|A path along New Hope Creek.|
When we first moved to Chapel Hill eight years ago, we were eager to discover the natural beauty of the North Carolina Piedmont. We consulted guidebooks and were delighted to find hikes along rivers and rocky outcrops within an hour and a half's drive. It took us a couple of years to realize that there were beautiful trails just a few minutes away. Most of them are located in patches of undeveloped woodlands along creeks.
One recent day, distracted by too many tasks, I headed to Duke Forest late in the afternoon. The woods were fragrant with the smell of flowers and damp earth. Birds were flitting about, chirping. All I saw at first was undifferentiated greenness. Then, along the creek, a bright spot of yellow arrested me - a tiger swallowtail butterfly.
|Tiger swallowtail butterfly|
I have a special affection for plants growing on top of stones. They whisper to me, assuring me of the creativity and resilience of life.
|Top left: Evergreen wild ginger (Asarum shuttleworthii); Top right: Hepatica nobilis|
Bottom right: Christmas fern
|Main photo: Silene virginica; Right bottom: Oenothera fruticosa|
Around a bend, a tree-sized mountain laurel was in full bloom, with a carpet of snow-like petals covering the earth below.
I spent much longer than planned on the walk because of all the stops for photography. I had just turned off the camera when something skittered in the leaves. When I paused, it froze. I almost deleted the photo below because the subject was so well camouflaged.
Where do you find natural beauty in your community?
Where do you go to restore your soul?