Porthole Portraits: Southern Mountains

Blue Ridge Mountains from a flight between Atlanta and Roanoke

As usual on the (re-routed) return flight from Atlanta to Roanoke last week, I had the window seat. But the haze was such that there really wasn’t much to see after we lifted above the clouds and a faded Lake Lanier disappeared in the distance. I got out my book and pen and resumed adding exclamation points and scribbled circles to the book it’s taken me a month to finish.

I glanced up from my book a bit later to notice a pink sunlight that projected a porthole-circle of light against the seat in front of me. I leaned forward and turned to see if I could get my bearings from the terrain. Wow, would you look at that, I said to no one (Ann disregards my constant stream of topographic comments in such a case as this.)

Most certainly we were flying over piedmont with the escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains to our west-northwest. The sun was low enough it struck a glancing blow across the peaks and diffuse enough that there were secondary shafts and shadows as well, made visible by the haze and a low ground fog. It was so amazing that I didn’t even think of trying to take pictures for a few lost minutes.

Then “Grab my camera! Hurry!” I commanded with no patience whatsoever. And Ann scrambled out of her seatbelt and fumbled in the overhead compartment for my camera. I took a couple of dozen shots through the smudged, scratched porthole, hoping when I got home to be able to compare the shots to google earth locations probably 50 miles north or south of Asheville (Smokies to Grandfather Mountain) and figure what mountain ranges I was seeing. So far, no luck.

But a few of these shots just might enlarge nicely. They sure give me a thrill, and would love to have a couple hanging on our walls. More can be seen in a little gallery from our South Dakota trip last week.

Share this with your friends!

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

Articles: 3013


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. The pictures are stunning. I really like the one with the sun rays over fairystone. What kind of camera did you use to capture these shots and did you use any shutter delays?

  2. That’s a remarkable series of shots. The almost total lack of evidence of human beings is, I’m sure, highly misleading, but a good part of the attraction.

  3. Beautiful pictures of the family and the shots from the plane. Abby is growing up! She is a beautiful little girl & her new sister is adorable!