Spring Delights...

         Good morning friends,

         I know that depending where you are in the country, or at what elevation, the progression of Spring may not quite be the same as what I'm describing.  You could be looking more at Summer greens or still at Winter snows for that matter!  Here in central Pennsylvania ranging anywhere from a couple hundred feet in the valleys to approximately 2,000 feet on mountain tops, Spring is greening up!  In fact, when you look upon the valleys, hills, and mountains, you can probably see just about every shade and variation of the color green you can imagine.  It is such a lush and wonderful scene!  Most of the early season flowers have past peak bloom and are leafing, but you can still see surprises here and there and every now and then when you turn a corner, such as I did a few years ago in Shenandoah National Park, you are stopped in your tracks with the delight of a Dogwood, gleaming white against the vibrant shades of green in the Spring Sun and you are mesmerized by it's showy glow!

         Yes, it is early May now and the lush, fresh forests grow more verdant everyday, but delights such as the Dogwood are still out there for you to admire.  And even when this icon of Spring drops it's pure white flowers for the greens of Summer, there are plenty more delights for your senses to come... The show is far from over, throughout the next month, see what mid to late season bloomers you can spot as the forest fills in and the heavy musk of lilac gives way to honeysuckle in the ever growing days and the warming evening air that is to come...

                                                                                                           Brandon Kline


"The Delight of a Dogwood"

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

A sense of hope...

          Good Monday everyone,

          Over this past week, I've observed a lot happening in nature and weather here in central Pennsylvania.  I've been working with a Landscaping company doing Spring cleanup and mulching for some money before going into the Art Festival season.  The work has been good, hard, you know you've done something at the end of day type of work and it's been wonderful to be outside!  The first few days of crisp, damp mornings and gorgeous sunshine were followed by a dramatic cool down and some good soaking rain and even snow showers throughout Friday morning!  Luckily the temps did not drop far enough below freezing to do any damage to the early bloomers and now in the midst of several days of warm sunny weather ahead again, I think by week's end we are going to be seeing quite a noticeable change in the landscape! 

         Spring is well thought of as a time of renewal, hope, new life.  Two of my favorite words to describe it for sometime have been rejuvenation and innocence.  There truly is nothing like witnessing the grass green back up, the flowering trees and shrubs showing off their colorful blooms, and the tiny dots of the freshest, most vibrant green of the trees throughout the forests and mountainsides!  And our minds and bodies seem to Spring forth with nature, bounding with energy from the Winter slumber. This rejuvenation of spirit throughout nature makes me think of the pure innocence of a child, everything in the world gleaming and wondrously new.

         On that note, I feel a positive energy and sense of hope in what I am seeing, the things that are happening all around. I will be elaborating more on this soon, but for today, I leave you with this - this week, take note of the wonder in the smells of the Earth, the rain, the sunshine, the blooms.  Soon, the trees will be bursting with life, and one of my favorites, the Eastern Redbud, will be showing off its "Innocence"...

                                                                                                                Brandon Kline



The beauty in eeriness...

         Several years ago, going back into my early twenties (my, how time flies!), I remember after just being promoted to bartender from bar back, I would always have the Monday morning opening shift.  Well, my dear friend (and fellow Monday morning trooper) Shannon, as acting manager, would have some sort of inspirational calendar picture/quote awaiting me week after week.  It became quite the running joke between us and something I, of course, greatly looked forward to.  So, in that spirit, I'd like to try beginning my own version of Monday inspiration for everyone...  No matter what Monday is to you - a drag, a favorite day off, a new beginning - I hope you'll find these to be that needed ray of hope or something to make your day even better :-) 

"May Your Spirit Be the Guide"

         Upon my return home from that 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 trips/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 - 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 might still be flowering.  You see, the evening before I set out on that adventure, I had come to this very spot.  Spring blooms had come extremely early this year, and by mid-late April most areas were predominately green.  Then out of nowhere came a freak late April snowstorm!  Roughly six inches dumped on all that fresh green, it was beautiful!  It melted considerably fast with warming temps the next day and the remaining blossoms had survived.  But, that first evening 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 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.

                                                                                                                  Brandon Kline

"May Your Spirit Be the Guide"