Saturday, July 14, 2018

Back to a Kayak After 2 years

How fast time flies, a year of selling insurance, a new car, a year of building an art and writing business and here we are out on the water again. It's been two years since I've been out on the water and I wish I could say it was smooth sailing.

First of all it was really hot. Probably one of the best mounts into the kayak but immediately that feeling of awkward anxiety. DId I mention it was hot, the heat that stays on you and drains you of any energy you had left after a morning in the Florida sun.

My son didn't seem to miss a beat but I was clumsy, broke the only lure off I had and had to get another from him, he was already in his Zen place. I know I wasn't prepared, I went through the motions of kayaking but didn't quite get into the zone.

The water still had that calming effect, the sounds and the smells soothed and kept me somewhat content. I did more enjoying being out there than fishing, again, I wasn't that well prepared.

I didn't even bring a fish clip which is very important just in case you catch a fish. I remembered the feeling of what I've missed so much. I got back to seeing water from the simplest and truest form and suddenly it was like no time had passed.

I will never be a completely agile, comfortable kayak enthusiast but I do realize why we started this in the first place; to be surrounded by nature, to feel the water move under you and watch the distance stream beneath you. There a beauty and freedom to getting out there and just enjoying the water.

I will be back with more posts shortly. Maybe I'll find a cool shady pond like one in Daingerfield. Stay tuned for more destinations on a kayak and sorry for my unintentional delay in getting back to the water.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Back to Where A Passion Began: Seeking Waterfalls

So many times I've been to Turner Falls in Davis, Oklahoma and never visited the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur,  just a few miles north and east on highway 7. I went, I saw, I was very impressed.

The first thing I noticed is the sound as you approach Little Niagara Falls. I remembered what I loved so much about waterfalls. There is a rhythm to water falling and rushing and that rhythm connects us to nature in a very necessary but intangible way.

I had to stop shooting and just sit on an exposed root to listen to the sound and take in all the richness of color and light. Unfortunately, the light wasn't quite right for most of my trip. 

After I had taken the tour of several waterfalls and was already overheated, the light changed. It is amazing to me how much light changes everything. The problem is we are forced to shoot on natures' timeline not ours. 

I remember driving with family on highway to the sun in Glacier National Park. Everyone assured me we'd get the shot on the way back but you know that never happened. Light changes, conditions change not within hours but within seconds, the image that shows itself so beautifully is gone.

This is why so many wonderful vacation snapshots turn out just okay-light is everything  and it creates a pathway for the viewer to experience just a glimpse of what you saw. Light leads the eye of the viewer, explains dimension and form on a 2 dimensional frame and contrasts light to explain temperature, place and distance.

I visited the waterfalls to reinvigorate my love and water. I wanted to get back to the passion of painting the many facets of water. Chickasaw is a beautiful maize of waterfalls, ice cold, spring fed water and great places to hike. I will definitely return. I will also do another post with more detail, this was more for my  passion and enjoyment and the reason I went in the first place. 

I forgot how much I missed the sound
No it’s the color
And the sound
Rushing fingers of blue and silver, like mercury
Beautiful and pure
I smell sulphur and earth
From somewhere deep 
I compare the dimensions of water
Like the many facets of people
So many faces, moods and colors to describe
I’ve come back seeking
The beauty of what captured me before
Those steps to the tops
Of the cascades
But I was young and full of wonder
I was intoxicated by the sound
And the green rushing waters
Seeping from the ground
She was there
And that meant everything…
Now I barely listen
Had to pause the shutter to keep my place
a rich green story
where I always lose my page
the heat
the sweat
and the beauty and peace
I barely remember
And I forgot what I missed
It was the sound
No the color
And the sound…

Sunday, May 20, 2018

My Secret Garden: A Place to Escape

North of Farmersville Texas the old quaint neighborhoods fade into long farm roads. Miles of empty space, small farms and cattle; it's a wonderful place to disappear.

I heard about Parkhill Prairie when I took a prairie tour at the Lavon Raptor Center on their first Saturday open house. The first few times I visited, it was cool and windy and beautifully quiet.

Hawks soared in a deep blue sky and crows called from distant perches against a backdrop of golden grasses that swayed adding to a symphony of natural sounds. I would sit on the stone wall and watch silently the distant hills and golden prairies, I had found my peaceful oasis.

Today was the first time I had walked through the green grasses and gardens of wildflowers, a perfect hot day, late spring. No cars, no people, just an explorer in my secret garden.

The crows have been replaced with the buzz of red-winged blackbirds and rich melodic notes of Dickcissel. The wind rushed through the willows and dragonflies buzzed about taunting me to catch a glimpse of their various colors, shapes and sizes.

It stirred so many memories as I walked along the edge of the several small ponds where cricket frogs and bullfrogs dashed into the shallows. My brother and I would always walk along streams looking for snakes, frogs and turtles, we were young explorers, naturalists.

Now I don't only notice the animals, it's the plants that demand my attention. Milkweed of several different species sway along with small mimosa like plants with pink fuzzy flowers, most I recognize, some are new and intriguing.

Since I've been collecting plants and wildlife gardening, my knowledge of different species has grown. I remember a trip to Tuscon where suddenly a whole new world of interest I became aware of.

I walked around several ponds, taking notes of the water for future painting, collecting notes on wildflowers and wild birds, it is my secret place and with every turn the willows blend into a green rich pasture.

The shade of the willows remind me of New Jersey, we had several giant willows where the orioles would nest in summer. The cool breeze across the prairie made the heat more comfortable and I enjoyed an afternoon of peace lost in Nature.

I will go back soon, by than perhaps summer guests will have picnics or barbecues but for now, it was all mine, an oasis to escape everything. Mission accomplished.

Friday, April 27, 2018

I Went Back to the Ancients and Found Myself: The North Sulphur River

I drove to Ladonia today. It's a small town in Fannin County that was once a bustling hub of East Texas agriculture. The Golf Colorado Santa Fe Railroad once turned the town into a shipping point and its population peaked at 2000. After the Depression it never recovered and its population has continued to decrease ever since.

Lillies in Ladonia Town Square

I walked around the town taking pictures and I was haunted by ghosts of a much simpler time. The old building architecture and the quaint charm of the remnants made me feel like I had walked back in time. I enjoyed the quiet.

Aging Structures in Ladonia

North of town is the Fossil park which is why I made the trip. I have been there before with family but never alone. It's very remote and except for two other distant figures, I felt completely alone and it was wonderful.

There were bank swallows swarming the bridge as I walked down the dinosaur sized steps to the river bottom. There are small schools of fish running through the shallow river and the sound of rippling water.

I enjoyed the sound of buzzing swallows and the quiet of nature. I remember my older son and I found shark teeth there years ago. There are several bridges and areas to access the river and each have their own diversity of fossils.

In this part of the river there were many belemites, ancient straight shelled squid and all sorts of shell impressions in the shale sediment. I felt like a child again, there is something beautiful and exciting about getting back to the hobbies you loved as a child. I have always been a rock hound, I even thought of being a geologist at one time.

I was wishing I had a 500mm lens because I could see the swallows gathering mud and they were just out of range of my 300 mm lens. Just as I got to a reasonable distance they would quickly disperse and I wasn't able to get any good photos.

The sky above the river was a deep intense blue complementing the rich green spring foliage. As I dug through the piles of rock and mud, I had an awareness of the heat. When you are on the river bed there is no protection from the sun and I knew I had to walk up the dinosaur stairs.

What was completely wonderful about the day was the peace and calm. I enjoyed the feeling of being amidst ancient stones surrounded by birdsong and river sounds. It was a great place to find myself and collecting a few fossils was a bonus for the exploration.

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