Entranced by the lush cherry blossoms and legions of showy dogwood trees, I disregarded plumes of pollen and dodged incoming traffic to capture a few spring moments in our community. It was nice to take a break from travel photography, and to relax behind my camera seeing just what I want to see and not what I want to show. I have new respect for photographers now that I’m trying my hand at travel blogging. Usually when I go on a journey I’m with someone, (hello family!) and I feel guilty for holding a day of sightseeing hostage so I can stop every few minutes to figure out what lens to use. When we do wander around together, I try to alternate camera days, but invariably the days I don’t bring it with me interesting clouds are dotting the horizon and when I do, the atmosphere is as thick as pea soup. And then there’s the gear. I’ve seen some amazing equipment out there, lenses the size of toasters and I’ve come to realize that big isn’t always better. For me at least, travel photography is much easier with a couple of small lightweight fixed lenses, a 50 mm and a wide-angle. Like everything in life there is a balance, and in this case it’s finding the sweet spot between enjoying the moment and documenting it.
When we moved to our community 20 plus years ago, it was mainly rural, and most people didn’t recommend moving “so far” north of the city. Like many urban areas the boundaries between these areas collided and suddenly we’re a northern suburb of Atlanta. The downside of being almost urban is the increase in development, traffic and sadly the loss of a historic building or two. Still, it’s a lovely place to live in the best of both worlds, close to the city, with a touch of the countryside.
I never expected to use my photo session as a sort of historic tour of our area. It was interesting how my experience evolved into a greater appreciation for the beauty in the unexpected, and how happy I was to share what I saw through my lens.
Build a 10 million gallon aquarium and they will come. Four whale sharks, four beluga whales, eleven bottle nose dolphins, four manta rays and over 100,000 fish and other sea creatures made their home at the Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta. Built in 2005, then the largest in the world, the aquarium is a wonder to experience. Although there are many highlights, the show stealers are the whale sharks, known for being the largest sharks and the largest fish in the world, with some growing as large as forty feet in length. Nothing can prepare you (although I am trying) for the impact of seeing these gentle giants glide silently by for the first time. Like a pied piper of the sea they are rarely alone, a trail of colorful schooling fish following along, a continuous parade along the viewing window. The whale sharks are imported from Asia, and if you feel unsettled at the thought of these great beasts living in captivity, you’ll rest a bit easier knowing that they were taken from Taiwan’s annual fishing kill quota, and would have been eaten had they not been purchased by the Aquarium.
In Atlanta? I recommend finding the time to dive into this remarkable underwater experience.
Atlanta, Georgia morphed into a thriving modern city despite the double whammy of destructive a civil war in 1864 and a great fire in the early 1900’s. What wasn’t destroyed in the war, was likely consumed by flames from the later fire. The lack of architecture from this time period haunts me, I like to embrace the past with my eyes, feel it with my fingertips, and it was in part the reason for my choosing to hike the Red Trail in Sweetwater Creek State Park last weekend, a vast wooded park located just west of downtown Atlanta, known for its civil war and Cherokee history. About a half mile into the hike, it was both exciting and sobering to find the towering civil war ruin from my research, nestled peacefully beneath the canopy of trees along the glistening white-water rapids of Sweetwater Creek, both rewarding my curiosity and offering a history lesson about a tranquil area belied by its violent past. My search for remains of civil war architecture brought me to the same sandy banks of the creek where the Union Calvary approached the New Manchester Factory textile mill during the 1864 campaign, ordered it closed, and burned it a week later along with the small surrounding town. The employees, all woman and children, faced a life of hardship when forced to leave and head north, many of them to fend for themselves in towns already crowded with refugees.
The site’s painful history was palpable, and with my mind buzzing I turned to explore further when suddenly the atmosphere shifted slightly, and in a ripple, rows of dull-eyed soldiers marched forward intently toward their destination in a haze of hot summer dust, brushing through me, invisible. The sound of their boots hitting the ground was lost in the laughter from children darting among the rocks, distant conversations lilting lightly in the wind, the muffled tap of my own shoes hitting the dusty, uneven path, until each step fractured the image into a dull melancholy shadow.
The remains of the five-story structure is now protected by a border of chain link fence, limiting access for safety and preservation, but also limiting angles to take pictures. In order to lighten my load for the hike I had switched my camera lens to a small portrait lens, which I enjoy for landscape photography. It captured the dreamy quality of this elegant structure that is slowly and inevitably being reclaimed by its woodland environment. Nature has a way of softening life’s hard edges, of soothing old wounds. I discovered that a hike in the midst of this process had become a compelling history lesson.
For more information on The Sweetwater Red Trail, and to view beautiful photography of the area see Atlanta Trails.
I’m sure many of you heard about the small winter storm that practically crippled the city of Atlanta last week. I’ve lived here for over 20 years and have never seen a bigger winter mess, but in defense of my adopted hometown, we simply don’t get snow very often, and sometimes there are several years in a row of snowlessness. A flip-flopping weather forecast, unusually cold temperatures and more snow than this southern city has seen in a long time joined to create what I’m calling the imperfect storm. The icing on the cake (the snow on the ice?) was when the entire metro area chose the exact moment in time to hop into their cars and try to beat the storm, their caution unwittingly creating the traffic nightmare that was broadcast around the world over, and over, and over. Okay national news….it’s over! Thankfully, there were more than a few stations who not only broadcasted our snow storm ineptness, but also the great kindness displayed by our local residents to those trapped by the chaos. Through the snow and slush the media recorded Atlantans hand delivering bottled waters, cups of coffee and granola bars to the thousands of cars strained on the interstate, residents invited total strangers into their homes, and teachers spent the night in schools entertaining and feeding their stranded students. It’s the acts of kindness and sense of community that I will remember the most from this extreme winter event, that, and to always re-check weather.com at 3 o’clock in the morning for a final flip from the flop in a potentially snowstormy forecast.
Atlanta, Ga. Reports are coming in that the color green has been missing from the Atlanta area since late November of 2013. Green, known as the symbol of nature, fertility, and life, is a popular color in the Southern U.S. for farmers, gardeners and more importantly, fans of the Masters Golf Tournament. Clues left at the scene of the crime include, but are not limited to, leaves scattered on the ground under stunned trees, a landscape drained of all color, and hundreds of small animals furiously digging tiny holes in the ground for no apparent reason. The primary suspect, Winter, seen in the area during the first hard frost in December, is said to have “dug in deep.” After the recent capture of warm weather antagonist Jack Frost at the recent Green Bay, 49ers playoff game in Wisconsin, Winter went into cahoots with a more dangerous accomplice who goes by the name of Polar Vortex, wreaking icy havoc on a good part of the North American Continent. Spring, who has a vested interest in the safe return of Green, is offering a reward in the form of lush grass, tender new growth and an addictive fragrance in the air that has been known to melt even the most hardened of hearts, and inducing random outbursts of singing in many people. To assist authorities in locating the missing popular color, please visit your local garden center. And fertilize.
An ariel view of Centennial Olympic Park featuring the popular fountain of six Olympic rings.
A view toward Midtown.
The funky side wall of the Tabernacle.
Headquartered in Atlanta, the iconic Coke brand leaves its mark throughout the city.
Chimney pots on the Tabernacle roof.
The city of Atlanta, Georgia recently jumped on the ferris wheel bandwagon by plunking an 180 foot sky wheel on a street lot next to the iconic concert venue and former Baptist church, The Tabernacle. This is a pretty area of the city, which is home to Centennial Olympic Park, the former site of the 1996 summer olympics. Thinking it would be a great opportunity to capture downtown from a new perspective, I hopped on board a glass encased capsule for my alloted 4 spins through the Atlanta atmosphere. It took two rotations for me to realize that the glass was heavily tinted and streaky, and by the third I knew that my photographs were going to look as though they had been processed using a weird new photo effect. Towards the end of the fourth and last spin, my accidental and hopefully temporary photo filter was born. Please enjoy Atlanta Through a Glass Darkly….
A door like no other. I passed this hinged wonder tucked away on a side street in downtown Atlanta and was so intrigued I returned the following week to take a second look. I don’t know the inspiration behind the design, but oddly it reminded me of another southern belle, the Gone With the Wind heroine, Scarlett O’Hara. She also possessed a fierce iron will disguised beneath an ornately beautiful exterior. Do you see the resemblance?
I fell in love with the charming Belly General the first time I walked in the door, and it’s become a favorite breakfast drop by during occasional morning runs to the Atlanta airport with my husband. This modern take on a general store appeals to those who crave the warmth and openness of a homey gathering spot, yet enjoy fast efficient service so you can eat on the run.
Long pine tables line the space for family style seating, and mismatched chairs and benches make it roomy so you don’t feel like you’re intruding on another diner’s meal. Who knows, after breaking bread together, perhaps you and your table mates won’t part as strangers.
Outside, there is vintage seating available if waiting for a friend, or to simply sit and watch the world go by.
Belly General Store 772 N Highland Ave NE Atlanta, GA 30306