Where Two Trails Meet: A Photo Essay
This is where I live, work, and play. I enjoy and am am nourished inside and out by the South Mountain region, so much, I decided to make it my home. This passion, imbued with my training as a naturalist, educator, and community builder, wanted to share a spoonful of a recent morning at the edge of South Mountain in the Weverton area (wheretwo trails meet).
The other day I noticed that fall was winding down before I had really taken any real time to appreciate it and enjoy the colors, smells, and temperatures of the season. I was hoping we would go camping in the Great Smokey Mountains again, but this fall will have passed before that opportunity will arise.
Addressing my tendency to find the spectacular in far off places – away from home and out of the ordinary I decided on a slow walk near home. As a photographer and a naturalist I am no stranger to the tendency to wow others with the spectacular moments of nature. I have seen many colorful and beautiful photographs posted on social media in the last month. Time to stop waiting to go somewhere exotic for the apex of scenic places. Living in Frederick County and just a stone’s throw from the C&O Canal Towpath, and the Potomac River I am well aware of the beauty the surrounds all of us here everyday, and that I have kept myself too busy to stop and enjoy it.
This morning I set out to enjoy my place, in my “back yard” and experience the rejuvenation of an excursion outside and without all of the fuss of traveling hours to get there and then hours to get home. So, I spent the morning going to the river and indulging in the colors, sounds, wind, and the water. I made a point of photographing what Iexperienced and how I felt as a result of being here to share with others. I was paying particular attention to what pulled at the edges of my awareness and noticing what was there in front of me – right now in each moment. Aware of the colors, the patterns of movement of a branch, the flow, force, and circular motion of the water, and the wide arching flight of the Great Blue Heron as it prepared to land on the river bank. The breeze pushing in off of the water was cold on my face and the sun felt warming deep into my bones.
All told, it was two hours of sunlight, walking, and curiosity. Of noticing how the various parts work together and respect the larger rhythm of life. Climbing rocks, getting eye level with the surface of the river, checking out raccoon, mink, and deer tracks in the sand and murky mud I was lost from the tethers of time. This adventure, just a couple miles away from my front door, restored my sense of self and a sense of belonging to the place where I live and the people within my town.
Find the place where autumn speaks to you, close to home. See how the mundane can come alive for you and share that with others. Love your place and live, not just in it, but live it with your whole self.
Maryland native and South Mountain based photographer specializing in making images for people and organizations that make a difference. John is an image ambassador for Getty Images, Alamy, and the Offset Collection. Recent Work: Exhibition at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC, Artful Living – Bladesmith Erin Aylor Enfolds Life Lessons Into Steel, from the photo essay series “Makers of South Mountain.”