Light and Shadow in the Summer Sun

by Mark Miles

Toward the end of June, I went to Occoneechee Mountain for the sixth time this year. I’ve been making it a habit to go at least once per month, and that schedule has allowed me to enjoy the fluctuations of the seasons without becoming inured to the place by visiting too frequently. As a result, the mountain remains fresh and exhilarating to me whenever I visit.

Cresting one of the first slopes along the main trail, I came within view of the early evening sun. It was dazzling after the gloomy atmosphere of the hill leading up to it, and I stood for a few moments to soak in the moment.

After branching off on the mountain loop trail, I descended again into the relative gloominess of the forest. It wasn’t in any way unpleasant, but I have to admit I was slightly unnerved on my first few visits when the canopy seemed to become much darker much quicker than the open terrain around the mountain.

On my way up the side of the mountain toward the overlook trail, I stumbled on this beauty. Appropriately enough, its common name is Maryland meadow-beauty (Rhexia mariana), which I only found out after searching for a solid forty-five minutes on my phone through an online database. It’s a perennial with spiny stems, lanceolate leaves, four-petaled flowers, and drooping anthers. And it lives up to its name too, being one of the most beautiful flowers to be found on a western slope in the early evening, when the orange sunlight accentuates its innate magenta coloration.

To my surprise, despite arriving at the park later than I wanted, I had almost perfect timing for sunset, making it to the overlook itself within minutes of the last peek of the sun over the horizon. There were two other people there to savor the final rays of the day, and together we shared the moment on the edge of the mountain-face before going our separate ways.


20 thoughts on “Light and Shadow in the Summer Sun

  1. savithri Senanayake July 23, 2016 / 10:07 pm

    Lovely Story Mark! ☺

  2. HalfricanQueen July 24, 2016 / 3:28 am

    I absolutely love the green in those first two shots!

    • Mark Miles July 28, 2016 / 4:16 am

      Thank you so much! Occoneechee Mountain never disappoints.

  3. shinandjim July 28, 2016 / 6:26 am

    Great post Mark. First time we have heard of the Occoneechee mountains, could be one to add to the bucket list American road trip itinerary!

    • Mark Miles August 8, 2016 / 4:47 am

      Thank you so much! It’s a lovely place to visit if you ever make it to central NC. 👋

  4. Gretchen Staebler August 17, 2016 / 1:45 pm

    Beautiful, Mark. I lived in Raleigh for many years before moving back to the Pacific Northwest four years ago. You write beautifully. Thank you for stopping by my website at Writing Down the Story. Nice to find you!

    • Mark Miles August 22, 2016 / 4:18 am

      Thank you, Gretchen. It’s always nice to hear from someone who has direct familiarity with the area.

  5. cj787 September 3, 2016 / 7:41 am

    looks so peaceful…

  6. myfamilybackpacking September 8, 2016 / 10:37 am

    Love the pictures. We will add the Occoneechee Mountains to our bucket list.

    • Mark Miles September 12, 2016 / 4:09 am

      Glad to hear it! It’s a wonderful place to visit if you’re ever in central NC.

  7. talltree9 September 28, 2016 / 4:00 am

    So pretty. I love the sunset pic. Hope you got back without getting lost in the dark!

    • Mark Miles October 3, 2016 / 4:13 am

      Thank you very much, and I beat the sun by a hair. 👌

  8. frankhubeny October 3, 2016 / 7:41 pm

    I like the way you described your hike at the Occoneechee Mountain. I looks like it helps to keep one mindful to construct a story as one walks knowing one will want to post that story afterwards.

  9. ncaffall October 10, 2016 / 4:40 pm

    Hi Mark. Thanks for letting me know you liked 3 of my recently posted paintings. “Old Grey” and :Dex and Edna” are two of my favorites. I really like your use of light in your photos. Nancy

    • Mark Miles October 11, 2016 / 2:02 am

      Thank you! I appreciate your kind words.

  10. Melanie Trethowan October 19, 2016 / 5:20 am

    Love the photos of the light through the trees. Do you use a special camera/lense to capture those shots? Thanks Mel

    • Mark Miles October 24, 2016 / 4:49 am

      Thank you. No, I used my phone to take these photos. I did use some editing to sharpen contrast and increase exposure, but these were natural lens flares.

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