Deep in the Virginia mountains, near the border with North Carolina, sits a cabin. It was built by my grandfather before I was born. I never knew him, but I had the pleasure of enjoying time at this cabin every year while I was growing up. Unfortunately though, after graduating from high school the time between those visits grew longer and longer. It's been over four years since I was last there. that is, until earlier this Summer.
This past July I drove to the cabin with my Dad to attend family reunions. Despite the numerous visits in the past, my experience this time was very different. Because I've been hiking, and photographing nature, I was able to see this familiar place in a whole new light.
New Found Wonder
Thanks to the time I've spent exploring Missouri, I've really honed my appreciation of natural beauty. While I'm hiking I'm always looking for the unique charm of my surroundings, so even the smallest details are amplified in splendor. After years of practicing this, the habit has bleed over into my everyday life.
I met my Dad in Detroit, and we began the trip south. From the get go I noticed a change in my awareness of my surroundings. As we drove through southern Ohio, for the first time I noticed how beautiful the landscape was. This feeling only grew as we made our way deeper into the mountains. By the time we arrived at the cabin I was more excited then ever to go exploring.
Cabin in the Mountains
The family cabin sits in 30 acres of forest. I've walked the trails that criss-cross the surrounding woods before, but this time I set out with the same outlook for adventure I have when I hike a new park in Missouri.
My optimism was well rewarded! As I wandered the woods I came across wild blackberries and raspberries, small clearings that held a diversity of plant life, and an overlook at the property line.
I also made my way down to the spring that feeds the water to the cabin. There was a folding chair sitting in the valley which was odd. I couldn't help but speculate on who put it there, and why.
The paths where a little overgrown, but I was completely overdressed! I had tall rubber boots, jeans, and a rain jacket: it was nice going along and not having a single care about what I might be walking through. It was so much fun exploring back there, and I'm so glad that I was able to approach this place I've walked many times before with a new found wonder.
Many Thanks to Photography
I'm sure that part of my appreciation for nature has to do with maturing as I get older, but I can't help but think that my reaction to the beauty of Virginia was due to my photography over the past years. I think the thing I will take away from this experience is that if you focus on seeing beauty, you will always find it. Even the places you thought you were familiar with can surprise you.