Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, 2014

It's time to celebrate our uniquely American holiday again. Part harvest festival, part gateway to the winter holiday season, Thanksgiving is a time when families gather together and give thanks for the blessings of the previous year and give hope for the coming one.  And of course I post a little something here every year to celebrate. This year I give you two holiday-themed photos from my most recent calendars on Lulu, and two of my video slideshows with music - "Americana", with local scenes set to Peter Ostroushko's "Heart of the Heartland", and "Simplicity", photos set to the Shaker hymn "Simple Gifts" performed by Alison Krauss and Yo Yo Ma. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

© 2014 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Woohoo! First Snow of the Season!

Well, we're getting our first snow of the season. It's a heavy, wet snow and it's slushy on the roads and sidewalks, but otherwise it's very scenic. I walked around downtown while my laundry dried, and then later took a walk in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park looking at the lace the snow turned the bare branches into. Come with me.

God's Acre cemetery on Prince St.
Prince St. and Martin Ave.
Branch Creek at King St.
The boardwalk on the Dykeman Walking Trail
The Dykeman Spring wetland in the snow
The red bridge over the creek in the wetland
Branch Creek between the ball fields
© 2014 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Nature Park in Black & White

I have today off and no errands to run. My normal days off this week are Wednesday and Thursday, but since Thursday is a paid holiday they had to give me another day off so they wouldn't have to pay me for six days. Heh, heh! So I walked around in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park, and like last week I decided to shoot in b&w. These are the shots that passed quality control. Enjoy!

A section of the Dykeman Walking Trail
The view out of the north end of the tunnel under the railroad tracks
The view out of the south end of the tunnel under the railroad tracks
The bridge over the creek in the Dykeman Spring wetland
English Ivy on the forest floor, on the hill up to the upland meadow
Blue Mountain from the upland meadow, with some drama in the sky
© 2014 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Here, There, and Everywhere

Another single day off, so I took photos while running errands today. Our autumnal color has pretty much faded away, so I decided to acknowledge that by shooting in black & white. As the title of this post implies, they were taken in different spots around town.

Dykeman House overlooking the south duck pond and fish hatchery
The rail crossing at Penn St.
My landlord's frozen backyard fountain
A potted garden fades with the season

Speaking of the title of this post, you know I had to go looking for the Beatles song of the same name. Here 'tis. Enjoy!

© 2014 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Wrapped In Mama Gaia's Loving Arms

I follow folksinger Janis Ian on Facebook, and she has a quote of the day feature; today's was: "I wish people cared as much about the earth as they did about who they think created it. - Unknown". My comment was: "As a pantheist who wraps himself in Mama Gaia as often as possible, this states my attitude exactly!" Heh, heh! And of course I shared it to my own timeline!

This is an issue I tackle often. Much of mainstream religion - and by mainstream I include not only the Judeo-Christian group but also Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. - downplays the physical world and the oh-so-fleshly human animal. It sees nature and humanity as a distraction, an illusion to lure humanity away from the spiritual world. As Eugene Peterson, the translator of The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, translates Ecclesiastes 1:2 ("Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity." King James Version): "Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That’s what the Quester says.] There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smoke." There it is again - the world is an illusion, a tissue of lies meant to deceive and distract.

As anyone who has followed this blog (and my presence on the former and on Facebook) knows by now, I totally reject this perspective; it's anti-human and destructive to the world. It's the basis to the thought pattern behind the willful pollution of land, air, and water; why take care of this place if our real home is in some non-physical place and this world is just a waystation? And it's the attitude behind the belief that humanity is perverted by nature and needs to be saved by some other-worldly magical power. Talk about setting up the whole human race for a massive case of self-hatred! Oh yes, I reject that kind of thinking with my whole being.

To me, all creation is sacred, and all together we form the Divine; each physical thing - human, animal, vegetable, mineral, star, microbe, etc. - is a cell in one universal body. And as the Tao Te Ching teaches, each component needs to work in harmony with the whole for the whole to survive. For that whole to work, each component needs to regard all the others as sacred. As the Tao says, remain centered in the Way and harmony will prevail.

For me, that means allowing myself to be wrapped in the loving arms of Mama Gaia, to walk the woods and the hills and the salt marshes and become one with it all. This is what my walks around the area, even while doing such mundane things as going to work or the grocery store, mean to me. I'm plugging in and recharging. Far from being a distracting illusion, immersing myself in this very tangible and beautiful world is what keeps me sane and healthy. I did that again today, and you can come with me.

Nature's beauty is everywhere, even downtown
Fallen Autumn leaves
Asian Bittersweet berries, Autumn's gift to seasonal decorators
The rolling hills of Central PA, seen from the upland meadow in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park
Tree fungus along the Dykeman Walking Trail
A view of the Dykeman Spring wetland in late Autumn

Someone responded to my comment on Janis's post on Facebook by calling me a hippie atheist. Well, that's actually a title that makes me proud, as long as you substitute pantheist for atheist. Hey, just call me a hippie; that's enough to make my week!
© 2014 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Calendars R Us

It's that time of year again, friends and neighbors. I've updated my calendars to 2015 and added two new ones - South Mountain and Dykeman Spring Nature Park. Yeah, I know; it's about time I added some calendars featuring the area I now live in. My only excuse is that it takes a few years to take enough photos to offer a decent choice to use. In any case, you can go visit my sales page at Lulu here. So if you need Christmas presents or just want your own for the new year, check it out. The bonus is, they've lowered the price to you and given me more of a payment percentage, so we all win!

© 2014 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

An Election Day Stroll

After voting this morning I decided to take a stroll through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park to monitor the state of the Fall foliage. It was a gorgeous day, with a slight overcast and temps in the low 60s. Along with the autumnal colors, I saw and heard a good few birds, all of whom managed to avoid my camera - some newly-arrived Dark-eyed Juncos (who people around here call "snow birds"), several White-throated Sparrows singing to each other, a couple of Carolina Wrens fussing at me, a female Downy Woodpecker, and a male Red-bellied Woodpecker. It was a nice walk and I bring you these shots to prove it.

Along the Dykeman Walking Trail
Dykeman Spring wetland
Along the north duck pond
The south duck pond and the Hatch House
The north duck pond again
Branch Creek by the ball fields along the Dykeman Walking Trail
© 2014 by A. Roy Hilbinger