Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

April 14, 2013

View from the top

- — For weeks, I had glanced up at the snow-covered trees on top of East River Mountain and said a prayer. I needed good weather for the Prerogative magazine summer photo shoot. I travel along Route 460 everyday, shadowed by those gentle mountains favored by motorists and tourists. The stretch of road is often the place where I think, pray and muse on life and work. Some of my best work ideas have happened in between Princeton and Bluefield. I have also had a couple honest and silent conversation with God. So it seemed natural to add an extra prayer request for good weather.

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Spring temperatures finally arrived in the two Virginias this week, just in time for the shoot in downtown Bluefield, Va. I had imagined freezing, shivering models in bright dresses and prints. It wasn’t a pleasant image. But as a resident of the two Virginias, I realized Mother Nature doesn’t always know when winter ends and spring begins. The day before the shoot, I stood on top of the East River overlook, looking down on the two Virginias. I hadn’t been to the overlook in awhile but it had remained the same in my absence. A few more signatures on the wood perhaps? I smiled at a banner slung on the rail. A homemade sign asking for a date to the prom. The world looked small from my vantage point. The overlook wasn’t empty. Others, all in search of a spring view, stood at the railing and watched the clouds grow dark against the sky. I wondered how many prayers and thoughts had been sent up from the overlook? How many secrets had these mountains heard or saw over the years? A place known for beautiful photos — Mel Grubb’s famous aerial photo of fog rolling in over the mountain is a favorite — the overlook has been a part of special moments, dark headlines in the newspaper and more. Strange how a place so beautiful can be so mysterious with an appeal that spans multiple generations. A few rain drops fell from the sky; I immediately looked up at the clouds.

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