My wife and I come to Florida for a few weeks each winter. There are many reasons we do so besides the warmer weather. Magnificent sunrises and sunsets enrich our lives.
The sunrises come to us. Our rented condo is on the beach facing the Atlantic Ocean. I only have to walk from the bedroom to the front windows to enjoy dawn’s show. Sometimes I stand in awe at the glorious beauty before me.
Sunset is a different story. An hour or so before the time for sunset, I check the western sky. If it looks favorable, we delay supper, and my wife and I head to one of several locations for picturesque photos.
Depending on where we go, we’ll head out 15 minutes to half an hour before dusk to be ready for nature’s glory to unfold. The image below was taken near a marina on Egans Creek in Fernandina Beach. I was fortunate that these fishermen called it a day at the sunset’s peak.
I was out watering plants and trees last evening since we haven’t had any rain for several days. Suddenly, the western sky turned bright golden.
I quickly wrapped up my watering, grabbed my camera and iPhone, and headed to a close location with an open view to the west. The golden glow had faded. The sun disappeared behind the Allegheny Mountains, but dramatic color remained.
The farmer had already cut the enormous cornfield and had turned loose steers to forage for spilled corn cobs. With Mole Hill to the left and the sunset’s remnants still lingering above the mountains, it looked like a scene out of the old west, not the Shenandoah Valley.
The vista was a beautiful way to close out the first day of September.
I searched for a decent location to photograph the latest lovely sunset in the Shenandoah Valley. I stopped when I came upon this scene of young steers grazing.
The Black Angus scattered in the rolling pasture filled the foreground, while the local landmark of Mole Hill, an extinct volcanic core, dominated the background. The sunset orange-tinted cloud hovered over the Allegheny Mountains in the distance. I imagined old Mole Hill had exploded out of eons of dormancy.
I am always looking for new locations to capture sunsets. I accidentally found this spot on a dead end road.
While the sunset wasn’t spectacular, something else caught my attention. The sweet fragrance of growing corn filled my senses. Then I noticed how the soft evening light highlighted the emerging tassels of the cornstalks. The flow of the large cornfield took my eye right back to the Allegheny Mountains and the setting sun.
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.
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