.

The sky. Vast palette of color with rainbows and white cotton balls, peachy ropes that twist in the dying light, black silver-rimmed mammoth beings towering with lightning, gray udders stretching from here to there, cobalt with great white exclamation points, the sky never ceases to astonish. See some old posts here with photos of some amazing clouds that rolled across our skies.

Yesterday, we were all rocking and rolling due to thunderstorms and tornado warnings from one-ish until well past nightfall. I'm not sure what damage was done elsewhere in the area but for me and mine we are all safe. This is kind of an unusual entry for Watery Wednesday, but my brain sometimes goes off in a direction unbidden ... and I just let it. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Scenic Sunday

The Hidden Green - 2009

"I still find each day too short
for all the thoughts I want to think,
all the walks I want to take,
all the books I want to read
and all the friends I want to see."
John Burroughs

Somewhere in the deepest wood of North Alabama a clear stream flows surrounded by luscious shades of green. On this day it was mesmerizing on both sides of the bridge from where I was standing capturing image after image. I've since been back and I've never seen it as beautiful as on that day. You can read my original post about this discovery with more images here and be sure to visit Scenic Sunday for more amazing scenes from around the world.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Monte Sano State Park

View from Monte Sano State Park
Monte Sano means "Mountain of Health"

Wednesday, and I was in a funk. No sunshine, no river, no fun all doctors all the time, driving, driving, driving and now my dad is in the hospital with pneumonia. Woe is freakin' me. Whine, whine, whine ... wine. Carroll to the rescue! She e-mails and asks if I can meet her on a mountain somewhere. Yes, a thousand times yes! A fun-filled lunch Friend Fest was exactly what I needed! We chose Monte Sano Mountain in Huntsville because she'd never been there and it is very close to where I now live. It's a beautiful twisty drive up up up, then a left onto Monte Sano Boulevard. Once the road plateaus it's a simple straight shot past the television stations and school to a right turn leading to the entrance gate.

My road trip buddy Carroll actually poses for a quick shot at the overlook.

We meet in the parking lot and enjoy hugs and laughs before heading toward the pavilion then on to the overlook. There is a smaller pavilion that adjoins the rock wall you see Carroll sitting on, and that's where we chose to have our birthday picnic. Carroll brought some surprises with the meal and we sat and laughed and caught up on stuff while enjoying the exquisite weather and our grown-up deli happy meal.

Look was someone left up in the pavilion. It was a sign....don't worry, be happy!

Path from the parking lot leading to the larger pavilion.

Signage atop the larger, main pavilion

Large pavilion support beams with graffiti. Makes a mama proud.

Stone walls created with stones from this mountain.

Well-used fireplace in the larger pavilion. How many times have I been here for events? From childhood until today I've enjoyed Girl Scout trips, reunions, gatherings with friends, hiking expeditions, romantic picnics, visits with my parents as a child, visits with friends as an adult. From the looks of this fireplace - there are two in the large pavilion, one on either end - gazillions of people share memories created in this place, on this mountain.

Monte Sano State Park is a gorgeous place to visit. Hiking trails traverse the mountain range from Monte Sano to Green Mountain and back. Picnic spots and pavilions, huge playground for children, cabins for renting, a planetarium, Japanese Garden, birding trails, and hiking trails and places to just sit and think, soak up the peace, soak in nature. Monte Sano State Park has been part of my being since I can remember.

Monte Sano State Park can be found on Facebook, too. There, you'll see more photos from staff and visitors AND some cool-o inside shots of their brand new lodge, above. This was our next stop, me and Carroll, and wow. I'm saving those shots for my next post, but feel free to peruse the AlaPark site for Monte Sano State Park and their Facebook page via my links.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Seeded Earth Studios

American White Pelican
Wheeler Dam - Tennessee River

I am such a dolt. Bo Mackison of the delightful Seeded Earth Studio invited various photographers to submit a guest post on her blog. Her subject: "Why Photography?" There were no rules exactly, but each guest was to expound on why photography is their passion, their art medium or career. The only criteria for the post was how we felt photography has added value to our lives.

Atkeson Cypress Trail
Wheeler Wildlife Refuge

I threw my hat into the ring, desperate in my need to practice the creative. It isn't that I'm exactly drowning in the sea of my husband's 24/7 care giving after his accident. However, there simply hasn't been any time or energy for road trips and photography. I'm sure you've noticed, but fortunately you're all kind and visit here anyway from time to time which reassures that perhaps I've not grown boring.

But I digress. Bo initially had me down as first to post, but graciously allowed me to go last when I just didn't have the time to devote to the task initially. My finally submitted missive was merely passable prose, but personally it was a breakthrough simply because it jump started my brain . However, in my zeal and delight at being chosen for this honor I completely forgot to tell you all and provide a link to my host's site! Unforgivable! I'm such a dolt! In the wise word of Bart Simpson..."DOH!"

How do you choose to visit a blog? Titles reeled me in. Anything earthy warranted an immediate read. Seeded Earth was one of those, and Bo's amazing photography and stories kept me there. Befriending this wonderful, fascinating, multi-talented woman has been a bonus to me. In addition to all of that she lives in Wisconsin, which I adore. Bo is a contributor to a blog called The Calming Space, a lovely blog to visit, find solace through like minds, soak up the beauty, wise words and beautiful photography. There, Bo contributes articles for her Memoir Space.

Therefore, you are formally invited to visit Bo Mackinson's wonderful Seeded Earth Studio blog by clicking on the link. My post is dated October 8th, and I strongly encourage you to scroll down to read all the other photographer's posts and link to their websites. There are some tremendously talented people in our world.

Thank you, Bo, for the wonderful opportunity. Have a great trip, dear, and be safe.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sunday ramblings 'cause I just dunno....

So, I drive to the lake house to check out the new paint job and deck washin' that we just paid for that requires inspection. Hubby's now good for a day by himself, within reason, hence this necessary trip to check out things in our lake house. It's up for sale now, dammit.

It only now occurred to me that this was my first time back in the house since Hubby's accident.

Pulling into the ol' neighborhood things look about the same as when I left. There's Ms. Neighbor walking her dog, like always. Same ol' golf carts cruising around looking for action. Jetskis zizzing around on the water like angry hornets. (...I hate those things...just for the record...) Other than that it was quiet. Very, very quiet. The kind of quiet one finds on the lake after Labor Day is over. It's the kind of lakey-quiet that I love. Well, it wasn't completely quiet. I heard the red headed woodpeckers wooing and there were some nuthatches scrambling up and down trees and Mr. and Mrs. Titmouse were doing whatever they do high in the treetops while an angry Bluejay flashes back and forth screaming as only they can do.

Anyway, walking along the sidewalk I first note the For Sale sign in our yard. Ick. However, I move on and observe the flowers and possumhaws and bright sunshine before opening the door to our house, and ... whoa. Whoa. Major disconnect. It doesn't smell right. It doesn't feel right. It's someone else's house. Smells like our renters. Oh, please don't take that the wrong way as I loved our renters - the Best Renters EVER. But the house still contained their "essence." Not mine. Not ours.

So, what do I do? I call my road-trip-pelican/sandhill crane-lovin' buddy, Carroll. "Please come down here and be with me!" She promises to come right away. I have to go outside to breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Stepping outside onto the deck overlooking the lake I remember the good times and try to come to terms with whatever it was I was feeling. Finally, finally she comes. A hug means everything, you know? A hug is grounding. A hug reminds you that you are worthy and have friends and that houses are just things. A hug was what I needed. That, and the cool head and wise words of someone who cares.

We walk through the house and make it look more presentable. The paint job looks great. We load the car up with some of my favorite things; my pretty bedside lamp, feathers found at the lake framed in shadowboxes, my Kitchen Aid mixer, coffee pot, my grandmother's chopping block. Bits of this and bits of that that define me as a person.

Oh, that's so not true. Puh-lease. Feathers don't "define me" but for now they remind me of joyful times, good times, fun times. A coffee pot doesn't "define me" but it's mine. The bedside lamp - again, mine, and at least it's pretty. Again, all this is grounding. When one lives neither here nor there one tends to hold onto those little things that have brought joy. A cluster of red buckeye seed pods, rocks, seashells, feathers...reminders of good times.

It's just an odd time but I'm okay. Really, I'm okay. After arriving back from the lake, and after placing those things where they could be seen and enjoyed, I realized something. Road trips are still in my future. The Sandhill Cranes and American White Pelicans will return this winter and when they do I'll be there. The only thing that's really changed is my starting point. Leaving from here, leaving from there - makes no difference to the cranes and the pelicans, the trees and the pathways, the preserves and the parks. It's the going that counts, and it's in the going that I shall find bliss once more.

Therefore, wouldn't you say it's all about perspective? How I see things? Well, of course it is. As my teenager would say with great drama...."Duh!"

"The world is round and the place
which may seem like the end
may also be only the beginning."

Ivy Baker Priest

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Nina and The Pinta

Sunrise casts the Pinta's rigging into silhouette

Whenever I hear that the Nina is coming for a tour I get all flustery inside. The Nina brings back some fond, magical memories of our first years on Wheeler Lake. She floated into Wheeler in the wee hours of night anchored outside our house, just a little upstream. The next morning, stepping out into the pre-dawn gloom with my coffee I could see her lights. As the sun rose her stately silhouette thrilled me to my bones. When she lifted anchor heading for Decatur I followed her and I've been following her ever since. This was my 3rd time seeing her and the thrill remains. We have a visceral connection, this ship and I. These days she tours with her new sister ship, the Pinta. This was the first time the Pinta has been here so I was doubly thrilled at the opportunity.

The Pinta

I assume everyone knows that Christopher Columbus used the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria in his first voyage across the Atlantic. These were common trading vessels - Caravels - used during the Age of Discovery.

The Nina is built to exact historical specifications. She is 65 feet in length with 1,919 square feet of sails, displacement is 80 tons. The first time seeing her you'll marvel at her small stature. Traveling across an ocean in this ship obviously proven the bravery of many men.

The Pinta is not built to exact historical specifications so there's a little more wiggle room for tourists these days. The Pinta is 85 feet in length with 4,000 square feet of sails. The Pinta's displacement is 101 tons. Though larger, I still cannot envision an ocean voyage on her. Sailing up and down the Tennessee River would be enough for me. Clearly, I'm a big chicken when it comes to overseas transportation.

The day began chilly and windy. Autumn has chased the sun downward, closer to the horizon so the light is at a harsh angle already. You can see the moon between the lines above.

The Pinta's Bow

Both ships were built in Valenca, Brazil, using only adzes, axes, hand saws and chisels in addition to naturally-shaped timbers from the local forest. The Pinta was built 16 years after the Nina, to accompany her on her tours of the western hemisphere.

The Nina's rigging, with moon above

All these facts come from a little slip of paper that you're given when you pay for your tour. The tour is fascinating and well worth the price of admission. For more details about both ships, the project, the ship designers and ship building methodology head over to their website, The Nina. It's fascinating. One can also sign up as a volunteer, which I would have done in a heartbeat but for the man in my house who fell from a ladder and who needs me right now. Dang. Maybe next time!

Nina's rigging detail

You can see more photos at my Facebook site so that I won't overload my blog site...which I have a tendency to do. The head crew guy said he would look at my photos and identify all the pieces and parts, if applicable. Some photos are merely interesting, but some are of ancient shipbuilding doohickies that I know nothing of...but fascinate, and are beautiful. Check them out if you wish at D. Bradford Photography.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Scenic Sunday

Storm's a-comin' on Wheeler Lake, November 2004. The Giraffe Head Tree is standing sentry. It was a rock 'n roll storm, wild and wooly, but all was well! Check out more beautiful scenes all over the world by clicking below - Happy Scenic Sunday!


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