Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak
"Spacious Skies"

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Snow Flowers of the Smoky Mountains

These flowers had endured a snow storm the week before.  Their white petals against brown stalks and white snow on the ground was something I had not seen before. Brush branches were white with ice cycles and there was still snow on the evergreen trees.

Approaching Winter Stillness

I love black and white photos of trees and forest.  The contrast in shadows and light creates a stillness in these photos.  You don't get a sense of how fast the water was flowing over the rocks without looking closer at the rocks.

Smoky Mountain "Kuwah'hi" Water Fall

 This is the first waterfall that you see when you first enter the Smoky Mountain Park.  It is visible from the road and the colors of the trees, leaves and rocks was picturesque.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"The Mountain Stood in Haze"


The Mountain Stood in Haze

The Mountains stood in Haze—
The Valleys stopped below
And went or waited as they liked
The River and the Sky.

At leisure was the Sun—
His interests of Fire
A little from remark withdrawn—
The Twilight spoke the Spire,

So soft upon the Scene
The Act of evening fell
We felt how neighborly a Thing
Was the Invisible.
By Emily Dickinson

Land of Blue Smoke Legend of "The Great Bear"

The Land of Blue Smoke is my ancestral homeland of the Cherokees.  I cannot say enough of its beauty, misty and smoky peaks.  The Cherokee people called them, "Kuwah'hi" or Sacred Mountain. Today we call them the Smoky Mountains, the single longest and second highest mountain range in the Blue Ridge Mountain Province. When the Cherokee speak of the Sacred Mountain, "Kuwah'hi," they are specifically talking about the pinnacle crown of the Great Smoky Mountains, Clingman's Dome. Here at its highest wind blown and remote reaches of the upper Smokies, it was believed by the Cherokee people that the "Great White Bear," ruled the spirit world above all the earth.  The legend of  "The Great Bear" and how the Maple Tree leaves turn scarlet each autumn.

The Great Bear
A giant bear was reported to four hunters in a nearby village, these four brave hunters were also brothers who's exploits as hunters were legendary. A monster of a bear called Nyah-gwaheh was stalking and terrorizing the village in a neighboring territory. The people of the village were so afraid that even the children did not play in the woods.
To conquer the giant bear, the hunters must find the bear's tracks first and take the lead in pursuing the bear. If the giant bear were to spot the hunters first it will pursue the hunters to their end, this giant bear was considered to have powerful magic at its disposal. Whenever the people of the village had tried to follow the bear's tracks the tracks would quickly disappear. The four hunters had magic of their own, that being a very special small dog that had two dark circles above its eyes. The little dogs name was "Four Eyes," and could follow trails that were many days old.
Pressured to find the bear's tracks first they pressed on without delay. One of the four brother hunters was considered to be the fat and lazy one of the hunting party even though he was a good hunter. This brother always wanted to eat and rest while the other brothers felt the urgency to find the bear before it found them. While pressing onward in pursuit of bear tracks the fat lazy brother opened his pemmican pouch and retrieved a snack. To his surprise the contents of the pouch was that of pale squirming things, a magical sign that the giant bear was wise to their hunt.
As the bear and the hunters tried feverishly to pick up each other's trail, the small dog began to yelp, signaling that he had just picked up the bear's tracks. They rejoiced being the first to pick up the trail and now the giant bear knew it was he who was the one being pursued and began to run. As the bear broke through the brush the four hunters could see the gigantic bear, the bear was so white that it seemed almost naked, void of fur to them, and the swift chase was on with the hunters in hot pursuit.
The bear ran and ran all day to evade the hunters, who never gave up the chase. The giant bear Nyah-gwaheh was so large it was easy to follow due to the destruction it left in its fleeing wake. The bear climbed higher and higher up the mountain slope with the hunters in close pursuit. Finally the fat lazy hunter became so tired he faked a fall and twisted his ankle just to get some rest. The other three brothers would have no delay, two of the brothers at a time took turns carrying the lazy brother without losing a step, and the other brother led the party carrying the spears for the others. The brave little dog stayed on the heels of the giant bear nipping at its tail as the bear tried to stay ahead.
It was getting dark when both parties reached the top of the mountain, and they were all growing tired. By now the fat lazy brothers had rested enough that he grabbed his spear and took off ahead of his tired brothers. As the giant bear grew too tired to run any further he turned in his tracks to put an end to the little dog nuisance, when suddenly the rested hunter drove forward and thrust his spear through the heart of the giant bear killing him dead. Believing they had defeated the magical powers of the great giant bear, they cut him up and began to feast on its fire-roasted flesh there on the mountaintop, dripping bear grease created sparks in the fire.
As they sat back filled with roasted bear, one of the brothers looked down at his feet and saw small sparkling lights in the darkness far below his feet. To their amazement they discovered they where not on a mountaintop at all, the powerful magic of the bear had led them up a strange trail and into the world of the sky. At this time the little dog began to yap as the pile of bear bones began to come alive, the hunters quickly grabbed their spears and began chasing the great bear across the sky.
Legend has it that each autumn the hunters chase the great bear across the sky until it is kill once again, as they cut up the bear for their meal the blood falls down from the heavens coloring the leaves of the maple tree scarlet while the fat drippings from their fire turns the grass to white.
They say you can read the story in the skies. As each autumn comes the stars in the heavens forming the Big Dipper is positioned upside down with its bowl representing the great bear upside down and dead, the stars in the handle represent the hunters and the small dog in pursuit the bear. When spring arrives the Big Dipper can be seen upright in the heavens representing the great bear turned upright reborn and being chase once again across the heavens by the hunters and their special little tracking dog.

The Land of Blue Smoke Treasury

These pictures were taken in early November a few days after the first snow fall in the Smoky Mountains. The leaves still sparkle like jewels of brilliant colors.  Fall foliage is nature's treasure and a gift to all of us. It only lasts for a few weeks and I have to wait another 12 months before I will behold such brilliance again.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Southern Cotton Fields and A Remembrance for Veterans 'In Flander Fields'

These pictures are of Cotton fields off of Hwy 82 in South Georgia in November.  The cotton looks like a blanket of white snow.  I had to stop the car when I saw the vast white landscape of the fields.  My grandfather Smith had a cotton farm in Alabama and he worked his entire life in cotton mills as did several of my uncles and aunts.  My parents worked in cotton mills when I was preschool age and elementary age.  I remember my mother coming home with cotton stuck in her hair.  It was hard work and she was tired and sleepy all the time.  The BBC drama 'North and South' has played on Public Broadcasting several times and the drama series reminder me of what it was like for my parents and me living in drafted cotton mill houses with river rats running under my bed during the night.  My young parents worked the second and third shifts which is evening and night shifts and I did not see them during the week, only on weekends.  Our cotton mill houses were located close to the Chattahoochee River.  I played on that river bank many times and have fond memories of playing with my friends who were as poor as me.  We played baseball with sticks and plums and used old tree stumps as bases.  It was fun improvising games off the river bank.  I am the granddaughter and daughter of cotton mill workers.  I am very proud of their perseverance and determination to work diligently so they could offer their children a better life. 

The cotton mills are now closed and converted to stores, restaurants, college classrooms and museums but I will never forget the hard struggles of the families who worked those mills.  I remember standing in line at the Community center to receive free polio shots.  I never was vaccinated as a child because my parents could not afford it. As a result, I was often sick and had every childhood disease of the day.  Due to poor health and illness, I was hospitalized several times and I wonder who footed the bills.  I did not see a dentist until I was 13 years old and it was through the free services of the health department and all he could do was pulled my tooth because he was not allowed to fill teeth for cavities.  My grandmother made my school clothes out of flour sacks and fabric that she purchased in a country grocery store.  I'm not complaining because when I look back, I was active, happy, and had a creative imagination and the greatest treasure a child can have:  Love and the majestic outdoors as my playground. 

The image is from the BBC  North and South mini series 2004.  The swirling cotton in the air was typical of the cotton mills of the south where my young parents worked. I still have memories of cotton all over my mom's hair and clothes.  

As I have remember my childhood, I still live in a free society with privileges and rights that gives me hope for our future that many in our world do not have so I want to honor and remember veterans for their bravery and sacrifices. Their stories need to be told.  They must never be forgotten.

For Veterans Day a poem by John McCrea

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Following the death of his friend - Alexis Helmer - during the Second Battle of Ypres, Major John McCrae (a Canadian medical doctor from Guelph, Ontario) wrote "In Flanders Fields." 
McCrae's poem was published in the British magazine, Punch, in December of 1915.  It was soon printed elsewhere, including the United States (then contemplating whether to join the war).
During the late afternoon of April 22, 1915, the Second Battle of Ypres began.  (The First Battle of Ypres took place during the autumn of 1915.)  The Second Battle produced mass casualties:  Finally, after four days of severe fighting, most of the Canadian forces were withdrawn on 26 April [1915]. About 6000 officers and men of the Canadian Division had been killed, wounded, captured, or had simply disappeared.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Marquette Serenity

These pictures were taken driving around Lake Superior outside of Marquette.  The color, lines and shapes of the images surprise me.  There is a feeling of a still vastness with distinct shades of gray waters and blue skies.

Starrs Mill and Waterfall

The red-painted Starr’s Mill, in Fayette County just a mile south of Peachtree City, is one of the most historic, picturesque and famously photographed sites in the state. The Mill sits along what was once a portion of the old McIntosh Trail, a famous Indian trail that ran from the Ocmulgee River on the eastern border of Butts County in Georgia onward to Alabama and beyond. Starr’s Mill has been featured in numerous magazines as well as the movie "Sweet Home Alabama” starring Reese Witherspoon. Starrs Mill is an Unincorporated community in Fayette County, Georgia, United States. It is centered at Georgia State Route 85 and Georgia State Route 74. We actually passed the entrance because it is a very small community. I included photos that you cannot find on the Internet or brochures about Starrs Mill. I have included the surrounded area as well as the friendly ducks.

When the Sand Blows

The wind was so strong the sand was blowing across the sand dunes down the beach.  The sand is very fine and my hair and face was covered.

A Chilly First Day of November


 It was a very windy and chilly November 1st on the beach.  I did not expect this colder climate so soon.  This was the stages of a November morning sunrise.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Big Bay Lighthouse



Big Bay Lighthouse was converted into a Bed and Breakfast Inn and stands on a tall bluff
over a rocky point near Big Bay, Michigan, approximately 24 miles northwest of Marquette on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  The grounds are beautiful but you will need a defense against the attack of black flies.  Thousands of black flies swarmed around us the entire time.  It was miserable fighting them off my face, arms and back.  When we got in the car, 100's flew into the car and it took a lot of swatting their bloody bodies all over the windows and dashboard and strong winds to get rid of them.  I had at least 50 bites so I do not recommend this bed and breakfast during the summer months when black flies thrive.  Mosquitoes hatch everywhere there's standing water. Black flies bedevil campers and hikers along Lake Superior, especially in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Black flies are hardest to avoid, since they attack the face and are nearly invisible except when they multiple in the thousands then you see a black cloud following you!