Patricia Temples Photography

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Archive for the month “September, 2012”

Shenandoah National Park in Autumn

I was born and raised in Virginia and I have never lived anywhere else.  Now in my retirement years, I am lucky to live near the Shenandoah National Park.  In fifteen minutes I am on Skyline Drive, and in another thirty minutes I am in Big Meadows, my favorite area of the park.  This week I had the good fortune to drive up three times.  Even though in the “low land” where I live autumn is just beginning to make its mark, in SNP red, golds and oranges are emerging everywhere.  In another week or two it should be fantastic.

In the meadow there are berry bushes changing to a deep rich burgundy color, milkweed pods opening to spread their seeds, grasses blowing in the wind with an occasional goldenrod pepping through.  The ferns are dying back to lovely shades of gold and brown.  It is quiet and peaceful.  Because the full moon occurred this week, the animals were not out at sunrise.  They use the brightness of the moon to feed and forage at night, so when we arrived their tummies were full and they were sleeping in the woods.

National Public Lands Day was Saturday, September 29th, and entry to the park was free.  There were many people hiking and enjoying the crisp autumn air.  I was part of a group of volunteers who worked in Big Meadows to control Black Locust trees that are threatening to change the landscape there.  It was a wonderful day in the Park.  But, then, every day in the Park is a wonderful day.

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Adventure in Western Virginia

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Over the weekend my husband took me on a birthday adventure to Monterey, Virginia by way of Bath County (Warm Springs).  It was a perfect weekend.  The temperatures were terrific both days, and even dipped into the 30s overnight to give us crisp autumn air on the first full day of fall.  The countryside is so awesome and gives credence to the term folks like to use about the region:  Little Switzerland.  In many ways it reminded me of the Italian countryside in Umbria with the rolling hills and vibrant shades of green. Already the colors of fall are beginning to emerge.

When we first drove into Bath County on the trip down on Saturday, we started seeing hay bales decorated in all kinds of creative ways.  Roger called it “Hay Art” and we began to look for them after seeing a couple on the outskirts of Warm Springs.  Later we learned that they were part of the Harvest Festival in Bath County this weekend.  Forty-seven hay bales were decorated all over the county.  We only saw a few of those, but of course, I had to get some images of the ones we discovered.  In the community weekly newspaper, we saw photos of others we missed. The last treat of the weekend was seeing the barn quilts in Highland County.  All-in-all, it was a fun adventure.

Coincidences of Life, #2.

In May, I was invited to have lunch in the home of a friend in Oak Park, Virginia, a community in Madison County.  The reason for the luncheon was to introduce me to Ruth Penn, whose (now deceased) husband I suspected was a relative.  Armed with a box of photos, some albums of postcards, and my Family Tree Maker file for the Penns who made up my father’s line, I headed off to a wonderful day.  Ruth and I sat down immediately and she walked me through the genealogy that connected me to her husband’s family.  What a small world we live in.  We had a delightful lunch, prepared by an interested friend who brought Ruth and me together just for the opportunity to meet and connect.

After lunch, I brought out two albums of postcards that I acquired when my great-aunt, Sarah Ellen Penn Sale, left us in 1997 at the age of 97. Her sister Annette, who was horribly crippled by rheumatoid arthritis, collected postcards that were sent to and from various family members in their travels within the US and overseas.  The postcards are a treasure.  There was a black and white postcard of the Rotunda at the University of Virginia from 1908.  There were no trees around it and it looked rather stark.  There were postcards of Richmond back at the turn of the century.  My hostess asked if she could remove one of the postcards to see what was written on the back, and I agreed.  She picked one at random, turned it over and it was addressed to “Miss Lucy Hobson, Oak Park, Virginia.”  Her eyes and mine popped out of our heads.  “You have to be kidding me,” she said.  I was bowled over.  Here I was standing in a house in Oak Park, Virginia, and she chose that postcard out of the pages of that album.

I knew that my great-grandmother was a Hobson before she married Peter Leath Penn, but I didn’t know who Lucy was.  I returned home and went through my FTM files and old records and finally determined that she was my great-grandmother’s sister from Bristol, Virginia.  I also found another postcard addressed to her at Oak Park Institute in Oak Park, Virginia.  Her date of birth put her at 54 in 1908, the year she received that postcard.  A little more research with locals led me to surmise that she taught at that school.  Yesterday a native of Oak Park drove me to the site of that school.  It is no longer there, but the sidewalk that led to the school remains.  It is a straight sidewalk, up to what is now a round pen for holding cows or horses, then on the other side of the pen the sidewalk resumes and branches off in two directions.  A foundation is visible, as are old foundation stones, and possibly the remnants of an ice house.

I need to go back into my boxes of photos and letters to see if I can find a connection between Ruth Penn’s husband’s family (Henry Clay Penn) and Bertha Throckmorton Hobson Penn and Peter Leath Penn, my great-grandparents.  Oak Park is a small community that would not have been a likely destination for a single woman from Bristol, Virginia at the turn of the 20th Century.  My musings lead me to believe that Henry Clay Penn’s family encouraged Lucy to come to Madison County to teach.   Six months ago I had never been to Oak Park, but today I have eight special friends in that area, only twenty minutes from my home.   Aren’t the little coincidences of life amazing?  I was supposed to meet Ruth Penn,  and through her, Lucy Hobson.  Now I need to complete the story.  Someday, I hope I will do that.

Voices of the Wind

My father, Lawrence Burton, wrote poetry and folksy stories for our local weekly newspaper back in the 80’s and 90’s.  This morning as I listened to the howling wind and watched my golden retriever quake with fear, I was reminded of this gem.  My father liked the poetry of Edgar A Guest and this was written in a similar cadence and style.  I hope you enjoy the poem and the windy day that we have in store for this Tuesday, my birthday.

Voices of the Wind

When I was young and scary,

And all filled up with fright,

I could see all kinds of creatures

“Round my bedside in the night;

And I’d pray that dawn and sunshine

Would, somehow, my sorrows end,

As I laid in bed and listened

To the SCREAMING of the wind!

Like a freight train’s eerie whistle,

That sound would seem to be,

And I knew some big old black thing

Was a’reaching out for me;

And I’d peek out from the “kivers,”

Like a raccoon from its den,

As I laid there all a’trembling,

At the WHISTLING of the wind!

Oh, I was brave enough by day

And I’d often “take a dare,”

There wasn’t a river I wouldn’t swim

And I ‘splored caves everywhere,

But on windy nights I wondered

If that THING was there again,

As I gave my rapt attention,

To the CRYING of the wind!

And when the wind was howling,

I could see the wolves in pack

With their vicious eyes upon me

And their breathing at my back.

Then I’d struggle all the harder

To escape them once again

As I sprang upright and listened


So whenever thunder rumbled,

And the wind began to growl

I just knew those wolves were waiting,

To begin their nightly prowl.

Then “Old Rex” would start to whimper,

And my nerve would start to bend

As I laid there–heart a’pounding,

At the GROWLING of the wind!

But now that I am older,

And no longer fear the wind,

I feel that something’s missing,

When the sounds of night begin

And I crave a journey backward,

To recapture, if I can,

One more night of wild excitement,

‘Mid those VOICES of the wind!

(C)  1984  Lawrence R.  Burton

Mushroom Fever Strikes Again

I was going on a mini-adventure today to a friend’s home in Madison County.  I stopped to pick up another friend and there they were, gorgeous mushrooms waiting for a photographer.  They were grouped in clusters like little families, heads held high and posing for the camera.  What could I do?  I had to capture them.  So, the fever got me again, and here is the result of my little outing.

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Light through the Fog

Another foggy sunrise called to me this morning.  I love the way fog accentuates some patterns and diffuses others.  The colors in the fog really came out when I brought this image into the computer and worked with it a bit.  Amazing.

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