Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tree on Fire

Union Cemetery Leesburg, Virginia

It was back to my favorite cemetery to take more photos. I took some great photos from the year before, so I was looking for something different. As I walked around the cemetery, I noticed this tree with red and orange leaves. It was the only tree in the cemetery with this color - very spooky. The photo was taken and processed as an HDR picture to bring out the vibrant colors. It truly looks like a tree on fire.

Established in 1855 on the immediate outskirts of Leesburg, Union Cemetery was created as a public cemetery open to people of all faiths. It predated three other "Union" cemeteries in Loudoun County established at Hillsboro, Waterford and Lovettsville. The cemetery contains the 1908 Union Chapel and several notable monuments, including a Confederate War Memorial at the north end of the site, and an imperfectly cut 30-foot- high granite column, allegedly designed for a D.C. public building, but rejected and brought to the cemetery in the 1890s.

This photo was taken on Halloween weekend with the Nikon D90 - an extraordinary camera.

Photo via www.flickr.com

Monday, April 9, 2012

Our Little Secret

Years ago, during our lazy summer months, it seemed a certain ritual was performed every Saturday – the trip to our swimming hole. Our town, being an old mining town, was located in some rough country. We couldn’t just drive or even ride our bikes to our favorite spot – one had to walk. Even walking was a chore. The path was barely visible, littered with undergrowth, leaves, and fallen branches. The trees also present a problem, dodging higher branches only to encounter some fallen limb or dead tree stump. But we endured and after an hour trek, our reward lay before us.

Over the years, someone had attached a rope to one of mighty branches that extended out horizontally over the river and looked like the massive arm of a giant. There everybody stood, seeing who would the first one in. Why, one might ask, did we stand around after a long and painstaking walk and not take the plunge. A whirlpool! The tree, with time and the ever-changing course of the river, stood in the water and caused a natural whirlpool.

There was a look of fear among all of us. Finally, somebody would just grab the rope and proclaim his courage – or craziness. As he walked away from the river with rope in hand, all eyes were upon him like the ringmaster of a big top. Then he was off, swinging upward and outward, suspended for a moment only to drop to the cool river below – just clearing the whirlpool. Eventually, somebody would miscalculate and fell prey to the whirlpool. Everybody stood silent and waited – finally like times before, the victim would show up on the other side of the tree. It would give us a scare, but it would erase our fear and doubt of the whirlpool. A smile told the whole story.

As the day ended, we would gather our things and make the long trek back home. On the way, the fear and doubt of the whirlpool would creep back into our minds – would the whirlpool be so willing to give up its victim next time?

Written on June 26, 1984

The General Store

Growing up in a small town, we only had one store. Everybody stopped at this store, since the next larger store was ten miles away. It was a small store containing only the essential items, but our store was ours and it satisfied our needs.

Every day after delivering the local newspaper, my brother and I would set off for the general store. As we came up the sidewalk, the store owner’s dog would come up to greet us. And usually somebody was sitting on the porch, drinking a Red Cream Soda, and chewing on some licorice whips.

Before we would go in, we would chat with the fellow for the local gossip. Then we would peruse the bulletin board for the local news and read all of the for sale signs. It was a ritual that was done before finally going into the store.

When you opened the door, our mouths would begin to water because of the tempting displays and sweet aromas in the air. The store owner would purposely place all of the snacks in plain view. The licorice whips, the candy bars, the All-Day suckers, and the ice cream box – all in plain view, all there to tempt us. In the back of the store was the less important stuff, or so we thought at the time.

As one walked around the wooden floor, we would try to walk as softly as possible in order to not make any noise. We would walk circles around the shelves, taking our time to decide on what we would buy. When we finally decided, we would take our goodies to the counter on which an old time cash register was set. The owner would always smile and ask how we were doing that day.

As we left the store, we would forget about the creaking wood floor and march out the door, sometimes deliberately trying to make the floorboards squeak. As we made our way out the door, we would grab a soda bottle from the machine and sit on the porch. You see, it was our turn to greet incoming customers and deliver the local gossip.

Written on June 28, 1984

My Summer Thrill

Summers. Most people look forward to this time of year. For some, it means new jobs, having to move, or that dreaded family vacation. For the majority of people, it is a time to relax, a time for recreation, time at the pool – for some, even a time for chaos. As a child, mine were a mixture of these – a mixture of a free-for-all attitude with the sense to accomplish something, nothing, and usually leading to do something crazy. Thrills were a necessity to keep my young life exciting. But one particular thrill, during one of my childhood summers, almost changed my life for good.

This summer started out like any other summer. School had let out and everybody was off to explore everything new and old, hoping for something new to do. However, after a few weeks, we were wishing school would start back up – we were bored. So like every other day, my friends and I set off for adventure. As we stopped by to pick up each of my friends, their mother would follow him to the door, telling him to be careful and stay out of trouble. It looked like we were marching off to war somewhere; and we were, our own little adventure. Several hours later, we had played long enough and decided to get something cold to drink. On the way to the store, we passed the town library and noticed that the older kids had left their normal hangout. It was then; we decided to try their fun, their thrill – riding the ropes.

The library was an old bakery, a two-story building, enclosed by a fence. The fence was made of brick stanchions and metal rails. It would go on to the far side, and from there, it would be a brick wall. Located in the center of the courtyard were the ropes – on an old flagpole. To ride the ropes, one had to climb the metal rails and position himself on the brick stanchion. Then somebody would hand the ropes to the person atop the fence. He was ready for flight. He would step forward, swing Tarzan-style across the courtyard, dodge the flagpole, dodge a wood post, kick off the wall and then reverse the course. Seemed easy at the time – except for that post. It was a 4x4 post, five feet in height, and had a pyramid like top. It served as the end post for the handrail on stairs leading down to the basement. One had to clear it to survive. Everybody took their turn, accepting the dare, and I was no exception. My turn came up – it was my chance to ride the ropes. My thrill for the day.

Amphitheatrum Flavium - The Roman Coliseum

This photo was taken with a Canon EOS 10S with Fuji Velvia 100 positive film. I had an opportunity to live in Italy and Rome was one of my favorite destinations. The Coliseum and the Forums were some of my favorite subjects. The following article tells of the colorful history of the Coliseum.

Roman Coliseum by Gail Bellenger

When most people think of ancient Rome, they think of the incredible Coliseum; the grand oval amphitheater that was a central part of Roman culture. The setting where gladiators fought and crowds cheered. While this is true, there's a lot more to the Coliseum than merely an arena. It took two emperors about eight years to design and build it. Vespasian started it, but died before it was completed. His son and successor, Titus, finished the job and opened it with a celebratory 100 days of games. It was called the Flavian Amphitheater in honor of the Flavian ancestry of Vespasian and Titus.

Crazy for Corn!

Corn "Maize" at Temple Hall Farm in Leesburg, Virginia. Every year, the owner cuts an elaborate maze into the corn field.

Temple Hall Farm Regional Park preserves the agricultural, cultural and natural resources of the 286-acre farm and provides an educational and recreational resource that explores farming in Loudoun County for the people of Northern Virginia.

This beautiful working farm in Loudoun County provides an opportunity for children and adults to learn about farm animals and to enjoy the sites and sounds of the farm. Visitors can bring a picnic lunch or snack to eat at the picnic tables, bring cake and presents and celebrate a birthday, take a walk on the babbling brook trail over the creek and through the woods. On weekends you can join the farm interpreter for a free tour of the farm.

Educational programs are available to introduce school and youth to Northern Virginia's farming heritage. Designed as an outdoor classroom, the park educates children about the diverse aspects of farm life, animals and crops.

Temple Hall Corn Maize and Fall Festival

Every year Temple Hall Farm creates a giant cornfield MAiZE. Thousands of visitors "get lost" in the MAiZE as they try to find their way out. After going through the MAiZE visitors can go to the pick your own pumpkin patch, go shoot the corn cannon, ride on the cow train, bounce on the Billy Goat Bounce, or take a hay ride.

This photo was taken with the Nikon D90 - an extraordinary camera.

Photo via www.flickr.com

Monday, August 8, 2011

Gazing Towards the Heavens

Long lost photo from 1992. This photo was taken in the gardens of Tokyo, Japan, and has never been printed. The photo has been archived for 17 years.

This photo was taken with a Bronica SQ-AI medium-format camera.

Photo via www.flickr.com