Point of Interest

I don’t get my gear ready and think, “Wow, I hope I can find some leaves in the ice today!” I tend to come upon things that capture my interest. I have always been drawn to transparency and light. Anything with complimentary colors makes me take a second look. Texture intrigues me.

Sunday I thought I should head over to the mass of daffodils on my hillside when I encountered this – the ice from the top of the birdbath, cast aside and melting into the grass. It stopped me for almost an hour.

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I forgot the daffodils, I know they will still be there on the next sunny day. You have to appreciate ice while it’s here. It melts is fast and then it is gone forever.

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

You know the song.

Since Thanksgiving you’ve heard it a hundred times. Listening to the lyrics it’s not explicitly about Christmas, but it is from a movie we watch during the holidays. The list in the song is not my list. I’m not big on whiskers – I prefer the rest of the kitten. I don’t think I need mittens when using a kettle – it’s all a bit disjointed. Lyrically it’s genius – in practical use it’s not my cup of tea.

So what would my list be? I decided for my 100th post to share the list of things that inspire me behind the lens.

Raindrops on…

Anything.

Naked Lady in the rain

Naked Lady in the rain.

You can see my house inverted in this raindrop

You can see my house inverted in this raindrop.

A newly opened dogwood drenched in the rain

A newly opened dogwood drenched in the rain.

Lilac buds shining after a shower

Lilac buds shining after a shower.

I love redbuds - the first color of spring

I love redbuds – the first color of spring.

I’m not so much into bright copper kettles, but I am fascinated with…

Rust.

This is the rust and patina on my copper fire pit.

This is the rust and patina on my copper fire pit.

This hay rake was in my woods when I bought the house - every surface is beautifully rusted.

This hay rake was in my woods when I bought the house – every surface is beautifully rusted.

This padlock was on the jail in Midas Nevada. The lock spoke to me more than the shack it was attached to.

This padlock was on the jail in Midas Nevada. The lock spoke to me more than the shack it was attached to.

I don’t even know what schnitzel is – it sounds odd to me. I know it’s odd to love…

Dandelions.

I like the delicate structure and I like to find a way to look at them in new ways

I like the delicate structure and I like to find a way to look at them in new ways.

The structure of the actual flower is pretty amazing even before it goes to seed.

The structure of the actual flower is pretty amazing even before it goes to seed.

The substructure is so intricate. I shot this with a manual macro lens from the 70s.

The substructure is so intricate. I shot this with a manual macro lens from the 70s.

I grew up in the desert so the idea of sleigh bells is foreign to me, but door bells make me think of home. I have a strong bent towards…

Sentiment and Kitsch.

I love kitsch and I love it unusual places. I have had lawn flamingoes in the front lawn of every home I have ever owned.

I love kitsch and I love it unusual places. I have had lawn flamingoes in the front lawn of every home I have ever owned.

Keys

These are my Grandpa’s keys. I love shooting things that belonged to someone special.

Purple Glass

My Grandma taught me about purple glass, I love to shoot things that are transparent and have color.

Apricot Pit

My great-grandfather carved this out of a peach pit. I love the surfaces of handmade things like this.

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes. I like snow, but not so much for its photographic opportunities. I prefer…

Spring Flowers

First color on the ground often before the grass starts to green up.

Crocus – the first color on the ground, often before the grass starts to green up.

Cherry Blossoms open skyward

Cherry Blossoms opening skyward captivate me.

Daffodils have amazing color before we even notice them

Daffodils have amazing color before we even notice them.

Lilacs open as the sun hits them - here for too brief a time.

Lilacs open as the sun hits them – here for too brief a time.

My garden fairy planted a few of these a couple of years ago in a spot were there was once a cistern. I love them.

Hyacinths – My garden fairy planted a few of these a couple of years ago in a spot were there was once a cistern. I love them.

Cream colored ponies and dogs biting. I’m not too far off here.  I love the company of…

Dogs.

Sunshine is my Goldendoodle. He’s a lovely goofball and is a bit camera-shy, I like to catch him when he is unaware of me.

These are my brother’s pointers – I shot this one Christmas when Vegas had a rare snow. I loved the sheer joy the pups exuded as they ran in the frosted desert.

These are my two female terriers. They hate each other’s guts unless they are sleeping – they are precious when they sleep.

This is a pup I met on a trip – I love that he was interested in my camera. Curiosity is a favorite thing to capture in an animal.

Zipper was my first Kayak dog – he was so relaxed on the water.

Brown paper packages, blue satin sashes, silver white winters – there’s a lot of color in this song. I love color and am drawn to vivid colors. One color draws me more than all the others.

I shoot anything that is…

Orange.

The color of this car drew me to it - hundreds of cars and this was my favorite.

The color of this car drew me to it – hundreds of cars and this was my favorite.

I'm pretty sure I chose this hard drive for that orange bumper.

I’m pretty sure I chose this hard drive for that orange bumper.

In the shop where I work I see lots of color, but this set of mixers caused me to go get my camera.

In the shop where I work I see lots of color, but this set of mixers caused me to go get my camera.

These Tiger Lilies grow wild around the Ozarks. I have them pretty thick in the springs right at the edge of the woods

These Tiger Lilies grow wild around the Ozarks. I have them pretty thick in the spring – right at the edge of the woods.

This sunset was so vivid that I missed an appointment when I stopped to shoot it.

This sunset was so vivid that I missed an appointment when I stopped to shoot it.

Now that winter is here and it’s a grey day, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so … bad.

Requiem for Fall

The color here in the Ozarks is almost completely gone. Sometimes you’ll find a dogwood deep in a hollow – but the show is essentially over. Here are the last of the stragglers and my attempt to find something interesting or beautiful without a lot of color.

This hickory was one of the last holdouts. More leaves up than down.

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Today even these are on the ground.

Some maples hung on in spite of the recent wind and rains, sometimes the sky was visible right through them.

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Today the maples have all joined the oaks on the forest floor.

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A crunchy carpet of tans and golds a foot thick in spots is all that remains.

Driving west I saw this field full of something fluffy. The sunlight and wind made it dance.

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The puffs were actually quite delicate – like dandelion seeds. Even so they hung on in the wind.

On my way back to town I stopped by to see this old friend – fully exposed amidst its now barren trees. It makes me think of that transition from Fall to Winter.

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It’s just holding on to what little color it has left.

Fall is fleeting and I miss it already.

Ginkgo Stinko

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I was born with no sense of smell. None, nada, zilch. If someone is using a solvent like acetone or something, I can taste something in the back of my throat – but that taste is the same as someone spraying Fabreeze or perfume. If I walk into a restaurant or even into a house where someone is cooking, I cannot identify what kind of food they are making, I just get a sense of moisture in the air. Italian, pot roast, Mexican, Thanksgiving dinner – all the same.

Bath and Body Works is a mystery to me, so is Yankee Candle. I make my choices by the colors of the products – will it look good in my home? Friends are always putting things under my nose and saying how good they smell. I don’t want to make them feel bad so I just sniff away getting nothing from the experience except that there was some sort of sharing going on. That’s thoughtful and I appreciate it.

If I were picking a sense to lose, it would be smell. I hear people talk about bad smells more than good ones. It seems smell can really set people off. I hear complaints about body odor, chemicals, the chicken plant down the road. I am happily oblivious.

Sometimes I get to find the beauty in something that stinks, like the ginkgo tree.

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Last month I read a post by Mrs. Fringe about autumn in New York City. She talked about the fruit dropped from this stunning tree in terms of it’s vomit-like aroma.

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Here in Eureka Springs the ginkgo is one of the last trees to show off it’s color. We have several located downtown right near the post office. For years I have headed there late in October to take in the glorious color of the last of the fall.

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Every year I see scads of photogs milling around the fading maples on the other side of the street. I seem to be the only one who loves this tree.

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I heard a friend mention the annoying fruit – there is sooooo much of it on the ground in the late fall and they are not pretty. Apparently this friend didn’t see the need to mention that the fruit stinks. My friends always forget that I cannot smell anything.

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So every year I wander through that fruit without worry, with no clue that I am crushing fruit that smells to high heaven underneath my shoes.

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This year I took a friend with me to shoot this wonder. As I stood in the grass shooting upwards I heard her exclaim, “That smell, there is dog crap somewhere nearby, and lots of it!” You see I had forgotten all about that informative blog by Mrs. Fringe and was once again blissfully unaware of the stink I was in.

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I kind of like my fragrance free world.

Falling Fast – the End of the Show

Last Saturday I revisited some of my favorite spots I shot this fall, it was a glorious sunny day and I was taking a friend on the tour so she could capture the fleeting color. Sadly the decline was in full swing. Today, a week later these spots are almost bare. As in the beginning of the transition, I spend my time seeking color, rather than being surrounded by it.

 

Sweet Spring
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Peak color.
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Last gasp.

 

Down Magnetic Hollow
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Explosion of color.
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Fading glory.

 

Up Magnetic Hollow
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Layers in the light.
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Light passing through.

 

Don’t get me wrong, the woods are still gorgeous, but the color is literally blowing away. Down in the hollows there are still rich pockets of color.
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Fuller Street.
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Maple splendor.
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Determined Dogwood.

 

The transfer is happening from sky to earth.
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The carpeting on these Ozark hills is no longer green.

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Rich layers of carmels, tans, and browns cover it all. The thick layers also add a sweet sound to the movement in the woods.

 

The lesson of fall is to seize the day, enjoy the color, live in this moment. It’ll be gone before you know it.

The Compromise

Polarized, divided, uncooperative.

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In this second week of November it seems we are no closer to seeing eye to eye than we were a week ago.

 

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One side is down in the dumps and thinks they should just pack up their halter and move to another pasture. One where hard work is rewarded with carrots that are earned by the work of your own hooves.

 

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The other side is all up on their high horse about their recent victory and believes that they are entitled to have alfalfa delivered to their stables whether they ever pulled a cart or not.

 

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The truth is all this “self-made” self righteousness and hard work is exhausting.

 

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I like winning, but the truth is that if you left the pasture there would be no one to disagree with.

 

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I love this pasture, and I wouldn’t mind some help every now and then, maybe I have earned it. I wouldn’t want to loose the stable over my head just because of a bad case of colic.

 

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I love this pasture too. It’s not like I don’t want to work, I do. I don’t mind pulling my weight.

 

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If we all just pull together we can make this pasture a better place for everyone!

The First and Last of the Dogwoods

The dogwood is a favorite of mine. It shows itself early. Before the leaves of the surrounding trees have fully opened they appear like clouds suspended just below the treetops. The open and spread their wings, and then they are gone.

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Throughout the summer, the dogwood simply disappears. It’s green leaves blending into the canopy. Only it’s dark twisted trunks give it away. For months they hide as spindly trees in forests of mighty oaks.

In the fall they fight to hold onto their green…

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Giving into the transition slower than the rest, fighting the good fight…

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Until only red remains and they alone are at the peak of their color. As the others start to fall, they take flight.

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Bursting with color as the sunshines right through their translucent leaves.

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Holding on long after the others are gone.

The first and the last.

Country Roads on Standard Time

This morning I got the first opportunity this fall to drive out of the hollows while the sun was shining. That extra hour makes all the difference. These shots were taken along Magnetic Hollow in Eureka Springs. I’m certain I have the most gorgeous commute in the world.

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Curve…

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Orange…

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Bluff…

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Crispy…

 

Sure beats the freeway.

A Solemn Spot in the Woods

This weekend I took a long hike deep into the woods. A couple of miles in I encountered this:

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This place was special to someone, a place of peace and meditation. A long line of prayer flags, decades old, hangs suspended from the trees.

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The first time I saw them they reminded me of my Grandma’s clothes line.

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I don’t follow the faith of the person who placed these flags, but as I stand on the side of a mountain looking through them I think I experience the same sense of awe.

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This is a place that makes me thing of something bigger than myself….

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I feel grateful standing on this place for all the wonders around me.

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I am warmed by the sun and cooled by the breeze. The sunlight animates everything I see.

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I stand in this spot and offer praise to my God.

Mary Jane Looks to the Future

I’ve made some posts of the adventures of Mary Jane. She’s smart, she’s spry, she’s 99, and she cares about the future. Specifically she cares about the future of a small piece of the Ozarks.

Mary Jane’s parents settled in the area north of Eureka Springs around 1915. Her grandparents already had a small farm in town and her great uncle was a recluse down in a hollow near the railroad tracks. Her father and his sister bought a large tract of land east of the White River. Mary Jane’s father once told her that owning land meant you would never be broke. You could always sell a few acres. Over the decades Mary Jane has bought and inherited hundreds of acres, and as her family needs have changed she has sold some.

The largest sale came in the late 50s when Mary Jane’s daughter was in high school. She sold her favorite parcel to a developer. She sold because the power company was bringing electricity to the area, her house was on the wrong side of the highway and her high-school-aged daughter desperately wanted to have power. She had been raised in a home where you carried water and lived by candlelight. She built a small home in the area where power was coming and moved to improve the lives of her family.

At the time Mary Jane had no idea what a development would be. She had sold to farmers and neighbors in the past. Today there is a golf course community and 1500 people living on that lovely tract of land where her beloved dogwood forest once stood. This experience has helped to shape her views on land use. It’s not that the development was bad or unrealistic, it’s that there was a sea change in how land was being used. This ignited a desire in her to see that the development stop at the current line of her property.

Since the 1970s she has been more cautious about who she sells land to. She has filled the hollows and hills with people she knows will love the land like she does. More importantly she has made sure that an entire hollow will remain just as it is forever. She has worked with the Ozark Regional Land Trust to create the Oak Hill Wildlife Preserve and Land Trust.

Once a year we meet with someone from ORLT who will verify conservation easements and go over stewardship plans with us. As a long time resident I’m included in these sessions, as a lover of this land I’m thrilled to come along and get the finer details from Mary Jane.

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This year we met with Preston, a smart young man who has a passion for land preservation and who made sure to make Mary Jane feel like he took every concern seriously. Here he goes over a 50-year-old map with Mary Jane that shows an accurate survey.

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Maps are all good and well, but going to the boundary points is crucial, Mary Jane’s memory is amazing. She can walk across a field and take you directly to a survey marker that she has not looked at in decades. Here she just barrels across a field towards the point.

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She pointed out a line where the corners of “the 40” should converge. Old school surveying was based on 40 acre tracts. Corners are marked with metal posts, rock piles, or witness trees.

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Here we are walking one of the lines. This was a really uneven area and Mary Jane reluctantly accepted some help as she walked the side of that 40.

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This find was somewhat disconcerting for me. This is an illegal camouflaged deer feeder six feet from the the property line. Hunting is illegal on the land trust, but it’s also prohibited in the development – I’m have no issue with hunting, but hunting without permission on land like this is incredibly dangerous. Over by the line I found a carbon shafted arrow. People hike and children play in this field. People’s homes are in the line of sight of this. It’s not safe, it’s not legal.

At this point we moved on to a hike into the actual land trust. This part was a little sad for me. Until a couple of years ago Mary Jane took these hikes with us. Physically she could still do it, but with her failing eyesight it’s just not safe anymore. She knows this hollow in a way that I can only compare with the way I remember the cracks in the sidewalk out in front of my childhood home. Not having her with us was sad, even so it was wonderful to be in her favorite place.

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This is the trail as we enter into the hollow. We walk along the remnants of an old logging road.

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Much of the woods are what I call a “beautiful tangle” – vines, saplings, leaves, fallen limbs.

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This is all that is left of an old Volvo parked a quarter mile into the woods sometime in the 70s. I know it sounds odd, but an old gold Volvo was a landmark for us. Turn right to see the pivot rock, go down to see the waterfall, keep left to see the spring. The owner of the Volvo was an old friend of many of my neighbors, he passed away a couple of years ago. The Volvo was full of personal items. It was Jim’s storage unit. Over the years hikers had stopped to look inside. There’s a story of a lady who found a chandelier inside. Tools, fixtures, antiques – one time my nephews carried out a huge french-fry cutter. Jim told me to keep it and its mounted in my kitchen to this day. After his death friends hung prayer flags over the Volvo. His son had been to visit it. It wasn’t natural, but we had all come to love it. About a year ago we discovered that it was gone. Probably stolen for scrap, prayer flags and all. I can’t even imagine the work it took to get that thing out of the woods. We all miss it and will likely leave the spare here as a marker.

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We continued down the trail towards the easement. The woods here are thick and this time of year the light through the trees can be stunning.

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A rich carpet of leaves about a foot thick blanketed the forest floor.

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The dogwoods in the hollow are starting to change – just the slighted turn towards red.

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Francie, an old friend of Mary Jane, owns a small piece of land inside the trust. It’s on a conservation easement and part of the process is verifying that these easements are in compliance. Francie owns a small spring and its a wonderful sanctuary for her. She comes twice a year to spend time there. It’s always going to be a peaceful place. Here Preston and Francie work their way to the spring.

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Dogwood leaves in the afternoon sunlight.

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Color through cedars. I should point out that I shot everything today with my fast prime lens – a Leica 25mm 1.4 – the equivalent of a fast 50. It let me isolate objects like these cedars. It’s not the greatest for the trail shots, but at least I get lots of detail.

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Leaves on the ground.

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Leaf in the sky.

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Seeds…

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Limbs…

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Burls…

These shots are from a special place along the trail. This was Mary Jane’s playground. She tells stories of playing in between the “pancake rocks” and imagining that it was a fort, or a pirate ship, or a carousel…

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I can just see her playing and climbing on these rocks. I would have loved to have had a place like this as a child…

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Climbing, playing, finding wonder in what nature gave her.

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I love the way the moss grows on the sides of the pancake rocks.

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Reds

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A look back down the hollow.

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This leaf was huge – over a foot across.

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I laid it on an old washtub I found near an abandoned wickiup back in the hollow. Throughout the 70s there were young people who lived back in this hollow. Some children were even born back here. Mary Jane loved to have people who enjoyed the land there and they still come back to see it from time to time.

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A look up…

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Off the trail…

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A relic of an earlier time…

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Sunlight…

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Deep woods…

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Dogwoods playing their last song before winter…

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Bent color….

All in all a glorious day in the hollow. My land abuts this amazing place. Thanks to Mary Jane I never have to worry about condos looking up at my mountaintop. Our trip yesterday got her a bit fired up. Some markers are not quite right, some boundaries need to be redefined, some calls need to be made. The whole day made me think about what an amazing gift she has given not just to us, but to those who will come a century after us. Remote, undeveloped, real nature. Over 160 acres of it left to the flying squirrels, the owls, and the dogwoods – forever.