Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Beauty is in the Details

     Well, I haven't really been anywhere new lately.  I haven't had many adventures since I lost Don.  This is not to say that I haven't been taking pictures but, it's just different.  I have discovered that I do really enjoy writing.  I usually have a plan before I start my Blog.  But not today.  So, I'm going to put together some things that have caught my eye over the last few months.  I guess we'll see what happens. 
Well, I guess this is as good a place to start as any.  Lately I find myself getting wrapped up in the details.  The little things in life that we often overlook.  There has been a new Wildlife Management Area acquisition here along the Georgia coast.  The Altama Plantation
  which is just a stones throw off the interstate.  So of course I had to go check it out.  As I am riding down the many dirt roads and trails, I noticed these little yellow wildflowers, you can't help but notice them, just about everything else is brown or going brown.  I don't care for winter.  I like the spring, when everything wakes up and is alive.  Anyway,  I stopped at this little cluster of flowers and found this one with some kind of bug perched on it.  But I started looking at it and it is an interesting and pretty bug.      Another thing you also can't help but notice are the red maple leaves, they so colorful and vibrant.  Now believe it or not as I was riding down the dirt road I actually spotted the little fly on the leaf.  I guess I just get amazed at how detailed and intricate they are and all we as people want to do is swat them away.  Now I'm not saying that's a bad thing; I don't like them flying around my face or buzzing my ears and of course the usually have a ferocious appetite.
Then of course, everywhere we look in the south we see either palm trees or palmetto bushes.  But have you ever taken the time to notice the color change in the leaves, the patterns, color transitions and lines that make up that one frond.  The sun was just hitting this one and it caught my eye.  I don't know why but  I really like this picture.  I'm weird and I know it...and I'm ok with that.
I had one of my friends come see me at an Art Show shortly after Don passed in December and I remember him saying that he was looking forward to seeing if my focus would shift on my photography.  I didn't think much of it before, I have always found beauty in the details of a dragonfly, butterfly or a flower, but never intentionally thought about the patterns and lines on leaves, flowers and believe or not fungus.
I found this unusual fungi in the woods along the Little Satilla River in Zirkle not far from the old Dam.  It was on a dead tree, that was lying on the ground, but only on one branch.  When I first saw it, I was thinking seashells.  It was just layers and layers of these pieces that look just like seashells to me.  Anyway, maybe it just me being weird again... I don't know, but I found interesting.  Remember, I told you I didn't have a plan on where this was going to go.  As for the little mushrooms, I just thought they were a cute little colony.  Again all bunched up around one dead tree branch.  I guess it show that life can come from death or that death and decay actually feeds new life. 
Gracie and I were walking through the woods later that day and it was so quiet.  I couldn't hear anything other than Gracie moving through the leaves and the wind blowing through the tree tops.  I got that peaceful feeling that you sometimes get knowing that you are alone, the only one here, just you and nature.  I can't really explain it, but then again it didn't last very long.  Because as I am walking around in the woods, my eyes are everywhere but right in front on me and I came within a gnat's butt of running into this big, fat, ugly Golden Orb Weaver's web.  I feel pretty sure that I have covered the topic of spiders and I before in my writing.  To say I hate spiders is a bit of an understatement.  I would rather walk up on a snake or an alligator than walk into a spider web.  The first thing I think of when you feel that creepy web across your arms or God forbid your face is:  Great, I just crosses a spider highway, the question is where was the spider along that highway and is he now hitchhiking on me.  So you ask, if I despise spiders...why would I stop and take a pic.  Because, I can appreciate the beauty in the details....from a distance of course.  I can appreciate the beauty in the spider, no I really can't.  They are creepy.  That's enough of that. 
Gracie and I got back in the truck and headed down another dirt road (without the spider I may add).  Our last stop was at a clearing in the woods.  You could just picture Bambi and Thumper prancing through here looking for berries.  Apparently, that is exactly what happens here, when I came across this old homemade tree stand in this grand oak.  I love the way the weathered wood works up the tree, the resurrection fern growing and climbing up the tree.  It looks like it has been along time since anyone has used this stand, but I can almost picture them with their back propped against the tree and rifle in hand.
Well, I hope my ramblings have not bored you, I just feel the need to write and I think everyone should take the time to see the beauty in the details.  Until next time, take care.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Nice Little Day Trip.....Trying To Upright My World

  It's been a long time and  don't want to explain...'cause it will make me cry.  If you want to know why or where I have been, you can check out my Blog: No Frills Debbie....Just My Life at
Today I traveled a familiar route but with different results.  I was alone and the rivers are flooding, which makes for some good photo opportunities.  I say I was alone, but not really, I had my puppy Gracie with me and I had Don in my memories.  I would like to share with you what we saw and did today!
So here is my riding partner for the day.  My youngest fur baby, Gracie the Spoiled Little Poodle!  She really is a good girl.
So this was the first dirt road we encountered this morning on the way to the Zirkle Dam.  I have written about Zirkle before, if you need backgrounds info just check out my previous posts.  Today the water should be high and give us a little something different, not to mention it is just a beautiful and quiet place.  A Special Place.
Well, I am on my own today, so I don't think we will travel these mud puddles that look like they could swallow my truck.... on foot we shall go!
These are the remnants of the steel dam.  Usually you can see at least part of the dam all the way across the Little Satilla River, not today.  But it is so quiet except for the sound of the rushing water, birds singing and squirrels chattering.
 I was looking at the moss on the tree and I was surprised at how intricate and beautiful it is when viewed up close.  And then I found some interesting Fungi on a fallen tree branch and it looks so much like the shells and clusters you can find on the beach.  Nature is so simple, yet so beautiful.
Then on the way to Lumber City, I drove passed this little building, I don't know why but it caught my eye.  I pulled another U-turn and went back.  I don't know if it was the contrast of the colorful and patriotic American Flag and the sun washed wood...either way I like it!

As I was approaching the bridge, I saw the freight train crossing and was really surprised, I didn't think they used this bridge anymore.  I pulled the truck over and jumped out to try a get a good shot, but I missed the engine and this is all I could manage.  I cannot believe how high the water is.  I never knew the Ocmulgee River was that wide.  Last time I was here, you could just about wade across the river.  It seems so weird, I usually park next to the trees on the boat ramp....Not today!
We also saw so Georgia Snow....A cotton field!  Now that is my kind of snow

 Gracie and I continued onto McRae so I could get a pic of the windmill and old house.  Which looks bad, but it looks a lot better than it did the last time I saw it.  I think someone bought it and is cleaning the area up.
Then of course I had to stop in Gardi to once again photograph the Old Altamaha Apiary.  This is another I don't know why...but I like this old building.  And by the looks of the cracks in the walls it may not be around too much longer.

 Once again, I apologize for having a long lapse in posts.  My whole world has been flipped upside down.  It is going to take me some time to get back in the groove.  But I will get there.  Until then, remember to take the time to notice the Beauty That Surrounds Us.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Primitive Baptist Churches: Oak Grove, Smyrna, High Bluff, Pilgrims Rest, Wayfair, Bethlehem and Sardis

Lately, I have been focused on structures and one of the structures that has caught my eye is the Primitive Baptist Churches.  So as it goes I find one, then someone tells me about another one in a remote area with very vague directions and I find it.  To learn that there are quite a few others in my area.  Well I hate to collect things, cause once I start I want them all, of course I want to find all the Historic Primitive Baptist Churches in my area.  It has been a fun adventure as most are remotely located, meaning dirt roads which are a favorite of mine and vague directions which are always a challenge.  I have tried to do some research on the churches and have learned that as a group they are very much the same.  Minimalist; simple wood structures, usually with three doors, one in the front, one in the back and one in the middle sometimes with a small overhang covering the door.  All windows are shuttered, some have glass, most don't, the only time the shutters are opened is when there is a service.  The interior is as minimalistic as the exterior, a pulpit in the center on the longest side of the building, hardwood, uncushioned and unadorned benches are to the left, right and center of the hardwood pulpit.  The roof is open rafters with an addition wood strip running down the center of the left side of the church with nails on it, this served as a hat rack.  It is my understanding that the left side of the church is the "men's seating" so also on the left side of the church there are holes in the floor in front of the benches reportedly for tobacco chewing.  The right side of the church was for women and the center benches were for the unbaptized and visitors. 
I think what I love most about these churches is the simplicity, no fancy wall hanging, no expensive stain glassed windows, shoot in most cases no electricity, if you were lucky you remembered to bring a hand fan.  The focus was on the scripture.  Nothing else.  Although, there aren't any fancy adornments; that is not to say that there is a lack of workmanship.  They are simply beautiful, many with rough sawn oak.  Any way, let's get to the good part; I would like to share some of my photos of the churches I have found:
 The first one is Oak Grove Primitive Baptist Church on Raybon Rd in Brantley County.  I don't know when this church was founded, it seems to be one of the newer structures but beautiful nonetheless.
 Notice the pulpit in the center and the hat racks on the left and center isles.
 Another similarity is a hand pump located nearby each church and in most cases a privy.  I followed the small path to the out building. 
 At first privacy seems a must from the outside, but inside is a different story, this is a unique three seater.
 One more similarity, is cemeteries, they all have one.  This one seems to date back to the early 1900's.  While photographing this structure two cowboys, literally on horseback came by and we chatted and they told me about Smyrna Primitive Baptist Church in Lulaton and gave me directions.
 This church is located on a dirt road not far from the County Solid Waste Station with a cemetery that holds the final resting place of many veterans from the Civil War and Spanish American War.
The pulpit viewed from the right side and hat racks on the left.
 Some markers in the cemetery of Confederate Soldiers.
 Viewed from the right, from the cemetery.  This church was founded in 1824 and moved to this location in 1889.  The property was donated by the James Highsmith Estate.  The Church disbanded in 1990.
High Bluff Primitive Baptist Church was founded in 1819 and is still active, it is among the oldest continuing congregation.  It is the largest Primitive Church I have found yet and more modern with the addition of a handicap ramp and hand rails.  The cemetery is absolutely beautiful and is the final resting place of Lydia Stone the Queen of the Okefenokee Swamp.
This church has two doors on the side.
 The pulpit is in the center and some cushions and hand fans are stashed away waiting for service.
 This Cemetery has some very large and extravagant monuments and family plots. 
 And some of the simplest grave markers, like the wooden hand carved picket fence surrounding this family plot.
The Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Church is in Bachlott on a dirt road out in the country.  This church was founded in 1842 and disbanded in 1991.  There is also a well pump, appears to be remnants of a privy, which looks like overgrown snake country to me, so needless to say there is no picture of it and of course a cemetery.
 The inside is so pretty, there is glass in some of the windows, neatly kept and so serene.  As I walked around, I noticed something on the pulpit, money bunched up from previous visitors, I am thinking to help with the immaculate upkeep on this roadside treasure.
The covered well pump.
  This cemetery also had wooden grave markers for family plots and what was obviously a child's resting place.  There were also markers from the confederate soldiers.
 The next church I visited was Pilgrims Rest off Old Waynesville Road.  I don't really know anything about this church another than the front doors were wide open and welcoming.
 Shuttered window.
 Neat as a pin inside, no glass in the windows and I imagine it can get quite drafty in the winter time.
 Here is a close up of the holes in the floor on the men's seating side for the tobacco chewers in the crowd.
 On the back side of the building there is a well pump and the Pilgrims Rest Cemetery is to the right, 
What I do know about this place is that my brother in law Joe is buried here and that he is in a quiet and peaceful setting.  The gates of the cemetery date to 1878
 Charlton County is home to one of the oldest primitive churches in the area and that is the Sardis Primitive Baptist Church.  It was constituted in 1821 and moved to its current location in 1840. 
 I don't have photos of the inside but it is beautiful rough sawn oak.  You can see the blade marks in the wood.  I caught it one day while the shutters were open and returned another when it was all shuttered.  It is in a lovely setting up on as rise above the cemetery with facilities in the back and a well pump.
 One of my favorites is the Wayfair Primitive Baptist Church in Cox, also listed as the Hardshell church.  My favorite because it took me forever to find it.  This is located just outside a hunting club, so the road side sign says private keep out, but the hunting ground is just past the church....a little misleading.  Check out the foundation appears to be the original logs.
 The inside is as charming as the others, it has glass in some of the windows but from the look of it could be quite drafty also.
 This church is also reversed with the men on the right and ladies on the left.  It also has holes in the floor.
 Another View and last but not least the privy out beside the cemetery.  This was a to seater.
One other major similarity of these churches is that they are unlocked and open to the public.  If anything there is a hook and eye latch on the outside to keep the door shut.  They are so welcoming and willing to share their beauty and simplicity; yet so difficult to find out their history.  I wish I was more of a historian, but I am learning more and more every day and it keeps life interesting.  There is so much local history and so much Beauty that Surrounds Us, I am often overwhelmed and not sure where to go next.  Until next time....stop and slow down and take notice to the Beauty that Surrounds Us. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Highway 32: Zirkle Dam - What "Use to Be"

Usually I photograph wildlife and coastal scenery, but, lately I have been stuck on structure.  I have been dwelling on the "Use to be".  So on the weekends I like to try and pick a place off the beaten path and go investigate.  I was recently told that there were remnants of an old dam along the Little Satilla River, that at one time there was a Community called Zirkle along Highway 32 in Pierce County, just past the Brantley County line.  How can you not be intrigued by a name like Zirkle?  I told my husband I found a place for us to find this weekend.  Now please keep in mind the Community of Zirkle no longer exists.  Zirkle was a thriving Community the second largest in Pierce County between 1905 and 1926.  The Davis Zirkle Lumber Company was the largest employer of about three hundred men.  In 1926 the Mill closed, the people left and nature once again took over.  So I tell my husband, this can't be too difficult...I don't think it will take us as long as it did on our adventure to find Wayfair Primitive Baptist Church. (That's another story).  We set out down Highway 32 in the rain, "Mother Nature" has not been friendly with me lately.  As we approach the County line I see the Little Satilla Wildlife Management Area, so I figure we were close.  We drove over the bridge and found a little dirt road, remember I love dirt roads!  Zirkle road, did I say dirt, I meant mud.  We drove to the end of it to find a nice quiet little picnic area with a concrete boat ramp and parking pad right on the Little Satilla.
I walked down the steep ramp and the river is low right now as I looked to the left, there was a tree down across the river, but when I looked to the right I saw that I could easily walk the bank of the river down to the remnants of Zirkle Landing.
So peaceful...So quiet
The photo is what remains of Zirkle Landing.  The water of the Little Satilla River is what they call black water, but the reflective qualities and shades of red, brown and black are beautiful.
I wish the weather had been nicer, but at least the rain stopped for a little while.  But I know this photo taken downstream from the Landing would be breathe taking if I could have had some sunshine and blue skies.  As I continued to walk down the edge of the river I could hear water rushing, almost like a waterfall.  I couldn't follow the bank all the down to the dam.  So I had to do the billy goat trail, up the embankment and through the woods.  I came out of the woods to see that there was a dirt road that went by a little closer. but my poor old chevy pick up is only two wheel drive and she is a bit of a wimp, beside I didn't feel like pushing if I got stuck and I don't think I could have given directions for the tow truck!
I had to walk back down the embankment and that is when I came across what is left of the steel dam.  What I have learned after doing some research is that Davis Zirkle Lumber Company built this dam on the Little Satilla River in the early 1900's to aid in floating the logs down the river to the mill.  I just find it so interesting to find part of what
"Use to be".
Finally I find the sound of the rushing water, which is the remains of the steel dam and it has in fact become a very mini water fall.  I am mesmerized by the rushing water which is the color of root beer.
 I was thoroughly enjoying myself, taking pictures of the rushing water, the metal supports upright through the water.  The river banks are covered with tree roots that resemble all kinds of creatures.
  I was in photo overload.
  The color of the water.
 So smooth and So clear.
 I could easily sit here and relax listening to the sound of the water rushing, watching the patterns and bubbles, small eddys and whirlpools.  I had the whole place to myself!  Oh, wait a minute, no I didn't, my husband was still upstream waiting for me in the truck.  Suddenly my phone rang and it was my hubby Don wondering if I had fallen in. 
Unfortunately, Mother Nature wasn't going to let me enjoy this much longer either and it started to rain again. I made my way back to the truck to find Don, not in the truck.  He was being a bit of a wise guy, maybe hiding behind this sign.
  He is healing and making such good progress.  I am very proud of him!  I told him he doesn't look handicapped to me.  We headed for home in the pouring rain.  But I will definitely be back to do some more exploring.  I have tried to do some research on this forgotten Community, but I have been able to find out much of anything.  If you have any additional info, please feel free to share!  This is just one more example of the Beauty that Surrounds Us.