Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to observe it close up. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics of photography to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

F-4 Phantom

F-4 Phantom
F-4 Phantom

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Trophy of the Heart

Something unexpected happened on that foggy September morning a few years ago.  For many years fishing from a canoe became a way of life for me.  I've probably paddled hundreds if not thousands of miles over the years and caught a lot of fish in the process.  When I first moved to Kentucky from Oklahoma, I left my trusted, and worn out old canoe behind.  It wasn't long before I replaced it with a brand new Old Town Camper...and she's a beaut and a delight to paddle.

I must admit it was difficult to leave my ancestral home where countless hunting and fishing adventures played out over the years.  Even so, I looked upon this rich new land of Kentucky with anticipation and soon began to scout for new opportunities.

For two seasons I randomly did a bit of hunting and found time to work in some fishing, but it just wasn't the same.  I guess I missed those week-long deer camps in the pine covered Kiamichi Mountians of Southeastern Oklahoma...and floating down the Baron Fork in Oklahoma's portion of the Ozarks, or those morning fishing trips to Old Beggs Lake...and not to forget those freezing mornings on some wild and crazy waterfowl hunting trip...but I suppose I missed my old hunting and fishing buddies most of all.

By Kentucky season three, I vowed to do more fishing to shake loose from the doldrums that had crept into my life.  Most of the hot and muggy summer came and went and I barely wet a line.  Then September arrived and with it a change in the weather as the first hints of Fall began to linger in the air.

With fresh aromas of autumn brewing, memories of days from by-gone years stirred me into action and I loaded my canoe on top of my now beginning to age Jeep, tossed fishing gear in the back, and headed out early one morning.  My destination was Shanty Hollow Lake, which is about a forty five minute drive from my home.  It's a beautiful little lake about 600 acres or so in size...ideally suited for canoe fishing...with clean water and isolated by steep heavily wooded hills.

As I drove toward my destination I passed through cave country hills and marveled at the ghost like valleys and small farms, and barns that filtered through the morning fog.  I arrived moments after official sunrise, but the sun would take another thirty minutes or so before it climbed over the tops of the surrounding hills..  A thick fog floated across the lake and filtering through the haze I could see the first vestiges of fall colors in the trees.  There was no wind at all...just a magnified sense of anticipation that wafted from lingering memories of similar mornings past.  Before I shoved off, I simply stood on the edge of the lake and surveyed the scene.  It felt good to once again experience one of life's small pleasures.  As I slid away from the bank, the sounds of the morning provided an uplifting, calming spirit.

I tossed a line here and there seeking out those hidden recesses where the big bass lie...but alas the fishing was slow.  It didn't matter.  I was drawn to the peacefulness that reigned over this time and place.  As I drifted through the fog, noble emotions I thought long since dormant began to rekindle into flame.

The morning played slowly away and while the final layers of the mist dissolved, I paused in the middle of the lake.  No wind had yet stirred the surface of the water...just the ripples from my canoe and paddle.  I gazed across the skyline of trees now accented against a blazing blue sky.  It was then I once again realized how good it was to experience life from the heart.

No matter where home may be called, by finding time to grasp those moments, in some small way I discovered that a part of Kentucky already existed within me.  Historically, I will always be a native of Oklahoma...but because of this morning...Kentucky truly became a part of me...and I became a part of Kentucky.

I returned home with a renewed spirit equipped with a trophy like no other...not one that can be displayed on a wall...but one much more rewarding...for you see, what I discovered during that rendezvous of time and place was something that stirred deep within.  It was a trophy won from the heart...a gift you might say from my new home...Kentucky.


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