Sometimes I take liberties for fun. If you think an African Lion looks out of place in fall aspen forest, you're right. Photoshop play. The lion was photographed at the Denver zoo. I've never been on a safari as much as I'd like to.
This week I'm in Ephraim, Utah.
I love small-town anywhere. Whether I'm rumbling across Germany by train taking in a verdant countryside dotted with ancient stone castles nestled in quiet villages, or cruising the back roads of Kentucky in my car, small towns speak history. The folks who live in them are die-hards - the backbone of America. Still standing are homes from the early 1900's in need of paint with sagging roofs. Broken, uneven sidewalks foster weeds in the cracks and giant trees form canopies over through ways. Almost every downtown resides on Main Street where tall black street lamps add warmth and friendliness, and remind us of sweeter times in history, when families gathered at home in the evening. A midtown park of cool green grass beneath shady trees beckons us to stop for a picnic lunch while bees dance in a nearby garden of roses, zinnias, peonies, petunias and marigolds.
Today we live in a world of fast food and quickly changing technologies nobody can keep up with. We have computers, video games, cell phones and televisions capturing our attention while the human connection in families has all but disappeared. After dropping Michelle at soccer practice, Kayleigh at dance and Ryan at track meet, Mom's busy on the computer updating Facebook, Dad's updating Quicken, Jonathan sits on the couch lost in a Game Boy world of his own . Baby Jewel is parked in front of the television in her self-rocking baby safety seat engrossed in Teletubbies and Boo Bah, whatever that is.
When I visit friends in a small town like Ephraim, I love to drive down Main Street and photograph the old buildings. Some have been restored and the trim is freshly painted. Others are in the process of restoration and I look forward to seeing them finished on my next visit. My favorite, a large old two story stone house has a well kept yard but the peeling paint on the trim speaks of family that's moved on and sweet Mrs. Deacon carrying on alone in the home where she was born, built by a grandfather many generations ago. Her lovely property is a testimony of her love for this place of comfort and familiarity.
Along the country roads I stop to photograph rotting, half collapsed houses, barns and sheds. With grasses blowing in the breeze, fluffy clouds scattered across aqua skies against a backdrop of rich emerald hills, these kind of images stir my imagination. Who lived there, what did they farm and where have they gone?
Once in awhile I'll get lucky and capture some unusual wildlife or farm animals. At the edge of one small village on my way north, I came upon a dilapidated windowless brick home on a large property where horses grazed in long grasses. A broken-down fencing covered with yellow roses framed the property. Off to one side, large farm-style sprinklers were revolving to spray the grasses. One of the mares seemed to be playing with them the way children do - stepping into the spray and then prancing off. It was a marvelous and humorous sight which of course I had to stop and photograph.
At another property earlier in this journey, in the mountains of Colorado, I had stopped to photograph wildflowers (mules ears) covering a hillside. On the other side of the road was a ranch where horses were grazing. As I got out of the car, two of them came to the fence to greet me. They looked like twins, these burnished auburn beauties. What a treat and a blessing from God, I thought.
When I travel alone, I'm never really alone. I always sense the presence of God and He always entreats me to amazing sights along the way.
Today I encourage you to look through a new lens. We've all been reminded many times to stop and smell the roses. Stop, look, listen, smell, breathe, lift your hands and praise God for the beauty all around us. Turn off the the technology. Walk away empty handed and watch horses play, prairie dogs pop out to squeak warnings at one another, birds flitting from fencepost to tree to telephone wire. Now that's entertainment! Take pictures. Make posters, pc desktops, and screen savers as reminders to take breaks to get out and see the world.