Mysterious Mountains Below

About a week ago I flew out to San Francisco to attend the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Spring National meeting. These meetings are always a great combination of sight seeing, visiting new cities, networking, and learning more about the field of chemistry. I was attending the meeting to give my first oral presentation (at this type of conference) and present a poster about my current research and promote my latest publication in the Journal of Cheminformatics.

There is a major downside to attending these conferences: They typically involve flying. Personally, I would rather drive to any destination than fly. It never fails that when I have to fly there will be a delay (unless, I book the earliest possible flight). On top of the inevitable delays, flying requires a lot of rushing to arrive early so that you can sit and wait which isn’t the most satisfying feeling.

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The return flight home was delayed, so here’s a classic staring through the window at the airplanes picture

However, there is one aspect to flying that I absolutely love which involves the window seat. I love looking out the window and seeing the landscape change beneath me. It is the only time when you get to see mountains, oceans, cities, and plains all within a few hours. There’s  a certain enticing mystery about the earth below that makes the actual flight time pass by rather quickly. Besides, flying over the Rocky Mountains provides great inspiration for a writers heart.

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From the airplane the Rockies almost look like big hills. Almost.

* * *

Mysterious Mountains Below

I see you there
Down, far, far below
Snow-capped peaks
robed in brown.
From here,
you don’t seem
so big.
Or majestic.
No, from here
I see sand piles
Whose tops
are colored white.

But,
if viewed from
the ground;
how rugged
must you be?
As you tower
high above the sea.
Whose snow ridden
peaks stand there
unobtainable to those
such as me.

No, from here,
inside this plane,
you are but specks.
Specks, capped with white
and wrapped in brown.
Small dots, scattered
upon the ground.
Such sights,
are seen briefly
As soon,
your majestic peaks
will lie, hidden,
beneath the clouds.

* * *

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From the flight home. Not all of the mountain peaks had snow.
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I’m not sure which city this is, but it certainly was beautiful at night (assuming you don’t mind the light pollution)

A Beaver, Our Local Lumberjack

Athena and I have a standard walking path for her morning walk before I leave for work. This path wraps around a small man-made pond and has several dirt walkways that branch off from the Greenway. Our favorite dirt path goes along the edge of the pond between a cluster of small pines. When we first moved to Raleigh the pines here were extremely dense, but sense that time a beaver has taken up residency in the surrounding area. His favorite trees to chop down are pine trees.

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No longer in the shade
No longer isolated
No longer, lost in the pines.
Instead, the land is open
and I see across the pond.
Where apartments are my sky-
line.
There upon the ground, I see
the remains, where trees once stood
is now a shoreline covered
in stumps.
Whose points, no man could construct
but, were built instead by the
chomp of a beaver’s teeth.

Bike Tire in a Tree

Michelle and I were taking the dog for a walk the other day when we stumbled across the most random thing hanging in a tree.

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Surprise! Someone had ruined their bike tire and felt the best place to hang it was in a tree. When we saw this I had a mix of different emotions. Clearly, I was shocked to see a tire hanging in a tree (it would be weird to expect a tire in a tree). But, then I my feelings were bouncing back and forth between ‘this looks kind of cool’ to ‘why the heck would you leave your tire in the woods!’ Michelle and I tend to get a little cranky when we see people leaving trash or broken parts in the wood.

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Bike tire in a tree

what a sight to see!

Never, did I expect

to find amidst the green

black rubber hanging

forgotten from a limb.

Carried in,

but not back

out again.

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Spring

Even though winter has put up a valiant fight, spring is finally starting to take over. The mornings still get cold, but the sun stays out longer and the days are slightly warmer. The transition between the seasons can be both wonderful and torturous.

When spring arrives it brings back the birds who grace us with their songs and occasionally turn our patios into nesting grounds. Or at least, a bird has turned our fake patio tree into a temporary nest.

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There are even some eggs inside, which means in a few weeks Michelle and I will be able to listen to the baby birds chirp while we sip our morning coffee on the swing. (Don’t worry, I made sure not to disturb the nest when taking these photos).

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Spring.
A time of new life
When winter’s icy paws
loosen their chilling hold.
The sun returns to us
brightening our days
warming our hearts.

Spring
A time of new life
Flowers bloom, amidst the thaw
Trees slowly begin to bud
Bird’s nest to raise their young.
Molding winter’s day
into Spring’s new art.

A Frosted Bloom

A Frosted Bloom

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The vibrant purple mixed with the icy white snow perfectly captures the strangeness of this March NC snowfall

Frozen water
falls from the sky
a natural
beauty, I once
missed.

Falling upon
the greenest grass
March has ever
known. Blanketed
in white.

Spring no longer
blooms all around
with fresh petals
frosted beneath
snowflakes.

* * *

North Carolina isn’t known for handling snow or ice very well. Heck, if there’s even the threat of snow it is likely to cause a State of Emergency to be declared in the rare event that we do have a snowfall. Some years the rarity of snow is enough to make a former Michigander wish for the snow. This winter has been a very strange winter for NC as February has been one of the warmest on record (and the temperature seems to change from 30’s to 80’s daily).

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You can’t see it, but these petals are actually covered in snow. The joys of using a GoPro to capture photos is learning you missed the epic-ness of a shot

That is what made waking up this morning extremely strange as I discovered snow covering the new spring grass (in March!). First, I thought this was a result of lack of sleep due to the Daylight Saving’s time change, but Athena and I quickly discovered this wasn’t the case. It was really snowing!

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I love snow covered trees! Especially green pines.

Athena and I went on quick adventure to play in the snow, but those pictures and that story are for another post. If I ever manage to get caught up on my actual work and editing photos/videos I will upload those. This post is actually my response to Dutch Goes the Photo’s Tuesday Photo challenge: Bloom. When I saw this theme on Tuesday, I thought there was no chance of me capturing a great picture showing the birth of spring or of a flower.

However, I was wrong as this morning provided the perfect photo opportunity. The contrast between the blooming season of Spring and the snow answered the photo prompt challenge exquisitely (and inspired a little poem to boot!)

I hope you enjoy the photos and poem.

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A classic snow covered bridge!

Nostalgia

When I first saw that the Tuesday Photo Challenge for this week was nostalgia my initial thought was ‘How am I supposed to capture a photo that makes one wistful for the past?’ But, then I forgot that this weekend I would be celebrating my 26th birthday. What more do you need to inspire feelings of reflection?

How about a camping trip in February! Yes, I said a camping trip in February. Here in North Carolina this has been one of the warmest winter months in history, so Michelle and I decided to go on a camping exploration to celebrate my birthday. Combine these two events together and you have the perfect recipe for self-reflection and longing for the past with simpler times.

Here are a few teaser photos from our trip (a full write up will be posted after I edit some video and photos) with a short poem.

For this post I decided to use three photos with three photo-filters applied. My first step in editing a photo is to apply an auto filter. This adjusts color, contrast, etc. After I get a feel for the photo after adjusting color contrast I begin to play with other filters. For these photos I felt that using a vignette or black and white filter best captured the feeling of nostalgia. I am constantly amazed at how applying simple filters can completely change the story a particular photo is telling us.

I hope you enjoy these photos and poems.

* * *

My favorite part about camping is campfire coffee in the morning! There isn’t a better pairing of any two things!

Maybe I spoke too soon about perfect pairings. Can you really beat drinking a cup-of-joe while hanging in a hammock? Don’t forget the sun is shining and the birds are singing!

What is the one combination that is better than any cup of coffee? How about the great outdoors and a dog. Athena’s favorite spot was posting up outside our tent.

* * *

Simpler Times

I long for simpler times,

Times free of burden,

Times free of worry.

I longingly look into my past,

Before Facebook

                     and social media.

A past filled with make-believe

                            and imaginary friends

Where my games involved the woods

campfires,

s’mores,

and trail rides.

I long for simpler times,

Where all I needed

was the forest

To feel God’s love

That is all around.

* * *

Sadly, I wasn’t able to edit and post these sample pictures before the Tuesday photo round-up. Check out some of the great interpretations people had for the theme nostalgia! 

My Shadow

My last two mountain bike rides have had plenty of sunlight which resulted in a couple of opportunities for me to race my shadow while on the trails (Lake Crabtree County Park and the Carolina North Forest Trail system). It also inspired a little poem below. I hope you enjoy! 

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This was taken during a ride at Lake Crabtree County Park using a GoPro Hero+

I see you there, stretching across the ground

Only a few yards ahead, but forever out of reach

The harder I work and the more effort I exert,

So you do too. Grinding away, as much as I do.

While the sun is out, you are too

Sometimes you are ahead (with the sun on our backs)

Sometimes you are behind (when we face the sun)

But, you are never ahead or behind, by very much

However, when the sun goes down or hides behind a cloud

You’ll give in and won’t be found. And who then,

My fair-weather friend, will I race?

Without my shadow upon the ground

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This was taken during a ride at the Carolina North Forest (CNF) trail system using a GoPro Hero+

Solitude

This past Tuesday was an absolutely beautiful day in North Carolina. The sun was shining and everything had the smell of spring arriving in February. Unfortunately, this warm spell was short lived, but Michelle and I knew we had to get out and enjoy the moment. We took our Hammocks and walked the Greenway behind our apartment until we found the perfect spot to hang out. Suspended between the trees, we both caught up on some reading while Athena (the dog) rummaged through the leaves. Needless to say, it was the perfect ending to the day. While we were lying there, it occurred to me that the setting sun and surrounding scenery captured the Weekly Photo Challenge of Solitude perfectly.  

Amidst the world’s noise,

It is hard for me to listen,

I focus on the earthly,

lost in news headlines

and daily struggles.

I forget, to breathe

In

and out.

I forget, to seek peace.

* * *

Amidst the world’s noise

It is hard for me listen,

To your guiding words

Of love and salvation.

But, as we hang here

Under the trees,

You speak

And I hear.

Solitude, has been found.

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This past Tuesday the sun was out and it was too warm to pass up an opportunity of being outside suspended between the trees.
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A shot of the setting sun during our Hammock adventure.

Names Carved Upon a Tree

I had originally taken these photos for the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge, Names, but I realized after taking the shots that this was the challenge from two weeks ago! Oh well, I still think they are some pretty cool photos. 

Recently, Michelle and I went on a hike at Occoneechee Mountain located in Hillsborough North Carolina. We had a wonderful time on this hike and at one point we found a quiet scene along the Eno River. There was bench overlooking the water with one large tree adding an accent to the view. However, this large tree had multiple names carved into its trunk. Some, might say these names add to the atmosphere of the place as couples left tribute to their love across this tree. While others, might think the atmosphere ruined as the tree stands there in scars.

Names Carved Upon a Tree

Deep into the bark,

I dig my knife,

or my keys

the sharpest thing

that i can find.

Deep, deep into the bark,

I will carve our names

Outlined by a heart

To show our love

that is unending.

Will be together always?

Maybe

Maybe not, but

At this time,

my heart cries yes.

So, Here I carve

our names

A token to our love.

A token that

this tree must bear

For all to see

Long after

Our love departs.

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The bench that quietly sits over the Eno River
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A ground view of the tree from the base to the top. There were a dozen different names of various couples who had visited this tree over the years carved into its bark.
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Another angle of this tree with a close up on one of the names. A Sepia filter was applied to this photo.

Invitation

 

 

Michelle and I recently ordered some hammocks from Fox Outdoor Sports and decided to test them out this weekend. Behind our apartment there is a Greenway around a small lake that has several wooded spots you can stop to enjoy the tranquility of the surrounding scenery. This Greenway allows us to forget that we are really in the center of busy city. The poem that follows was inspired by this hammocking adventure and was written in response to the daily word prompt, invitation. The two photos were taken using a GoPro and I feel really capture the ambience of the location. 

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Here we hang,

Suspended

            Hanging from

            Tree to tree

Beneath the

            Lofty pine.

Invited by

            Ambience,

            Of this place.

* * *

Here we hang,

Arm-in-arm

Below a

            Canopy.

Sky, painted

            Blue, brushed with

clouds of white.

Invited by

            Soul’s delight.

* * *

Here we hang,

Lost in love,

Ignorant,

            To the sounds

            That surround

Unaware,

            Of patrons

            Passing by

Invited by,

            Solitude.

* * *

Here we hang,

By hammock

            Lost in our

            Pseudo woods.

Forgotten,

            Is the city

            That surrounds.

Invited by

            God’s good grace

An ambience

            Given this place.

         hammockshot