Weekly Photo Challenge: Against the Odds

I had driven two hours to a spot that is known for being a winter habitat for bald eagles. I’ve been before but on Tuesday afternoon, the eagles were just not being cooperative and close up. I was about to go home when I stopped back by the location at which I had first stopped and within five minutes I was rewarded with the shot below.

Here are a few pics of another eagle, Ring-billed gull and American white pelican, that came as a reward for my patience.

This post is in response to WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge: Against the Odds.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude

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These windmills dotted the rural landscape as wind-driven, well water pumping machines.  With rural water associations and electricity, windmills are not as needed now and many have fallen into disrepair. When I posted this picture on social media last week, one friend commented, “They are sadly slowly disappearing.”  However, every sight of one still gives me pleasure as I venture out in my own solitude to capture rural beauty.

Windmill

Silently standing

Oasis in solitude

“My days are numbered.”

This post was in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude

Weekly Photo Challenge: Landscape

 

Following Cheri’s suggestion to check out the “Finding the Best Shot” post, I chose to show both landscape and portrait orientations of the same sunset.  Which do you prefer?

While the landscape orientation is a rural Iowa shot, it almost has an African savanna feel to it.

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Before the sun went totally behind the horizon I took this portrait orientation, allowing me to zoom in on the trees and catch the “fire” in the trees.

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For more examples of the week’s landscape theme, click HERE.

Weekly Photo Challenge: (Hawk) Eye Spy

IMGP8096This post is dedicated to the Iowa Hawkeye football team (12-0), playing Michigan State on Saturday for the Big 10 Championship. GO HAWKS!

Last August, I spied this red-tailed hawk on a telephone line as I drove down the street. He obliged by allowing me to take a few photos from my car before flying to a nearby tree. I was able to walk within about 30 feet, the hawk keeping his eye on me!IMGP8076 copy copy

We continued our stare down for a while, but….IMGP8078 copy copy

…he finally blinked!IMGP8086 copy copy

For more examples of this week’s theme, click HERE.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs

This was Homecoming Week in Creston, Iowa. The home football team traditionally runs through a banner, challenging them to “carry the day.” For this special game, a friend’s son carried the Panther flag and was the first to break through this hand-painted sign, leading his teammates onto the field for the evening’s competition.

Of course that sign was only a hopeful prediction. The sign that really matters is the scoreboard at the end of the game. Our boys prevailed in the end, even adding a field goal to finish with a 50-35 win.

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 Sherri Lucas Rowlands offered this week’s challenge. See more interpretations HERE.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime

As Ben Huberman, WordPress Editor, suggests, “nighttime is when the real action starts.” That is certainly true of football homecoming week in rural Iowa. The annual tradition of TP-ing (aka: toilet papering, rolling, or wrapping) is in full swing as the Friday night game approaches. The young people, who hit my home tonight, were a little more creative. Not only was toilet paper wrapping my deck and hanging from the trees, but plastic forks, some impaled with marshmallows, lined the sidewalk.

Even my car was covered with post-its. We’ve been assured after many years of having our home TP-ed that only those who are liked get targeted. Such was the sentiment of a message painted on the window of our car – “We ♥ You, PC.”

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Some decry this as vandalism and wasteful. Because it is not malicious, I do not consider it as vandalism. I would agree that it is wasteful, although there have been a few times when abandoned toilet paper rolls not completely used on the yard found their way into my bathroom. Perhaps that is “TMI” (too much information).

All this nighttime activity took place under a beautiful half-moon.

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Click HERE for more examples of “nighttime.”

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic

It’s sweet corn time in Iowa! When I came to preach in view of a call in Iowa 20 years ago next month, one of the pulpit committee members hosted a dinner in which massive quantities of sweet corn were served. I took one ear while others took two or three. I soon found out why…it was like dessert. Therefore, between mid-July and mid-August folks line up at local farmers’ roadside stands to buy a baker’s dozen of these exquisite ears.

The Gates family always brings their daily distribution of fresh picked sweet corn in this 1954 Chevy pickup. This “relic” is always a sign that good eatin’ is just a shuck and a boil (or microwave) away.

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Check out the article in our local paper that ran today…”How Sweet It Is.

Donncha Ó Caoimh makes this week’s photo challenge:

Share a photo of what “relic” means to you — it could be your still-running 1979 Honda Accord Hatchback, a historic building in your town, or an old, rusted farm implement poking up through the long grass in a field.

Click HERE for more examples of “relic.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand

One of my favorite memories as a child was sitting on our large front porch, watching night-time thunderstorms roll through Memphis. However, tall oak trees in my neighborhood obscured distant lightning. Now in Iowa, I don’t have to go far to get a great vista of an evening storm rolling through rural Iowa. This early October storm could be seen brewing in the sunset and by 8:00 p.m., it was producing a light show 50 miles away over Atlantic, Iowa. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

While thunderstorms do have the potential of bringing a lot of damage, they are a powerful and grand demonstration of God’s power.

5 I know that the Lord is great,
that our Lord is greater than all gods.
6 The Lord does whatever pleases him,
in the heavens and on the earth,
in the seas and all their depths.
7 He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth;
he sends lightning with the rain
and brings out the wind from his storehouses.                                              Psalm 135:5-7 (NIV)

For more examples of “grand,” check them out HERE.

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns (Take 2)

The 36th Annual Southwest Iowa Hot Air Balloon Race, our community’s most popular event, occurred last weekend. While we had clear weather, wind conditions only permitted two of the four scheduled flights, three of which are competitive. Both of those flights were characterized by almost no wind, almost cancelling the second flight. Because a church member was sponsoring a balloon, I was able to get up close for some pictures on Saturday morning and then have my first ride on Saturday evening. It was a blast! Here are some of the weekend’s pictures that I think meet this week’s challenge – from the lines (cables connecting the baskets to the envelopes) to the geometric patterns of the envelopes.

As I mentioned I had my first flight in a balloon! While only about a mile in distance to the target, the winds were minimal, making it about a twenty-minute flight. It was an invigorating experience and a blessing from God. Here are few more photos I took from that afternoon ride.

While all three of my daughters have previously flown, my wife has been apprehensive about me flying because of a deadly hot air balloon accident she saw portrayed in a movie. Additionally, you might have noticed that the balloon sponsor was a funeral home – “that could be like a direct ride to the Pearly Gates.”(ba-dum tshh). However, I went with her blessing. When suggested by one of my daughters that “we need to get Mom up, now,” she responded, “When God gives me wings.”

Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

Isaiah 40:31 (NASB)

See more examples of this week’s challenge HERE

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside: My entry is inside a simple truss bridge that I came across this summer in my rural Iowa wanderings. A gravel road leads up to this wood-decked bridge, and the reflected sun on the trusses drew me off the highway. I liked the contrasts of silver/primer paint and rust inside the bridge against the green fields and cloud-filled blue sky outside.

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Truss bridges have always fascinated me. From my childhood, I recall that bridges with a truss design gave me a sense of security. Perhaps it was because the surrounding structure, giving the sense that you were “inside” the bridge, made the journey across whatever abyss my parents were taking me seem a little safer. I remember crossing the Mississippi River by train and being somewhat terrified to see that the bridge had no surrounding truss to keep the train from toppling over into the waters below. This led to several minutes of agonizing fear despite the reassurances of my mother.

Additionally, any trip across the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge, a cantilevered through truss bridge over the Mississippi River, signaled the beginning of a family adventure, usually a trip to visit family in Missouri and Iowa. With my other four siblings in the car, the first bit of fun we had was to see who could hold their breath over the almost one mile span.

So, this entry brings with it some deep emotions tied to childhood memories that make being inside a truss bridge a “happy place.”