Thunder here among the pines and red hills is the song of summer. Listen long enough and you will hear its song in different keys throughout the day. Thunder at 7:00 in the morning sings a gentle song of relief, of decisions you need not make, heat you need not endure. On a weekday morning this song is colored faintly with regret. It is a lullaby the armchair by the window hums softly to itself as you clamber through the door and leave for work. Thunder at noon is puckish, a cymbal crash to punctuate your lunch hour or send you scurrying to the pavilion at the beach clutching your shoes and towels. At day’s end here thunder sings the loudest, conducting a fanfare for the setting sun diva as it dips below the closed-curtain horizon.
At night thunder sings the sweetest song. A song of space, of longing, and distance. A song of life.
I’m always inspired when I visit the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. I’ve posted photos before, and I made a Minute Wild video just upriver last spring, but somehow I forgot to post these photos when I hiked the trail out to the old ghost town of Port Leon in February. Maybe it’s because I recorded something like twenty-five voice notes about the hike for a collection of travel essays I’m working on, and I didn’t even know where to begin. For this post I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves.
I finally developed some film that I’ve been sitting on for almost a year. The two panoramic shots at the top of the page are my favorite from this little excursion, but I’ve attached a few more shots from the roll as well at the bottom of the page. I love this little Nikon Point and Shoot for these quick Ilford snapshots, and it lives in my travel bag alongside a Sony Rx-100 for quick, no-fuss shooting opportunities.
Taken just before sunset on the last day of 2019, in a field alongside US-331 outside of Paxton, Florida, I feel that these shots capture the cold quiet of the field in winter. In retrospect, they seem now to say a little more.
And in color..
The rural panhandle is full of these haunted landscapes. I remember watching Cold Mountain years ago and thinking about how the filmmakers had to travel to Romania to find an alpine landscape that would convince viewers the films was set in the 1860s. You can travel back roads in rural Walton County through landscapes that have not changed since the Great Depression. Time is a little more evident in these photographs, but not much. If I squint, I can still see the mule working the rows. at the edge of the field yonder. I can breathe the quiet rhythm of the plow, the sun, the wind.
Not far up the road there is a garish sign alongside which shouts, “Visit the Beaches of South Walton!” If you like the outlet mall, that’s fine. Most of the time I’d rather grab the Nikon and drive the back roads, though, searching for the past.
Tonight I fought off the existential dread by finishing this painting. It has been staring at me, unfinished, for weeks. Time to rack up the next one!
Beneath this lake there is a river.