Mountain Medicine

Well, not really mountains, but the foothills in Tryon, North Carolina. After so long feeling constrained by the threat of COVID19, it was with joy that I hit the road this weekend with two girlfriends to spend two nights in a country creekside cabin. The area had had a lot of rain over the preceding few days, so the creeks were torrents, and waterfalls cascaded exuberantly over the rocks, sending drenching spray into the spring air. What a refreshing for the soul, and what a blessing.

The Drakensberg Mountains

Searching for inspiration in a dry and dusty desert (photographically speaking), I revisited archived image folders of far away places. These memories are particularly poignant. My mom and I were spending a few days in the South African Drakensberg mountain area, and I persuaded her to accompany me on a helicopter ride to do some aerial photography. She was 87 years old at the time, and in the beginning stages of a bout with Shingles, but she gamely acquiesced, and so off into the sky we flew. I was impressed with her spirit of adventure, since she was very obviously nervous at the prospect but threw caution to the wind for the sake of the experience.

Mum on a 8,000ft plateau where the helicopter landed for breakfast

This is a magnificent mountain range, spanning 600 miles and towering over 10,000 ft. in height. The translation of Drakensberg is “Dragon’s Mountains”, and our family spent many vacations in this area when we were children, hiking, horse-riding, and swimming in the clear mountain streams.

Bird Key, Stono Inlet

Because of current rambling limitations, I have been going back and re-editing some of my older images. Sometimes I am sloppy with editing if I have a batch of hundreds to get through, so it pays to go back and try and adjust exposures, color, and extract the most detail possible from these aerial images. Here are a few of Bird Key, just off Folly Beach and Kiawah in the Stono inlet, taken in March of 2016. Soon (if not already), it will be a hive of activity and full of nesting shore birds of all descriptions.

Stormy Skies over Charleston

Last weekend, the South experienced an almost unprecedented onslaught of tornadoes spawned by severe thunderstorms that swept through the area. This past weekend, more severe weather was predicted, and so we all hunkered down, preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. Mercifully, there were no tornadoes, just rain and some lightning. I visited a couple of my favorite city viewpoints to watch the clouds roll in, and captured these just before it started to rain. I do love Charleston!

I hate to whine, but …

So I’m beginning to lose count of how many weeks we have been dealing with COVID 19. I’m trying very hard not to whine. I know that many people have been so much more negatively impacted than me. Some have lost loved-ones, some are still fighting for their lives, many have lost their livelihoods …. Even so, we resist change, and this is definitely different. I miss my friends. I miss my family. I miss the beach and the county parks. I miss my favorite restaurants, and I’ve had to cancel a trip to Ireland that I had been looking forward to for months. Seriously, I’m not whining. Well, maybe just a little and I’m ashamed of that. Venting may be a better choice of word. We will get through this and we will learn from this. Not sure what, but there are always lessons to be learned if we will be open to the process. I have noticed that these types of crises seem to bring out the very best and the very worst in people. I do believe that when this is over, I will certainly have a greater appreciation for the ability to take a spontaneous road trip or jump on a flight to visit family in another state. In the meantime, I do pray for my family, friends, country, those in leadership in my workplace, church and country. May wisdom, courage, and a priority for the common good prevail!

COVID 19 Cabin Fever

I know it’s not hard (like when men were called up to war) but it’s just plain boring to sit around at home. Besides, I end up eating way too much, just because I bought all these snacks! Anyway, today I resolved to get outdoors, but where? The beaches, county parks, city parks, golf courses are all closed and I’ve walked my neighborhood until I know it better than I want to. So I headed south down Highway 17 and explored the area down Bennetts Point Road, including the Donnelley Wildlife Management area in the Ace Basin. Nice, but the gnats and mosquitos definitely rule out there, and no amount of repellent seemed to have any effect. Plus, as soon as you open your car door, they all fly inside. Aside from all that, it was a good day!

Charleston’s Spring Charm

Well it’s becoming more and more difficult to find places to walk since my regular haunts (beach and county parks) are currently off limits. I understand the reason for this and the caution that needs to be exercised, but it’s a shame that an irresponsible and selfish segment of our community makes it necessary by not being willing to follow guidelines for social distancing. Spoils it for everyone. Anyway, that said, I enjoyed a downtown Charleston walk this morning, free of tour groups and general crowds. Every so often a local would pass by walking a dog or carrying a loaf of bread or cup of coffee. So refreshing. Here are some of the Spring sights that I admired along the way.

Peach blossom season in SC

Every couple of years I like to take a road trip up to the Ridge Spring, Johnston, Monetta areas of South Carolina – huge peach growing country. As with crops everywhere, farmers hold their collective breaths as winter transitions into Spring, praying that a late frost won’t blast all the tender new buds and ruin the new crop. The best orchards are to be found in the backroads. The trees are not particularly attractive, but the blossoms are a sight to behold, and every so often a city girl has to inhale some country air.

Super Moon or Worm Moon Rise

The March 9th full moon (also called the Worm Moon by the Old Farmer’s Almanac) is this year’s second-closest full moon. According to Earthsky.org, these are the distances between Earth and the moon for the three upcoming full moon supermoons; March 9 222,081 miles away, April 8th 221,851 miles away (the closest this year), and May 7th 224,429 miles away. By contrast, the smallest and most distant full moon of the year will fall on October 31st at a distance of 252,380 miles away.

Field Trip with Grandchild #3

This afternoon I picked up my 5 year old granddaughter, Torah for some one-on-one grandma time. When I arrived, she was ready to go in her sassy boots and with purse slung over her shoulder. We headed out to Fresh Fields at Kiawah to the Palmetto Scent Studio to create a unique olfactory sensation. After sniffing most of the overwhelming selection of scents on offer, she decided that “Mango” was her favorite, so the very patient sales assistant then directed her through the process of blending her aerosol perfume, complete with custom, hand-drawn label. That experience was followed by a visit to Ben & Jerry’s which featured a similarly paralyzing array of icecream flavors. We ate the icecream cones by the lake in the sun while keeping an eye on a large alligator sunning himself at a safe distance. This is important stuff, making memories, spending time.

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