Weekly Photo Challenge: Optimism

In the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge, we were challenged to reflect on Optimism.
Specifically, “How do you fuel the fires of optimism?”

The other night, as the winter day seemed particularly short and dreary, I climbed atop my bicycle in the warm indoors, attached to a trainer that allows me to travel no further than my imagination can take me this time of year. About 35 minutes into my ride, my brain became more complacent than my legs. I reached over to grab my iPhone, switched from the MapMyRide app that was faithfully ticking away with nothing more than time, likely anxious as to why it wasn’t being allowed to log a more interesting route of progress. After thumbing myself into boredom with a few other apps, I noticed a new email had popped up a few hours earlier in my special email account – the one that has, as of late, been reserved for receiving polite rejection letters on my finished novel, Rolling River. (Granted, I’m convinced there’s a steeper learning curve to writing query letters than the actual book, itself. Yet, I’m also determined to woman-up and keep at it for the sake of all my wonderful friends who continually encourage me to persist.)

Lo and behold, I had something completely unexpected and earth-shattering happen! I opened an email response to my query that began with, “Sounds intriguing!  Please send the full manuscript + synopsis as attachments to my direct email.  I look forward to reading your material.” By the second reading (the one where I realized this wasn’t just an encouraging “this isn’t quite right for me, but best wishes” response), I nearly toppled off my trainer! Seriously. I forgot I was clipped in, as I tried to climb off to greedily gobble up those delicious words again.

Let’s be clear. I understand that, as of this moment, this doesn’t mean my book will be published. But this event is still magnanimous, as I won’t ever forget the literary agent who gave me that gift of optimism. (I may surely share her name at some point in the future, but I won’t put that pressure on her today.) She will always be my first non-rejection hopeful response – the person (beyond those who already loved me) to say that my project had enough value to earn her attention. It was a mountain-top experience, to be certain!

And I surely yearn for mountain-top experiences. Admittedly, I’ve had some colder-weather ones lately; but this photo from Grandfather Mountain this past July (in near 100-degree heat) best brings the appropriate words to mind when it comes to climbing on toward your challenge:

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So how have your fires of optimism been fueled lately?

Extraordinary Sunrise: Fire on the Mountain

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “(Extra)ordinary.”

I’ll admit it. When I step out onto my front porch each morning, I have a beautiful view. It’s the main amenity that drew me to this home. And I know when I look to my right each and every early morning, I’m going to see the sun crest over the dip in the foothills in some form or another. In that respect, it’s an ordinary, daily event in my life.

Yet some glorious mornings, Mr. Sun wishes to attract my undivided attention more intensely than others. On this particular morning, I have to say, his show was stop-in-my-tracks spectacular. He truly dazzled me.

Fire on the Mountain

Fire on the Mountain

What extraordinary thing (or person) managed to catch your eye today that (who) you might otherwise have missed?

Beauty in Every Season

I got together yesterday for a group hike with some high school friends. Four of us made it (plus the dog), which wasn’t a bad showing for such short notice. Of course, a few years have passed since we’ve passed one another in those hallowed high school hallways. Somewhere along the way, we entered another season in our lives. But just as all seasons come with a purpose, we should be purposeful in how we live out each one.

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One day we’ll be in our winter years (if all goes well). Winter’s all too often known for its drabness, its barrenness, its lonely appearance. All too many people live their winter years out like that too, bundled away with no desire to be hit by a little fresh air. That’s part of the reason for the hiking/outdoor high school club venture – to prepare for that cold snap before it arrives – by surrounding ourselves with the warmth of friends. All that being said…

Yesterday’s fun challenge (besides being able to make the 7-mile hike – especially without getting lost, as we were exploring a couple of unknown trails on a system), was to find something beautiful to share on our winter hike. 

My hiking colleagues outdid themselves in sharing many lovely things about themselves along the way. But I thought I’d show you just a couple of the beautiful images that we captured on camera to share with others.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle

The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge is to share twinkling lights.


 

Here’s our new Christmas tree that we did simply in my favorite theme of all – Nature.
And though Nature comes equipped with her own set of twinkling lights which are much more impressive than these, I hope my tree gives a nod to my love of her gift of starry nights.

2014 Tree

 

Photography 101: Treasure

The Daily Post asked today:

What’s your treasure? Perhaps you found a coat at the thrift store like the one your grandfather wore, or took a once-in-a-lifetime trip through the Himalaya. Maybe you treasure your children, or your cat, or a quiet space in the woods. Show us an image that represents a treasure to you.

Tip: Get close to your subject — either use the zoom function in your camera, if it has one, or physically move closer to it.


I treasure being outdoors, especially on a crisp, fall day.

This weekend, I went hiking around the Ocoee River, where the 1996 Centennial whitewater events were held. I treasure the Ocoee River – but its levels are down for the winter. I treasure the time spent talking with a companion as I hike – but my faithful companion, my Weimaraner, could only wag his tail back. So I took a little time to treasure the details more closely than I might have otherwise done during my times there before.

559632_10152586413233227_845888608632364385_nI’ve always liked the bridge that crosses the Middle Ocoee section, but this is the first time I’ve ever studied the construction of its sign’s suspension. I liked my zoomed angle of the suspension cables highlighted by the signage.

A full side view of the bridge taken in early Spring.

The last time I hiked up o15901_10152586413238227_7195704398622400204_nnto the ridge that overlooks the river, I took a picture of this empty bench. On this trip, I took time to notice that it wasn’t empty at all. It was holding many people’s memories, in fact, of when they’d sat here, treasuring their time in this place.

A passing view of the seemingly empty bench, taken in early Spring.

Surely seeing the world through a different set of lenses (or sometimes just a different perspective) makes it a more interesting & lovely place.

Now there’s a thought to treasure…

Coker Creek & Conasauga Falls October Hike

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Directions from Chattanooga area:
Coker Creek Falls (about 7 or so in the series) & Conasauga Falls are up near Tellico, but Coker Creek trailhead is tricky to find. Go up 411 through Benton & Etowah, turn right toward Tellico, find the Coker Creek Welcome Ctr, pass it on the left on 68, go to Ironsburg Rd on Rt, Duckett Ridge on Lt (only marked with a #2 on post), follow the gravel access road to the sign in on the left, continue until parking at the trailhead. Trail is supposed to be 6 miles – wasn’t cleared all the way, but you’ll have access down the creek for plenty of falls. You can catch Conasauga Falls by road sign on your way out (another gravel access road off 68 – 3 miles to trailhead) – quick hike in. Short Day Hikes with big rewards. (Stop at the switchbacks if you don’t like climbs.)

P.S. I also caught another example of light refraction (did you spot it?), which was the theme for this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge.

Related Post: The Conasauga River (not to be confused with the Conasauga Creek, where Conasauga Falls is). Here’s also a good link that explains some of the geographical & name differences & similarities – Namesake: Conasauga Falls

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The Refractive Power of Waterfalls

The easiest way to explain refraction is the bending of a wave, rather than it being directly reflected back in a straight path. (For us, we can see this with light waves.)

The Weekly Photo Challenge just happens to be on that topic: Refraction.

So let me refract your attention…
Anyone who knows me also knows how much I love hiking, waterfalls, butterflies & rainbows. (Note that I outgrew adding unicorns to the list.) But none of these compare to me nearly as much as the love I have for my family.

I believe I’m going to be able to work in all of these themes into this one post – without it being too much of a challenge (again, except for the unicorns)! 😉

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Waterfalls are often good places to spot the refractive power of the bending of the light spectrum. And you can see that I found my treasures at the end of this waterfall rainbow!

 

 

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Another North Carolina waterfall that we ran across on a short hike together – more like a 1/2 mile stroll in flip-flops. (Wait to you see what was enjoying the water being refracted from the rocks at the bottom!)

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Tiny water droplets surround the blue mountain butterflies, who are enjoying the refreshing splash from the base of the falls, as each drop is refracted (along with glimmers of pyrite) from the sun’s rays and the shape of the camera lens. (The sunlight is actually also causing the blue from the upper part of the wings to be cast through, reflecting blue onto the otherwise brown side, as the butterflies fold up their wings.)

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More water droplets depict refractive qualities, bouncing from the ground and out of the camera frame – much like the majority of the butterflies, now also making refractive pathways. (Notice the one in mid flight – towards top-middle of the frame – and how its underside camouflages it when its wings are folded & the light isn’t reflected through it, by blending in with the ground covering.)

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And someone has been refracted from his upright position here, proving that tickling may be the most intense refractive power of all!!!! (Who knows? It could’ve even crippled Superman worse than Kryptonite!)