A Day of Contrasts

Everything was wet and green and lush, almost tropical looking, as I stepped into the woods in the early morning. Although the sky was clearing with the promise of plenty of sunshine, the heavy rains during the night had coated everything with a rich glossy finish.

Sometimes you can pick up a stone that is dry and faded and not much to look at in the hot sunshine, but you take that stone and toss it into a stream or let a wave wash over it and, viola! The clear colorless water magically paints swirls and stripes of vibrant beautiful color. Just remember that the water holds the key. Take the stone home with you and by the time you get there it will have dried and faded and you will wonder what possesed you to pick it up in the first place.

This morning the trees, the grass, the leaves, the stones were all touched by the magic of the water. Water dripped on my head whenever a breeze shook the trees. Water soaked my boots and my legs as I shook the tall wet grass.

As I went further in, I came into an open upland wood. Leaves high above my head formed a shifting many layered canopy allowing only wavering spotlights of sun to reach down to me. I walked between pillars of brown and grey on the soft earth carpeted with years of fallen autumn leaves. The ground echoed hollow beneath my feet as I walked over dark caverns hewn by thirsty twisting roots.

GullyAs they so often do, my feet lead me down through the trees to a stream. The ravine that steers the water down the hill side is wider and more open then most. The soft muddy walls slope down gently forming a wide V that funnels and concentrates the sunlight. No more watery sheen covering everything here. It is hot, bright, and dry. The ravine not only concentrates the sunlight, but it also concentrates the water into a single flowing ribbon.

The water splashing white in the sun overwhelms my camera and sometimes even it overwhelms my eyes. My feet beneath the water are cool, but the sun beats down on the rest of me as I follow the stony undulating course of the ravine. The stream is like a long flowing oasis in the middle of a parched desert.

I came to a point where I could not follow the water for a while. The waterfalls were Stonetoo steep and the stones were too slippery. I climbed out of the ravine and worked my way down the hillside using the trees to keep myself upright until I came to a point where I could rejoin the water.

Suddenly I was in darkness. At least it seemed dark after the bright sunshine just above. The ravine walls had changed to layer upon layer of dark stone rising sheer, almost straight up leaving only a narrow window at the top. The window didn’t open on the bright sky – it was overhung by long arms of trees reaching across from either side to greet one another. It formed a sort of cave. I looked upstream and I could see the light at the mouth of my cave where things are still bright and shining. I looked downstream and saw my dark damp cave wandering on down the hill.

I followed on down the hill for quite a ways with the ravine floor sometimes shallow and quiet and other times steep with the water falling from ledges and splashing into deep pools with a hiss and a roar. The sun forced its way in from time to time, but never as fully as it had up at the top.

Late in the afternoon while working my way back up the stream, I was taking a photo when I noticed little rings popping on the surface of the pool in front of me. In short order the day’s contrasts took another turn as thunder rumbled and the once bright sky opened up with a waterfall of its own.

I found a somewhat dry spot close to one wall under some especially dense tree branches. This worked for a while and I thought it was slowing down when a flash and a deafening boom close by heralded a new onslaught. The rain redoubled its efforts and even under my leafy umbrella I was getting drenched. I looked around, but there was no place better to hide. My whole world was a sheet of rain flapping in the wind.

To add insult to injury, it started to hail! Marble sized balls of ice started ricocheting around between the rock walls. They pelted me left and right. All I could do was stand and take the beating.

FallsThe stream quickly began to gather all the falling water into itself. The once crystal clear rivulet became a muddy torrent. From a distance the water looked like weak chocolate milk. On closer inspection, I could see that the water was not as homogenous as it seemed. The slower moving pools simmered with a roiling water mixed with brown soil. There was an iridescent quality to the mix. It was like light brown metallic paint being stirred, but never completely mixing.

After a half an hour or so of this tumult, the storm slid away as quickly as it had arrived. The sun broke out again and the thunder receded into the distance. As I sloshed dripping back up the stream, I found all the falls gushing with new energy. Having received a fresh influx of water, they seemed eager to be rid of it as soon as may be. They wanted to expel this raucous new comer and get back to their lazy summer showering.

After a time I came back to the top of the hill and to the open woods and fields. Everything was rich and covered with a glossy sheen. Water dripped on my head whenever a breeze shook the trees. Water soaked my boots and my legs as I shook the tall wet grass.

MDW

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6 Responses to “A Day of Contrasts”

  1. Bernie Kasper Says:

    I would love a day like that right about now Mark, it has been dry and hot for about a month now and the summer doldrums are kicking in, I love this bottom waterfall it is has a real elegant feel to it. Very nice.

  2. fencer Says:

    Ah, some beautiful shots again…

    Regards

  3. paintingartist Says:

    Incredible article and photos to boot. I would love to see this place.

  4. Mark Says:

    Just found your blog and am enjoying my visit. You have some great work here. This place looks magical!

  5. forestrat Says:

    Thanks for all the encouraging words folks!

    When I’m visiting say Indiana, and I tell people that I live in New York they generally don’t immediately think of the kinds of places that I photograph. They picture the city. Fortunately NY is a big state and there is still some room for “unimproved” areas.

    MDW

  6. Oluwasegun Wells Says:

    Fink’s Jewelers – Fine Jewelry and Watches

    Useful, thank you!

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