Monday, July 3, 2017

Roadtrip into the Past

    I embarked on an 11 hour road trip last weekend with my good friend Sandy along some fifteen miles of gravel roads, miles of two lane blacktop, and through a few old towns. Our  plan was to find a place he had visited 35 years ago, Pennville, Ga. We finally found it with the help of locals in the afternoon.

    Conversations went a good thirty minutes or more each time we met locals. Storytelling and reminiscing.

    We spent the day in a steady and sometimes heavy rain. I enjoy the sound of rain filtering through trees during the summer. Walking through a drenching shower is therapeutic for me, with raindrops peppering my hood like an umbrella wrapped around my head. It's a surreal world where the harshness of sunlight is gone along with its shadows and deep contrast, and what is left is an evenness to the world where everything can be calmly visualized, and  sounds are diffused as well. For me it's calming. 

Lots of treasures are out there, ready to be found before they are all taken over by nature. I spoke to someone recently about his experience riding dirt bikes and all terrain vehicles on forestry roads. He said just off trail, sometimes dipping into private property you find remnants of homes and cars with trees growing through them. Forgotten mementos that won't be around forever.

Here are some images from our eastern Georgia roadtrip-
The old Athens Highway route, with an outhouse thrown in for decor

Durham Apothecary Museum in Maxeys, Ga. A former doctor's office recently renovated and opened as a museum. Est, 1870. Free admission

Maxeys, Ga. Former garage and bank needing renovation

Scull Shoals Historic Site, between Athens and Greensboro on the Oconee River. Pictured is the ruins of the store and storage building from the former mill village

Sandy walking in a driving rain. Scull Shoals Historic Site, between Athens and Greensboro on the Oconee River.

Scull Shoals Historic Site. The riverside hiking path alongside the rain swollen Oconee River

Near Greensboro, Ga

Near Greensboro, Ga

Pennville, Ga

Pennville, Ga. Old service station

Pennville, Ga. Old service station

Pennville, Ga. Driving into the shadows

Pennville, Ga.

Pennville, Ga. Old gas line

Greensboro, Ga. The magnolia tree has the most knotted up trunk we'd seen. Fit right in

Greensboro, Ga

Greensboro, Ga

Greensboro, Ga

Elder Mill Covered Bridge and Rose Creek, Watkinsville, Ga

Elder Mill Covered Bridge and Rose Creek, Watkinsville, Ga

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Winding Path

A winding path stretches out below, as I look down from a hillside.....

Miles to cover, choices along the way. Birds serenading and pulling me in all directions.

Time is no longer on my side.

Beauty along every avenue; which path is for me?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Old Place in the Woods

             The old place in the woods.

 What secrets are buried inside, tucked away among ages of neglect, and a secret or two hidden away that only the more insistent will find. 

Pictured are the remains of an old mill, sitting along the banks of a creek. Fifty yards or so upstream a mesmerizing cascade will lull you to sleep if you stay long enough to be cast under its spell. The mill’s water wheel is covered by wood siding that has conveniently slipped down like a night cover, hiding it from potential vandals.

Shadows from tree limbs moved about across the mill, their dark gray blending with the aging of the wood. I kept expecting to see a face from the past look  out a window, and then turn away as if to say you will have to come find me to hear my story. 

 I would like to know the story of the old truck, and the last time it was pulled in and parked for eternity.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Backstory

Cascades flow nearby, its steady rhythm lulling me into a trance. The smell of the woods is delicious. The rock I sit on is multicolored with splashes of white and strips of green lichens growing along crevasses. It has a life of its own. I notice more detail the longer I sit here. Things that existed all along, but were somehow lost in the busy scene in front of me. After a time I notice something struggling.
A large tulip leaf lies plastered over a rock, drenched by the sporadic shower as whitecaps flow on either side of the rock. The colorful leaf is hanging on for dear life. It looks like four legs are draped out trying to hold on with not help in sight. This is the life of a loner.

He will see things that can only be imagined by most, and he may die in a spectacular way or with remarkable circumstances. Flying solo, he has no backup when the day goes awry. Swept off a rock, clinging for life. Yet still we all die someday. If only the loner’s story could be told.
Beauty emanates as he grips the rock, practically wrapped around it, perhaps in his finest hour based on the richness of his color. But I don’t feel compelled to help him. This is the final page of his story and he must write it. He could be an artist; someone who hopefully has published his story along the way to help us to understand how he got here. The backstory is always tucked away conveniently in the shadows.
The leaf has gone through its years of attachment to its mother, clinging on for survival. As youths we hear the loud directives, often times the only way they know to speak. Often for our own survival. Family, teachers, friends all had their say. Friends chose to stay among those of like interests, and some took cover to mature and present their gifts later, at their appropriate time. We must cut loose to finish our course.

A solitary yellow butterfly darts in and out of shadows, preferring sunlight. In the shade hides unsightly things and those who choose to be hid. I watch the butterfly dance about but not really wanting its place in the sun. I prefer to be the yellow or red leaf, floating lazily downstream, enjoying those final days or hours to the fullest. Seeing what others don’t see that dance about in the spotlight, among crowds, wanting to be noticed. Along the way the leaves fit into their own groove. They morph into what seems the fittest. 

Passerby’s stop and look upon the fall scene and smile, reflecting on their own lives as times past and memories wash over them as the beauty unfolds. The leaf is part of the bigger picture, part of a complete scene. Like an actor, one of dozens, with a bit part.

I am following a leaf now; it survived a small set of rapids and is floating again, further downstream. Some get collected in bunches around rocks and limbs shortly after leaving their tether. Others make it through the crowds on to new adventures, in their golden hour. A portion sinks to the bottom after being set free and turns quietly into the foundation for their successors. Why is that? Shouldn’t we all enjoy the glory of our golden hour?

Deep pools of black water pull in what’s dancing overhead, its reflections capturing them peering in. The butterflies and their friends. Their beauty is diffracted by the pools of darkness, but the result is stunning. Black water deflects light, but dark normally absorbs. During nighttime it pulls in all illumination and blankets its hidden secrets in a cloak of protectiveness. During daytime it does the opposite. The creek is a place of renewal and follows the course of life.

I see a city in the dark water’s reflection. Our worlds merge here. Ripples of life run out from the center and touch everything in their path. I see myself in a small corner of the city, then spreading out as though a pebble was dropped in, sending my introspections to all four corners.

A lower tone of light just settled on me. A reminder that the twilight hour is approaching again. The leaf won’t be there tomorrow after the overnight storms change the landscape. Its time is now.
Another gentle shower of yellow leaves is falling into the creek, beginning their final journey after spending a lifetime connected to a branch for nourishment and survival.

A couple is watching the scene from the old stone arched bridge. 
Will they be inspired, take photos, tell others, and encourage a love for nature in their kids? That’s quite a legacy for a single leave floating along, painting the landscape with its unique art, and dissolving into the bigger picture. Maybe someone is watching me that way from a distance, from a bridge or otherwise.

Prelude to “The Backstory”
Craig Elliott 2016

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Treasures of the Sea

     Watching the ocean roll into shore and back out teaches us about patience. Its steady drone can become monotonous after a time, after the intoxicating spell begins to wane. It becomes steady repetition, which still relaxes me after the day in, day out routine of the unexpected.

     This recurrence of the waves smooths jagged pieces of shell and rounds off driftwood, or smooths rocks. It all takes time. One wave at a time. They work at night while we sleep, and when no one is watching. I look back at writing I have completed and understand the concept of steady progress, not binge writing. A storm batters and destroys, but the everyday steadiness of the tides turns rough treasures of the sea into polished works of art, in its due time.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hampton Springs Hotel Site Perry, Fla

On the first leg of a Florida trip that started in Georgia we stayed a night at my Uncle and Aunt's house in Perry, Florida. He told me about the Hampton Springs site, and since I like photographing historical sites and ruins we drove over for a quick visit before we headed further south.

The hotel was built in 1908 and destroyed by fire in 1954. Its sulfur springs and baths became known for their healing powers and the facility had a covered pool, golf course, tennis courts, stables, casino, and railroad depot. They had a bottling plant and shipped the healing water nationwide. 

Looks like all the bath needs is cleaning out and a little TLC......

 Beginning of a hiking trail. Need to return when I have time to walk the trail
 Looking off the bridge. 
 Water still flows
 Check out the diving platform to the left, up in the tree with steps nailed in-

Monday, January 18, 2016

Sounds of the Forest

     Silence dominates the hills and valley today, despite the winter month and its lack of sound absorbing leaves on the hardwoods. The woods breathe gently as the wind chilled the 37 degree F air. I walk along the well trodden trail and spend nearly as much time off-trail exploring. An old barn door groans and opens with a painful shriek, and I scan the trees looking for the culprit. I stop and acknowledge the forest, and listened for yet another tree limb straining in the wind, fighting to stay put on such a quiet, uneventful day. My body feels that way at times and I can't help but smile. So much goes on in secret here, out of the public eye.
      I scan the ground and notice all the limbs, rotting leaves, and fallen trees. Each had its unique life story. The limbs may have held a robin's nest and helped in the nurturing of a mother's young. Perhaps for generations. The leaf was nourishment for a small creature of the forest, and housed a butterfly that needed a place of rest along its journey. The tree, once standing tall and majestic, has seen many events without having to take a single step or fly into the clouds. And the end of life, that final breath before crashing down. That would have been quite a sight.
     A gentleman roams the trails with his dog. A look of happiness on their faces, and a genuine smile that I could sense in his voice. They are the only others I saw today, unless you count the chipmunk, deer, and geese. 
     Spending time surrounded by nature, far enough away that road noise is non soothes the mind and spirit. I forget at times where I belong; nature holds a calling for me that helps forget the strains of life. I'm glad nature is still willing to share its time, considering how we've treated it.