Sunday Dinner: Pay Attention

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“You are one of the rare people
who can separate your observation from your perception…
you see what is,
where most people see what they expect.”
.
Tsitsi Dangarembga

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~

“To acquire knowledge, one must study;
but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.”
.
Marilyn vos Savant

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“Do stuff. be clenched, curious.
Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead.
Pay attention.
It’s all about paying attention; attention is vitality.
It connects you with others.
It makes you eager. Stay eager
.
Susan Sontag

~

~

“Observation is at its core an expression of love
which doesn’t get caught up in sentiment.”
.
Takashi Hiraide

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“Only when you observe with the intent to understand
you will discover the deeper truth.”
.
Tatjana Urbic

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“For a Photographer –
Having an OBSERVANT MIND
is more important than having
an expensive camera.”
.
Sukant Ratnakar 

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018
*
“The waves of probabilities collapse
into a physical reality
through observation by a conscious mind.”

.
Ilchi Lee

~

~

“The beauty and mystery of this world
only emerges through affection, attention, interest and compassion . . .
open your eyes wide
and actually see this world
by attending to its colors,
details and irony.”
.
Orhan Pamuk

~

 

 

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Wild Life Wednesday: All Calm Before the Storm

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It was gently raining when we awakened this morning, but the sun was breaking through along the horizon by the time we made it outside into the new day.

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An early morning bumbly enjoys the sweetness of Rudbeckia laciniata.

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We are all very conscious of the weather here in coastal Virginia this week as we watch the updates on the progress of Hurricane Florence.  We are on high ground and so flooding isn’t a concern.  But we live in a forest, and any amount of wind can change the landscape here; especially when the ground is saturated.

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The Solidago, goldenrod, has just begun to bloom.

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It looks as though the storm will make landfall far to our south, and the track no longer suggests it might travel northwards into Central Virginia.  Yet Florence remains a dangerous storm, and is absolutely huge.  We may start feeling its outer bands of rain and wind sometime tomorrow or Friday.

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Rose of Sharon

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Which made today all the sweeter.  Do you know the Japanese term, Wabi-Sabi?  The Japanese find beauty in the transience and ultimate imperfection of all phenomena.  The impermanence and changeability of the world around us heightens our appreciation of its beauty.  We can appreciate things while feeling a deep tenderness for their inherent imperfection.

I was pondering these things this morning as I wandered through our upper garden, wondering how it might appear in a day or so after wind and heavy rain have their way with it.  Already, our tall goldenrod and black-eyed Susans lean over into the paths, making them almost disappear in the abundance of growth.

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It is my first time wandering through the garden like this since I got a nasty insect bite last Friday afternoon.  It is still a mystery what bit me, as I was fully armored to work outdoors.  It was a small bite at first, but quickly blistered and swelled up to a massive angry red blotch that stretched several inches away from the original bite on my knee.  It has been a slow process of tending it, and I stayed indoors until yesterday, hoping to avoid another until this one was resolved.

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Ginger lily with orbs

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But today I was out in the early morning wetness, capturing the beauty of it, and trying to ignore the mosquitoes greeting me along the way.  I wanted to see everything and admire everything on the chance that the coming storm will shatter its early September magnificence.  It was the beautiful calm before the storm, and we have taken today to celebrate it.

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The rain was past and the day gilded with golden September sunshine when we set out along the Colonial Parkway to see the sky and watch the rising waters along the James and York Rivers.  If you’ve never seen the sky filled with enormous, rain shadowed clouds in the day or two before a hurricane approaches, you’ve missed one of the most beautiful spectacles of atmospheric art.

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Yorktown Beach, looking northwards towards Gloucester Point and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science

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The clouds are arrayed in regular, rhythmic patterns, punctuated here and there with towering, monstrous storm clouds.  The sky is blue and clear beyond them.  They float rapidly across the sky, these outer bands of the approaching storm.  These days of waiting are moody, morphing quickly from dull to golden and clear blue to stormy grey.

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One keeps an eye on the sky while pacing through the rituals of preparing.   There is an edge to the mood as highways fill with strangers moving northwards, inland, away from home and into an uncertain future.  We encountered one today at the next gas pump who needed to tell us he was traveling, just passing through, on his journey to somewhere safer than here.

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We found a nearby parking lot filled this morning with state police, huge generators, Klieg lights, and emergency response trailers.  The lot was filled at eight, but emptying out just a few hours later.  We’re still wondering where the equipment will ultimately end up.  We hope not here…

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Jones Mill Pond, near Yorktown on the Colonial Parkway

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I wondered whether the butterflies would move out ahead of the storm.  But we counted more than a dozen as we drove along the Parkway from Jamestown to Yorktown.   We saw mostly small ones, Sulphurs, but we were glad for their happy fluttering along the roadside.  We noticed the tide is already high along the way.  Jamestown Island is closed as preparations there continue.

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The rivers lap high up into the reeds, mostly covering the narrow, sandy river beaches.  The York River is already climbing the rip rap hardened banks constructed a few summers ago to protect the shoreline.  Small Coast Guard craft patrolled the river near Yorktown, but that didn’t deter a few families here and there, determined to enjoy this bright and sultry day at the beach.

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The York River, looking eastwards towards the Bay.

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The lizards were scampering around the drive and back steps when we returned home.  They’d been basking in the mid-day sun; our return disturbed their peace.

The squirrels had been at the grapes again, and we saw a pair of hummingbirds light in a Rose of Sharon tree nearby, watching us arrive.

It was too silent, though.  We didn’t hear the usual chatter of songbirds in the trees.  It was still, too.  Though the wind was blowing off the rivers, here the air hung heavy and still.

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Our Muscadine grapes are ripening over a long season.

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I believe in luck and omens, and perhaps that is why I planted a few little pots of Baptisia seeds this morning.  I’d knicked the seed pods from a plant I’ve watched growing all summer at the Botanical garden, and carried them in my pocket for weeks.

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With the seeds tucked into little pots out on the deck, I’m already thinking of the sprouts that will soon emerge.  Life goes on.  I believe that is the wisdom of wabi-sabi.

No matter the current circumstance, change is constant.  We can’t outrun it, or stop it.  Wisdom invites us to embrace it, observe its power, and find the ever-present beauty, come what may.

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This beautiful cluster of lichens was waiting for me beneath a shrub this morning.

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Woodland Gnome 2018
*  *  *
“To Taoism that which is absolutely still or absolutely perfect
is absolutely dead,
for without the possibility of growth and change there can be no Tao.
In reality there is nothing in the universe
which is completely perfect or completely still;
it is only in the minds of men that such concepts exist.”
.
Alan Watts

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~

“But when does something’s destiny finally come to fruition?
Is the plant complete when it flowers?
When it goes to seed? When the seeds sprout?
When everything turns into compost?”
.
Leonard Koren

~

Begonia

 

Sunday Dinner: On the Path

Ocracoke Lighthouse April 2007

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“There are no wrong turnings.
Only paths we had not known
we were meant to walk.”
.
Guy Gavriel Kay
~

Route 101 near Depot Bay, Oregon 2010.

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“It is not we who seek the Way,
but the Way which seeks us.
That is why you are faithful to it,
even while you stand waiting,
so long as you are prepared,
and act the moment you are confronted
by its demands.”
.
Dag Hammarskjöld
~

Powhatan Creek, Virginia January 2018

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“You never know what’s around the corner.
It could be everything. Or it could be nothing.
You keep putting one foot in front of the other,
and then one day you look back
and you’ve climbed a mountain.”
.
Tom Hiddleston
~

Yaquina Head Lighthouse Oregon 2010

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“If you do not change direction,
you may end up where you are heading”
.
Gautama Buddha
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The Colonial Parkway, Virginia 2014

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“What you’re missing
is that the path itself changes you.”
.
Julien Smith
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Near the York River, November 2014

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“…the universe…sets out little signposts for us
along the way, to confirm
that we’re on the right path.” 
.
Michelle Maisto
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Cape Foulweather Lookout, Oregon October 2017

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Photos by Woodland Gnome

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Along the Chickahominy River August 2016

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“End?
No, the journey doesn’t end here.
Death is just another path.
One that we all must take.”
.
J.R.R. Tolkien
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WPC: Bridge

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Bridges connect us, but also separate us in important ways.  Tidewater, Virginia, is riddled with bridges, large and small, linking communities across several rivers and lots of marshes, creeks, canals and the Chesapeake Bay.  As a child, observing the world from the back seat of my parents’ car, some of these old and narrow bridges frightened me.

We traversed the Bay Bridge Tunnel each summer to visit family on the Eastern Shore.   You soon loose sight of land on this miles long bridge.  Back in the day, when it was only two lanes wide, it was always an adventure.   Still is, when a storm is sweeping across the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and wind buffets trucks, sometimes pushing a big rig over the rails.

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Nowadays, many of our area bridges have been upgraded and modernized, but now carry heavy tolls.  Commuters may not be able to afford to cross for casual shopping and visiting; and nearby communities become isolated from one another.

Years ago, I left my home in the Northern Neck,  knowing that a toll was to be levied on this beautiful Coleman Bridge, which links Yorktown and Gloucester. I brought my family south, so we didn’t have to depend on passage across the bridge, and settled in the heart of  urban Tidewater.

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The beautiful and rural peninsulas of Virginia’s bay front coast rely on this bridge to link them to the rest of the state, especially to the nearest cities in Southeast Virginia.  Paying for every trip to shop, visit family, work and stay connected to the larger communities, takes a heavy financial toll.  This bridge becomes a barrier, separating people and communities from one another.

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Now, many years later, I love driving across the Coleman Bridge for day trips and get aways back to the small towns and rural beauty found in Gloucester,  Mathews and Lancaster.  I’ve long loved the gentle lap of our Virginia rivers along their sandy banks, and the villages which thrive along these shores.

From its top, one can see beautiful vistas of the York River, historic Yorktown,  and Gloucester Point.  Every trip is different, depending on the sky and waves, wind and river traffic, and what birds may be nesting on the bridge or flying over the river.

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Our bridges remain part of the fabric of our lives, allowing us to weave a rich tapestry of partnerships and friendships across our watery landscape.  They enrich our lives, even as they impose substantial costs on our families and our communities.

Art and engineering combine to form this beautiful legacy of bridges; which mold our present, even as they shaped our history.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017
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For the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge:  Bridge

 

Sunday Dinner: Courage

September 3, 2016 027

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“Life shrinks or expands

in proportion to one’s courage.”

.

Anaïs Nin

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September 3, 2016 017

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“The simple step of a courageous individual

is not to take part in the lie.

One word of truth outweighs the world.”

.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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September 3, 2016 023

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“Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers.

It happens when you are ready

to face the questions you have been avoiding

your whole life.”

.

Shannon L. Alder

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September 3, 2016 024

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“I have not always chosen the safest path.

I’ve made my mistakes, plenty of them.

I sometimes jump too soon

and fail to appreciate the consequences.

But I’ve learned something important along the way:

I’ve learned to heed the call of my heart.

I’ve learned that the safest path

is not always the best path

and I’ve learned that the voice of fear

is not always to be trusted.”

.

Steve Goodier

~

September 3, 2016 030

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“Courage isn’t absence of fear,

it is the awareness

that something else is important”

  .

Stephen R. Covey

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September 2, 2016 York River 020

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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September 2, 2016 York River 019

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“Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.”


.

Amelia Earhart

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September 2, 2016 York River 004

Which Way?

June 7, 2015  Yorktown 084~

We went a different way today and enjoyed some different views. 

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June 7, 2015  Yorktown 066~

The shots I captured from “The Other Side” (of the York River, of course) inspired me to join Cee for her Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge this week.

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Our view of The Hermione as we crossed the Coleman Bridge above her.

Our view of The Hermione as we crossed the Coleman Bridge above her.

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A lovely French tall ship, The Hermione, anchored in Yorktown Virginia, this weekend.

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The Hermione is anchored at the beach in Yorktown.

The Hermione is anchored at the beach in Yorktown.

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After crawling through the traffic in Historic Yorktown, we crossed the Coleman Bridge to view the ship and river traffic from Gloucester Point.  We were rewarded with wonderful views of this historic ship and the festival which cropped up in Yorktown today to celebrate its visit.

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June 7, 2015  Yorktown 056

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This is a reconstruction of the ship which brought General Lafayette to Yorktown in 1780, when he came to meet with General George Washington to pledge France’s support to the colonies in our revolution against the British Crown.

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June 7, 2015  Yorktown 062

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Huge French and American flags fly from the ships docked in Yorktown today.

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~June 7, 2015  Yorktown 076

We knew we had taken the right way today, to enjoy this beautiful day.

We found some new river beaches to enjoy, enjoyed the salt breezes blowing off of the river, and appreciated our chance to view this beautifully reconstructed tall ship.

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June 7, 2015  Yorktown 033~

Woodland Gnome 2015

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June 7, 2015  Yorktown 022

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

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January 21, 2015 storm brewing 011

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January 21, 2015 storm brewing 008

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American Bald Eagle

American Bald Eagle

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January 21, 2015 storm brewing 013

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The York River

The York River

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

One Word Photo Challenge: Sapphire

November 12, 2014 golden day 166

Sapphire sky

Appeared in bits and dabs

As morning’s clouds evaporated,

Burned away by the sun.

 

November 12, 2014 golden day 118

Illuminated blue,

Precious stone tint to sea and sky,

Growing ever bluer out towards infinite space.

 

November 12, 2014 golden day 148

 

Ancient cold,

Timeless brilliance

Filling the very air with deepest, truest,

 

 

November 12, 2014 golden day 134 (2)

Sapphire.

 

 

November 12, 2014 garden 022

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

With appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells

for her One Word Photo Challenge: Sapphire

 

December 13 2013 poinsettias 003

Holiday Wreath Challenge

Water Views

 

College Creek, a tributary of the James River.

College Creek, a tributary of the James River.

 

Forest Garden, and all of the Williamsburg area in fact, exist on a series of peninsulas.

We sometimes joke about living on “Williamsburg Island,” because water surrounds our area.

 

The York River, to our north.

The York River, to our north.

 

The Chesapeake Bay divides us from the Delmarva Peninsula, and then the Atlantic Ocean rolls in further east.

Our little finger of land is bound by the York River to the north and the James River to our south.

 

The James River, to our south

The James River, to our south

 

There are so many little creeks and ponds, bays, tributaries, reservoirs and rivers that we cross numerous bridges, large and small, to go anywhere.

Even our “Peninsula”, the term for our area on the local evening news, has its own little peninsulas.

October 29, 2014 fall color 017

 

Our geography is formed by flowing water and the tides.  

Much of the real estate is at sea level here.

On Jamestown Island, where archeologiests race with the rising river to complete their work.

On Jamestown Island, where archeologists race with the rising river to complete their work.

 

That would be the rapidly rising sea level, caused in part by subsidence;  sinking land all around the Chesapeake Bay.

Fringes of marsh border most of the dry land here.

The banks of our main rivers and creeks were recently “hardened” by government contractors bringing in truckloads of granite rock to hold the land in place.

 

Powhatan Creek

Powhatan Creek

Rock is something we rarely see here, unless it has been imported.

Far more frequently, we see shells.

In fact, it is commonplace to find oyster shells dropped over the garden by a snacking bird.

 

October 29, 2014 fall color 060

We love the water. 

We love watching its changing moods, and the quality of light reflecting from its surface at all times of day and in all sorts of weather.

Jones Mill Pond

Jones Mill Pond

 

We enjoy watching the changing year reflected in the water which surrounds our home.

 

Passmore Creek

Passmore Creek

 

Like all of the elements on Earth, water can be life-giving or deadly;  destructive or beautiful.

 

Indian Field Creek

Indian Field Creek

 

Yet we are drawn to live near flowing water.

Our bits of forest are always bounded by water.

 

October 28, 2014 fall color 037

And those waterways were once the highways here.

In earlier times, before our modern roads were built, most travel was by small boat.

The Colonial Parkway skirts or crosses many waterways on its journey from Jamestown on the James to Yorktown on the York RIver.

The Colonial Parkway skirts or crosses many waterways on its journey from Jamestown on the James to Yorktown on the York RIver.

 

Most homes were built near water, and the waterways provided a rich variety of clams and oysters, fish, duck, and goose for food.

October 29, 2014 fall color 051

And so we still are drawn to drink in the beauty of the water views which surround us.

Never attracted to inland life, we find happiness on the edges where land and water meet.

 

College Creek, explored by the Spanish in the late 16th Century, was passed over for settlement by the 1607 English colonists who chose Jamestown instead.

College Creek, explored by the Spanish in the late 16th Century, was passed over for settlement by the 1607 English colonists, who chose Jamestown instead.

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

GetMap.ashx

Back to the Bare Bones

January 1 2014 Parkway 008

Our landscape is back to the bare bones.

January 1 2014 Parkway 005

Again we can catch a glimpse at the structure of things,

the truth of them.

January 1 2014 Parkway 014

Leaves blown from branches, grasses falling back to Earth,

January 1 2014 Parkway 016

we are left with the finely wrought network of stem and branch

only partially obscuring our view of what is beyond.

January 1 2014 Parkway 019

The horizon has opened.

January 1 2014 Parkway 017

Woodland windows opened to see past the edges,

into the heart of things.

January 1 2014 Parkway 031

There is a hardness, an emptiness, a utilitarian look to the world in winter.

January 1 2014 Parkway 012

Sharpness in the air echoed by the sharpness of the light

January 1 2014 Parkway 038

Echoed again in the sharp chirps and trills and laughter

of birds calling to one another

January 1 2014 Parkway 027

With warning, with encouragement, with wisdom

January 1 2014 Parkway 029

With the sheer joy of a light washed winter day.

January 1 2014 Parkway 030

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

January 1 2014 Parkway 023

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