The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Friday, November 16, 2007

Trading Blooms for Bulldozers?

After trying to fit it into my schedule during the past couple weeks, I finally made it to Line Creek for the fall foliage a couple days ago. 


Driving west on Highway 54 – as I approached the turn for the nature area – I was amazed at the amount of construction (or is it destruction?) going on at the entrance to the drive to the nature area.  In fact, I did not turn in to the old Days Inn parking lot as I usually do.  I made a U-turn and went in at an unmarked spot.  In a place with signage marking so many stores and shops, you have to know where you are heading to find the nature area, but if you are looking for Best Buy it is easy to find.  With the new "detour" I had to take, if you had never been there before, you would not be able to find it.  I had to be very careful that the large earthmovers and dump trucks were not coming my way as I drove over humps and bumps they had cre ated in the small dirt lane.  Speaking of dump trucks – the blue one on my bumper as I sat at the light waiting to make the U was not making me nervous – I think that was the intent.  Why is this needed?  Well, it is not "needed," is it? 


The drive back through the trees made me feel like I was leaving the commotion behind.  I parked the car and got out.  As soon as I got out of the car, I realized that the noise of the heavy machinery would continue with me.  I walked down the pathway toward the duck pond and could not believe how close the "progress" came to the other side of the pond.  Is this really what the people of Peachtree City and Fayette County want?  The next thing you know we will really become the "Gwinnett of South Atlanta."


I headed down the path to the creek.  It was a beautiful day – warm with, sun and a few clouds here and there.  Who could tell it was the middle of November?  It was not the ideal time of day to head out for photos.  I arrived just past lunch time.  I would have preferred to be there at 8 a.m. or 4 p.m. but I did what I could.  When I heard the weather forecast for the coming days – rain perhaps (if only) and wind – I figured the leaves might fall much faster and I would miss some of the beautiful color.  Walking along the trail by the creek I was happy to see such brilliant color – t here were oranges, reds, yellows, and rich golds on the trees.  There was a certain spot I was heading toward.  This spot is where I have taken photos of the bare trees in February, green-leaved trees in June and July, and now I wanted the same view with the colors of fall.  The level of water did not seem any less than the last time I was there in July.  I was pleasantly surprised since I was expecting barely a trickle.  In some places it was barely a trickle – but it had been that way months ago.  The sun came and went behind the clouds as I took plenty of photos standing (and sitting) on the rocks that had been covered by water in February.  I walked down the rocks to get a sh ot of a leaning tree in the distance.  You know, I forgot to take along my Croc kneepads!  I remembered them as I kneeled on the rocks.  To get the shot in a different perspective, I sat on the rock so I could peep through the viewfinder.  As I sat there I heard a rustling in the leaves on the Coweta side of the creek.  The rustling kept getting louder and closer!  I had visions of a fox or coyote.  I decided to keep my seat and be very still.  Just then a chipmunk jetted out of the woods and skittered across the rocks to the Fayette side of the creek only to disappear into the woods again.  Did the construction on Highway 54 colla pse any tunnels of chipmunks?  Were there squirrels' nests in the trees that were pushed over?


At the edge of the woods an unusual color for this time of year caught my eye – a pretty blue flower.  I got closer and noticed a bright yellow butterfly on a bloom.  The butterfly was to fast for me – I could not tell exactly what it was – perhaps a Cloudless Sulphur or Southern Dogface.  The plant blooming was a Stiff Gentian (Gentiana quinquefolia) or also known as Agueweed.  This plant blooms purple or pale blue.  It is an 'endangered' species in Maryland and Connecticut and 'threatened' in Vermont and Michigan.  I think of the "improvements" happening close to the creek and wonder how long before it is threatened in Georgia.  Standing there near the plants you can barely hear the equipment tearing up the ground and leveling everything in their path.  Did they shove red clay over any blue blooms of the Stiff Gentian?  Couldn't Fayette County use more blooming wildflowers than retail space?


Last night I was showing the fall foliage photos to a student.  I contrasted a certain photo of the creek with one taken of a similar view last February.  I was showing the bare trees versus the fall colors.  The first thing she noticed was the difference in the water level.  The blooming wildflower made me remember the beautiful blooms I had seen along the roadsides all during fall – the pinks, yellows, purples.  Now I see this beautiful blue wildflower.  All of these blooms when we are experiencing the worst drought in years – how could it be?  These must be incredibly hardy plants.   They can stand up to almost anything – anything except a bulldozer.


Line Creek is a beautiful place.  A nice trail is there along the creek.  There you can find many types of trees, vines, wildflowers, plants, animals, – in the creek; fish, and yep – mollusks.  I know we are all tired of hearing about mussels – with the drought and the releasing of water from Buford Dam to help keep them alive.  I can understand the weariness of it – but what about the decline based on sediment and runoff from the deforestation for the sole purpose of construction of retail space?  Is it worth it?  Freshwater mussels in Georgia have declined – they are sensitive to pollution, sedimentation, and other human-induced habitat alterations.  Are the people of Fayette County trading serenity and blooms for bulldozers and parking lots in the Line Creek area of Peachtree City?

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