Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A bird flies back to the wild, children ask why…

My friend Clay opened the box and the sharp shinned hawk immediately claimed a perch, turning to look directly at Clay.  For a moment they shared this contact, eye to eye.  A breeze came and the hawk was gone, strong wings through the air, fast and away through the trees toward a wooded area beyond our vision.  That was the end of another successful release of a rehabilitated bird. Close enough to the original rescue site, the hawk could find its territory and possible mate.

Not all rescued birds are able to survive.  Not all are capable of being returned to the wild because injury or disease has taken away facilities God gave them to survive.  Those birds may be trained to take part in educational programs like the barred owl in this next photo. Blind in one eye, she is still  able to well present her species. She has a permanent home and excellent care.

 This is a joy in my life:  I photo document activities and birds for a local licensed rehabilitation center for birds of prey. Clay is also a skilled photographer and volunteer at the center.  There are hawks, owls, the occasional ospreys and even vultures. Located in a middle school, the center is an ideal learning center for students who volunteer for the program.  The center is all about education and rehab.  Education of people is an ingredient for survival of the wild creatures, an ingredient of such importance it is linked directly to all the center does.  These children are 2nd graders.   When the barred owl came out of its travel box all faces fixed on the bird.  Ohs and ahhs filled this room of big eyes until a teacher interjected, “Remember when to speak.  Raise your hands.” Do you think hands were raised from then on?   This was not the same as releasing the hawk back into the wild..that time Clay and I and that lady hawk each breathed a golden breath.  Absolutely.  At the school that golden breath was for the children.  These kids went home excited to share and likely knowing more about owls than do their parents. 

Photos are ©Thomas Haynes/Clinch River Raptor Center. Located in Clinton, Tennessee.  The center is not open to the public. Operations depend on donated financial support and dedicated volunteers.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Simple Life More Difficult Than Most Of Us Face

The beginners tutorial on doing your own inexpensive photo/art exhibit is finished. I moved it from the blog posts to pages linked to tabs beneath the header. Today I need a more relaxed writing style than a tutorial. My life is ordered enough each day trying to find employment. 

To break from that,  let us go to a place of the mind's eye and thoughts of another time. It is time for a ride to the hills and mental images of life some years ago. Now let's go to Appalachia.

To some people, Appalachia brings thoughts of coal mines, moonshine whisky, poor folks in shacks and dirty kids running around. Oh, throw in a strange mountain dialect and feuds.

Some of that is true but certainly should not be a stereotype of the mountain people. They were and are proud, hard working, loved each other, loved their kids, loved their God and wanted to get the best of life they could glean. All in all, that is not much different from anyone else in the world. The name came from the Appalachian Mountains: Think Appalachian Trail.

This picture accurately reflects part of an old farm in some holler(valley) in those mountains. This was before the name Appalachia was defined as a specific cultural region and carried with it the idea of poverty and backwards, including many distortions of the lives of the real people there today. This image would be where a family settled and determined to stake their lot to the land and hard work. Much of the history of the people was passed on by song. The accent was and in some areas still is Scots-Irish with words from the time of Elizabeth I and the occasional Anglo-Saxon used in normal conversation. I have been told today it is not so much mountain country talk but an older language I am not used to hearing. Sure, lots of folks there today talk almost like I do and I likely do not sound like you.

I shot this photo at the Museum of Appalachia off I75 in Anderson County, Tennessee, USA. John Rice Irwin made this museum his wonderful accomplishment. The cabins, barns, sheds and artifacts are real and old, with repair as needed in the authentic manner. Several acres house the old structures which have been collected and set into a real farm situation with distances between buildings scaled down to easy walking distance. Certain times of the year mountain music and bluegrass rings from the stage, people make soap and sassafras tea while others sell wares reflective of the country and mountain life.

I wander around and talk to the goats and sheep. I don't believe they know what I am saying. Ah, but they seem quite content at that.


Response to a comment made on July 13, 2011:  The comment was nice and asked the question, "Do the people here speak like in the 1800's?"  The answer is no, they do not. There is a dialect in some peoples of the region which is more like the older spoken English of Elizabeth I, that is Elizabeth Tudor from the mid 1500's, the time of Shakespeare.  The old language is not spoken but some sounds of it are remnants from much earlier times.  The Appalachia today is not the same as pictured in my article; as means of making a living and contact with others has changed, so has language. Still, some speech is reflective of earlier English and those who consider it a corruption of English are mistaken and simply do not recognize honest derivation of English from 500 years ago.