Happy Earth Day/“Innocence”

         I hope everyone has enjoyed a lovely Easter weekend with friends, family, loved ones and/or doing something they love! And a Happy Earth Day, and not to mention that Easter Sunday was also John Muir’s Birthday (April 21st) AND Saturday began National Parks Week which runs through Sunday April 28th, wow what a time of the season!  

         As you read this, I myself will be doing something that has become kind of a Spring rite of passage for myself to honor National Parks Week and Earth day. I will be backpacking for a couple days in Shenandoah National Park! :-)  I am giving up Easter with family and missing my beautiful girlfriend, Anna, unfortunately this year. But as life has been a whirlwind for weeks now, I felt very strongly about getting out and re-connecting with Nature for a few days. And I think timing is going to be incredible this year as weather has really been coordinating with Mother Nature to produce a gorgeous steady progression of Spring blossoms here in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic!

         I will have more on my Shenandoah adventure and what it means to me when I return. But for now, i will leave you to appreciate perhaps my favorite Spring photograph to date, “Innocence”. This is not from Shenandoah, but rather from another ritual I have every Spring which is visiting my Dad and the wonderful woods along the ridge where he lives. They are abundant with Redbuds, Dogwoods and Cherry Blossoms, making Spring bloom time prime time😁 

         The year I photographed this image, things were happening unusually early in the season, the Redbuds were popping late March into early April, about 2-4 weeks ahead of a more normal blooming period. But I happened to be there on such a perfect day. And in the glorious sunlight of mid-morning I stood staring up and around at a sea of pink and purple popping out amongst the dots of bright green and a crystal clear blue sky that I can only describe as heavenly. How innocent it all looks is what I remember thinking to myself. So fresh and pure and new. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, a true symbol of the rejuvenation of spirit this season brings!

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“Innocence”   -   Brandon Kline

Time to "Rise Up"...

         A few posts ago, I had mentioned how informative and inspirational a recent Sierra Club event I had attended was.  Two weekends ago, I also attended another Sierra Club sponsored event, the Banff Mountain Film Festival.  For those of you who love outdoor adventure of any sort and have never seen any of these films on tour, I HIGHLY recommend it! They are full of humor, inspiration, courageousness, and all around awesomeness!!!  And again this coming weekend, Saturday April 29th, is a BIG one folks.  The People's Climate March!

         I am not going to get all political, at least at this moment, but if you value anything on God's Green Earth, I strongly feel this is one of the most important assemblies of our current times.  It's no secret that their are some climate change deniers and anti-environmentalists in Washington D.C. right now.  And I feel it is EXTREMELY important to get involved in this if at all humanly possible.  Aside from the main march in Washington, there are sister marches all over the country that you can attend to help make your voice heard for the Planet.  For instance, I will be attending the gathering here in State College, PA.  You can find any information you need through the Sierra Club's website, www.sierraclub.org.

         Despite many uncertainties in our country and around the world right now, I have seen and been involved in several instances over the past few months that have given me tremendous hope!  There are people, not just "highly influential," but "ordinary, everyday" people, if you will, who are out there getting involved and making a difference!  Sometimes, it can be hard to see in the beginning, but things play out for certain reasons.  And perhaps all that is happening right now is exactly what we needed to "Rise Up" for the Planet, like the Spring rises from the Earth, and make a stand for this beautiful place we call home.

                                                                                                           Brandon Kline

"Rise Up"

Hiking to "A Home Away from Home"...

         In correlation with yesterday's blog pertaining to Earth Day and National Parks Week, guess where I'll be while you're reading these posts Monday April 24th-Wednesday April 26th this week??!

         Well, if you guessed Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, you are correct!  Yep, I'll be dusting off the backpack and getting back out on the trail for a few days as I make my annual Spring migration to Shenandoah to soak in some of the best Mother Nature has to offer in honor of Earth Day!  As I write this, I am still in debate as to where exactly I'll be hiking these few days, but if I am lucky I may just catch the magnificent display of Redbuds and Dogwoods in the Park's Northern District before the blooms are over.  And who knows, I may just have to go visit my "home away from home"...

         "This backcountry locale in my "backyard" National Park, Shenandoah, has become a home away from home for me.  Since the first time I camped near this serene waterfall I have returned more than half a dozen times to date (and only planning on adding to that over the years to come).  Right here, I have enjoyed some of my most profound and intimate moments of experiencing immaculate Mother Nature.  And the fact that it lies within a section of Shenandoah's Federally designated Wilderness, makes it even more special.  Hiking 3.5 miles in darkness the night before, I awoke on my first morning here and rolled out of my hammock, slid down the carved out hollow right next to me and photographed this magical moment at dawn.  The most amazing black bear encounter of my life has taken place right here, as a young juvenile played and foraged for nuts in late Autumn not more than 20 yards from me for a good 10 minutes or so!  I have been here in early Spring to celebrate Earth Day and seen these Falls booming at 2-3 times the volume you see here.  At the perfect time in October, this forest is ablaze with Maples, Hickories and Oaks.  And, every time, whether it be amidst the intoxicating smell of fresh Spring rain, or Autumn leaves in the cool air, and the deafening sound of the falls as I hear nothing but them aside from an occasional owl hooting, I can lean back and lose myself in dreams under the stars and the moonlight... This place soothes my soul, this is living folks, this is real magic!"

                                                                                                        Brandon Kline

         

"A Home Away from Home"

A belated Happy Earth Day and National Parks Week!!!

         Greetings everyone,

         First, I hope you all have had a wonderful weekend and Earth Day celebration on Saturday!  Also, this past week(Saturday April 15th-April 22nd) was National Parks Week, which always coincides with Earth Day.  It is sometimes referred to as Earth Week and April is also referred to as Earth Month.  And one last coincidence with it all is the Birthday of the great Naturalist, John Muir on April 21st.  Whew, as you can see, it's a special time of year for Nature! And what a beautiful time, as in the Northern Hemisphere at least, the Earth is greening up again.  Storms bring the life giving rain, and mixed with the warming angle of the Sun - sights, scents, and sounds abound!

         Although I was not able to make any big excursions this past week, I was able to enjoy the growing beauty while I worked outside and did make a visit to a special place I look forward to every Spring, my Father's woods, and absorbed an absolutely lovely evening taking in the bounty of Redbuds glowing purple everywhere you look and the hint of Dogwood opening in their midst!  As for Earth Day itself, I made a visit to some old friends to lend support in a time of sorrow, yet peace.  And then spent the evening watching two of my favorite kids, getting them outside for pre and post dinner strolls, pointing out the flowers and trees in bloom, the sound of the Spring peepers, the scent of Lilac and Hyacinth, and the constellation Leo in the bright starry night.  They had a blast, and it felt so amazing to see their excitement and wonder!  A good Earth Day indeed. :-)

                                                                                                        Brandon Kline