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"

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"

Spring is in the Air!

         There is a feel in the air today that along with the mild warmth marks my first real notice of "it" this year.  I can't exactly put my finger on it or know how to perfectly describe it in words, but if you know what I'm getting at, I think you'll understand... Every Spring there is a day it seems, either in late March/early April where despite the fact that grass is still brown and trees are still bare, it's as if you can sense the budding pollen and the earthiness in the air.  Well, I am calling it today where I am.  And from looking ahead at the forecast, it appears as though we are going to be sustaining mild temps and plenty of rain over the next week or so, which will be just perfect to help bring forth new life!  I can feel the excitement and energy building all around.  It is almost the Earth's time to "Rise and Shine"!  Pretty soon the forests will be blooming and tiny dots of green will sprinkle the mountainsides...  With this in mind, here is a little slice of beauty to help you enjoy your weekend!

                                                                                                                    Brandon Kline

"Rise and Shine"

Greetings, Spring!

         Brrrr!  Haha, yep that sounds about right for the beginning of Spring in the Northeast!  Well although it is brisk, it is nonetheless a beautiful, crisp sunny day here in central Pennsylvania.  And since I wasn't able to wish you all a Happy Vernal Equinox on Monday, I just wanted to write a quick message to say welcome Spring since it is official now.  Despite the chilly winds, there is no denying the strengthening of the Sun, as we have turned the tides on day versus night in its direction.  And if you look closely you can notice that many trees are beginning to sprout their tiny buds at the end of their limbs!  I have felt for some time now, that from a distance, especially in large groups and on mountainsides, this gives the appearance of a fuzz like effect to the tree branches.  And at what other time of the year can you have a foot plus snowstorm practically disappear into the ground in a matter of days despite temperatures only a few degrees above freezing?!  Certainly not in the heart of Winter.  Yes, you can certainly see that nature is beginning to look and feel and little bit different.

         Here are a few pics that I've snapped while out and about and around over the past week that document a little bit of nature returning to life...

                                                                                                                Brandon Kline

Going Out In Style...

         Old Man Winter certainly has given us a good last gasp of his powerful, pristine magic here in the Northeast this week! Winter Storm Stella proved to be no joke on this last official week of the Winter Season! Take it from someone who was out in it for pretty much its entirety - Stella was one of the more prominent Nor'Easter's we have seen in some time, dropping totals ranging anywhere from 8 inches up to 2 feet of snow from the Mid-Atlantic up through New England! And following a good solid day's worth of snowfall on Tuesday came about two days worth of gusting winds, drifting, and blistering cold!

         And what do you know, we may be looking at another round of snow and mixed precipitation tonight... Yep, we may have had somewhat of a strange rollercoaster Winter in many parts of the Northeast in 2017, and though Spring is official come Monday, good 'ole Jack Frost shows us he isn't through just yet! If memory serves correct, this will mark 3 years in a row and perhaps 4 of the last 5 that the Vernal Equinox (or at least bordering the exact day) has been ushered in by a bit of beautiful fresh powder! 

         I love late Winter/early Spring snow.  There is something so pure about witnessing a blanket of soft white snow amidst the trees bearing their budding bulbs.  And even when we do get a bit of a chill and some snowfall, the Sun angle and inevitable warm up are usually quick to make sure it gets soaked into the Earth, which is imperative! That's right, whenever you perhaps want to complain about a chilly day or cool rain over the next month or so, just remember that this is the time of year which affects the health of vegetation more so than any other season all the way to how brilliant the Autumn foliage will be.  A slow progression of warming temps with lots of cool precipitation days helps provide trees and plants the proper nourishment needed for a healthy year!

         Well, enough lecturing for today, haha... But with that in mind, I hope you enjoy this bit of bliss I was able to enjoy during the late morning hours of Tuesday March 14th! I have been working on snow removal with a landscaping crew this Winter and knew I was most likely going to have several hours of shoveling, blowing and salting in my future (23.5 to be exact!), but thankfully I was able to go out for a short hike into the mountains and enjoy a couple hours of sweet serenity beforehand... There really is nothing like the silence and peace during a snowfall!  And hint hint, hidden somewhere in this video may just be a photograph that gets added to my portfolio some day ;-)

                                                                                                                     Brandon Kline

The peaceful bliss captured during a moment of Winter Storm Stella