Thirty days following triple bypass surgery, I ventured forth to my first professional meeting since the grand opening (of my chest cavity!). Judy drove us to Lake Guntersville State Park, a little more than an hour from my Madison home. The Alabama State Park Foundation Board gathered on July 19 for an evening social and dinner at the Park Lodge. The next morning we departed after breakfast for our July 20, Foundation Board meeting in the conference room within the actual entrance to Cathedral Caverns State Park, a naturally air-conditioned venue!
Because I was not yet trail-ready, I present with this Post a series of photographs from our Lodge balcony in the afternoon and at sunset on July 19, and from a morning Lodge-vicinity stroll and balcony dawn/sunrise on July 20, 2023. Sky appreciation seldom requires a deep-forest hike. In fact, our full-canopy summer forests are not conducive at all to cloud and sky observation or photography.
We checked in to our Lodge accommodation mid-afternoon on July 19. By 5:00 PM the balcony offered a late afternoon view of high clouds, a sweeping Lake Guntersville vista, and the accordant summits of the Cumberland Plateau geography, all draped in second-growth hardwood forests. The viewscape below transects from WSW (left) to ENE (right).
The LGSP campground sits dead-center of that continuum, directly below (350 vertical feet) the Lodge and our balcony.
As I increasingly remember to do, I recorded this early evening 30-second video, multiplying the power of the still photographs.
We enjoyed our Lodge social and dinner. I excused myself from our good company at sunset, drawn to the broad Lodge concrete overlook at 7:55 PM. What can I add to the beauty, magic, wonder, awe, and inspiration with my feeble words?! This view amplifies the power of one of my two taglines: Nature-Buoyed Aging and Healing! I remain on a number of recovery prescription medications. However, no capsule or tablet can match the recovery benefits of such an evening perspective. I watched with fascination and deep appreciation for both my repaired heart, courtesy of modern medicine, reliably coursing blood through my body, and enabling me to relish Nature’s gift of yet another priceless evening.
Once more, as I did earlier from our balcony, I captured still images to the WSW and ENE at 7:56 and 7:59 PM, respectively.
The sky and its lake surface reflection, without paying heed to cardinal direction, served as my primary attraction at 8:02 PM!
Again, I captured the moment with this 42-second video at 8:03 PM!
If quizzed, how would I respond to the question, “Which do you prefer? Sunrise or sunset?” My answer depends on whether at the moment I am welcoming a new day…or bidding adieu to one just ending. Similar to a query asking which of the many places we have lived did we like best. Our answer, in full and honest disclosure, is where we happened to be living at that time. We’ve bloomed wherever we were planted. The same holds true for morning’s dawn and evening’s gloaming. I’ll accept whatever joyous day-transition is presented, embracing the moment!
Dawn came soon enough, this photo from a roadside observation overlook just a quarter-mile from the Lodge at 5:41 AM, well before sunrise. The campground lies immediately below.
Just five minutes later, a doe and her yearling greeted us across the road adjacent to the golf course parking lot.
True to my commitment, I recorded this 22-second video at 5:47 AM.
The golf course, a far-from-wild element of the Park landscape, offered a big dawn sky backdropping a lone loblolly pine and a grove of Virginia pine at 5:50 and 5:53 AM, respectively. Pinked-topped dawn cumulus would not have been visible were it not for the golf course.
With age, I am no longer a wildland purist. Give me an occasional State Park golf course with its open skies, edge habitat, meadow rough, and even its manicured greens. Sure, I remain a woodland enthusiast, yet I embrace a varied landscape.
The rising sun, even before it breaks the horizon, brightens the overhead sky, flooding our Lodge balcony firmament with intensifying blue at 6:17 AM, looking once more to the WSW.
As with yesterday’s afternoon and sunset photographs, here’s the 6:17 AM view center-transit to the campground (below left) and to the ENE (below right).
I recorded this 30-second video from our Lodge room balcony at 6:22 AM.
Slowly, inexorably, dawn shifts to sunrise from 6:18 to 6:33 AM. At the risk of repeating the obvious, Nature enriches those of us willing to avail ourselves of her everyday gifts, with abundant beauty, magic, wonder, awe, and inspiration…with unlimited Nature-Inspired Life and Living; and Nature-Buoyed Aging and Healing!
I shall always remember my post-surgery return to an Alabama State Park, rich with aging and healing relevance!
Alabama State Parks Foundation
Thoughts and Reflections
I offer these observations:
- Nature enriches those of us willing to avail ourselves of her everyday gifts, with abundant beauty, magic, wonder, awe, and inspiration.
- With age, I am no longer a wildland purist. Sure, I remain a woodland enthusiast, yet I embrace a varied landscape.
- Neither sunrise nor sunset is superior — each is a work of creative spiritual genius!
Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire, Inform, and Reward you!
Note: All blog post images created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2023 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”
Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by an another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts: http://eepurl.com/cKLJdL
And a Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at email@example.com
Reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause
If only more of us viewed our precious environment through the filters I employ. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied untold orders of magnitude:
Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.
- People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
- They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and will understand more clearly their Earth home.
Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!
Steve’s Three Books
I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit) to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature.
I began writing books and Posts for several reasons:
- I love hiking and exploring in Nature
- I see images I want to (and do) capture with my trusty iPhone camera
- I enjoy explaining those images — an educator at heart
- I don’t play golf!
- I actually do love writing — it’s the hobby I never needed when my career consumed me
- Judy suggested my writing is in large measure my legacy to our two kids, our five grand kids, and all the unborn generations beyond
- And finally, perhaps my books and Blogs could reach beyond family and touch a few other lives… sow some seeds for the future
All three of my books (Nature Based Leadership; Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading; Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) present compilations of personal experiences expressing my (and co-author Dr. Wilhoit for Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) deep passion for Nature. All three books offer observations and reflections on my relationship to the natural world… and the broader implications for society. Order any and all from your local indie bookstore, or find them on IndieBound or other online sources such as Amazon and LifeRich.
I now have a fourth book, published by Dutton Land and Cattle Company, Dutton Land & Cattle: A Land Legacy Story. Available for purchase directly from me. Watch for details in a future Post.