Category Archives: Photography

Endings/Beginnings: Living in Liminal Spaces

The Lebanon Valley rail trail near Cornwall, Pennsylvania

Summer is on its way out with a few last hot, humid days. Metereological fall arrived September 1, and the Equinox is tomorrow. Autumn is my favorite season. I love watching as it slides into our lives every year, chilly mornings and foggy fields reminding us, as Robert Frost once did, that nothing gold can stay.

With summer gone, I find myself nesting, decluttering and organizing my studio, making lists of fall projects, and taking some time to explore bullet journaling and planners. It seems as though everyone has a planner to sell. As I explored the options, it occurred to me that I could just make my own planner/journal, the goal being to use it for both planning and reflection. I have always been intrigued by the Daily Examen, a spiritual practice based on Ignatius Loyola. Loyola’s practice was based in Christian imagery, of course, but I think it is possible to take it as a more general approach to ending the day with intention. Actually, my Apple watch even suggests a bit of mindfulness as a way to wind down at the end of the day so the practice has certainly entered the secular world.

Even as I work on my organizer, I continue to drift along a bit. There have been endings: my retirement, the loss of Spot, the last of the vegetables from the garden. And there is the usual beginning as I head into the fall semester. But, for now, while there are a few glimmers of new opportunities, there is no clearly marked path. Astrologer Chani Nicholas mentioned the concept of liminal space in past two weekly readings, and the concept resonates with my current state. As I understand them, liminal spaces, from the Latin limen or threshold, are the spaces in between the endings and beginnings of practices and lives, its roots in anthropology and rites of passage. It is considered an uncomfortable place, and there are days when I wonder if I am living it right.

Joseph Goldstein, in the Ten Percent Happier app’s Common Questions course, commenting on what might happen at the beginning of your practice, says with a chuckle, ” The beginning can be the first twenty years.” I have only been exploring my own new beginning for a couple months so maybe I don’t need to worry too much and just allow myself to experience liminality for a little while longer. I created the image at the beginning of the post, using my own photo of the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail.

Travelogue: Favorite Places

My parents live in a retirement community in Cornwall, Pennsylvania, a former mining town in Lebanon County. The iron furnace was the main economic driver for hundreds of years. The homes in the miner’s villages are made of thick cut stone, and the rail trail that runs through the community passes piles of rocks dotted with ferns. I have fallen in love with the place along with its neighboring town of Mount Gretna, a religious and arts community that I will write about on another day.

Having grown up in the farming flatlands of southeastern Pennsylvania, less than an hour south of Cornwall, the rugged landscape and architecture are always a surprise. I walk every day when I am visiting, exploring two routes through the community.

The Lebanon Valley Rail Trail runs right behind my parents’ townhouse. It is so easy to access that I haven’t explored any other sections but would like to this fall. It is well maintained and gets lots of use.

Wildflower Lane runs from their neighborhood to the main campus. My parents’ next door neighbors have adopted the trail and done lots of plantings in the past year, carefully marking the various flowers. The lane takes a left turn towards campus passing a platform that looks out over wetlands. The last time I was there flocks of birds–cardinals, catbirds, red winged blackbirds–soared over the grasses and among the trees. There are benches, and it is a peaceful spot to sit.

From there you head up onto the main campus, past the lovely old greenhouse, the chapel and towards the main buildings including the ironmaster’s home called the Buckingham Mansion. There is a small round building that serves as a meditation room and the Paymaster’s Building that is used for an art studio.

If you stay straight at the fork, you head into a wilderness area that parallels the road. Eventually, you can turn left into the meadow area. It is part of the manor and has birdhouses, benches, and a lovely bridge over the stream. I snapped the picture below one morning during this past visit. The beams of sun reminded me of an old hymn.

Beams of Heaven in the Meadow at Cornwall Manor

Cornwall Manor has religious roots as does Mount Gretna, and I have a general sense of peace when I am there. I attend the local church–an historic stone building of which I don’t seem to have a picture (it’s on the list for the next trip this fall)–when I am there and its solid presence speaks to something deep in the soul that goes beyond orthodoxy and evangelism.

I compiled a few photos from this trip and others to give you a taste of Cornwall, Pennsylvania, one of my favorite places.

Cornwall Manor Over the Years

Connecting With Nature

I had a wonderful visit with one of my oldest friends and my parents. It was so wonderful that I rarely looked at my phone and only took three pictures!

My friend lives in a rural area and, one day, we looked out to see the flock of turkeys that had been regular visitors to their yard. I had fun making a bit of video as well.

My parents live in a retirement community in Cornwall, Pennsylvania. I get out for a walk every day. This time, I explored the meadow walk that leads to the main campus via Wildflower Lane. I chatted with the bunny as I headed towards the creek.

I also sought out my favorite, “secret” garden, between two buildings on the main campus.

I have written about Wendell Berry’s poem, “The Peace of Wild Things”, before, and these pictures remind me that nature is all around us if we are willing to seek it out.

Travelogue: Southwest Virginia

I have been fortunate to spend time in every part of Virginia. One of my favorite places to visit is what is known as “far” southwest Virginia, reaching south and west from Roanoke across the Appalachian Mountains. Beautiful vistas stretch above dancing streams and remote wilderness beckons if you are willing to get off the interstate and main roads. I have been fortunate to make several trips to the region this year and just returned from my last one, at least until this fall.

This time, I was in and around the Virginia Creeper Trail, a rail trail that runs from Abingdon, Virginia, to White Top Mountain, Tennessee. My husband and I biked the trail many years ago, and I would like to do that again. It is an excellent resource for the local communities both for their own use and for the visitors it attracts. I try to walk on it every day when I am staying in Abingdon, either starting in town or driving to one of the other entrances.

Before heading to Damascus, I had lunch at the Harvest Table Restaurant in Meadowview, Virginia. Owned by author Barbara Kingsolver and her husband, the restaurant lives out the vision and mission Kingsolver described in her memoir, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She tells the story of her family’s move to a small farm in southwest Virginia to live out the locavore life, raising much of their own food and getting the rest from within 100 miles or less. My lunch included a blueberry mimosa, spring salad and chocolate torte with ice cream Everything was fresh and delicious. The Farmer’s Guild attached to the restaurant includes crafts, local foods and books for sale. It is just a few minutes north of Abingdon on Route 11 or an easy exit off Route 81.

After lunch, I headed to Damascus, which is about mid-way along the Creeper trail, which joins several other trails that run through the town, including the Appalachian Trail. Not surprisingly, Damascus is known as Trail Town USA. I spent the afternoon exploring, walking a short distance on the Creeper Trail to read the historic signs and checking out the AT.

Just a few pictures to give you the flavor of the weekend. I was out there to do a couple workshops but took an extra day to explore.

SWVA, July 10 - 12, 2022