Monte Sano: Autumn Photo Walk

"My Guys" Chatting Through Monte Sano

My Guys Chatting Through Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, Alabama

At the very beginning of the year, I posted photos from a Monte Sano State Park walk and wondered what this beautiful place would look like in the spring.  I completely missed spring and summer, but thankfully, we made it to Monte Sano before autumn fades into winter again.

I captured nearly 300 photos the afternoon we visited, but unlike our last visit, I had far too many “favorites” to choose from.  It’s taken me two weeks to choose, and since my focus was “trees” and “leaves,” I decided to share the leaves in a separate post. With some shots, I tried to “recreate” what I could remember of the winter shots. Remember this tree?  It looks no different in autumn.

My favorite Monte Sano tree.

“Winter’s Heart” in Autumn

And this one:


“Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” in Autumn

Our tree-lined path was even more glorious with leaves forming a canopy over our heads and providing the crunch-crunch-crunch beneath our feet.  Is “crunching leaves” your favorite part of the season?

The Worn Path in Autumn

“The Well-Worn Path” in Autumn

With other shots, I just appreciated the splendor of the trees:

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Sometimes, I simply enjoyed the breathtaking view from the “lookout” accented or consumed by the range of autumn colors. Untitled copy 8 Untitled copy 8 Untitled copy 11 Then, there were those trees that made me wonder about their story.  Notice how these two lean toward each other–one resting in the other’s supportive embrace.


This one a “relic” of a “time before,” when it stood against elements and seasons.  A fallen comrade in the midst of those still standing strong and tall:


When we left the park, I exhaled deeply, as if all the cares of the world drained from my body as I walked through the park. Monte Sano is always a wonderfully therapeutic place, no matter the season. It must be the trees.

The Fall of Autumn

Remember my “Brilliant Hello” posted a couple of days ago?

“Brilliant Hello”

Look at it now.  About a week later–every single leaf blown to the ground, thanks to our cold, windy days.


“Golden Path”

It’s not even December yet. Winter has usurped autumn.

Brilliant Hello: Golden Walkway, November 2014

Brilliant Hello: Golden Path, November 2014

Autumn is brilliant but brief.

“Fall” in Love: The Poetry of Autumn

Emily Dickinson

“Autumn Poets Sing,” Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Fall 2012

I’m pretty sure my next two or three blog posts will focus on autumn.  I can’t help it.  I’m obsessed with the beauty of the season.  This obsession is not peculiar to me alone, of course.  A simple Google search for autumn poems yields pages and pages of links of fall-themed classic and contemporary poetry.  And social network feeds proudly showcase an abundance of autumn photos from around the world.

My own obsession led me to host a “‘Fall’ in Love” swap in “A Thousand Words,” a new photography group on swap-bot.   The swap called for sharing autumn photos and a complementary autumn poem.  Swappers had the choice of sending poem and photo separately or poem and photo integrated. Ladybegood sent this serene autumn scene crafted as a notecard for my use:

"The Woods in Autumn" by Linda, known as "Ladybegood" on swap-bot

“The Woods in Autumn” by Linda, known as “Ladybegood” on swap-bot

And the perfect poem, handwritten on card stock: Autumn Scenes-1

by James S. Tippett

I like the woods
In autumn
When dry leaves hide the ground,
When the trees are bare
And the wind sweeps by
With a lonesome rushing sound.

I can rustle the leaves
In autumn
And I can make a bed
In the thick dry leaves
That have fallen
From the bare trees

If you have children, this poem is perfect for getting them to understand imagery.

By the way, Ladybegood included a note telling me a little bit about the photo, but it’s missing in desk clutter (see previous post).

In a different swap, “I Like Light (& Color)” for the Color and Light Photo Swappers Group, swap-bot, Midteacher sent me two autumn photos:

"Vibrant Maple," by Diane, known as "midteacher" on swap-bot

“Vibrant Maple,” by Diane, known as “Midteacher” on swap-bot

Midteacher writes that she passed this tree several times on the way home from work before she made herself stop to take the shot one day. I witness a similar brilliance from my office window every day.  The tree beckoned me till one day I was compelled to step onto the balcony to snap a shot.

“Brilliant Hello,” by Me, Fall 2014

This autumn beauty greets residents and guests at one of the women’s residential halls. My office is quite a distance from the tree, so I plan to take a walk to capture a bit more of the interesting details.  I hope there are still leaves on it by the time the temperatures are mild enough for me to take a campus walk. :-/

Like Ladybegood, Midteacher also sent a photo notecard:

Autumn Scene by Diane, "Midteacher" on swap-bot

Autumn Scene by Diane, “Midteacher” on swap-bot

She was so drawn to this breath-taking scene that after they drove passed it, she had her husband go back so she could snap a shot. Midteacher and I are in three photo groups together and I enjoy having her as a swap partner. Her packages are always well-crafted.  In fact, I have a couple more sets of her photos to share with my blog audience.  Until then, you can check out her work on an earlier post OR check out her blog, A Focused Journey.

For the “‘Fall’ in Love” swap, I sent my partner, Patty aka Cakers, an envelope full of “red leaves” and a Paul Laurence Dunbar poem that so clearly illustrates my giddiness about autumn that I had to send it to her [click image for a closer look]. fall poem 2014 3 Patty loved her envelope full of autumn. In return, with her permission, of course, I “swiped” a photo from her Facebook wall–of leaves she collected during an afternoon walk.

"Patty's Fallen Leaves" by Patty aka Cakers

“All the Colors of Fall” by Patty aka Cakers


Happy Belated World Postcard Day! Happy Belated National Postcard Week!

Needless to say, I’ve been a little lax in sharing my good mail days with you.  Life gets busy.  My desk remains cluttered and things get buried beneath other responsibilities, tasks, and daily mayhem.  So I’ve been “decluttering” my desk at a rate that makes “decluttering” pointless.  BUT, I’ve found some great things so far–obviously some things that I’d planned to blog about months ago.  POSTCARDS! (Yes, I’m screaming).

World Postcard Day was a month ago—October 9 to be exact.  I joined a WPCD swap and received cute little Ernie the Envie from Rachel, one of swap-bot’s founders.

Ernie the Envelope, swap-bot's cute logo.

Ernie the Envelope, swap-bot’s cute logo.

She writes that she started swap-bot to connect with people all over the world in a tangible way.

Then, there were these 31st National Postcard Week 2014 surprises waiting in my “check-when-I think-about-it” postal box.  Although, NPCW is in May,  I actually received these some time in August or early September.  Apparently, I’m on some NPCW mailing list somewhere.  (I haven’t even had time to investigate that).

William sent two cards–a fun one and a touristy one:

Bill and Dee with Pals Goofy and Mickey, November 2013

Bill and Dee with Pals Goofy and Mickey, November 2013

"United States Capitol, Washington D.C.: Home of House of Representatives and Senate," Photo by William Marquart, January 2014

“United States Capitol, Washington D.C.: Home of House of Representatives and Senate,” Photo by William Marquart, January 2014

Steve, a postcard collector from Fresno, California sent this postcard of a San Francisco early morning:

"Morning Moods"

“Morning Moods as San Franciso Begins a New Day,” Photo by Sandor Balatoni

This postcard represents his “Plan B.”  Circumstances prevented him from getting his postcards printed in time for NPCW.  Of course, I’m not complaining about the beautiful sunrise.  Not complaining about the vintage postage and postal markings that cover the back of the postcard either. 😉

NPCW and Ch Bk Illustration sent-67-2

NPCW and Ch Bk Illustration sent-67-2 - Version 2

The message on the back closes with, “Living the postcard life.”  Love it!

Earl Bucken from St. Augustine, Florida sent:

NPCW and Ch Bk Illustration sent-67-3

“Light Gull Island Lighthouse,” Photo by Earl Bucken, 2002

He had a bit of the lighthouse’s history printed on the back:

Located on the North Fork of Long Island, NY.  The first lighthouse was built in 1803, at a cost of $15,000. When the War of 1812 came to eastern Long Island, the British visited and demanded the light be extinguished.  The keeper refused, and the British removed the  illuminating apparatus from the lantern. The proven vulnerability caused the government to erect a hundred food diameter wall around the tower and keeper’s quarters in 1817.  The wall cost $24,500 and was 300 feet in circumference.  In 1978 [the lighthouse] was automated, ending 172 years of light keeping tradition on the tiny island.

And here are the postcards I received during National Postcard Week 2014 from swap-bots:

From swap-bot “rubyhouseslippers,” this fun and quirky card:

"Elfin Party" (c)

“Elfin Party” by Vanessa Valencia

You can find more of Vanessa Valencia’s fun artwork at her website.  She even lets you inside her studio and gallery.  If you’re into elves and dolls and other fun creations, you’ll love visiting her site.

From swap-bot Andi who hosted the NPCW swap I joined:

Galapagos Islands: Situated in the Pacific Ocean, some 1000 km from the Soth American Continent, these 19 isalnds and the surrounding marine reserve have been called a unique "living museum and showcase of evotion." Located a the confluence of trhee ocean currents, the Galapagos are a "melting pot" of marine species. UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Galapagos Islands: Living Museum

From the postcard back:

Galapagos Islands: Situated in the Pacific Ocean, some 1000 km from the South American Continent, these 19 islands and the surrounding marine reserve have been called a unique “living museum and showcase of evolution.” Located a the confluence of three ocean currents, the Galapagos are a “melting pot” of marine species. UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Demaris, whose swap I participated in last year, sent several cards.  Here are the three I like best:

Demaris introduced me to National Postcard Week last year.  She has more information about it here.

And here are the postcards I sent:

Purple Pansies, Photo by Me!

I remember designing this one because I felt I should toss some purple out into the world.

Then, this one, I couldn’t resist:

The “Mysterious” Trike by Me!

After almost two academic years, this trike “mysteriously” appeared outside my office window one day.  I raced out to snap a few shots.  And then, I didn’t see the trike again for the rest of the year.

This year, however, I see it quite frequently.  In fact, I captured it with my camera phone as I was walking back to my office from a meeting one morning. The owner had attached an evergreen tree car fresheners to each handlebar. This was funny to me at the moment.

I didn’t quite achieve the goal of full participation this year (making and sending 100 postcards for NPCW), but I managed to make them and send about 10.  Close enough.

If you’re interested, you can check out the cards I sent last year here and the cards I received last year here.

Happy Postcarding!

Illuminations, or “Check out My Big Bro!”

"Green Belt" by Dennis Tyler Photography

“Green Belt” by Dennis Tyler Photography

This is less a blog post and more a shout out to my older brother, Dennis, whose work is now on exhibit at Agora Gallery in the Big Apple.  Dennis is an amazing photographer who has, for my entire life at least, always had a camera in his hand.

Illuminations: an Exhibition of Fine Art demonstrates “the thoughtful beauty of Dennis Tyler’s photography” which “emerges with an ethereal clarity, capturing fragments of eternity in an exquisite visual meditation” (from Agora Gallery Press Release).

If you’re in New York anytime between November 4 and November 25, drop by and take a gander at his work. Agora Gallery is located at 530 West 25th Street, New York, NY (212.226.4151).

Click the image to go to Agora Gallery and for more information about Dennis Tyler’s exhibit

If you can’t get to New York this month, check out his work here: Dennis Tyler Photography.

He also has a Facebook page you can “like”: Dennis Tyler Photography on Facebook.

I am so proud of my “big” brother.  He’s the reason I quickly remind people that photography for me is a hobby not a profession.  Many can pick up a camera and craft a few good shots.  The artists, however, consistently move us with their work.