Breathe.

I think all the professors, teachers, and students in the USA groaned collectively this morning. No one wants to face Monday after having five to nine days off. Plus, for many of us, Monday begins the intense madness of final papers, final exams, and final grades.

Ugh! The thought of what this week brings makes many of us want to run for cover. But we can’t. We just have to jump in and keep doing until it’s all done.

So breathe…

My Impressionist “Painting” of the Tennessee River at Ditto Landing, Northern Alabama ūüôā

….knowing on the other side of the madness…four glorious weeks of winter break.

“Walk to the Cross”

"Cross" @ Burritt on the Mountain

74-Foot Cross @ Burritt on the Mountain, Monte Sano, Huntsville, Alabama

I lied.¬† Not intentionally, of course.¬† When I wrote “Autumn Has Flowers Too” would be my last blog post this year featuring autumn photos, I had no idea that my family and I would walk the nature trail at Burritt on the Mountain this week.¬† I expected the weather to turn really cold and shake what was left of autumn off the trees, but imagine my surprise when we reached the park and found lots of color!

Our goal today, as always, was to reach the very large cross.¬† The 74-foot cross (with a 31-foot crossbeam) is an impressive site. It was built in 1963, “a racially integrated and ecumenical effort during complicated times, symbolizing a city balanced by a symbol of peace and faith”¬† (Paige Minds the Gap).

"Cross" @ Burritt on the Mountain

The Cross @ Burritt on the Mountain weighs about 38 tons.

In the past, we visited Burritt during the winter months, after the trees lost their leaves, so it was nice to experience the trail and the cross in the golden glow of autumn.

As usual, I captured many photos, but I’ll just leave a “few” for you to enjoy.¬† “Few” is relative, right? [Click an image for a closer look]

 

Veteran’s Day: Honoring America’s Heroes

I cannot let the day end without paying tribute to America’s veterans. The images below are¬†from Huntsville-Madison County’s Veterans Memorial Park. ¬†The memorial, dedicated on November 11, 2011,¬†“holds before present¬†and future generations the principle that¬†freedom is not free and that a free¬†people must always be prepared to¬†defend that freedom at whatever cost.”

Courage Sacrifice Duty, Huntsville Memorial Park

“Courage. Sacrifice. Duty.” Huntsville-Madison County Veterans Memorial Park

On this Veterans Day, let us remember the service of our veterans, and let us renew our national promise to fulfill our sacred obligations to our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much so that we can live free. –Dan Lipinski

“I Will Never Leave a Fallen Comrade,” Huntsville-Madison County Veterans Memorial Park

The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. –Douglas MacArthur

"I Will Never Leave a Fallen Comrade," Huntsville-Madison County Memorial Park

“I Will Never Leave a Fallen Comrade,” Huntsville-Madison County Veterans Memorial Park

America’s Veterans have served their country with the belief that democracy and freedom are ideals to be upheld around the world. ¬†–John Doolittle

"I Will Never Leave a Fallen Comrade," Huntsville-Madison County Memorial Park

“I Will Never Leave a Fallen Comrade,” Huntsville-Madison County Veterans Memorial Park

It’s about how we treat our veterans every single day of the year. It’s about making sure they have the care they need and the benefits that they’ve earned when they come home. It’s about serving all of you as well as you’ve served the United States of America. Freedom is never free.”¬†–President Barack Obama

"Never Accept Defeat," Huntsville-Madison County's Veterans Memorial Park

“Never Accept Defeat,” Huntsville-Madison County Veterans Memorial Park

Thank you, Veterans, for your service and your many sacrifices.

(Monochrome) Photo Play: Water, Light, and Fairies

I’m baaaaack with another monochrome photos post. ¬†I can hardly believe the last monochrome post, “Animals in Monochrome,” was in January. I didn’t realize how much time had gone by.

I attempted a “Water in Monochrome” swap earlier in the year, but there were no takers, so I was pleased as punch when my penfriend Beckra joined the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot and joined the swap when I “re-created” it in September. ¬†She had been experimenting with shooting water in black and white, so the swap was perfect for her.

Beckra shared two photos which exhibit her photographic interactions with water and light. Both photos were shot at her happy place, the creek at Woolly Hollow State Park.

“Writing on the Water,” Creek at Woolly Hollow State Park, by Rebecca R. (swap-bot: Beckra)

This first photo was captured “close, close,¬†close-up” while wading and crouching in the creek. Beckra writes that it “seems like the light is writing on the water in a kind of cursive.” ¬†Interestingly, it also looks like a fire dance.

For the second photo, she had been trying to capture the “starlike glints” on the water and was pleased to find this photo did not disappoint.

“Starry Creek,” Creek at Woolly Hollow State Park, by Rebecca R. (swap-bot: Beckra)

Although the next photo was not part of the swap, it is a “water in black and white” photo and it completes a perfect trilogy of abstract water photos.

“May Moontrail” by Rebecca R. (swap-bot: Beckra)

Beckra sent this one at the beginning of summer break, a moon trail on the lake. She followed the bright moon to the water and was able to capture this reflection, a beautiful “luxury of the summer.”

The guys and I found different places to experience nature and we were overjoyed to find some hangouts near or on water.  Being a Westbank NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) girl, I feel a little lost sometimes not having the Mississippi River down the street from me.

I sent four photos, two from summer and two older photos because I am sort of proud of the monochrome renderings.

Wheeler Lake in Black and White

Wheeler Lake in Black and White, iPhone Photo, 2016

This photo is from Wheeler Lake, which is located between Rogersville and Huntsville in Northern Alabama. The lake was formed by a dam along the Tennessee River. Although part of a popular tourist spot, we were among very, very few people in the area we explored.

Here’s another favorite shot from Wheeler Lake park:

Wheeler Lake Park, Huntsville, Alabama, 2016

“Where Fairies Play,” Wheeler Lake Park, Huntsville, Alabama, 2016

Although flawed, this one was fun to work with because I had to remove a HUGE orange garbage can from the shot.  For some reason, it reminds me of a place where fairies play.  I think I read one too many medieval romances last month.

Ditto Landing¬†marina, described¬†as “Huntsville, Alabama’s gateway to the Tennessee River,” is my new favorite spot.¬† We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the area and are looking forward to returning soon.¬†You can¬†learn the history of Ditto Landing and see gorgeous pics on the website.

The¬†“Closed Bridge”¬†photo featured in Friday’s post was from Ditto Landing. Here’s the original photo.

Closed Bridge, Ditto Landing, Original

Closed Bridge, Ditto Landing, Original

And a favorite edit:

Closed Bridge, Ditto Landing, Huntsville, Alabama, edited in Snapseed

Closed Bridge, Ditto Landing, Huntsville, Alabama, edited in Snapseed

Here’s another¬†one of my favorite¬†photos from¬†Ditto¬†Landing–a nice balance between¬†air,¬†trees, water, and land.¬† There’s so much more to explore I can’t wait to go back.

“Balance and Order,” Ditto Landing, Huntsville, Alabama, 2016

As mentioned, I also sent¬†two older photos: a sepia photo of from “The Fly” at Audubon Park,¬†featured earlier this year in one of the nature¬†photo challenge blog posts,¬†and a photo of¬†waves crashing against the rocks (was it mountains?)¬†in Maui. ¬†Although I “heart” the original photo, I couldn’t resist the purple.

The Purple Wave, Maui

That’s it for now.¬† Until next time…I’ll be riding the purple wave…

Divine Rest…

Closed Bridge at Ditto Landing

Closed Bridge at Ditto Landing, Huntsville, Alabama, 2016.

The whole love of the “Law” has been lavished on and has cherished the Sabbath. As the day of rest, it gives life its balance and rhythm; it sustains the week. Rest is something entirely different from a mere recess, from a mere interruption of work, from not working. A recess is something essentially physical, part of the earthly everyday sphere. Rest, on the other hand, is essentially religious, part of the atmosphere of the divine; it leads us to the mystery, to the depth from which all commandments come, too. It is that which re-creates and reconciles, the recreation in which the soul, as it were, creates itself again and catches the breath of life–that in life which is sabbatical.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē¬†Leo Baeck,¬†Judaism and Christianity

Tree Therapy (Autumn Leaves)

Thanks to life and all the madness it’s tossed my way,¬†I’ve been needing quite a bit of tree therapy lately. Thanks to all the amazing tree photographs shared¬†on Flickr and Google+, my sanity¬†is no longer threatened.

That reminds me…About¬†a month ago, in a¬†Monte Sano blog post, I promised a follow-up post that focused on the autumn leaves of Monte Sano. As I was looking through my photos I discovered a lot of other beautiful leaves that I captured over the last several weeks, and what better way to say “Happy Winter”¬†than to take a look back at autumn. (No shame here. I am partial to autumn).

This beauty greeted a whole congregation of church folk as we exited service one November afternoon.

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I wasn’t the only one struck by this magnificence. Many paused¬†to¬†capture photos of the two trees. Take a closer look:

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This one (above) was shot while looking up and standing between the two trees. Just take a deep breath and enjoy those brilliant colors mingling.

Here’s an even closer look at the leaves of the tree on the left:

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I want to live in those leaves!

Here are some tree/leaf shots taken while sitting on a “float” with my son’s saddle club while riding through a Veteran’s Day parade. I’m loving the lens flare on the first image. [Click an image for a closer look].

And here are the leaves of Monte Sano–still green, yellowing, golden, bright orange, deep red, and bronze…

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May the gorgeous colors of autumn carry you through the browns, grays, and snowy whites of winter!

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:

tree

“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.

“Duet”

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:

“Remains”

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.

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Another Perspective of “Winter’s Heart”

Mid-October “Pick Me Up”

"October Pumpkins," Tate Farms, Meridian, Alabama

“October Pumpkins,” Tate Farms, Meridianville, Alabama

Oh, the Cows!

I got in trouble with my son because of the cow posting a few nights ago. ¬†Sure, I posted “the cow” as he requested, but he didn’t want me to post¬†a “Photoshopped cow” [Note: I didn’t know he was familiar with the term]. He wanted me to post “the cow” in “its” natural state. ¬†So, here’s the photo, no filter.

"For the Little One," No Filter, Northern Alabama, 2013

“For the Little One,” No Filter, Northern Alabama, 2013

And a goat on the same land captured seconds later:

"Who You Lookin' At?" Somewhere in North Alabama, 2013

“Who You Lookin’ At?” or “Through the Barbed Wire,” Somewhere in North Alabama, 2013

And while we’re at it you might as well have some more bovine:

"Bovine Basking on a Beach," Maui, Hawaii, 2005

“Bovine Basking on a Beach,” Maui, Hawaii, 2005

I¬†snapped this one in Maui a long time ago.¬†¬† I wonder where else in the U.S. we’d find beach-lovin’ bovine.

Moo!

Two Heads Are Better Than One. Sixteen Legs Are Even Better Than Four!

It’s been more than a month since my last post, so I have quite a bit of mailbox goodness to share. I’ll have to put the sharing on hold a bit because my little one made a special request for me to post the two-headed cow I photographed last year during one of our Saturday afternoon drives.

Two-Headed Cow

Two-Headed Cow

 

He gets such a kick out of this photo! ¬†It’s not exactly two-headed. In fact, there are more than two cows here. Three obviously. Keep looking and you’ll see the baby legs of a second calf.

Enjoy!