Posted in Freedom Friday, Photo Opportunities

Autumn Photography

Every autumn I go on safari. Not really. I treat it as a safari, though. I pack my camera in my satchel, slip on a warm jacket, and head for the woods. What am I hunting, you may ask? Trees, leaves, nature—anything really to depict this glorious season we call fall. And that’s my Freedom Friday introduction to fall photo gathering.

A path to the foot of the woods
A path to the foot of the woods

The adventure typically begins at the foot of the woods a couple of minutes from my home. You see, I live in farm country, near where all the folks from Toronto get their corn, strawberries, and other assorted goods. How close do I live to the woods? I’ve seen foxes chase rabbits from the brush across the street into the neighbor’s backyard at 5:30 in the morning. This happened ten feet from my walk. I’ve seen multiple raccoons frenzying on garbage cans as if bitten by zombies. And I’ve smelled. Yes, smelled—skunks near where I trod. I’ve seen them, too. Tail sticking up. Those are the animals I fear most spilling from the woods. Oh, did I mention the coyotes? We have them, and they’re the dreadful parasites of our town’s existence.

As I was saying, the adventure begins at the foot of the woods. During this time of year when the forests give up their leaves, I’m there capturing it all. I suppose it has to do with the color the season exhibits. Boy, can anyone deny autumn is colorful? I think not. And here I am, in the middle of the woods, the threat of coyotes at every turn, snapping photos of anything that may inspire me to share with others.

Beautiful morning majesty
Beautiful morning majesty
The woods
The woods
Leaves that have yet to change color
Leaves that have yet to change color

The time I get the absolute best photos is either early in the morning, as the sun makes its appearance in the horizon or in the evening just when the light turns all sorts of golden hues along the edge of the tree line. I’ve taken shots in the middle of the woods just as dusk approached. Reminiscent of Dorothy’s travels through The Wizard of Oz’s Dark Forest, the day fades, the wind howls, and it does get creepy. But it doesn’t stop teenagers hitting the woods at night to have their secret rendezvous. On occasion, I’ve come across the remnant of empty bottles near a felled tree, a spot I suppose popular with the young crowd.

The log where teens hang out
The log where teens hang out
I think I know where I'm going
I think I know where I’m going
Enjoying the crunching leaves
Enjoying the crunching leaves
Inside the woods
Inside the woods

The woods have paths I can walk yet there are times the leaves cover the paths making it difficult to find my way back. I’ve gotten lost several times only to find my way back after having remembered what the trees looked like from mental notes of my journey. Believe me when I say it’s not fun not knowing where you are in the grand scheme of things.

I have to say this: whenever I’m out there with my camera taking those eye-popping photos of the foliage, sometimes my breath catches. It’s as if I’m seeing things for the very first time, enjoying every moment. The colors are vivid and beautiful, the air crisp, and the area is so much at peace without human interference. I’m glad I have the woods as my fortress of solitude. Everyone needs a place of refuge. The woods are mine.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Do you take photos of the foliage every year? Do you have a fortress of solitude?

Posted in Freedom Friday

A Bad Haircut’s Like…

For those who don’t know, I cut my own hair. You can read my entire journey to hair follicle grooming in my post My Dark Secret. Suffice it to say I’ve had mishaps but none so challenging as last week’s clipper misfire. You can stop holding your breath. This Freedom Friday post will not have pictures of the dastardly deed.

Burnt Toast
Burnt Toast

How did it happen? In all honesty, I had good intentions. Cutting my hair for over a year, I guess I became too cocky. I only wanted to trim the top. Allow me to rephrase—I ONLY WANTED TO TRIM THE TOP!!!!!!!

That’s as much information as you’re going to get from me regarding this educational melee of sorts. The best way to describe the feeling I felt, when it dawned on me that I’d made a mess of things, is to compare the incident with others I’d experienced.

What you are about to read below is true. I did not embellish it in any way, and I certainly did not make any of this up. Each episode is my own and mine alone.

A Bad Haircut’s Like…

  • …smashing your thumb with a ball-peen hammer while attempting to hang that picture of the wonderful vacation you had last summer, and realizing you had dropped said hammer on the beautiful hardwood floor creating a dent you will never forgive yourself making.
  • …turning on the computer to the sound of whirring and sparking then smelling smoke as it fills the whole room, and knowing something’s not right since the splash screen is nowhere on the monitor.
  • Raccoon (Photo by: Cliff Nietvelt Photography)
    Raccoon (Photo by: Cliff Nietvelt Photography)

    …seeing your nine-year-old son open the shed door to freeze in his tracks, watching the color drain from his face, and knowing there’s something terribly wrong when he closes the door ever so slowly but then tells us we have raccoons living in our shed.

  • …meeting someone at a party with tousled, matted hair thinking they had just woken up and gotten out of bed without practicing proper hygiene, and realizing that’s as good as they will get because that’s how they look all the time.
  • …driving on the highway late at night with no cell phone and the car stalls forcing you to steer to the curb, walk to the nearest service station, call for a tow, and wonder if they’d yet caught that serial killer preying on the homeless.
  • …standing in conversation with someone going on about how their impacted molars collect food particles causing inflammation and swelling, all the while you’re trying to swallow your delightfully tasting hors d’oeuvres.
  • …following the instructions on the GPS when prompted with a twenty-minute timesavings option then realizing halfway you’re in the middle of redneck country with no form of communication for miles.

I have a lot more, yet that would take days to unravel and I don’t have days to entertain y’all with my silly stories of mayhem with haircutting clippers.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Do you cut your own hair? Have you ever made a haircutting mistake that’s taken you days to fix? What other experiences can you think of that would compare with my haircutting nightmare?