“May Your Spirit Be the Guide”

          It was early May in 2012 and upon my return home from a life changing backpacking adventure with my brother in South Carolina, I found myself reflecting on many things...

         As much as I was becoming obsessed with nature photography, I had never really before been out for much more than day hikes or leisurely strolls close to home. And now, I had just driven through the entirety of Shenandoah National Park twice, a bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and camped out for two nights backpacking on the Foothills Trail, SC - all over the course of one week!

         With one evening left before going back to work, I decided to drive out to Poe Paddy State Park about an hour from my house to see if this Dogwood (that is barely even prominent the way this evening turned out) might still be flowering.

         You see, the evening before I set out on that South Carolina adventure, I had come to this very spot. Spring blooms had come extremely early this year after a mild Winter and a warmer than average March and April. By mid-late April most areas were predominately green. The exception being higher elevation mountain settings such as this which were still in the budding and blooming stage late April/early May.

         Then out of nowhere came a freak late April snowstorm dumping roughly six inches on all that fresh green! Albeit beautiful but disconcerting with all those delicate blooms! It melted considerably fast though with warming temps the next day and the remaining blossoms had survived. Unfortunately that first evening I was here, I had lost the light to attempt a good photograph.  So it had been stirring in me, wondering if I might still have a chance of this Dogwood being in bloom a week later...

         Miraculously, it was!  A precarious hop, skip, and a jump across some rocks put me out on the Big Poe Creek in great position.  Balancing on a rock, trying not lose my gear or myself in the water, this ethereal fog began creeping in and consuming the mountains at sunset. I snapped the shutter.  And in this moment of awe at Mother Nature's unpredictable beauty, I rationalized all the events in my life over the past 9 months - that made me question so many things about happiness, passion, and how we move forward - which led me to this adventure and to this moment of clarity.  I listened to my heart and let my spirit guide me and I've been doing my best to do so ever since.


“May Your Spirit Be the Guide”   -   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"

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

The Sweet Songs of Spring...

         Perhaps when you look at this image, despite the pretty flowering trees dispersed throughout, it just seems like a big mess.  That's ok, sometimes I feel that way too.  In fact, I debated a lot over making this photograph part of my collection.  After several views though and transporting myself back to this moment in a place I treasure every Spring, it hit me.  The very reason I composed the scene the way I did was to encompass everything I could in the frame about this place that is special to me this time of year.  

         Picture yourself sitting peacefully in this tangled mess of forest bursting with new life, it is a beautiful Spring morning with the perfect mixture of a warm sun and a cool breeze.  Vibrant green surrounds you, such as the leaves of this young Sugar Maple hanging right in front of you, destined to be a majestic Autumn dazzler someday.  As you look all around, purple and pink dots of the Redbuds are everywhere, entrancing you with happiness.  And front and center, growing just enough year after year to work it's way into this clear open view, is the White Flowering Dogwood, brilliant as can be.  Unable to resist smiling with the joy of this re-birth of the forest, you just sit there and take it all in, the air filled with the sweetest scents of lilac and fresh flowers wafting in the breeze and the morning chorus of the birds rejoicing these sweet songs of Spring!

                                                                                                                   Brandon Kline

"Sweet Songs of Spring"