The Photography of D L Ennis, and more!


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Gentle Season

The Gentle Season

The Gentle SeasonThe Gentle Season—A season all its own, the time between the audacity of autumn and brutality of winter, when calm and soft light ensues; it’s a beautiful time of year here in the Blue Ridge Mountains!

The Roanoke Valley; taken from the Blue Ridge Parkway…

An Illuminating Evening

An Illuminating the sun burst through the treetops!

Taken in the Jefferson National Forest, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, on Jennings Creek and Powell’s Gap.

On a Gentle Eve

On a Gentle EveTaken on a back road in Bedford County, Virginia, on this very gentle evening…as Canada Geese drift silently on this placid little lake.

On the Farmstead

On the FarmsteadThis is one of kind of building that the earliest pioneers to the Appalachians would have built on their farmstead. They made the best of what they had to work with, with the simplest of tools such as an ax and froe. Most were very poor and couldn’t afford more or better tools; they could also only carry so much on their backs through the rugged Blue Ridge terrain.

A Dapple Day

A Dapple DayFound on a back road in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia on a rainy day...

Snowden Trestle

Snowden TrestleRailroad trestle across the James River at Snowden in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia…

Switch-back Gate and the Meadow Beyond

Switch-back Gate and the Meadow BeyondIn the old days, farmers in the Blue Ridge Mountains used these narrow opening switch-back gates that allowed them easy access to fields and meadows but was impossible for cattle to maneuver through. Taken just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway on a very misty, rainy day…

Click any image to see a larger version!

To see more of my images of the Blue Ridge click here


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Petties Gap

If you find yourself exploring the Blueridge Parkway, look for the single lane roads that wind down the mountains. One spot, I particularly like is Petties Gap, It leads you through the National Forest and has sights of its own, one is a interesting little swimming hole.

The single lane road meanders down the mountain following a creek that is alive with wildlife. Deer, turkey, bear, and hawks can often be seen. But if you fail to catch a glimpse of the wildlife, the stream offers its own attractions.

It was late fall when I took DL down this rough dirt road. Not a time to take a plunge in the water that is ice cold even during the hottest time of summer. But if you are looking for peace and tranquility you will find it here.

Camping is free in this area, but the sites are primitive. Also follow the rule, leave no trace and be careful with campfires.

A note about the pictures: If you click a photo it leads you to my photo-stream on Flickr. All the photos are copyrighted by me. If you care to use one of my photos contact me through my mail at Flickr.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Turkeys, Wild and Otherwise

I expect that today the only bird that I will be watching is the one coming out of the oven. And the bird coming out of the oven will be a turkey.

Wild Turkey / Photo by Gary M. Stolz (USFWS)

Wild turkeys are the most distinctive game bird native to North America, and is the only native species to be fully domesticated. The wild turkey belongs to the genus Meleagris of the family Phasianidae, which also includes grouse, prairie-chickens, pheasants, and ptarmigans. It belongs to the order Galliformes, which also includes quail - and domesticated chickens - among others. It shares its genus with the ocellated turkey, a Mexican species that may have been domesticated by Native Americans before the arrival of Columbus.

Ocellated Turkey / Photo by George Harrison (USFWS)

Wild turkeys prefer woodland habitats but have adopted to agricultural areas, and will even live in proximity to humans. At one time, turkeys largely declined in the 19th century due to land clearing. But because of open space preservation and the relocation of wild birds in the late 20th century, their numbers have rebounded and the decline reversed.

Since I live in a major city, I get to see wild turkeys only very rarely. Turkeys, though, do show up in DC occasionally. When I see them, it has been on forays outside of the district.

Most of us, though, do not eat wild turkeys, but domestic turkeys. The two share the same species but are bred and raised in far different environments. The domesticated turkey was developed from the wild turkeys native to North America, and come in several breeds. Some breeds descend from wild turkeys shipped to Europe, starting as early as the 16th century when explorers brought birds from Mexico back to Spain.

Modern-day domestic turkeys are engineered to produce the maximum amount of white meat as quickly as possible; these are the broad-breasted varieties. The broad-breasted turkeys could not survive away from farms as they cannot fly or run. Most are too weak to breed. Some smaller farming operations raise "heritage breeds" like the Narragansett.

Turkeys - wild or domestic - have become deeply embedded in American culture. Unlike the bald eagle, it is not an official national symbol, even if Benjamin Franklin expressed a preference for the turkey early on:
For my own part I wish the Eagle had not been chosen the representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his Living honestly.... I am on this account not displeased that the figure is not known as a Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For [in] truth the Turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.
Whatever Franklin's objections (which may have been tongue-in-cheek), both the bald eagle and the turkey have become important symbols in American culture in different ways. The eagle, with its majestic flight, symbolizes of American power. The turkey has come to be a symbol of abundance and family through its association with the uniquely American secular holiday of Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

This essay was originally published at A DC Birding Blog.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Log Structures of the Appalachians - Part III

The Earliest Chimneys -Part III

The earliest chimneys in Appalachia were made with the "Wattle and daub" method or clay over a stick framework. These chimneys often angled away from the house. Chimneys found in Appalachia today are almost always of fitted field stone, except in sections of eastern Tennessee where the proper clay for brick-making was found.

The location of the fireplace varies. Corner chimneys are rare in the mountains and are associated with early Scandinavian buildings. The common gable-end chimneys show Scotch-Irish and English influence. Chimneys arising from the central portion of the house are characteristic of German construction.

Stone chimneys were usually held together with red clay, which bakes hard from the heat of the fires. One problem common to mud filling or "chinking" is wasps that riddle the chinking with their homes. Brick chimneys were often laid up with clay and handmade lime mortar. Lime makes the clay "set up" harder. Other additives to strengthen the clay were the chaff from grains, animal hair, chopped scraps of rope, and hog's blood.

You can read, The First Settlers - Part I here.

and, The Log House - Part II here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Harry Flood Bryd Bridge

A very interesting area on the Blueridge Parkway is the Harry Flood Bridge. It is at this point the Parkway crosses the James. It is also the lowest point of elevation on the Parkway.

At the Bridge you will find a reconstructed boat lock, a small museum, a picnic area. and the banks of the James. Underneath the bridge runs a causeway that you can walk, if you look up you will see clay nestlings of sparrows.

Below you, Great White Egrets and Blue Herons can often be seen making a low flight under the bridge.

Along the south side of the James River you will see if you sneak up quietly snapper turtles sunning themselves on logs. Frogs, chipmunks, Canadian geese, and all varieties of wild life can be found, if you walk quietly. Although, I have not seen deer here, I have seen their sign.

Along the banks of the James you can find day lilies, and other plants making their home along the James.

One of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen appeared almost as a golden fire.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sunrise and Mountain Days

A Photo Essay

Everyday is special in the Blue Ridge Mountains and each holds unique photographic opportunities. Come to the Blue Ridge and bring your camera!

Click any image to see a larger version of that image.

Sunrise Commute

Sunrise CommuteWhen I came around a curve, on this mountainous highway (Va. Rt. 501,) while driving my wife to work, this beautiful sunrise presented itself to me. What an opportunity and reason enough to keep your camera with you at all times. This image was taken on Monday, 11/06/2006.

The Promise

The PromiseThis sunrise was taken just west of Lynchburg, Virginia on a back road off of (Va. Rt. 501,) on my way home. This explosion of color was taken on Monday, 11/06/2006.

A Pastoral Life

A Pastoral LifeThis peaceful and beautiful scene was taken on a back road in the Shenandoah Valley. Beautiful scenery abounds in this region of the Blue Ridge! Bob and I take little photo safaris quite often and this is one such day, Monday, 11/06/2006.

A Beautiful Day on the Parkway

A Beautiful Day on the ParkwayTaken on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia on Wednesday, 11/01/2006. With autumn drawing to an end, color-wise at this altitude, this view looking south offered what little color that was left on the trees.


TrickledownTaken on a small stream, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, on the National Forest road through Petites Gap off of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. This is an infinitesimal little stream which often times offers better photo opts than larger bodies of water. Keep your eyes open for these tiny gems at all times!

Bridge in the Middle

Bridge in the MiddleTaken in the Blue Ridge Mountains, on the National Forest road through Petites Gap off of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. As we traveled down the mountain this larger creek began to run alongside the road. If you enlarge this image you will see a bridge in the center of the image, hence the title of the image, “Bridge in the Middle.”

You can see more of my images of Appalachia and the Blue Ridge here.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Autumn in the Blue Ridge: A Photo Essay

My sorrow, when she's here with me, thinks these dark days of autumn rain are beautiful as days can be; she loves the bare, the withered tree; she walks the sodden pasture lane.
--Robert Frost

If you missed autumn this year (2006) in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I’m sorry; you missed a fantastic show! We’ve had fog and rain, clear skies and dramatically cloudy days, calm silky days on the water and wind.

Below are some of my beautiful experiences this autumn, and I hope that you will find my images pleasing, as well as achieving a sentiment of somewhat experiencing the sense of this autumn through them!

Click the images to see a larger view.

Lower Crabtree Falls

Lower Crabtree Falls Starting out early in the morning on October 16, my friend, and fellow photographer, Bob and I set out to hike Crabtree Falls; we were not disappointed by what we found! This image is just one of the many gems to be found along the trail of the longest cascading falls in the east.

Autumn Mist

Autumn Mist Taken at about 3:00 PM (10/17/06) on the Blue Ridge Parkway; just a few miles south of the James River. It had been raining hard earlier in the day and then became foggy and misty; combined with the autumn color there was a mystical feel about the Parkway.

Morning Reflections

Morning Reflections The morning of October 20 seemed magical in so many ways on the Parkway! This image was taken that magical morning after a night of rain; the clouds were dramatic and the autumn colors vibrant, and the sun peeking through the clouds made for a theatrical performance of light and shadow!

Chilly Autumn Day

Chilly Autumn Day This image, I call “Chilly Autumn Day” was taken at Abbot Lake at the Peaks of Otter. Bob and I drove up there in hopes of finding some great autumn images and this is one of my images that were such a joy to find. It was overcast the colors were beautiful and the autumn chill in the air invigorating!

Silky Day

Silky Day Silky Day was taken from the walking bridge at the James River visitor center on the Parkway. It was around 3:00 PM and not even a whisper of wind resulting in this soft silky appearance of the water and sky.

Autumn’s Reflections

Autumn’s Reflections I took this image yesterday while Bob and I were out looking for great views on this late autumn day. This was taken on Otter Creek, just below the Dam of Otter Lake on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was a difficult day to find good photo opts unless you sought out shaded areas out of the very bright sun; we did, and I think it paid off!

If you enjoyed these images you can find more of my fall, 2006 photos here.