Whenever I think about my favorite hiking spots, not only do I remember my favorite trails, but I also remember my favorite trees. How is it, or perhaps more poignantly, why is it that my mind has this need to identify a specific tree in each location? Or, what is it about a given tree that even puts it on my radar? Here are some of my favorite trees from different trails in the Raleigh, NC area:
I’m undecided if it’s uniqueness or a sense-of-art that brackets my tree choices. But, what I do know is that while I’m ‘connected’ with my trees I feel a sense of wonder and joy and freedom. And, I couldn’t tell you a thing about what type of tree any of these are, because in the moment of connecting it’s all about a hearty ooh-ahh feeling rather than a heady bing.com description!
Trees locations (in order of appearance): 1) Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve (Swift Creek Loop Trail), Cary, NC; 2) Umstead State Park, US-70 entrance (Sycamore Trail), Raleigh, NC; 3) Umstead State Park, I-40/Harrison Ave. entrance (Company Mill Trail), Raleigh, NC; 4) Hinshaw Greenway, Cary, NC; and, 5) Lake Crabtree County Park (Lake Trail), Morrisville, NC.
Posted in Let me say THIS about THAT
Tagged Cary, favorite trees, greenways, Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve, hike, Hinshaw Greenway, Lake Crabtree County Park, Leslie Gernon, NC, outdoors, photography, Raleigh, trails, tree photographs, trees, Umstead State Park, walk
On January 1, 2012 I committed to a daily photo gratitude practice – taking and posting (Flickr) outdoor “great-full” photos. My passion has always been the outdoors (mostly nature) so it seemed like a good fit. Now, at the three month mark I decided to take a look back at what this practice has meant to me. Taking pictures as a gratitude practice:
- Makes me so aware of scarcity and abundance - the two ends of a mental teeter-totter. Some days I can’t imagine what is worth taking a picture of (“OMG, why did I commit to this insanity?”); and, some days I can’t imagine ending this practice when the 366th day rolls around (“geez, I could take a picture of a pile of dog poop and be grateful that I didn’t step in it”). After three months, most days are abundant. I’ve learned to take a few extra pictures (my “spares,” so to speak) to turn down the pressure of EVERYDAY, yet in doing so, the small space that opens up allows me to slow down; and, in slowing down I see more; and, in seeing more … well, you know the rest. I rest in the “just right” sweet spot on the teeter-totter between the stress of too few photos and the depleted, disconnected-in-time energy of too many photos.
- Dwarfs the actual importance of any given photo compared with sitting with a photo and allowing it to conjure up feelings, memories and associations. And, it’s from this emotional wellspring that the words get written – so it’s the words that are imbued with positive energy. Then, the photo itself imports that energy – creating a circular buzz-fest of gratitude.
- Gives the “thrill of the quest” an energy of its own. What will I see today that makes my heart soar? When will I see it? Will it take me by surprise, or will I go looking? Will it be of the natural world or the man-made world? I leave myself wide-open for everything; and, I truly live with my camera to honor this anytime-anyplace energy.
- Creates pure magic. I remember two times where this played out. First, was the day I went searching for daffodils and instead came across two feasting vultures and a hunkered down squirrel. I learned that behind the drama of life (the two vultures) is a quieter, more interesting story (the squirrel). Second, was the day I was sans photo and asked the universe for assistance. An “EYE AM” license plate appeared in front of me; and I was then stopped at a railroad crossing. I learned that gratitude has amazing power – my next two times at this rarely used crossing had me waiting for trains. And, I recognized my affinity for license plates (who knew?)!
- Demonstrates that using different camera equipment really matters. On the day of the vultures, I gave up my cell phone camera for my go-with-you-anywhere camera; and, on the day of the turtles I knew I wanted a go-with-you-anywhere camera with a zoom – to feel as if I was on the log with them!
Through this gratitude practice, I see deeply all that is around me. At times, I know that there are things to SEE but not photograph, but never the other way around.
Posted in Everyday spiritual practices
Tagged camera, Cary, gratitude, great-full, Leslie Gernon, nature, NC, outdoors, photo, photograph, photography, picture, Raleigh, spirituality