Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: New Dawn

Daily Prompt: How often do you get to (or have to) be awake for sunrise? Tell us about what happened the last time you were up so early (or late…).

Sunrise Revisited

Those who have followed my blogs for a while now, know how much I love to photograph sunrises and sunsets. This may be a bit repetitive, but it was fun putting all the best in one blog. My photos often inspire my poetry. The first sunset photo was taken of the harbor at Wrightsville Beach with an old style 35mm Canon Rebel G camera back in 1998:

Harbor Sunset

liquid drops of sunlight sparkle in the bay,

and reflect a sky awash in sunset hue,

Harbor Sunset

Harbor Sunset

the trees along the shoreline form a silhouette in gray,

and the clouds amass in shades of dusky blue.

suspended for a moment between darkness and the day,

I pause to fill my senses and renew,

and with deep appreciation I continue on my way

as the sunset in the harbor fades from view.

My next favorite encounter with the sun over water was while on a cruise off the coast of Alaska. I just happened to awaken about 4AM, and saw the faintest light peeking out behind the curtain. I stood there and watched as the sun slowly cleared the sky of the dark shadows of night and let spill in the colors of  a magnificent sunrise. Later that day, the sunset was more the play of light upon the water and not color that captures the eye. These were taken with my digital Canon Rebel xsi.  This experience inspired the following Haiku poem:

Sunrise , Sunset at Sea (Haiku)

we watch the sun rise
light vanquishes the darkness                                 IMG_8448 IMG_8592
and color returns

the calm sea reflects
ribbons of orange and pink
we stand mesmerized

as the sun rises
it paints a path of gold light
for us to follow

as the sun lowers
bands of dark purple and blue
bruise the evening sky

rays of pale sunlight
reach out across the water
the sun bids farewell

we watch the sun set
the shades of night seep in
the sky veiled in gray

the calm sea darkens
a weary sun now at rest
color fades to black



Last summer I took this photo off the coast of Scotland:


The rays of sunlight  spilled  from the clouds like rain:


on a sea of inspiration

cruising round the British Isles

with sailboats as companions

tacking toward the setting sun…

and in coves,  ships find safe harbor

as the captains in their  cabins

dream of voyages  to come…

the sun bids clouds to gather

as rays of gold rain gently down

and  illuminate the sea;  for a

a sunset over Scotland forms

a memory not forgotten


-pc 2013

Finally, one needn’t be at sea to enjoy a summer sunset. A s the Fourth of July was winding down, my  mother looked out the window and saw this lovely sunset. I took these photos off my back porch:


IMG_3169 IMG_3167

My favorite chair in my favorite room looks out at the sun rising over the neighboring houses. Until my husband retired, I was up

before dawn and able to catch the sun rising more often . Now I fall back asleep in between my first meds of the day at 6:00 AM and the next bunch at 7:30AM.But each sunrise is so special, heralding the gifts it brings light, warmth, life, and another beautiful day to enjoy, we should not miss it or take it for granted.  As Ke, says to Tuck, in my book, Escape from Mount Sanctuary, upon seeing the sun for the first time, “In all my imaginings, Tuck, never could I have envisioned a world of such glory.” “For certain, Ke, it is a world beyond imaginings.” The awe in his voice matched mine. We stood together then, hand in hand, on the precipice of our new wold. We were spellbound by the beauty before us, and humbled by a grand design we could not even begin to understand.*

If I had not been up early to catch the sunrise after a  rare southern snowfall, I would have missed taking this sunrise photo, my most unusual yet. My garden globe was situated perfectly to catch the sunrise after the storm.

As the characters in my book learn during their journey, we inhabit a beautiful planet, one t hat welcomes the day with the rising sun, and it calls us to rest as it sets.

To read more of Escape from Mount Sanctuary, it is available in print and Kindle editions at:


Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea:Staying in Focus

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea

I find sunsets at sea to be inspiring and breathtaking. Each one is unique  It’s the play of the light upon the water that catches my eye. These photographs were taken off the coast of Scotland


Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: Tourist Trap: Alaska

Daily Prompt: Tourist Trap:

Of all the places I have been to, the place I would return to in a heartbeat is Alaska. The untamed wilderness has always calledIMG_8549whale2 to me, mountains and glaciers and  waters of aquamarine.  I counted more bald eagles in one day in Juneau than I had counted  in all  the years of my life combined. But, most especially, it was where a dream of mine came true. It was in Alaska where I had my first encounter with the humpback whales. I have admired these huge denizens of the sea for years, and have supported my adopted whale, Ivory, for twenty years. Alaska is also the place where I experienced my first sunrise at sea. It was a profound experience, watching the sun rise and push back the shadow of night, the golden light spilling over the water , dancing a path of light from the sun to me.  The following are two poems, one a haiku entitled Sunrise,Sunset at Sea and one a sestina, And Did I Mention the Water is Aquamarine?

a path of gold from the sun to me

a path of gold from the sun to me

Sunrise , Sunset at Sea


we watch the sun rise
light vanquishes the darkness
and color returns

the calm sea reflects
ribbons of orange and pink
we stand mesmerized



as the sun rises
it paints a path of gold light
for us to follow

as the sun lowers
bands of dark purple and blue
bruise the evening sky

 rays of pale sunlight
reach out across the water
the sun bids farewell

we watch the sun set
the shades of night seep in
the sky veiled in gray

the calm sea darkens
a weary sun now at rest
color fades to black

the green waters stirred by the ship's passage

the green waters stirred by the ship’s passage

                              pc ‘2012


 (in a sestina, each sentence in the six paragraphs must end in six chosen words: Alaska, glaciers, aquamarine, paradise, mountains, whales. In each verse these words move around in a preset form. The sestina ends in a tercet and in each of those lines are two of the six chosen words)



And Did I Mention the Water is Aquamarine?

a pristine wilderness, wild and untamed,  a place called Alaska
a land of bears and  bald eagles;  graced with icy glaciers
and did I mention the water is aquamarine?
our ship slowly starts passage into the fjord, a slim slice of paradise
we pass the silent sentinels,  the mighty mountains,
a disturbance in the water;  we are in the company of whales

we spy a spout of steam,  a telltale sign, we watch for the whales
in summer, they come to feed on small fish off the coast of Alaska
fresh water runs in rivers from the melting snows of the mountains
slowly they move, ages old, ever-changing, grinding rock and ice, the glaciers
glow on a rare sunny day in July. We are thankful to be here in such a paradise
enchanted,  we watch the sunlight sparkle on waters of aquamarine

this is a color rarely seen – a translucent version of aquamarine
so pretty when it swirls, and suddenly,  there appear two killer whales
azure skies, the brilliant sun, running waters, crystal ice, this is my paradise
and a dream come true – long have I waited to come to Alaska
to see blue ice glowing in the fissures of the glaciers
and marvel at the snow capped peaks of lofty, rugged  mountains

beaches are fine, but take me to the mountains
especially those that surround waters of aquamarine
crack! the sound echoes, as  ice splits from the glaciers
in the gold of the setting sun, the breach of a whale
I’’ll forever remember the unrestrained beauty –Alaska
has all the facets of a true paradise

I walk in the beauty of this wilderness paradise
where wisps of fog conceal the tops of the mountains,
the leaves strung with pearls of morning dew.  Of Alaska,
I’ll always remember that incredible shade of aquamarine
and that sound in the night – the exhaling  breath of a whale
and those blue icebergs sailing by,  spawned by the glaciers

despite their age, there is a fragile beauty in the glaciers,
which is woven in the fabric of this natural paradise
I can hear it calling to me in the singing of the whales
as it  echoes through the canyons of the waiting mountains
and reflects in the waters of aquamarine
it’s a song of the wilderness,  – the song of Alaska

I came in search of whales, and the snow-capped mountains,
which rise in silhouette above the glacier ice fields, in a paradise,
a dream taken form in aquamarine – Alaska.

Itwo eagles
the Sawyer glacier

humpback whales humpback whales


Staying in Focus: From Fog to Reflections

I’ve learned that the essence of photography is light. Most likely it is the essence of everything, but this fact is most relevant in taking photos of reflection,especially nature scenes involving, light, water and wind[. To get a special combination of light and a calm wind, so that the surface of the water is like a mirror is the trick to getting a good reflection.  It takes patience but it does pay off.  However, a slight ripple in the water can bring about interesting results. When looking through the lens of the camera, look for interesting lines,  forms and shapes rather than a concrete object  Often the golden hours — the time just before sunset or at sunrise, when the light is soft on the water is a good time to get striking photos. Catch the wisps of fog as they dissipate  Sitting by a mirrored lake, especially in early morning, as a new day dawns, can be a great time for self-reflection as well. A time to just be with yourself and take stock of things. Clear away the fog, so to speak.

A few years back, my husband Bill and I visited Connemara, the family home of Carl Sandburg.  We were able to tour the home,  walk the wooded paths around the lake, and follow  a trail through the woods to a stony knoll where he wrote the poem, “The Fog”.  How I admire the way he used imagery to describe the fog so succinctly: Talk about inspiration!  After our walk we sat gazing at the lake, letting go of stress and relaxing into the lazy sunshine of  a summer afternoon .

Fog (by Carl Sandburg)

The fog comes
on little cat feet
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

A while later we experienced heavy fog as we crossed the mountains of Tennessee. Here is my humble attempt at capturing the image:

the fog, summoned by unseen hand, rises from the treetops
in wisps of ghostly gray
and melts into the waiting sky.

These two poems came out of that reflection/inspiration moment on our visit to Connemara.

Path along the lake at Connemara, home of Carl Sandburg


Beneath the leafy canopy
we stroll one summer’s day
We pause along the woodland path
and watch the shadows play
As sunlight filters through the trees
and gentle breezes kiss my face
We know we’ve found  a refuge here: a woodland home, a sacred   place.                                                                                                  

Reflections on the lake at Connemara

Still Waters

The placid waters of the lake
reflect the leaves of green
my thoughts lie calm, like waters still
my spirit is serene
I let fly loose the tension then
let go the stress and pain

and in my mind and in my soul
I am at peace again.

Here are some of my favorite reflection photos:

A watercolor effect, I like the contrast of the water and the tree branches. See what  a little ripple can do?

These two were taken at the same lake at different seasons.  The sky was crystal clear in the autumn one, and the lake reflects the beauty of that translucent blue.                           
Later in Autumn, different lake, still pretty.

Focus on: Alaskan Sunrise and Sunset

Needless to say, Alaska is one of the most beautiful places on this planet.  From its glorious sunrises to its majestic mountains and  abundant wildlife, it  fills your senses with such delight and it is nearly impossible to capture the experience in mere words printed on paper.

The first morning I awoke at 4:30 AM and noticed a hint of light leaking in between the curtains.  I grabbed my camera and spent he next hour watching the light play over the water as the sun appeared on the horizon.  At first, the moon was still visible in a blue and purple painted sky.  Then as the sun rose, the colors changed to a rosy pink and  a vibrant orange. The light began to sparkle on the waters as the sun rose higher in the sky, bringing a glorious dawn to my first sunrise at sea.  The sun paved a path of gold across the water toward me, inviting me to join it in celebrating the beginning of a new day.  My camera did its best to capture the experience for me to share with you, but like the saying goes, you really had to be there to  truly appreciate how beautiful a sunrise at sea can be.  I hope these photos and poem can capture some of what I experienced for you.

as I watch my first sunrise at sea
a gentle peace descends on me
as it casts away the dark of night

the moon still visible in the sky

it fills the sky with soothing light
bands of orange, red and pink
give me pause and make me think
about what matters most to me
and this precious moment on the sea
it paints a path of gold my way
a special gift to start my day
an invitation from the sun
a brand new day has just begun!

the sun appears changing the light to rosy pink and orange

the colors deepen

a path of gold from the sun to me







On the flip side, sunset at this time of year is around ten o’clock.  The mountains darken and the clouds reflect the deep blues and purples of the sky.

purple dominates the sunset

rays of sunlight stream across the water

the sun sets bringing an end to the long Alaskan day