It did it its way.
I was driving to northern New Jersey for a Christening. I figured, what the heck, wake up early, try to get to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge by sunrise, and watch the sun rise. The sun and the clouds and the sky cooperated.
I came for the birds, and ended up with the sun.
A beautiful flower is a wondrous thing. Such beauty did not come about by accident. It is a product of careful nurturing, sprouting from roots lovingly cared for by someone who truly loved what they were doing. And when it finally emerges, it is stunning to behold. Those who truly appreciate its beauty know the love that is in full display. When you find that special flower, it will be something that you will always treasure. A lifetime is never enough.
The boat across Jenny Lake at Grand Teton National Park afforded us an incredible view of the Tetons. Upon reaching the shore, the mountainside trails beckoned. Up we went, some slower than the others. In due time, the spectacular waterfall that would be one of the hallmarks of this trip came into view. The Teton peaks may give Grand Teton National Park its name, but the lakes, the waterfalls, the flowers of spring, the clean air, the beautiful mountainside hikes, and so much more make this park better than grand. Eloquently beautiful, sublimely inspirational, incredibly inspiring – no superlatives can truly describe this jewel of the national park system.
It is cold outside. Heck, it is cold inside. The first few days of 2018 has been some of the coldest days we have experienced in the D.C. area in quite some time. Yesterday, I went for a short hike in the park. After thirty minutes, I was back in my car. I wasn’t tired. My hands, however, were aching from being exposed to the cold air. One of the things that I need to buy are thermal protection gloves that will allow me to take pictures in cold weather. As it was, I had to take my gloves off every time I wanted to take a picture.
Not that there were a lot of pictures to be found. It is important, however, to persevere and keep looking for something that may prove interesting. Practice is important. In any discipline. And in photography, you need to constantly look at the world and see what pictures you see. I must admit, the cold temperatures dulled my desire to look at every angle, at every corner, at every tree or leaf and find a different picture. I just wanted to walk a little bit and still have fingers that I can move at the end of the day.
So here are two pictures. Perhaps not spectacular. Totally reflective of my mood and sentiments on the fifth day of the first month in 2018. I’ll look at these pictures again, perhaps in the far off future. And remember that it was cold.
And yet. I just finished talking with my cousin in Calgary. She said it was -22F in Calgary over the holidays. Cold is a relative thing. In her mind, we are probably enjoying near tropical weather. Sixteen degrees Fahrenheit? You think that’s cold? I imagine that’s what she was thinking when I was complaining about the temperature.
There are things in life that are relative. And there are things in life that are absolutes. It is absolutely cold. The degree of coldness, however, is all relative.
Even on a cloudy, drizzly, cold, windy, autumn day, Cape Breton Highlands National Park is a revelation. Cape Breton is an island off Nova Scotia. Buffeted by the winds of the Atlantic Ocean, the rugged beauty of the island is a sight to behold. As you drive through the Cabot Trail along the coast, you will pass through this incredible natural wonder.
Driving through Nova Scotia, the seaside towns, the rugged coastlines, the friendly people already provided enough memories to last a lifetime. And as we drove to Cape Breton, I had expected to see more of the same. Well, yes and no. The people were friendly, but the island is more exposed to the winds and tantrums of the Atlantic. And as we drove through the coasts, the road winding through the mountains on one side and the Atlantic on the other, I could not help but think that I was the luckiest man on the planet. I know countless people have witnessed the beauty of Cape Breton. Yet to see it for the first time, to feel the cold crisp wind in your face as you stop and marvel at each curve in the trail, to experience the raw power of nature and the raw beauty that it has to offer – there are few places in the planet that elicit such awe.
I didn’t spend enough time at the park. That much is certain. A few hours hiking barely gave enough time to grasp the true beauty of everything that was around me. Here, at least, are some images from this incredible spot on an incredibly beautiful island known as Cape Breton.
This was proving to be a wonderful hike through the highlands. And then, the forest gave way to the coasts. What a sight to behold. I ran into these two women who bicycled their way across Canada. From Vancouver, to the Canadian Rockies, to Cape Breton – they must have seen so much of what I still long to see. Probably not on a bicycle, but someday – there are still so many places left to explore.
The winding roads, the clouds over the ocean, the wind, the trail went on towards vistas that boggle the mind.
And then, the sun peeked through. Just a smidge of sun, a few ticks of the clock – it was enough.
Sometimes, when a place is really special, even a moment is enough to capture a memory. And strangely enough, all the time in the world is never enough time to spend in that same place. Cape Breton and Cape Breton Highlands National Park. I hear the siren call.
On the first few days of our trip to Nova Scotia, the sun bid adieu and the clouds rolled into view. A drizzle here and there reminded us that the Atlantic Coast can be unforgiving. And yet, in the dank grey skies, you saw the beauty of the land that the hardy Nova Scotians call their home. The jagged coastline, the waves crashing incessantly on the rock strewn shores, the wind occasionally blowing in your face. Autumn’s colors had not yet come. The mostly monochromatic views accentuated the ruggedness of the land. When the skies are grey and the wind howls, I sometimes think of those days in Nova Scotia. And I smile.