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.
A gentleman on horseback ambled through my viewfinder not long ago, and without stopping, asked me what I was taking pictures of. His words made me pause for a minute. I was standing in that sun swept North Georgia field for a reason, but how do you explain how special the light is in late winter to a stranger who had to ask? How the sun transforms everything it touches with its amber glow, the grasses, those oceans of wild wheat that pulsate in the light, rows of nimble dancers swaying in the wind. I started to sweep my arm around to show why it moved me, then dropped it back to my side and mentioned something vague about the setting sun and wished him a wonderful evening. His friendly voice carried across the field as he and his horse continued on, half shouting about how bad the traffic had become and that he can’t take his horses on the roads anymore because of it, and did I know he used to photograph his daughters during their many years of horse shows. After they disappeared into the woods I slowly turned and drank in what was left of the day, then quietly whispered a goodbye to winter.
On Wednesday, September 23rd, the sun’s rays began to shine directly over the Earth’s equator marking the beginning of the Autumnal Equinox in the northern hemisphere. Fall’s arrival reminded us here in the U.S. that the days are growing cooler, that it’s time to dig out sweaters, find the forgotten rakes, and to pick fresh apples and start baking them in pies. It’s the season of leaf peeping, pumpkin carving and cheering through hours of football. It is a time for counting blessings and gathering our families to celebrate all that is good in life, for cherishing our friends and remembering those who passed. This year, remarkably, the sun’s rays also guided a humble man of the cloth to our country, a Pope named Francis, who taught us that kindness and humility, acceptance, and caring for those less fortunate than us remains our daily priority. This year, when the sun crossed the equator, it delivered hope.
Hot summer days, lots of haze and a need for a local escape landed me in the north Georgia mountains to a favorite little garden center where I go to take walks, fool around with my camera and to enjoy the scenery. I like it here because it’s usually a few degrees cooler in the summer, there are lots of paths to hike around the wooded naturalized gardens or some that head off toward the more centralized more formal designs. It’s a friendly environment and the air has the cool freshness that comes from being near the mountains. One of the things I look forward to seeing here are the resident garden cats. They happily hop up from their place in the shade to welcome unsuspecting visitors in a confusing tangle of leg rubbing and twisting around the ankles until everybody’s on the ground for a belly rubbing session. Being on the receiving end of a cat’s love is one of life’s simple pleasures I think.
Every Monday my friend Jo welcomes bloggers to walk along with her on her wonderful travels. This week she showcases the coast of Seaton Sluice, a beautiful rural area where the channel meets the sea in Northumberland England. You can see her beautiful photography here: Jo’s Monday Walk: Seaton Sluice. Meanwhile, I hope you’re enjoying your summer, and wherever you’ve landed make sure to stop now and then to enjoy all that’s beautiful around you.
My cat friends at Gibbs Gardens made me think of another blog I’d like to recommend. If you are a cat lover, and enjoy horses and the world of equestrian competition, you would like my friend David’s blog, “Through the Viewfinder” His life stories are a joy to read, his photography, wonderful.
Click on the link if you’d like to read more about North Georgia’s Gibbs Gardens.
Typically, lens flare isn’t a desirable effect for landscape photography, but I have to admit that my inner drama queen lives for the occasional delicate prisms that grace a photograph after a shot into the sun. In the following two pictures the colorful flares add an undeniable mystique, which I think is pretty grand!
A cold front on the move brought high winds that blew the unseasonably warm temps out of the Atlanta area, leaving everyone searching for their forgotten coats and gloves. It tossed about a bed of lenten rose in the sunlight, and forced the release of the few stubborn dead leaves that have been clinging to the trees since the first frost.
Since then, an even more challenging system came through my world and I’m feeling a little tossed around myself these days, a signal that its time for a blogging break. I’ll be checking back in – until then take care, and happy spring!
Had I been equipped with waders, I’d have gladly splashed into the middle of this stream of indigo blue, and followed it joyfully until it ended in a puddle or grew into a river, most likely in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. For then I would have truly known what it was like to have gone with the flow, found that life is a journey and time is a river, and in the end, discovered what I knew all along ~ that life is good.
A few months ago my friend Dana and I visited a woodland garden, Gibb’s Garden, located about an hour from Atlanta in the North Georgia Mountains. Newly opened to the public, a local landscape architect followed his dream to share his private 300 acre estate with the public. After reading about this 32 year wonder in the making, we decided to make the drive one Saturday morning to experience the gardens for ourselves. What we found was breathtaking, from the lovely tree-lined entrance to the 16 themed gardens located throughout the property. There was a relaxing café patio with a view, a Monet inspired bridge, acres and acres of naturalized beauty, and of course a friendly cat whose photograph I included in an earlier post, “A Secret Garden.” Among the many events planned annually is the Daffodil Festival, where patrons can immerse themselves in the gorgeous results of the planting of 3,000,000 bulbs over the past 20 years. This is 50 acres of nurtured joy that I cannot wait to experience this spring, and a future blog post that I look forward sharing.
The keeper of the garden.
The Hydrangea Garden
The Yin and Yang of bringing the woods into the garden, and the garden into the woods.