Bradford Creek

Relative Motion

A statement of fundamental Nature-essence: Everything in Nature is relative in space and time, including our own lives.

Nature-Inspired Poetry

I’ve toyed with Blog-Post-by-verse a few times since I enrolled in a beginning poetry course this past winter at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Funny that I spent much of my professional higher education career writing in two styles:

  • Boring administrative language
  • Uninspiring scientific technical writing

I suffered through it. In the process, I learned to despise passive voice and third-person formality. I hungered to write with my heart, soul, spirit, and feeling fully engaged. Alas, I found that prose-worthy outlet with my books and these Blog Post photo-essays. And now I’m taking another step toward an even looser style — poetry. That doesn’t mean writing poetry is easier… in fact, at this stage in my writing exploration journey I find verse far more difficult. I know my own prose voice… I recognize it as it flows from the keyboard. Its cadence comes naturally. I labor at the verse. I do know by now that I struggle mightily with rhyming. So, don’t look for it in this offering, which I call Relative Motion. Instead, what I am seeking is a reflective style that allows me to express feeling and experience…without the constraint of rigid reliance upon subject, verb, grammar, and structure. Sure, I could employ prose, but I fear it would be bound to Earth, stiff, requiring many more words.

That explains the attempt at verse. I arrived at this subject (relative motion), one I have reflected on for soon-to-be-69 years, because I am a spatial creature, always cognizant of place. Motion has dominated much of my adult life. I remember with uncanny clarity the sensation of lifting from the runway in the central Appalachians the first time Dad took me up in a small single engine Piper. I can close my eyes at will and feel the thrust, the release, and the lightness. My mind relives the optics of receding runway and trees, the rapidly-expanding horizon, the 3-D mountains taking form and shape. During my forest industry days I had reason and opportunity to go aloft in choppers — wow, the exquisite exhilaration of vertical lift-off! I loved it (flying)… and still do.

Earth-bound, I ran recreationally (I called it competitively) for over a quarter of a century. I logged 31,000 miles during our son’s first 21 years. As with going airborne, I can close my eyes and cover some of my running loops step-by-step, hill-by-hill, start-to-finish. I can see the landscape sliding past, enjoy the exertion, savor the rush, glory at the runner’s high that did indeed occasionally lift me above and beyond life. If I choose, I can still bring to life the closing six-mile agony of my first marathon (yes, the full 26.2 mile beast). At mile 20, I felt worse than ever before… then a mile later felt twice as bad!

And beginning when we lived in Ohio (2008-13) a quarter of a mile from a 250-mile network of paved rails-to-trails, I have biked several thousand miles. As of this morning (June 16, finalizing this Post), I have already logged 970 miles this Covid-19 calendar year. Whether flying, driving, running, or biking, I pay attention to the flow of landscape, and my relative place within it. I believe that everything in Nature is place-relative.  Although I realize that I am not the center of the universe, in part this verse suggests that we observe motion, in whatever form, relative to ourselves.


Relative Motion


Two cars stopped adjacent

Mine moves forward

I slam the brake…

Movement continues!

Until the car beside me

Backs from my vision.


All motion appears relative,

Bicycling along the greenway

Trees nearby race past me

Distant trunks recede in slow motion

Mid-way stems track mid-pace


Oaks far ahead stand at attention

Until, upon my approach

They accelerate to and then fall behind me


Drone-mounted camera

Goose alongside flapping,

Stationary, as clouds slip behind

Speeding streams of traffic below

Unmoving to each other

The pavement flowing beneath,


Only perspective defines motion

Polaris… the North Star… stationary

Navigating us for centuries

323 light years from Earth

Too far for visible relative motion


Time, too, is relative

We see evidence that it passes

But cannot discern its movement


The verse is simple, non-rhyming. I hope the few photos below illustrate some of the relative motion concepts. I photographed the images June 2, 2020 as I traversed 25 miles around and on Bradford Creek Greenway in Madison, Alabama. My average speed a comfortable 12.5 MPH. For the record, that’s 18.33 feet per second.

All motion appears relative,

Bicycling along the greenway


Paused and resting, I can clearly see greenway surface texture. At pedaling pace, the surface texture elements are indistinguishable.

Bradford Creek


Trees (and fences) nearby race past me

Distant trunks recede in slow motion

Mid-way stems track mid-pace

The metal fence posts stand ten feet apart. I cruise past the posts at the rate of 1.8 per second. They are a blur, yet the woods-edge beyond, some 400 feet away, stretching within the photo image nearly 500 feet, a distance that takes me roughly 28 seconds to cover. As the fence posts whiz past, the woods edge falls behind leisurely.


Distant trunks (and far horizons) recede in slow motion

Now, I extend the horizon. The nearby fence (below left) continues to race past; the horizon woods edge exhibits little relative motion. I took both of these photos along County Line Road’s adjacent biking/pedestrian trail, a four-mile out-and-back extension I add when I do Bradford Creek Greenway loops.

Bradford CreekBradford Creek


Oaks far ahead stand at attention

Until, upon my approach

They accelerate to… and then fall behind me

Bradford CreekBradford Creek


Time, too, is relative

We see evidence that it passes

But cannot discern its movement

Roughly 22,000 days (six full decades) passed between the two photos below. Time meant absolutely nothing to the camera-aware tyke below left. In some ways, time means everything to the guy with helmet and biking gear. I lived those 22,000 days at the relentless pace of 60-minutes an hour, yet at any given moment, time stood still. I detected no sense of motion. Everything around me moved at the same pace… hence, no relative motion. However, the evidence is clear and harsh. Dad departed 24 years ago; Mom in April 2017. They ran their race; I’m running mine, with them in my heart… my body, soul, and spirit.

Steve Jones Miscellaneous FamilyBradford Creek

Nature, I believe, is oblivious to time. Have our weathered Appalachians counted the centuries…the millennia…since their alpine glory? Does the heron track the seconds while he stalks the careless frog?

I often turn to the deep-musing great naturalists of days gone by for wisdom in my life. Henry David Thoreau observed, “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” And, so, wisely he proclaimed, “Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.” Ah, if only I can so live these remaining years… enjoying each moment in the stream of life. Insisting upon staying in motion, yet moving apace with the years, finding an eternity in each moment.

Thoughts and Reflections

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. All three are available on Amazon and other online sources.

The fundamental truth I draw from this Blog Post: Everything in Nature is relative in place and time, including our own lives.

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: “©2020 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:

And a Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at


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 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 others lives… sow some seeds for the future

Steve's BooksBradford Creek


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.