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Backstory: my fine romance with the magnificent tree

9 Wilderness Drive, Radford, Virginia by L.S. King (Piezography)

9 Wilderness Drive, Radford, Virginia by L.S. King (Piezography)

Paths, trails, roads – these are constantly on my artistic mind. Every moment is a journey (even getting out of bed on a workday – oh the early hour, oh the bare feet on cold floor, oh the clothing decisions – is a trip in itself). The constant intermingling of positive potentials and terror of said possibilities fill my world.

And then there are trees. Once upon a time, my ex-husband had a serious romance with tree photography. I fear to say I did not get this attraction. A tree is a tree is a tree. But then one day I woke up in the early millennium. It was 5 a.m. and I started my first photographic trail odyssey called Sic Semper Tyrannis: Something About J.W. Booth. And it was then, that day when the early morning light and later gloom that caused me to fall in love with trees. My love affair began. I could not help myself.

When did yours start?

So here we are with a new year. Rather than looking forward for this moment, I look back to 2016 for this post to talk about a specific tree I photographed now on exhibition at the A. Smith Gallery in Johnson City, Texas. Awe-inspiring photographer Michael Kenna juried this exhibit, called Trees, which runs until Jan. 28, 2017. A closing reception is Jan. 28, 2017, from 4 to 8 p.m.

I am so thrilled to have my work amongst some truly amazing photographs (click here to view the exhibition). Mine is one of 67 selected out of 1,357 submitted images.

This is the backstory for that particular image.

There is another historic journey that scratches its fingernails of potential down my itchy creative spine. It calls to me. It wakes me up sometimes in the middle of the night. But this is not quite the time to begin this narrative about the Mary Draper Ingles Trail or so it seems.

Yet this fall, a colleague mentioned an event happening around this trail and the temptation was too great. Each fall, Ingles Farm opens to the public on certain days. This is the historic home of Ingles – a strong female role model, colonial survivor of an Indian attack and capture, traveler of great distances in the wild, and not without her feats of bravery. I no longer could resist its call.

So, on a cold, but clear afternoon in October, Ken, Nick (Ken’s son) and I found ourselves at Ingles Farm for the first time. History buffs crowded her cabin, so we wandered about pastures and fields, trying to keep our cold fingers warm, wishing for another hot cup of coffee to hold.

And then there was this tree – spectacular and perfect, playing sanctuary to a flock of sheep and gatekeeper to its meadow. Dare I say this specimen of nature was and is a happy tree? Though this is not the start of the trail imagery – as the tone and atmosphere is wrong – the photography is part of my Road Diaries series. The tree is unfurled and healthy, strong and solid, as it stands tall against the coldness of the afternoon and the threat of a minor storm.

I share it now on this first day of 2017. I am setting my intentions for a new era. May we all find those hope-filled, quiet, joyful moments even in the darkest gloom.


The Unwinding Path is the blog of L.S. King – photographer, want-to-be printmaker and sometimes hypnotist. By day she is an arts communications officer at a rural university (translation: photographer, writer, and media content provider), and most of the rest of her time she is an MFA graduate student at Radford University.


  1. Fabulous! I love trees. Timeless sentinels watching everything. The Druids revered them, particularly the mighty oaks. More pictures please.

    • Thanks, Mel. Looking forward to seeing what you do with your blog!

  2. I feel tree deprived here in the desert – very moody shot, great.

    • Funny you should I say that – I just had two tree images I did while tooling about Santa Fe included in a juried show (DTP photopolymer gravures by the way). 🙂

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