Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway – Squared

Earlier this year I was thinking that I would enjoy doing a little side trip on a portion of the 469 mile long Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway on our way south. It is such a beautiful drive but it would mean staying out an extra night and I have become pandemic anxious again after being exposed to the virus by a vaccinated friend who got covid-19 from an unvaccinated friend and having a 41 year old unvaccinated nephew die of covid-19.

The next best thing is to go back to photos from our 2014 side trip where we drove 300 miles of the Parkway. I get so much enjoyment from visiting these past trips that I decided to share a couple of my favorites for Becky’s October Squares.

Seen Better Days: Barns

Manitoulin Island, Canada

I was immediately pulled into Tina’s Len-Artist Photography Challenge: Seen Better Days. Maybe I can related because my body has seen better days. I love photographing barns and the barns that catch my attention have changed over the past 12 years. I started wanting to photograph old, falling down barns, then I was more attracted to barns with unique architectural features or color, then I enjoyed photographing working barns, and now I find my favorite barns are those that have character. Maybe that same kind of character I attribute to my body; warn out from years of good use but still serviceable and maybe can be patched up a bit with proper care. These categories of barns aren’t mutually exclusive as I’m driving down dirt roads but as I have gotten more photography time under my belt (that has gotten a bit bigger) I have gotten more selective. Here are some of my favorites from over the years.

Vermont, U.S.
Prince Edward Island, Canada
Down a Dirt Road in Michigan

This next barn was taken this past week as I was going down quiet country roads looking for fall color. I saw the beautiful doors, put on the breaks, and did a U turn. I have been noticing in our travels through Michigan this summer that many barns are getting renewed with this sheet siding. It doesn’t have the patina and character of wooden boards, but it preserves barns for another generation or two.

Love those doors!

After I took the photos I wanted, I had to turn around and there was a drive to another house close by. I was excited because this also gave me an excellent opportunity to photograph the barn from another angle without drawing attention by noticeably trespassing. This barn had truly seen better days before the owners decided to give it some hope for the future. Is this a lesson for those of us who are struggling with the impact of living in aging bodies while our minds are saying, “Wouldn’t it be fun to…”? Maybe it just reminds us to “patch, patch, patch.”

My last barn was chosen just because it made me smile. I don’t remember the photograph and have no idea where I took it. It is dated 2014 and the file is named Amish country, encompassing a large area to the south of where I live. The slight tilt (didn’t straighten with editing) and the architectural features make it seem slightly inebriated. I wonder if Moonshine had been made in this barn at some time in it’s history?

Autumn is in the Air

Yes, autumn is in the air, not yet the riot of color we will have in a couple of weeks, but as I drive through the countryside I see the subtle changes that have taken place that say summer is over. My favorite places are the wetlands that have been left uncultivated. It is there that I get the first hints of each new season. Many of the small ponds are covered with thick algae and this color always brings a smile to my face. A daughter calls the green I love on my public room walls “pond scum green.” I have so many of these little memories of family life that bring me joy now that I am in the (late?) autumn of my life.

The colors of early autumn in these wetlands are subtle but taken together create a wonderful palette. Where I took these photos earlier this week, the goldenrod and white asters were scattered in abundance.

Most of the cattails were still their beautiful brown but a few were bursting with abundant hope for the future. Maybe I need to remember them when I hit those moments of “covid fatigue” and burst out my hope for a healthy and social future.

I moved from my favorite marsh and started roaming down the less traveled east/west roads, looking for scenes of autumn color. The color is mostly in the small bushes and wildflowers on country roads, although as we ran our errands in town yesterday, I saw many trees that were starting to color up.

Frequently sumac is early to change into its most brilliant coat of color. I found this one that is in the process of changing. Look at all the various colors – truly a coat of many colors.

I found some small patches of color that are “picture perfect.” I love when color and composition come together in a way that pleases my eye.

With all the small family farms in my countryside, the crops will always reflect our progressions through the seasons. Last spring was really crazy with unseasonal periods of heat and cold interspersed so farmers had a long period between plantings of corn fields. This early gap is being repeated this fall as some fields were harvested a couple of weeks ago and others are still standing, some even showing lingering green.

I had a whole week of fun putting together this post for Amy’s Lens-Artist Challenge: Colors of Autumn.

A Perfect Foggy Bottom Marsh

On Monday I decided that Wednesday morning I would go out photographing the fall color in the marshy areas along country roads close to where we live. I slept a little later (7:30) than I had wanted and almost decided not to go but decided I needed to go out even though the sun may be a little higher in the sky than desirable. I needed to go out because I hadn’t gone down early morning dirt roads since Julie, my photography partner, moved away two years ago. I’ve been afraid, I’ve procrastinated, I’ve slept in too late, I’ve decided to have a second cup of coffee, it was too hot, it was too cold. The bottom line, though, is I’ve been afraid to go out alone – and I’ve missed the times of solitude Julie and I shared. I’ve missed the joy of the hunt for the perfect subject with the perfect light, and hopefully the perfect settings on my camera.

It was a beautiful, cool (temp in low 50’s F), end-of-September morning with light fog and no breeze. There isn’t much color in the trees yet, just a few branches here and there, but the earth is definitely telling me that here, close to 45 degree latitude in the northern U.S., the vegetation is preparing for winter’s dormancy.

I was thinking this morning that I live in two residential locations during the year, southern Michigan and southern Florida, that were carved out of swampland. The first Europeans to walk this area of Michigan, mostly surveyors, described it as a mosquito-infested place that was uninhabitable. And the land I live on in Florida was raised up from the Everglades – a very wide (a hundred miles wide), shallow, slow-moving fresh-water river moving over grasslands, around pine, cypress, and Live Oak strands, and through mangroves along the ocean coasts. Southern Florida has so many mosquitos that they have a State Mosquito Commissioner and they have alligators. But these swamps are absolutely beautiful at all times of the year. I search them out and am working on capturing this beauty that I see.

As the sun got higher the fog dissipated, but I had plenty of time to fill my camera disc with the beauty that was feeding my soul. During the summer months photography becomes more difficult when the sun gets high in the sky but between now and early June the sun is riding lower in the southern sky and is soft and mellow.

I had a wonderful time on my first solo outing and plan on doing a couple more before we head south. My time photographing nature filled all my needs that I treasured with Julie, except I really missed her quiet, gentle presence and fun conversation. I also confirmed that I really love my mirrorless Nikon Z fc even though I don’t have a good zoom lens. I took my older Nikon along and used it to take photos at the spot that I took the photos for this post but realized I wasn’t as happy with using the camera and deleted most of the photos I took.

I continued down back country road for over an hour more, capturing color that I’ll be posting for the Lens-Artist Challenge. Stay tuned.

And the Circle went…

And the circle went gong…
And the circle went bright…
And the circle went turn, turn, turn…
And the circle went round and round…
And the circle went, went, went, went….

I’m having fun with Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Circles and Wheels.