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A Recent Excursion on the St John's River Near Blue Springs...

St. John's River Near Blue Springs ©Lynne Buchanan
A couple of weeks ago, I went kayaking on the St. John's River to make some images for my upcoming river exhibition.  I rented a cabin in Blue Springs State Park and put in the river right there, paddling up towards the Hontoon Island landing, although I didn't make it all the way there.  This part of the river was so intriguing, I had to stop.  I loved how the clouds and lily plants in the river paralleled each other yet were different. When I think about life and meaningful relationships we have with anyone, whether natural elements or people in our lives,  things seem to be smoothest when we are going in similar directions yet respecting our uniqueness.  Differences add dimensions to our experiences in life.  If everyone or every bend in the river were  the same, it would get pretty boring, yet we also want to balance and support one another.  While I sat in my kayak and watched and photographed, I was overwhelmed with a sense of peace and harmony.

Sky and Water Epiphany, St. John's © Lynne Buchanan
The beauty of one aspect of a relationship, the sky in this example, creates more depth and beauty in the water that reflects it.  Oh to be a mirror for such wonderment...

There is Light in the Darkness ©Lynne Buchanan
On the way back towards the park, more and more clouds filled the sky and the sun was veiled behind them.  Yet, at the same time its brilliance could not be contained and broke out in all directions.  It is this way in my life sometimes too.  Though I have faced many challenges, as everyone does, I always know the light is still there waiting to cast its golden rays on everything it touches.  And without the dark, we would never know the light. Having felt despair, joy becomes even more beautiful and miraculous.  Life is filled with ups and downs and each is always contained in the other.

Nursing Manatees in the Form of a Cross ©Lynne Buchanan
Life is sacred.  If there was ever a doubt in my mind it was erased when I saw these two young manatees nursing their mother.  The young manatees flanked her and flayed to the side creating a cross.  It was so perfect and balanced and intimate.  Though my children are long grown, I will never forget the beauty of nurturing new life.  To see this exhibited by any species is a gift.

Anhinga Facing Dark Skies ©Lynne Buchanan
Though the skies were darkening the Anhinga still stretched its wings and lifted its head, facing whatever was to come.  In this case, it was only ominous looking skies–the weather retreated.  We never know what is coming.  Sometimes it seems there might be a dark cloud, but when it will blow over is a mystery.  Instead of feeling beaten down by storms in nature or within our own hearts, it is best not to retreat and close up but to spread or wings and keep the dream of flying alive.

Eagle Watching ©Lynne Buchanan
Whenever I am blessed to see an eagle, it always gives me courage and hope.  They are brave and have penetrating vision.  The lesson they teach me is that though they see clearly what is in the world, they stay strong and fly high.  

Fall Color and Reflections on the St. John's ©Lynne Buchanan
The following morning, I got up just before sunrise and paddled out onto the river.  I went down a little inlet into this amazing watery section of Hontoon Island.  The water was so still because nothing had moved on it before me.  I stopped paddling and just floated, not wanting to create any disturbance and mesmerized by the reflections.  There were these sharp lily pads in the foreground and they and the patterns formed by the tree trunks would have been enough to excite me.  To have gorgeous red fall foliage too was beyond my wildest expectations.  These are the rewards you receive that mean the most–the ones you least expect or in any way have tried to demand.  The colors were so vivid in the early morning light.  The soft energizing light illuminated everything perfectly.  I thought, if there is a heaven this is it.

Fall Color Amid the Spanish Moss, St. John's River ©Lynne Buchanan
I know that the St. John's River faces many issues stemming from overdevelopment, agriculture, fertilizers, and other byproducts of human impact.  In the coming months, I will be working with the St. John's Riverkeeper and visiting other areas of the river that are suffering more from these issues than this comparatively undeveloped section is facing.  When I start any project like this, I prefer to begin with appreciating the beauty, so that I am aware of what I am trying to help protect through my work.  It is important to realize why we want to save our rivers and what we are at risk of losing...