“Some day I am going to stop and take a picture of those flowers,” is what I tell myself every single year as I drive back and forth to Asheville, NC. One thing that I love about my state is that they have a wildflower program that is maintained by the Department of Transportation. In late May the roadsides along Interstate 40 erupt with voluminous color. And since 2003 when I started college at Mars Hill University I have vowed every year to pull over and take some pictures.
However, I always find an excuse to keep driving and by the time I realize I haven’t stopped it always ends up being early Autumn and I inwardly chide myself. This past Saturday as I was on my way to Swannanoa, once again I noticed the blooms were in their most vibrant hues. “Maybe I will pull over on my way back after the wedding,” I mused to myself. Then immediately the other part of my brain countered, “Yeah, right you say that every year and you always find an excuse to not stop.”
Pushing those thoughts aside I focused on meeting my second shooter Erika and covering the wedding I had been asked to capture for a few hours. It was an intimate wedding for the Yarboroughs and those are my favorites! I will admit I was a tad worried at the time of day for the wedding as it was at noon. As I explained to Erika it is the worst time of day to do a photo shoot. “Yes! I remember learning that,” she excitedly explained, “the light is really harsh isn’t it?” “That’s right it makes your subjects squint and also causes harsh shadows under the eyes and makes people look like raccoons,” I said smiling. Erika is now my other second shooter and my protégé since the hubs took on a new job and isn’t always available.
Thankfully, the bride and groom had gained access to the gated property next door and had discovered the most stunning place to capture their portraits! Erika and I nearly squealed with delight when we seen the woodland trail and small creek. Ugh, it was to die for with ferns and the canopy was heavy enough to filter the light. After finishing up with the portraits the family left to celebrate at a local bistro and we stayed to explore for a little bit.
Honestly, me and Erika did not want to leave because the place was so peaceful, and it even had a small waterfall. Walking back down the trail I took the time to encourage Erika to slow down and began teaching her how to “see” as an artist. We went through a couple of short lessons before parting ways and I headed home. It was close to 3:00 pm when I got on the interstate and I was in a great mood because I felt the day so far had been very successful. Then those poppies just popped back up in my head.
Once I reached Asheville I decided I probably would not stop because the light was still harsh, and it would be difficult to get any decent shots. Instead, I vowed, yet again, that I would plan one evening to come out and take some images. As I neared the Candler exit I noticed the light playing behind a heavy bit of clouds and wished to myself that the day was more overcast. Overcast days are the best to shoot because the clouds act like a giant diffuser and soften the light. As if in answer, they covered the blinding sun and I said, “Ok, ok I don’t have an excuse!”
Poppies Along the Roadside
I just took myself off the exit, drove up on the other oncoming ramp, and parked. I didn’t care that there was a state trooper sitting there as well and I grabbed my camera bag. Getting out of my truck and nearly falling into the ditch was an adventure in and of itself but I just laughed. I grabbed the hem of my long skirt and traipsed up near the highway.
I laid out my bag and pulled out the lenses and such I wanted to use and went right into the middle of those brilliant poppies. Heaven only knows how many transfers were whizzing by and making them dance in the wind, but I was here, and I was going to get my pictures. I mean it has only been 15 years that I had been promising myself I was going to do this. I stayed for a little while shooting until that vast cover of clouds moved on and the sun shone upon my back. Then I gingerly packed everything up and carefully backed off the on ramp I was on. I took my time, mind you, because I didn’t want to end up in an accident, but I had my pictures!
That evening after editing some of the wedding images I pulled up the images of the flowers and just lost myself in them for a while. I adore the natural beauty and richness of color in nature. Although, we attempt to recreate it in numerous ways nothing compares to just staring at the real color. I find depth and meaning in observing what is around me. Maybe I am a sentimental hopeless romantic but sitting along a roadside in a field of poppies makes me happy. It is just sad that it took me 15 years to get around to doing it.
Take time this week to do something that brings you joy, something just for you. We live busy lives, and I am preaching to the choir myself, but times passes quickly. And if you see a random woman pulled over by the road with a camera out just blow the horn and I will laugh and wave.