Photo Essay: Natural Beauty Softens the Blow

First posted in November, 2005

So, I spent Thanksgiving on the base of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center this year. I am stationed on the base for five months for some required training for my work as a law enforcement ranger. While I would have preferred to be home and among family or friends, the holiday was pleasant enough - the cafeteria went out of their way to put out a nice spread.

I ate dinner with some Naval criminal investigators who I'd met on the bus from the airport my first evening here but hadn't seen much since except in passing. During the meal we discussed the holiday that we were all spending on base and it seems none of us, due mostly to our jobs, have had a "normal" Thanksgiving in years.

Though I enjoyed dinner, it was not the highlight of my day. The highlight was a stroll about the base (which was very quiet for once) with my camera. I'm not allowed to say much about what I'm doing here due to security reasons, and in general I'm not allowed to publish any photographs of the place. But I did confirm that so long as I take mere nature photographs, in which I feature no infrastructure or people, I can take photographs to my heart's content and do whatever I want to with them. I guess I have to admit that the base is rather pretty in some respects, and that the natural beauty is one of the things that softens the blow of losing a few months of my life to this place...

A common grackle perches overhead in a loblolly pine.

Grackles gather in large groups, perch in trees or
rest on the ground making a great deal of noise,
and then they'll all go quiet and take to flight.

And then here is one of those loblolly pines.
They are everywhere. Everywhere.
But that's okay. They're pretty.

There is a little pond across the street from my room.
In the little pond is a little island.

And in the little pond there are also
- surprise! -
reflections of loblolly pines.

There are also turtles in the pond.

And, oddly enough, weird Myst-like wheels.
I did not wade out to fiddle with it, though
the graphic-adventurer in me wanted to.

Near the pond there are waterfowl.
I think these are called Muscovy ducks.
I am not very fond of them, as a rule.
I'm not sure why.

Well, yes I am.
They are rather ugly.
I'm horrible, I know.

There are palms at ground level.

And palms overhead.

And then there's lovely Spanish moss dripping off
of many of the trees - difficult to photograph.

The last photograph I took yesterday, almost as an afterthought.
And also, in my opinion, the best photograph of the day.
First decent macro I've taken with my new camera.