Use your imagination and mentally stitch the two photos above into one long panorama of a sunrise. You're looking at Massanutten, the mountain ridge that bisects the Shenodoah valley, with its highest peak east of Harrisonburg and then dropping abruptly off.
This is the view my father grew up with, just down the hill from my cousin's house, on the edge of the Eastern Mennonite Campus where his father was business manager for many years. It's a view that shows up again and again in my grandmother's paintings; it means home to my father, even though his view now is of the corn fields of northern Indiana. He has his own five-foot long photo hanging on his office wall, the feedmills carefully photo-shopped out. Morning fog is another way to do it.
Fauna to be found on Massanutten include bear, coyote, wild turkeys, rattlers, deer, and luna moths. Most of those I did not see, though there was a rumor of a bear on the James Madison University campus and I saw deer at the edge of Jewel's yard one morning. And this slightly tattered luna moth was perched on a post at the retreat center we visited the second Monday.
More views from my cousin's backyard. Their house sits on a ridge with views of Massanutten to the east and the Allegheny mountains to the west. I've long thought that I would prefer living by the ocean to living by mountains. I love the way the light and color is always changing with the ocean. Mountains, on the other hand, just sit there. Or so I thought, until these past few weeks, watching the interactions of haze, clouds, light, and mountains. Glory! What a delight, to have the time to sit and watch the slow unfolding of sunsets and cloud dances.
For the past two weeks, when I wasn't on the Eastern Mennonite Seminary campus, enjoying a mini-sabbatical in connection with their Summer Institute of Spiritual Formation, I was usually out savoring the view from my cousin's Virginia garden, and delighting in her flowers. Whether a misty June morning or a fiery sunset, or close-up views of hydrangea, bougainvillea, hibiscus, or her many other flowers, there was always something to feast my eyes upon.
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"