I visited Huntsville, Alabama’s Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary on November 14, 2023, with Dr. Marian Moore Lewis, author of Southern Sanctuary. We sauntered through the western side of the Sanctuary, observing and reflecting upon all manner of seasonal life we encountered from Hidden Spring to Jobala Pond to the wetland mitigation project underway in the mid-property meadows and fields. I focus this photo essay on the sky and cloud splendor above the Sanctuary.
I recall from way back in my toddler years being fascinated by clouds and weather. I shared cloud passion with my Dad. We watched thunderstorms brewing and marveled at their approach, ferocity, and passage. We appreciated nothing more than a good winter snowstorm, especially wind-driven and piling deeply. Short of a memorable storm, all manner of clouds attracted our attention.
My cloud absorption remains palpable nearly 30 years after Dad passed. No matter where my travels and woods-wanderings take me, I never go into the “out there” without looking skyward. In fact, often a mere “look” doesn’t suffice. I need to gaze heavenward, studying cloud type, structure, and movement. Like all aspects and facets of Nature, the more I understand, the greater my depth of intrigue, admiration, and desire to know and understand even more.
Albert Einstein implored us to study our natural world: Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
The Sanctuary’s Hidden Spring wetland may not have presented so well without the textured sky above. I particularly admire a sky that competes for my eye with the complexities of Nature below.
Few people across history have seen all that is hidden in plain sight as clearly as did Leonardo da Vinci. He observed 500 years ago, There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see. I am convinced that the sky is invisible to most people, excepting spectacular sunsets, sunrises, impending storms, and rainbows. And to those who do see, appreciating the subtleties and depths of meteorological science and nuance is absent. I am a closet meteorologist…a student of weather and atmospheric science. The Hidden Spring wetlands, both standing water and emergent forest, would pale under a smooth grey cloud deck.
Jobala Pond likewise both gives to and takes from the complementary firmament above. November 14 presented perfect weather for strolling and exploring. At the tender age of 72 years, I am scheduled in mid-January for left knee replacement surgery, the right knee subsequently when the left knee is sufficiently healed. The cushioning cartilage is long gone on both, I struggle with sharp uphills and down, and just standing is tough. I offer all that as rationale for contemplating carrying a shoulder bag with folding chair.
To sit in solitude, to think in solitude with only the music of the stream and the cedar to break the flow of silence, there lies the value of wilderness. (John Muir)
This would have been a perfect day for occasionally sitting, watching, and absorbing Nature in action (with me experiencing a bit of inaction!).
Winter in our deciduous forests opens a vista not available during our long summers, when canopies obscure sky views. I love gazing skyward through the dendritic weavings that soon enough will burst with spring’s greening.
A dormant meadow carpet below and a colorful and complex blanket above, each vying for my primary attention. I see no clear winner, yet I declare the full package as first prize worthy.
I simply can’t imagine one without the other.
Terrestrial ecosystems or meteorological grandeur competing? No, there is only unity…the entire web interwoven with beauty, magic, wonder, awe, and inspiration acting and presenting as one. As he often did, John Muir captured the notion flawlessly:
This 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.
Thoughts and Reflections
I offer these observations:
- To sit in solitude, to think in solitude with only the music of the stream and the cedar to break the flow of silence, there lies the value of wilderness. (John Muir)
- I love gazing skyward through the dendritic weavings that soon enough will burst with spring’s greening.
- Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. (Albert Einstein)
Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire, Inform, and Reward you!
Note: Unless otherwise noted, all blog post images are created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2024 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”
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And Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at email@example.com
A 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 by 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 understand their Earth home more clearly.
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 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 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 grandkids, 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 with the natural world… and the broader implications for society. Order any 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.