How many storms have I been through? How many sunsets? And yet some particular combination of temperature, humidity, time of day and location created this unreal scene. After an intense but brief lightening storm driving through Central Virginia, the setting sunlight wrapped the entire landscape and sky in a golden blanket. The colors are impossible to recreate on a computer but I recall the scene being every bit as vivid as these photos.
Over the weekend I attended my first Rivercane Rendezvous in Georgia. My friend David, whom I met while he was living in a wigwam in Virginia, told me about the week-long event several years ago but other obligations had always prevented me from going. He is a regular at several similar gatherings in the region and I was eager to not only see him again but also to get my hands dirty practicing some of the ancient skills that are central to these groups. Classes, taught by unlikely experts of all ages, range from bow and arrow-making to fire-starting and birdwatching
As I do, I had my camera over my shoulder but I was intentionally not treating this as an assignment. I wanted to be an active, engaged member of the group to experience the things that brought this community together. They call themselves a family, and, as this was the 30th annual rendezvous, many of these people have literally known each other their entire lives. Although I only spent one full day in the camp, I felt immediately embraced by the community of conscientious, positive, free-spirited people from around the country. As I stopped by various lessons in progress, I inevitably I found myself in some special situations where I was able to make some photos; many, many more scenes ended up as mental snapshots. I thought, if only my school days had been more like this, where every class has a clear purpose, a tangible outcome, a passionate teacher and a warm breeze. (Class sizes were generally limited to 10, as well.)
It’s always inspiring and humbling to learn about something you never knew existed, which happened frequently throughout my short stay. To me, any experience that offers a new perspective has value, especially one that does so in such a constructive and respectful way. If you are curious to learn more, there are earthskills gatherings around the country and they are always looking for new participants.
Today I am leaving my job at The News & Advance to hike a section of the AT with my brother, Samo. We’ve been toying with the idea for almost a year and I’m thrilled that it’s finally going to happen. My 3+ years at the paper in Lynchburg have flown by and I’ve learned more than I ever expected—about photography, about life and about myself. It’s no small decision to leave a great job, especially these days, but some opportunities only come once and I’m ready to start a new adventure.
Keys for the Hill City is a new public art installation in Lynchburg: 5 donated pianos were decorated by local high school students and placed along Main Street for anyone to use. I have played them a few times in passing and regularly see people use them on their lunch breaks or while walking around in the evenings. We are all hoping they are treated well so they come back again next year. I followed students at Brookville for a month as they worked their piano and put it together as a slideshow after it was unveiled.
Trudging through cowpies and creeks in the dark, hopping fences and ducking under thorny bushes, I went out with a couple guys who have taken to predator hunting. Standing in a field, they scan the treeline with night-vision and thermal-imaging scopes as a portable speaker blares animals sounds to lure in coyotes, foxes and bobcats. They have permission from dozens of farmers in Bedford County to hunt on their land. Although they killed over 20 coyotes during the winter, we went out twice and I didn’t see any action (I’m sure my being there didn’t help). I’d like to join them again in the fall when they coyotes are more active again and fill in the photos that are clearly missing.