In July, I traveled to Vermont to attend the memorial of a beloved aunt who, though she had a rich life, died rather unexpectedly. I have described Vermont as one of nature’s “photo studios.” The purpose of my brief trip was not photography, but as I was staying in a motel only 3-4 miles from “Smuggler’s Notch,” I carried my DSLR, a couple lenses and a small tripod on my trip, in hopes of an early-morning diversion to a waterfall which has been on my list to photograph for several years.
I was at the waterfall just after first light on Saturday morning. The part of the falls that I wanted to photograph (Bingham Falls), was about a 10-15 minute hike down, which culminates in a very steep section with short “switchback” trail (which really got my attention on the climb back out). Once down, there is a nice pool, with a pretty impressive horsetail fall. Resulting photos can be seen on the Landscape/Vermont section of my website.
Once on the trail, to the best of my knowledge, I was the only human there. Part of the magic of early morning photography to me is being in these places, at first light, with no other human presence. While the photographs fade (sometimes literally), I retain vivid memories of similar mornings on the unspoiled Hatteras National Seashore, at Great Falls NP, on a mountainside in Vermont, in a National Forest campsite in Michigan, and even at a couple of local wildlife refuges and nature sanctuaries.
There is a stillness, and then a gradual “awakening” as birds and other wildlife come to life, that is not possible for me to describe, except to say that being there is truly a religious experience. It is pretty difficult, in my opinion, not to see and feel the majesty of creation when you experience this.
I was raised in a Christian family and regular Sunday church attendance was part of life. During my youth, I spent many summers on my aunt and uncle’s Farm in Vermont, eventually moving there and living for almost 4 years in Vermont. During that time, I made a number of friends and the core of that group was a local church. At the memorial service and during the days immediately before and after, I “reconnected” with many family members and a number of these old friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen for 30 years. I attended Sunday worship services in their small, rural church and felt compelled to reflect on my habit these days, to be out on location or doing other things, rather than attending church on Sunday mornings.
Many of us who profess to be Christian believe in, and take by faith, God’s omnipresence. It occurred to me that God can be in church and at Bingham Falls at the same time. And I couldn’t help but reflect that my own connection with God resonates more strongly and meaningfully as I revel in one of the natural “sanctuaries” he created.