My wife and I are on our winter vacation on Florida’s Amelia Island northeast of Jacksonville. We try to retreat here during winter’s coldest time. Though it’s not balmy here like southern Florida, we don’t have all that snow folks do up north right now.
There are a great many things to like about Amelia Island. The sunrises and sunsets top my list, closely followed by the wildlife, especially the many species of birds.
Our rented condo is right on Main Beach in Fernandina Beach. Unless it’s cloudy, sunrises are a daily treat. No two are alike.
We don’t have far to go for sunsets either. We drive to various spots along the Amelia River that afford marvelous views of the setting sun. Of course, not every evening offers up a golden sky, but we have seen many glorious sunsets in our several visits to this unique isle.
I enjoy photographing as many sunrises and sunsets as possible. I love sharing them with you all the more.
One basic principle in photography is to “look the other way.” In other words, when everyone else is looking at the obvious photo opp, look around. You just might find something even more enjoyable.
That’s precisely what happened on a recent outing to photograph another glorious sunset. Before the sun disappeared behind the Allegheny Mountains that mark the Virginia/West Virginia boundary line, I turned to look east to find this lovely scene.
The sharply slanting rays of photography’s golden hour bathed the already russet leaves of the stand of oaks around this home. This photo is the way I shot it, with no tweaking needed.
Whether alone or in a crowd, it always pays for a photographer to look the other way.
Author and artist Christine Valters Paintners offers an enlightening viewpoint on photography. Instead of “taking” photos, we receive them. That concept puts photography and the photographer in an entirely different light. (Given this photograph, please excuse the pun.)
I embrace her idea. As I recalled how I merely happened upon this enchanting sunset scene, Christine’s words rang true for me. I didn’t do anything to “capture” this lovely setting. It was there for me to receive, and I am more than happy to share it with you.
We have all been waiting to exhale, especially this year, once June arrived. We had that same perspective a year ago, but we were wrong.
Last year the estimation was that summer’s warmth would lessen the spread of the coronavirus. Just the opposite happened. People gathered, and the virus spread.
This June appears to be different. The fact that nearly two-thirds of American adults have received at least one vaccination makes it so. That has resulted in the waning of the virus here in the U.S. However, other countries continue to struggle as new variants emerge, spread, sicken, and kill.
But in June 2021, a different feeling is in the air. June is that stepping stone into sunshine, smiles, and satisfaction. People in the U.S. are once again getting together, though some are doing so cautiously.
June is the gateway to summer. The summer solstice late on June 20 merely anoints the welcomed season.
June means longer and generally warmer days than previous months. With health restrictions significantly reduced or altogether eliminated, life in June just might help us all feel “normal” again.
Graduations, vacations, weddings, reunions, picnics, and Little League baseball games are a much better bet to occur with June’s arrival. Church congregations that met remotely are beginning to hold in-person services, some outside, others with controlled numbers assembled indoors.
I’ve always welcomed June from adolescence to this day. School often finished around Memorial Day, which turned us outdoor lovers loose. I still feel that way all those decades later.
But there is something sacred about this particular June. It’s more than just the freedom to move about, go swimming, fishing, hiking, or wearing T-shirts and shorts.
The pandemic isn’t over, but here in the U.S., it seems to be subsiding. Still, we are approaching 600,000 deaths in our great country and 3.5 million globally. Those are sobering figures.
I recall the wise advice of a farmer friend from the weeks-long drought that began in June 1988. Local hay crops had failed, and shipments of baled hay arrived from the Midwest. Many farmers bought the imported bales at exorbitant prices.
When they got it home, they discovered that the hay bales that looked good from the outside had more weeds than nourishment on the inside. I asked my friend if he had purchased any of the high-priced, weedy fodder.
I have never forgotten his reply. “My father once told me that when you see others running for something, you should walk.” So, no, he hadn’t.
Consequently, my wife and I will welcome June without much fanfare. We’ll follow our grandson’s traveling baseball team when we can. We will continue to be cautious about eating inside public places, preferring to dine at establishments that offer outside seating.
We have and will continue to visit vaccinated friends. We’ll use June to ease into renewing our travels, including seeing our son and his wife for the first time in two years.
I’ll continue to hike, but I will be careful to choose the days, watch the weather, and avoid weekends. I’m not a snob or prude. Crowded trails are not my thing.
When we do get out and about in June, we need to be cautious for practical reasons. Reports from many eastern states indicate that ticks are thick this year. Once back inside, check yourself, your children, and your pets. The physical effects of tick bites are devastating.
We can rightfully celebrate June’s arrival. But let’s continue to be alert and careful every step of the way.
I chose this photo of two women watching the sunset on July 3, 2020 to represent the relief of 2020 finally coming to an end. We are universally happy to see this horrific year end. In my 73 years of living, I can’t remember a worse one. Let’s let the sun go down on 2020, and hope upon hope that 2021 will be a better year in every way.
I suspect, however, as President-elect Biden has already stated, that things will get worse before they get better. Of course, he was referring to the pandemic, but that may also play out in other aspects of our lives.
I hope and pray that the New Year will, in the long-run, indeed bring a better life for all of God’s global children. Enjoy the sunset, but cherish the sunrise.
Showy sunsets have been hard to come by recently in the Shenandoah Valley. Either the skies have been clouded over, or there have been no clouds at all. When friends invited us over to view the sunset from their backyard, I was hoping for the best. I got my wish.
As we sat around the fire pit in the coolness of the early evening, the day’s high, thin clouds hung around long enough to provide a colorful show to the waning day. In the foreground, the silhouettes framed the reddish clouds hanging over the Allegheny Mountains, which mark the boundary between the Commonwealth of Virginia and West Virginia.
Since the 2020 vernal equinox happens at 11:49 p.m., EDT in Harrisonburg, Virginia, I wanted to share with you last year’s first spring sunset. Given the cloud cover, I wasn’t sure just how much color we would get. Those blue Allegheny Mountains served as a lovely contrast to the blazing sky.
There is nothing particularly spectacular about this photo. Yes, it’s a pretty sunset, and yes, I captured two photographers snapping pictures of it.
I chose to feature this photo for personal, even sentimental reasons. It was the last colorful sunset we had before we left Florida to return to Virginia. It was also one of a handful of decent sunsets we had in the six weeks we wintered in Fernandina Beach.
The marina there is a gathering place for amateur and professional photographers to view the sunset. After a lengthy delay in repairs, it had only reopened a few days before this photo was taken. Winds and high water from Hurricane Matthew severely damaged the marina on the Amelia River in October 2016. It was great to be able to once again meet with friends and strangers and share a lovely sunset at the water’s edge.
This sunset gave us roses and yellows, and the wavy clouds added a soft, pillowy effect to the sky. The river served as a fuzzy mirror to all that unfolded.
As I was leaving, I turned back for one more shot and saw this scene. My friend Carollee had her point-and-shoot camera, while the other photographer was taking time-lapse shots of the sunset.