Dec 112014
 

Whenever I am in need of new inspiration, I seek out the muscadine vines along Piney Woods Church Road.  The leaves and tendrils offer endless possibilities.  Here are two images from this afternoon’s walk.

 

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Dec 112014
 

On my afternoon ramble down Piney Woods Church Road today, I paused to photograph the very last leaf on a roadside pin cherry.  After taking several shots of it, I reached up and touched it gently with my fingertips.  It fell away from the branch tip, onto the waiting road edge.

 

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Dec 102014
 

The wood oats have ripened now along Piney Woods Church Road.  As the autumn and winter advance, seeds will slowly detach from the seed heads and disperse to the surrounding woods and fields.

 

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Dec 022014
 

What a glorious afternoon it was along Piney Woods Church Road!  A few clouds appeared in otherwise blue skies, and the temperature soared into the mid-70s.  I had a busy day filled with errands, but took a few minutes to explore the light along the road, transfiguring leaves into pages of illuminated manuscripts.  The relics of nature’s grace are all around me, in such stunning forms as white oak and greenbrier leaves infused with sunlight.

 

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Dec 012014
 

It was a balmy day along Piney Woods Church Road, with temperatures nudging into the upper 60s.  I searched for the same spider I had seen yesterday, but found another one — much larger than the first — instead.  This lovely orbweaver rested calmly at the center of her (most likely a she) web, not even fazed when I brought my camera lens close.  This is her underside; efforts to photograph her top side were largely foiled by the locations of nearby loblolly pines.  I saw lots of other small insects darting about, so clearly a food source was readily available.  Still, I was surprised to see spiders active after our hard frost of a week or so ago, when nighttime temperatures plunged into the lower 20s.

I have since learned that this spider is Larinia directa, a species common to the lower South. It is not mentioned in my guide to Spiders of the Carolinas, suggesting that it is not common there.  I am not surprised by this, given that the spider is still active so late in the autumn.

 

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Nov 282014
 

After many hours of online work, I set out down Piney Woods Church Road in search of something new to photograph. I repeated to myself again and again that I would not photograph any more leaves.  I have photographed dozens of them, and it was time for something different.  In the late-afternoon light, I photographed threads of spiderweb on hoary mountainmint and strands of horse hair on a barbed wire fence. But at the end of the day, it is these two images of illuminated autumn leaves that I find most compelling, as they catch a bit of the lingering light of a late autumn evening.

 

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Nov 192014
 

Walking down Piney Woods Church Road on my way back home late this afternoon, I noticed a tiny loblolly pine sapling, maybe six inches tall, along the roadside.  The uppermost third of the tiny tree was bathed in sunlight.  These two photographs resulted from my time spent there.  Both, but particularly the first one, evoke the canyon landscape of the Colorado Plateau, as if projecting my longings onto the space of my daily pilgrimage.

 

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Nov 152014
 

This time of year, I find tree leaves, particularly those backlit by the late-day sunlight, absolutely entrancing.  And this is particularly true of white oaks, whose leaves evoke satellite images of foreign landscapes.  Veins form patterns of rivers or roads, patches of lingering green the forest cover.  Like maps, the leaf patterns kindle a yearning for exploration, and awaken memories of childhood days outdoors, pretending I was in Middle Earth, or perhaps an imaginary world of my own devising, inspired by Bridge to Terabithia. 

 

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Nov 142014
 

I did not notice until returning home from my late-afternoon walk how wonderfully these two leaf portraits go together:  still-green white oak leaf against blue sky, fallen brown hickory leaf against the dark earth.

 

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Nov 022014
 

In the mid to late afternoon, I wandered past a magnificent young hickory, leaves a radiant yellow-orange.  After visiting with a neighbor, I passed again, to catch the late-day sun setting the leaves aflame.

 

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