The times they are a’changing

It’s 24 degrees this morning, and I was awakened by the birds chirping outside my window. Does their song portend the arrival of spring? Except for the lack of electricity during the last “snow storm”, this was the first time I actually enjoyed winter. Even on rainy days I’d bundle up to meet the hawk that awaited me. Whether I was walking the neighborhood or standing by a lake, I reveled in my new relationships with winter and rain. No longer are they things to escape and avoid. The landscape is completely different then, too, and I want to be present to see it.

I’m recalling that day a few years ago when the pouring rain beckoned me to walk around my backyard wearing a t-shirt and shorts. I was concerned at first about what my neighbors would think but after those first glorious moments of the rain pelting on my face, massaging my scalp, cascading down my neck, and squishing between by toes, it didn’t matter.

There’s also that day when, instead of bemoaning the 2.5 hour drive to the farm in the rain, I was actually excited about it. I knew then that the times, they were a’changing. And they’ve continued to change, as have I.

I snapped these shots at Fork Creek Mountain Park in Decatur, Georgia. I discovered it en route to a friend’s house on an overcast morning after a rain.

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What a difference a day made

Just yesterday, I was bundled from head to toe against the cold as my niece Savanna and I walked the neighborhood snapping photos of the second Atlanta/north Georgia winter event of 2014, the first a mere two weeks ago, the one I blogged about missing while down on the farm. It was 33 degrees as we snapped photo after photo–Savanna’s alone totaled 160!–the trees were heavy with ice, and the ground that was covered with ice and snow, was beginning to thaw.

Today, I’m sitting by the waterfall at Starr’s Mill, the mill that was featured in the movie ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, wearing only a hood and a scarf draped across my shoulders. It’s a balmy 58 degrees!

Dinah Washington sang it best:

“What a difference a day made
Twenty-four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain”

What is this thing?

It’s 30 degrees today, the ground is covered with ice yet I’m compelled to venture out, cameras in tow, to capture the beauty that’s in the ordinarily ordinary.

What is that thing that awakens me on a cold rainy morning, calls me to grab my cameras and hit the road before daybreak, donning long johns, sweats, coat, hood and slicker to feel the cold on my face as the wind and rain envelope me in a cold yet soothing embrace?

But perhaps that’s it—the closeness I feel to God, the satisfaction it brings to a soul that sometimes yearns to feel a palpable connection to the Divine, that sees Him in the beauty of nature be it on a bright, warm, sunny day, or a day that’s freezing cold and wet.

I hear the call, and I answer. But today, because the roads were icy, I contented myself with the beauty that was around me.

Winter weather advisory

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill texted notification of a winter weather advisory this morning that reminded me of last week’s “snow storm” that left roads jammed and motorists stranded. I was out of town at the time, tucked safely away from the pandemonium created by the two inches. It was cold and drizzly down on the farm, but we didn’t get any snow.

It’d been a few years since I last saw snow in Atlanta, and I was regretting not being there to experience it. At that point, you see, I wasn’t thinking at all about the black ice that turned a five-minute drive into two hours that January night in Hiram, Georgia…the black ice that forced me to spend the night in a Hiram hotel rather than drive the 40 plus miles home to Riverdale…the drive that had me longing for a shot of Jack Daniels to calm my nerves when I finally made it to the hotel.

roadsouthNo, all I was thinking of that day on the farm were the photo ops I was missing and that I wouldn’t get to see the wonder on the faces of my little nieces as they experienced snow for the first time. But then Mama and I took a break from watching Gunsmoke and Bonanza to tune in to the weather reports out of Atlanta. Wow, what a shift!!

After hearing reports of drives taking seven hours or more that should normally have taken only 30 minutes; of drivers running out of gas and abandoning their cars; of drivers, teachers and students spending the night away from home, I decided “I’m good.”

With that, I suited up for the misty cold, grabbed my camera, and headed down the country roads of home. I saw plants I’d never seen, took shots of the streams my siblings and I played in as children that, like us, have also grown up.

I ventured off-road into areas I’d never noticed before, areas my brother GB was shocked to learn I’d gone because of the wild boar that hung out there. I didn’t see any trace of them, but what I did see on the walk back to house was an animal that exited the woods several yards from me, sensed my presence, and paused long enough to check me out before heading on its way. I thought it was a dog initially, but discovered that it had left hoof prints instead of paw prints. I described it to Mama and GB, but neither of them could tell me what it was and subsequent web searches have been fruitless. The only regret I have from that day is that I didn’t get its picture.