Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Lotus Eaters

Red Lotus, Old Farm House Pond, Village of Lewisburg, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

If you recall your Greek mythology and the story of Homer's
Odyssey, the Lotus Eaters were a people inhabiting an island near North Africa who feasted on the Lotus flower and fruit. The plant was said to have a narcotic effect. According to Odysseus, when his ship ran aground on this island, his men munched upon the delicious Lotus plants. They soon felt carefree, being completely apathetic about ever leaving the land of the Lotus Eaters and returning home.

Though we did not partake of the fruit or flower of the lotus, we felt the same way about our family and their farmhouse in Lewisburg.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Next Newest Thing

Pulleys, Old Style Harvester, The Old Depot, Village Of Lewisburg, OH  © Doug Hickok

It was not so very long ago that farmers had to harvest crops by manually removing the grain from the rest of the plant. By the 19th century, machines were invented to do this mechanically, but they were ponderously drawn by horses or mules. By the early 20th century, self-propelled harvesters like this one made the work much easier and efficient. Now antiques, they are put aside to rust in weedy patches of fields, all but forgotten. These relics of by gone eras are reminders of man's ability to constantly improve upon an idea.

oday, technology advances with such speed that new inventions are rapidly replaced by the next newest thing, in seemingly just a matter of months.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mysterious Monday - Not What You Think

Window and Sky, The Old Depot, Village of Lewisburg, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

You might think this is a photograph of a cloud reflected in the pane of a window. But on closer inspection it appears to be an open window to the sky.

Or is it?

This visual riddle exemplifies the aphorism, "Life is an illusion".

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Red-Eyed Gargoyle

Gargoyle Statue, Village of Lewisburg, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

We associate gargoyles with towering medieval cathedrals in Europe. These stone sculptures were designed as waterspouts to transfer rainwater away from buildings, or used sometimes as grotesques to scare away evil spirits.

So it was a little surprising to find, on our second, most recent road trip to Ohio, a pair of tall gargoyles guarding the entrance to an old Victorian home in the little town of Lewisburg. These two ferocious lions came equipped with glowing red eyes as well. Perhaps this is an intimidating sign to neighbors to beware of trespassing, or simply another version of local mid-American kitsch.

With my commitment to unadulterated journalistic reportage, I decided not to use the red eye function on my camera.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Irene Passes by Charleston

Storm Walker, South Battery, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Fortunately, Charleston was only brushed by the outer bands of Hurricane Irene as she passed up the Atlantic coast last evening.

 Today, our thoughts are with everyone in the path of this destructive force of nature.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Blue Cleat

Blue Cleat, Union Pier, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Large cleats such as this one help hold massive container ships to the piers at Charleston's various marine terminals. Vessels from around the globe arrive to load and unload cargos of all sorts. 
If only good will traveled as easily...

Hope your weekend isn't as stormy as ours is predicted to be!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Window Boxes

Flowers in Window Boxes, Tradd St., Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

An assortment of blooming flowers adorn the front of an 18th century house along Tradd Street. Charleston has a 12 month growing season, so it is not uncommon to find beautiful surprises like these window boxes almost any time of year.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cruise Ship Dilemma

Cruise Ship, Charleston Harbor, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

A large cruise ship is docked along a pier in Charleston Harbor. The recent frequency of cruise ship visits has elevated tourism in Charleston, but a debate now rages over the pros and cons of their presence. 

On the one hand, a fortune of tourist dollars is generated by the ships, but on the other hand the environmental impact of large boats in the harbor degrades flora and fauna, and the traffic generated around the waterfront disturbs local residents. 

The Charleston Board of Architectural Review is working hard to find a solution to the problem, the ever elusive balance between quality of life and profit.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Color in the Least Likely Place

Corner, Archdale Parking Garage, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Sometimes nice color is found in the least likely places, like the top floor of this parking garage in Charleston.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fiery Light

Iron Gate Knobs, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Door knobs glow in the light of a setting sun along the Battery in Charleston. Ornate ironwork is part of the charm of our fair city, and can be seen throughout the neighborhoods on the peninsula. 

As the warm sunlight illuminates each curve of iron, the ornate design of the gate is traced in fiery colors. Annie Griffiths Belt, a well known National Geographic photographer, once said that a successful image communicates a sense of the light. And since photography is by definition about light, her remark makes perfect sense.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chapel of Ease

Strawberry Chapel, Moncks Corner, SC  © Doug Hickok

Strawberry Chapel dates from 1725. It is a chapel of ease, which means it was built so citizens in the outlying parts of the parish could attend services without having to travel long distances to the main parish church.

It has been well preserved over the years and as with many old historic churches in rural areas, reports of strange happenings at night have given birth to ghost stories. These have sadly led to vandalism resulting in the property being made off limits to visitors. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Running After the Rain

Runner, Waterfront Park, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

What better way to enjoy a morning than running in Charleston's Waterfront Park after a cooling rain shower. Well, maybe there is a better way, but I can not think of one at the moment. 

Oh, wait, maybe bowling. 
Or tiddlywinks.

Congratulations Sarah (8) & Mike on your Wedding Day!

Friday, August 19, 2011

West Ashley Sunset

Sunset, West Ashley, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Sometimes, the view from our front yard is absolutely stunning!

Have an equally stunning weekend!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bridge Wednesday - Memorial Park

Memorial Park, Mt. Pleasant, SC  © Doug Hickok

Mount Pleasant's Memorial Park, as 
seen in this dawn image, sits at the base of the Ravenel Bridge. The public space offers a long fishing pier that extends into the Cooper River, a large expanse of lawn for outdoor events, a restaurant, and a colorful playground for children (and parents).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Abstract Angles

The PLEX, North Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok  © Doug Hickok

These are the colorful stuccoed walls of a movie theater that was later used as a boxing venue. It has been demolished since I made this image on slide film about a decade ago. I miss the ability of good slide film to render color and textures in bright light without having to enhance these qualities in post-processing. The above image is a nice example of this. Raw digital images would need a bit of work to get them to look like this.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Day at the Beach

Clouds and Beach, Kiawah Island, SC  © Doug Hickok

Summer clouds reflect in glistening shallows along a beautiful stretch of beach at Kiawah Island. This barrier island offers the most pristine beach along the South Carolina coast. On the horizon you can see a thin line of sand dunes where clusters of sea oat colonies thrive. 

A day at the beach like this is ideal for flying kites, hunting for sand dollars, or bowling. 
Or maybe even tiddlywinks.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Twining Vines from Historical Times

Ornate Cross, Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Carved flowering vines climb this stone cross at Magnolia Cemetery. The large 19th century graveyard is the resting place of many Confederate soldiers who died during the American Civil War, including the crew of the Hunley. The Hunley is an early prototype submarine which sank off the coast of Sullivan's Island during a mission to torpedo a Union blockade ship. 

The Hunley was pulled out of the sea several years ago, and is on display at the old navy base, where research continues on this archeological gem from a distant era.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Rendition of a Jetty

Jetty at Sunrise, Folly Beach, SC  © Doug Hickok

This painterly interpretation of a Folly Beach jetty at sunrise is a departure in style for me. I don't usually play around with Photoshop settings, but I couldn't resist a little experimentation with this old slide that I found in my archives. It seemed a suitable subject for an artistic rendering.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Caw Caw

Southern Wetlands, Caw Caw County Park, Ravenel, SC  © Doug Hickok

From the cool misty coasts of Maine to the hot humid climes of a Southern swampland, this weeks posts offer a variety of natural environments for you to enjoy.

Today's image shows swampy wetlands from a former rice plantation, which was converted in recent times to a wildlife refuge and nature education center. This park is called Caw Caw, just like the sound of wild crows.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend, 
and if you gotta... crow!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sea Oat Sunrise

Sunrise, Folly Beach, South Carolina  © Doug Hickok

As a summer sun rises over the Atlantic Ocean, sea oats wave in the breeze, providing a frame for the fiery orb. All along the coast, where there are barrier islands, these grasses grow in colonies, and flourish when undisturbed by humans. They are crucial to the stabilization of sand dunes, especially in the face of powerfully eroding tropical storms and hurricanes. By July and August, 
sea oats are in full display,
showing their heads of gold.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Maine Dawn

Sailboats Moored in Southwest Harbor, Maine  © Doug Hickok

Dawn breaks on the still waters of Southwest Harbor, a little Maine seaside town near Acadia National Park, where sailboats anchor in temporary tranquility. From the dock you can see past the opening in the harbor, out to the Atlantic Ocean.

It is there, beyond the sanctuary of the moorage,
where boats are free to risk the winds and waves of the sea.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Little Gem

A little waterfall near a Carriage Road, Acadia National Park, Maine  © Doug Hickok

Acadia National Park has 45 miles of unpaved carriage roads dating from the early 20th century. Built by philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., these rustic pathways meandering over Mount Desert Island were intended for horse and carriage rides. Today they are used by park visitors for hiking, horseback riding and bicycling. Along the way, one is likely to discover beautiful sights in the mountains and valleys, such as this gem of a waterfall, right next to the carriage road.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Misty Monday - A Gathering of Ancients

Hunter's Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine  © Doug Hickok

The remains of conifers have tumbled down from a forested slope to gather on the rugged, rocky edge of Hunter's Beach. Looking like ancient pincushions of twisting limbs, they weather rapidly in the harsh coastal climate of Maine... aging, ancient spirits of the wild.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Saint Michael's at Dusk

Saint Michael's Church, Broad St., Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

On a clear cloudless evening, Saint Michael's steeple rises handsomely above Broad Street, glowing with warm light. With its prominent location and bells tolling on the hour, Saint Michael's presence is ever known along this main thoroughfare in Charleston.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Keep Cincinnati Beautiful

Over the Rhine, Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

The city of Cincinnati has an urban renewal project underway in the Over the Rhine area. This neglected part of town is being targeted for renovation because of it's nationally important 19th century architecture. It is one of the largest urban historic districts in the USA. Originally settled by German immigrants, it became the center of Cincinnati's beer brewing industry, but is known today for it's large collection of Italianate buildings.

Progress is slow, however. Many of the dilapidated structures are secured with brightly painted plywood to temporarily cover doors and windows, in an attempt to

"keep Cincinnati beautiful".
One day these buildings will be attended to, but in the mean time they wait.
Hope springs eternal.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Handy Work

Steps and Mural, Auburn, Alabama  © Doug Hickok

It took many hands to create this colorful mural.
It takes many more hands to create a peaceful world.

 Wishing you many handfuls of peace this weekend.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Lobby Elevator, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

Colorful vertical art elevates the hip ambiance of Cincinnati's Contemporary Arts Center.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Hike to the Local Sink Hole

Joppa Ridge Road, Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky  © Doug Hickok

We drove this densely forested backcountry road to get to a sink hole in Kentucky. Fortunately, we saw no signs of bootleggers or moonshiners in these backwoods, but we did see a few wild turkeys next to the road, so close you could almost reach out and touch them. Beneath this road and these woodlands lies the world's largest cave network, over 390 miles of caves, some of which are flooded with underwater rivers.

Outcrop, Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky  © Doug Hickok

By the road was this outcrop of limestone, showing telltale traits of Karst topography, a geologic phenomenon important for the formation of caves. Weaker layers of limestone erode faster than harder layers above, creating ideal situations for cave development over time.

Hiking Trail to Sink Hole, Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky  © Doug Hickok

The hike down into the sink hole depression was a short but challenging one. The day was dreadfully hot, and in the sink hole, extremely moist and humid. The air felt so thick you could almost slice it with the tail of Daniel Boone's coon skin hat.

Wooded Cliffs, Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky  © Doug Hickok

Once in the sink hole gorge, we looked upward to the forested hillsides and cliffs, and saw trees. Many trees. And they seemed so tall. By this time we were sweating and breathing heavily. The air felt muggy, sultry, sticky and airless. Yes, that's right, airless air. Never mind the oxymoron. It was so.

A Lost River, Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky  © Doug Hickok

At an overlook in the gorge, we spotted this lost river, a segment of the underground system of rivers in Mammoth Cave that suddenly emerges for a time, then disappears back into the caves. When the river emerges, it picks-up sediments and nutrients from the woodlands and carries them through the caves to help feed cave fauna, such as the cave salamander, and the Madagascan burrowing cow.

Cedar Sink, Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky  © Doug Hickok

Finally we reached our destination, the holy grail of Mammoth Cave sink holes, Cedar Sink. Sink holes, which are sometimes called swallow holes, are typical of Karst landscapes. They are natural depressions formed by erosion of the limestone bedrock, or where a cave ceiling has collapsed. In this case it is an underground river which has surfaced. The sink hole looks so lush and swampy, you would almost expect to see a python.

As evening approached, it began to get a little dark, so we turned back up the trail to return to our car.

Kitschy Knight, Cave City, Kentucky  © Doug Hickok

As knight approached, we found our path blocked, and were forbidden to pass. Fortunately I happened to have in my knapsack a shrubbery and a herring, which the knight insisted I give to him, or he would say "Ni" over and over to us. He then let us pass unharmed, and so
we went on our jolly way,
 conking our coconuts together as we walked.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Rain Boots and Umbrella, Auburn, Alabama  © Doug Hickok

Complementary Colors.
Complementary Apparel.
Complementary Photograph.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mysterious Monday - What in the World?

Oddity #1, Hyde Park, Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

Oddity #2, Hyde Park, Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

Oddity #3, Hyde Park, Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

Oddity #4, Hyde Park, Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

Oddity #5, Hyde Park, Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

Oddity #6, Hyde Park, Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

Oddity #7, Hyde Park, Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

What in the world is this?
These images are like pieces of a puzzle.
Imagine them together, and you might get an answer.
It was so chaotic that it was a challenge to make coherent compositions.
Feel free to make a guess.

If you would like to know what in the world this is, here is the link.

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