Tag Archives: north georgia

Another beautiful day

Cotton candy sunrise at the greenway.
North Georgia cotton candy sunrise.

The skies of north Georgia are beautiful. I admit this freely now. I often stop to photograph daybreak and dawn, sunset, dusk and twilight.

As a Georgia native, there were many things I enjoyed outdoors growing up, but I can’t recall appreciating the sky on the fringes of day.

Florida was a different story. I lived there off and on for many years, and 2009 is the first time I recall pausing at the sight of the setting sun.

Driving across a bridge, I witnessed the huge orb sinking below the horizon. Once bright blue sky, now dotted with clouds and awash in orange and purple and pink, I wanted to pull over in awe. Instead I offered prayers of appreciation. I couldn’t believe my good fortune to live amidst such beauty.

Soon after that I created a habit of being outside for sunrise and sunset whenever possible. Backdrops of water were nice, but not required. I ran at first light, and evenings I journaled, took pictures, or simply witnessed beauty.

One day the sunset was so majestic, I rushed back to my apartment to grab my phone. I absolutely had to to share it with my new guy friend, Blue. Serendipitous moment, as he saw a similarly beautiful sunset 500 miles away. He performed some over the shoulder acrobatics to capture his for me. Our sunset texts arrived moments apart.

Yesterday's midday cloud cover.
Yesterday’s midday cloud cover.

The symbolism of our spontaneous exchange was sweet. But I didn’t picture myself appreciating the Georgia sun quite the same as in Florida.

Soon enough, I moved back to the Peach State and I missed Florida’s beauty for months. I was homesick for its breathtaking views, and I did not have a heart of appreciation for my current circumstances.

Finally I remembered I could seek beauty wherever I was. It was easy to find once I looked.

Within days I gave Mother Nature some credit for the green trees everywhere I looked. Later on I found the many birdsongs quite cheerful. I noticed and enjoyed new fragrances and sounds during my outdoor runs. And yes, the sunrises and sunsets were beautiful after all. Even the midday clouds capture my attention now.

The beauty has always been here. Now my heart can see it.

On parks and land and coded language

North Georgia is beautiful. I say this grudgingly, as someone who counts Florida’s beaches, glorious dawns and scenic sunsets among my favorite things to experience. Born and raised a Georgia Peach, I know Georgia’s winters are short, summers long, springs fragrant, and falls gorgeous. It’s beautiful here.

IMG_8360I also know Georgia was a slave state, and the legacy of slavery is unmistakeable in these here hills.

Today’s trip to a nearby park was a good reminder of that.

While exploring the area for places to write and think, I noticed a plaque. Memorials are always fascinating documents to examine, and even more so in light of actual history and the language used to disguise it.

The plaque mentions a “beloved plantation” and notes “cotton was grown,” but there’s no mention of people being involved in any way. Certainly no mention of slavery or anything unpleasant as southerners are wont to say. Nope, just cows, cotton, and trees.

Some could argue that the purposeful use of passive voice helps the community heal and come together. Kumbaya and all that. Others could say it obscures the truth for no good damn reason.

Guess what I’d say?

Animals vs. iPhones

Greenway indigo by nicole denise
Greenway indigo by nicole denise

I spotted one today! An indigo bunting.

I ran for 30 minutes in one direction, and sure enough, on the way back in, I heard one chirping near the 2.5 stretch.

Although I wasn’t very close, he let me snap one photograph while he stood atop a pine. I tried for video, but it turns out, he wasn’t interested in posing. He wasn’t alone.

I ran another mile and a half, then slowed to watch a brown cottontail stretch in rain-soaked grass, silhouetted by the rising sun. She felt me approach, and distrusting my intentions, scampered out of photo distance.

I shook my head, giggling, and continued my journey.

After another half mile, I came to a straightway that sometimes doubles as a deer crossing. Sure enough, one and then another appeared up ahead. They seemed to notice me, and after a quick consultation, they decided one human was too many. Off they bounded into the woods.

Indigo Stretch

My running trail is an enchanted forest. Trees and grasses in various stages of bloom flank the whole path. Today I experienced the first honeysuckle this season. Nose candy.

Micro climates and mini ecosystems pulse in the enchanted forest. A chorus of birds on this stretch. A pond of frogs and cicadas on the next. More birds with new songs here. A deer crossing there. A snack bar for bunnies and so on. You experience this all within the first 1.5 miles of the trail. If you’re open to the sounds, scents and scenery, you’re never bored along the way.

indigo bunting
Indigo Bunting by Dan Vickers

Months I spent running that stretch, turning around at 2 miles and heading back in. But there’s a stretch farther in the distance. I make it there often now, but what a treat the first time I tried a five-miler…

Somewhere around the 2.25-2.5 mile turnaround, you spot them. About the size of sparrows, they boast a magnetic, electric blue. Their chirps are loud and persistent from atop the nearby trees, yet sometimes they bounce and fly along side you as you run. Cheering you on.

If you’re not sure you’ll make it to 2.5, these blues are worth the stretch. For the longest time I simply called them my electric birds. Google tells me they might be indigo buntings.

Blue and I went for a run date this morning – the first in months. We ran an easy conversation pace, and blissfully far enough to say hello to the indigos on the back stretch.

Good morning, sunshine.