Tag Archives: nature

Photo Friday: A Hike to Jackson Lake

As the pandemic progresses, the limitations placed on what we can and should do grow more stringent. Here in our little town, that has meant, most recently, a ban on parking at many of the more popular trailheads in and around campus. Too many people are coming from out of town to take advantage of the amazing physical surroundings of our university (the school is located on 13,000 acres atop the Cumberland Plateau) and they’re congregating in the parking areas. Hence the ban.

For those who live in town, this prohibition is not that big a deal. The town is small enough that they can walk to most of those trailheads from their homes. But for those of us who live too far outside of town for such a walk to be feasible, the challenge is greater. And so this week, after having already given up access to the gym, and while still desperate for ways to stay active, I have lost access to some of my favorite hikes.

In the end, though, this turned out to be a boon. Two days ago, faced with this newest limitation, I finally tried a hike near our home that I had been putting off literally for years. I don’t know why I avoided it. Lots of people told me it was a great walk, but I had my favorites, and I am nothing if not a creature of habit. Now, without other choices, I was forced to try this hike.

It was magnificent. The roundtrip was about five and half miles, and it took me to a couple of great spots, chief among them a pair of lakes. One of the lakes, photographed here, is about a mile and a half from our house. It is overgrown and picturesque and stunningly beautiful, even with spring foliage just beginning to emerge. When I arrived there, I flushed a pair of Wood Ducks. Newly arrived warblers and vireos sang from hidden perches

It is called Jackson Lake, and I am already planning my next visit and thinking of times when it will be even more spectacular – at the height of fall color, after a snow in winter, in the midst of one of our many foggy mornings, etc.

For now here is one of the images I captured the other morning. Enjoy. And have a wonderful weekend.

Jackson Lake, Early Spring, by David B. Coe

Photo Friday: More Macro of Spring Flowers

Another week gone, and another Photo Friday post. I’m not sure how the days can fly so when all I’m doing is working at home, living at home, keeping entertained and busy at home, but there it is.

I hope you all aren’t tired of macro photography, because once again that’s what I have for you. These are two photos I took last week down in Shakerag Hollow. One is of water droplets on Dutchman’s Breeches greens. The other is another Rue Anemone. I hope you enjoy them.

Stay safe, stay healthy, be thoughtful of others, and have a wonderful weekend.

Rue Anenome II, by David B. Coe Dutchman's Breeches Greens and Raindrops, by David B. Coe

Photo Friday: More Spring Wildflowers

With the university gym closed, I have made several hikes down into Shakerag Hollow again this week. One of the days was windy, and unless you’ve tried it you have no idea how frustrating it can be trying to take close-up photos of flowers in the wind. It’s a little like trying to balance a marble on a bowling ball: hopeless.

But yesterday’s weather was perfect, and I got several more photos, including the two below. The yellow flower is called Celandine Poppy, and the white and yellow one is called Dutchman’s Breeches – one of my favorite names for any flower.

These are trying times, and I hope that these photos bring you a little joy and peace. We will get through this. Hang in there. Be safe, be good to each other, and try to enjoy your weekend.

Dutchman's Breeches I, by David B. Coe Celandine Poppy After Rain, by David B. Coe

Monday Musings: More Thoughts on the Pandemic

So, you’re tele-working now. Or you’re home with kids whose schools have closed. Or, like me, you’re just back from driving fifteen hours round trip to pick up your kid from a college that is closed for “two weeks,” but really indefinitely, until this clusterfuck of a pandemic is over.

Our routines seem so solid, so established. We take for granted that they will remain constant, that the foundations of our lives are sound. It’s disorienting to realize how fragile these things truly are. Think about it: On New Year’s Eve, none of us had ever heard of Covid-19; most of us didn’t even know there was a collection of pathogens known as coronavirus. That was the day when health officials in Wuhan Province, China, first reported a cluster of mysterious pneumonia cases. The first case has since been dated back to November 17. But even that is only four months ago. And returning to December 31, most of us spent that night with friends and family, celebrating the New Year, unaware that THE dominant news story of 2020 was already underway.

Eleven weeks later, the world is a changed place. Hundreds of thousands ill, thousands dead. Who knows how high those numbers might climb? For many – too many – life will never be the same; for the rest of us, it will eventually return to normal, but the dislocations will be profound and unsettling.

Please allow me to pause here, and to be clear: None of what I am about to say is meant to in any way downplay the seriousness of the situation. For those most at risk – the immunocompromised, the older members of our communities, those who already have underlying medical issues – this is a matter of life and death. Others among us face huge economic hardships that most of us can’t even imagine. The most vulnerable among us – in physical terms AND economic terms – need our support, our love, our compassion, and the attention of our policy makers.

That said, placed in perspective, the disruptions the most fortunate among us – myself included – have endured thus far seem pretty minimal. We hope they will remain so. But in talking to my wife and my kids and other family members, in corresponding with friends and colleagues, I see already the toll taken by the sheer uncertainty of it all. That is another cost of the Trump Administration’s bungling response to the crisis. Yes, they have squandered precious time, and this WILL result in more sickness and, ultimately, more deaths. But even for those who will be fortunate enough to remain healthy, the cost in uncertainty and anxiety is significant.

I got really ticked off at myself the other day because I realized half the day was gone and I had accomplished nothing. I’m finding it hard to concentrate, to resist the temptation to check the news for the latest event to be called off or the next celebrity to announce that they Have It. And as I result I’m getting nothing done.

Which probably doesn’t matter right now. Do I really think publishers are immune to the economic dislocations impacting every other industry? Do I really expect them to be contracting new books or sticking to publication schedules for the ones already in production?

And this leads me to the next thought.

Have you read about the environmental impact of Covid-19? Economic activity has ground to a halt in China and Italy, among other places. And as a result carbon emissions are way, way down in those areas. Now, I am NOT celebrating this. We need to curb carbon output, but subjecting the world to a deadly pandemic is NOT the way to combat climate change.

My point is that many of us – even as we’re expected to “tele-work” (an inelegant phrase, by the way – surely we can do better) – are going to have time on our hands. We’re not going out as much. We’re probably not traveling. Professional conferences are on hold. We’re not going to movies or concerts or sporting events. We won’t be watching March Madness or the end of the professional basketball season or the opening of the Major League Baseball season.

So what will we be doing?

Last week, I went on a hike and took a bunch of photographs (if you haven’t already, check out last week’s Photo Friday post). I have a ton of books to read. Lately, I haven’t been playing my guitar nearly enough. It’s almost time for bird migration, which means more hikes. Yes, I’ll probably be watching TV and movies from home. All of us are going to be binging something, I’m sure. Yet, even the most dedicated bingers can’t spend ALL their time in front of the screen. Those of us who lament never having enough time to do all the stuff we’d like to… well, we finally have that time. It’s been imposed from without. It comes with anxiety-inducing social costs. But if ever there was a time to slow down and enjoy the simple things that modern life too often encourages us to ignore, this is it.

And that’s where I’ll leave you today. This is what I’m musing on this odd Monday. We are in a dark time, to be sure. I’m nervous, as I’m sure most of you are, about the economic and social and biological and political implications of the pandemic. There is plenty to fear. As with all things, though, there is also a flip side. I have thought for a long time that I would like to simplify elements of my life, but in my rush to be productive and to keep all of my professional and personal commitments, I have allowed that wish to fall by the wayside. Now, I have no choice in the matter. For good or for ill. As it were…

Wishing you a good week, whatever that means at this moment in history.

Photo Friday: Spring Flowers

Happy Friday the 13th. May it bring you good luck and usher in a peaceful weekend.

The weather here has been kind of crappy, but on Wednesday morning I managed to catch a window of sunshine. I went down into what’s known around here as Shakerag Hollow, so named because once upon a time, when the moon was shining, you could go down into the hollow, shake a white rag, and the moonshiners would come out to sell their wares.

Today, Shakerag is known more for its spectacular spring wildflowers, which are just now starting to emerge. I do a lot of landscape photography, but I also love macro (close-up) work, especially this time of year. As you can see from my photo (of Rue Anemone and Dutchman’s Breeches greens) the rain and fog had left droplets of water on… well, everything, so that the floor of the forest appeared to shimmer, as if strewn with gemstones. It was nice to escape from the madness of our world for an hour or two, and lose myself in photography. I got several good shots – I may share more with you in the weeks to come. But for now, enjoy this one.

Have a restful, sane weekend.

Raindrops on Rue Anenome and Dutchman's Breeches, by David B. Coe

Photo Friday: A Winter Walk

Last weekend, in between rainstorms, Nancy and I got out for a lovely walk on what is known here as the Mountain Goat Trail. The Mountain Goat is an old railroad bed and the MGT Alliance is part of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

It was a warm, sunny afternoon, and the play of shadow and light, of path and bare trees, made for a peaceful black and white image. I hope you like it.

Have a wonderful weekend. I’ll be in Charlotte, NC for the Saga Professional Development Conference. Hope to see some of you there.

A Winter's Walk, by David B. Coe

Photo Friday: From the Archives

So this is bound to happen a few times over the course of the year. I was traveling and attending a con the latter half of last week and the first half of this week. I returned home to lousy weather. So no new photo this week. Sorry.

Instead, I have for you one of my favorites from last year: This was a photo I took in Ireland in a formal garden at Duckett’s Grove. We visited the ruined Great House on our way to Glendalough, and had the place to ourselves for a couple of ours. In the midst of another cold snap here in Tennessee, the photo reminds me of warmer days and gentle rains. Enjoy.

And have a great weekend.

Duckett's Grove Blooms, by David B. Coe

Photo Friday: Snow Pics!

Last weekend, we had a rare double dose of snow here in southern middle Tennessee. The first snow was a dusting, but the second was one of those magical snowfalls, heavy and sticky, that coats everything it touches. As soon as I woke up, I grabbed my camera and hurried outside to the pond near our home.

Here are a few of the photos I took that morning. I had a window of perhaps an hour. Before long, temperatures rose, the wind picked up, and the branches shed their snow. But for a short while our brush with real winter was truly glorious.

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day, and have a lovely weekend!

Pond in Snow I, by David B. Coe Pond in Snow II, by David B. Coe Grass and Snow, by David B. Coe

Photo Friday: Rain-fed Streams

Sometimes we take photos for the sake of art, other times to commemorate events – times with loved ones, special occasions, etc.

And on occasion we snap pictures simply to document something unusual. This week’s Friday Photos are of this last sort.

My brother and sister-in-law came to stay with us for a few days this week, and their visit coincided with soaking rains, thunderstorms, and flash flooding. These two streams, in the woods just below the top of the Cumberland Plateau, usually flow as trickles. By midsummer, they sometimes dry up entirely. Yesterday, they were torrents, their waters frothing, their roars filling the forest. The photos don’t do them justice. But I promised to get out with my camera every week. This week, this was the best I could do.

Enjoy! And have a great weekend!

Stream 2, by David B. Coe Stream 1, by David B. Coe

Photo Friday: Reflections (Also Not the Last of the Year…)

Anyone who is familiar with my photography knows that I love to play with reflections: the imperfect rendering of a sky or mountain or forest on the surface of a lake, the echo of coastal cloud formations in wet sand.

This week a friend and I went birdwatching on some farmland not far from our little town. The distant fields were filled with Sandhill Cranes and Canada Geese, their calls echoing, flocks coming and going in loose formations. It was great seeing the birds, but I was taken with the reflections of the sky and trees in the farm ponds on either side of the road. I snapped a bunch of photos. These were among my favorites.

I hope you enjoy them, and I wish you a wonderful weekend.

Farm Pond Reflection, by David B. Coe Twilight Pond Reflection, by David B. Coe