Early May Evening Shower and Next Morning Sunrise at Joe Wheeler State Park

May 10, 2023, I spent most of the day at Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve, departing with late afternoon showers to Joe Wheeler State Park, where fellow retired forester Chris Stuhlinger and I would spend the night to tour the Park May 11 with Park Naturalist Sam Woodroof. I focus this Post on the blustery evening of May 10, 2023 at Joe Wheeler State Park and the glorious May 11 dawn and sunrise from the Lodge pier.

A Squally Evening

As showers raced to the park late afternoon, Chris and I visited the Day Use Area overlooking Lake Wheeler. Gusty winds, rumbling thunder, and showers greeted us.



I wanted to capture the evening’s unsettled weather. The two still photos above only hinted at the stormy condition. My 15-second 4:20 PM video captures the intensity on our exposed perch above the lake..


I walked down to the Day Use Area dock, somewhat protected from the wind racing across the half-mile fetch from the south. The leaden clouds upwind carried rain that would grow steady by the time we returned to our vehicle.


The 33-second video from pier at 4:28 PM depicted a much quieter interval between showers. The dark sky and calmer winds offered a soothing respite from the wilder conditions we had just experienced.


I enjoy Nature’s changing moods, her shifts coming unexpectantly and unpredictably. I relish that spending 30 minutes on such an evening in this one place is akin to being in several different places, as the weather surges, pulses, attacks, and abates. One place shape- and effect-morphing. Bursts of energy, vigor, and easing that transport me literally and metaphorically within a single space.


A New Day Dawning


I refuse to allow a dawn and sunrise to pass unattended, especially when I am on the road to experience Nature. By 5:30 AM I was on the dock at the Joe Wheeler State Park Lodge. The sun still 20-25 minutes below the eastern horizon, I captured this view of the surrounding forests and the marina. I’m never disappointed by a new day.



This civil twilight new beginning warranted a full 2:22 video, May 11, 2023 at 5:42 AM.


Serenity, tranquility, and peace meet the promise of a new day!

By 5:57 AM, the sun had not yet broken the horizon. The twilight show continued, and I am grateful for every minute!



The sun is just lifting above a distant horizon-hugging cloud deck at 6:08 AM, a full 38 minutes from my first dawn photograph above.



I can only imagine the relative worth to those who may have said, “I think I’ll catch another 40 minutes of sleep before heading down to the dock.” The greatest gifts of Nature bear little cost. All that is required is choosing to show up for the moments that accompany every new dawning.

John Muir missed little of Nature’s wonder:

The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.

Alabama State Parks Foundation

Thoughts and Reflections


I offer these observations:

  • Nature’s greatest gifts require only choosing to be present…one dawn daily!
  • The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. (John Muir)
  • I enjoy Nature’s changing moods, her shifts coming unexpectantly and unpredictably.

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:

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


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

Steve's BooksJoe WSP


All three of my books (Nature Based LeadershipNature-Inspired Learning and LeadingWeaned 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.