December 25, 2009

Christmas Greetings

mixed media artwork by Dan Hardison

December 19, 2009

The Star's Song

God sings to man through all my rays
        That wreathe the brow of night,
And walks with me thro' all my ways –
        The everlasting light.

Abram J. Ryan

Digitally Enhanced Photo
by Dan Hardison

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December 11, 2009

The Christmas Card

It seems the decorations
go up earlier each year –
gaudier than ever.
And the madhouse they call
seasonal shopping –
is it really worth it?
Somewhere among
the hustle and bustle,
the fake greenery,
the electronic greetings,
the materialism of getting
rather than giving,
I fear the spirit of Christmas
is being lost.
So nice to receive
a card of paper
with a simple message
of good cheer.

— Dan Hardison

Image: Christmas postcard
(Used - postmark 1913)
Message on back:
“Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a bright and Happy New Year.”

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December 4, 2009

As Day Becomes Night

Haiku and image by Dan Hardison
Photo: Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina

Haiga appeared in Simply Haiku, Autumn 2009, vol 7 no 3.

November 28, 2009

Deep Peace

Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the gentle night to you
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you
Deep peace of Christ the light of the world to you

— A Gaelic Blessing

Photo by Dan Hardison
Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

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November 20, 2009

The Day Awakens

Haiku and image by Dan Hardison
Photo: Cookeville, Tennessee

Haiga appeared at World Haiku Association, October 2009

November 13, 2009

To the Night

Evening has passed
and night is upon us –
sleep is near.

A time to put the day behind us –
the stress, the worries,
the problems, the fears.

A time to welcome sweet slumber.
A time of peace, of dreams.

So to the night we go
and through the night we journey
until the morning comes
and brings a new beginning.

— Dan Hardison

Photo by Dan Hardison
Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina

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November 6, 2009


Nothing has moved in this town.
Nothing at all. Only the soundless dark
And the wonder of night that came like the wind
Unseen have wandered down these final streets.
Only the silent have come upon this mark.

There is no town so quiet on any earth,
Nor any house so dark upon the mind.
Only the night is here, and the dead
Under the hard blind eyes of hill and tree.
Here lives sleep. Here the dead are free.

James Still
From his book "From the Mountain, From the Valley: New and Collected Poems".

Photo by Dan Hardison
St. John's Episcopal Church - Maury County Tennessee

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October 24, 2009

Just One of Those Days

"It's just one of those days you can't explain"
— Guy Clark

When a writer is faced with a blank page and the task of putting words together with a mind that does not want to cooperate it is called writer's block. But artists can face the same problem with a blank canvas. Just getting started can be a difficult task. Then there is the problem when the image that is developing on the canvas does not match the image visualized in the mind. Examples are many where even great artists have painted over sections of canvas that did not suit them, or simply painted a different image on the back of a canvas.

Then there are the times when a work of art has been completed, installed in a place of distinction, and something really goes wrong.

Ben Long has made a career as a teacher and a painter of frescos. He has created stunning frescos in North Carolina for Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Glendale Springs, St. Mary's Episcopal Church in West Jefferson, The Chapel of the Prodigal at Montreat College, and at St. John's Episcopal Church in Wilksboro.

Beginning in 1988, Ben Long spent two years creating a very large fresco for historic St. Peter's Catholic Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Over 1500 square feet and 30 feet high, the fresco depicted "The Agony in the Garden", "The Pentecost", and at the center "The Resurrection". Richard Maschal documented the creation of this incredible work of art in the book "Wet Wall Tattoos: Ben Long and the Art of Fresco".

Then in 2002, the unthinkable happened. The entire center section of the fresco crashed to the floor with remaining areas severely damaged. A heart breaking disaster. While it would be determined that numerous construction projects in the immediate area surrounding the historic downtown church was the cause of the destruction – with the foundation work on a high-rise bank building next door delivering the final blow – the lost was still devastating.

The creation of art can be difficult and often frustrating work. To render an object that reflects one's thoughts, vision, and passion, can be exhilarating. The late folk artist Sybil Gibson once said, "I have had so many adversities related to my painting – along with some notable successes – that I sometimes wonder at my determined drive to keep trying in the face of some of my disasters. Everything one creates doesn't turn out a masterpiece, but it is such a joyous thrill to bring off something you recognize as being good from your innermost self."

— Dan Hardison

Photo by Dan Hardison
Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

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October 16, 2009

Evening Has Come

Haiku and image by Dan Hardison
Photo: Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

Haiga appeared in Simply Haiku, Autumn 2009, vol 7 no 3.

October 9, 2009

Autumn Shower

And so it begins, gentle but steady,
the soft patter of an autumn shower.

As the raindrops begin to fall,
brightly colored leaves begin to fall

bringing freshness to the air
and stillness all around.

As if the world was being cleansed,
so that life can begin again.

— Dan Hardison

Photo by Dan Hardison
Cades Cove, Eastern Tennessee

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October 2, 2009


There's a glory in the heavens
That no artist's brush reveals,
And no poet's pen expresses
All the wonderment he feels;
The majestic snow-clad mountain
And the prairie's rolling span
Put to shame the noblest effort
Of the puny mind of man!

In the bridge that spans the chasm
And the spire against the sky,
With the utmost skill and patience,
Man has sought to please the eye,
But when nature clothes the woodland
In the scarlet robes of fall,
Yonder maple on the hillside
Is more beautiful than all!
If I fail to see the beauty
In a lovely work of art,
Or the work of some Old Master
Somehow fails to touch my heart,
Should I miss the golden glory
Of the path some hero trod,
Please forgive me, I'm enraptured
By the Wondrous Works of God!

Stillman J. Elwell
From his book "Windows of Thought"

Photo by Dan Hardison
Asheville, North Carolina

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September 18, 2009

Searching the Tideline

Haiku and image by Dan Hardison
Photo: Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

Haiga appeared in Simply Haiku, Autumn 2009, vol 7 no 3.

September 12, 2009

The Round

Light splashed this morning
on the shell-pink anemones
swaying on their tall stems;
down blue-spiked veronica
light flowed in rivulets
over the humps of the honeybees;
this morning I saw light kiss
the silk of the roses
in their second flowering,
my late bloomers
flushed with their brandy.
A curious gladness shook me.

So I have shut the doors of my house,
so I have trudged downstairs to my cell,
so I am sitting in semi-dark
hunched over my desk
with nothing for a view
to tempt me
but a bloated compost heap,
steamy old stinkpile,
under my window;
and I pick my notebook up
and I start to read aloud
the still-wet words I scribbled
on the blotted page:
"Light splashed . . ."

I can scarcely wait till tomorrow
when a new life begins for me,
as it does each day;
as it does each day.

Stanley Kunitz
From his book "The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden"

Photo by Dan Hardison
New Hanover County Arboretum
Wilmington, North Carolina

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September 5, 2009

Exhibition: "ECVA Imaging Ubuntu"

"All things come of thee, O Lord, and of thine own have we given thee."
— 1 Chronicles 29: 14

These words are used as an offertory statement and are often associated with the appeal to fund the church. However, if all things come from God and we are expected to give back to him, is money the only way we can or should give?

There seems always to be a shortage of time in our lives nowadays, but time can be of value to the well being of a church. It takes a tremendous amount of money to keep a church organization going, but it also requires the giving of time from individuals. Participating in church services and events, as well as the upkeep of the building and grounds are also important contributions.

We are called upon to give unto others who are less fortunate and there are many charities in need of volunteers, but giving to others can also be through the simple act of kindness. A kind word or deed given to those around us may not seem like much, but it can make an impression in someone else's life.

There is much that God has given and much that we can give in return. If there is but one gift to give, let it be the gift of love. As Neil Diamond says in song, "love's a gift that's made for givin'/ you give it all away and have it still."

— Dan Hardison

The above image was included in the online exhibition ECVA Imaging Ubuntu for the Episcopal Church and Visual Arts (ECVA). The image was also a "First" choice by a juror. Visit to view the exhibition.

Image "All Things Come of Thee"
Chapel of Transgression
Kanuga Conferences, North Carolina
By Dan Hardison

August 29, 2009

Postcard: Andrews Geyser

Old Fort, North Carolina
(Used - postmark 1914)

Travel through the mountains of Western North Carolina was particularly hard during the 1800's. Even the railroad found extending its tracks through the Blue Ridge Mountains a daunting task. During the late 1800's, an effort was made to extend the railroad to Asheville, North Carolina along an especially treacherous section of the mountains. Once completed, a man-made geyser was constructed in the town of Old Fort to mark the railroad gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Originally known as the Fountain at Round Knob, the geyser is a tribute to Colonel Alexander Boyd Andrews and the approximately 120 men who died building this stretch of railroad. Andrews was Vice President of the Southern Railway Company and one of the men responsible for the construction of the railroad through the mountains. The area was known as Round Knob and at the time of its construction, this section of railroad was regarded as the marvel of railroad engineering in the United States.

The site of the geyser was chosen to mark the railroad gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The railroad wraps around the location of the geyser at a spot aptly called Horseshoe Bend. Railroad passengers could view the geyser several times as the train made its way along the 13 miles of track.

Constructed in 1885, the geyser was gravity fed from a lake created by the railroad two miles uphill from the site. The water flowed through a 6-inch underground pipe dropping 500 feet in elevation and came out of a 1/2-inch nozzle surrounded by a concrete basin. The geyser would shoot water 80-100 feet into the air.

A hotel was also built at the time of the geyser's construction, but the hotel burned in 1903 and the geyser fell into disrepair. The geyser was refurbished in 1911 and extensively restored in the 1970s. Today, the geyser still sends its stream of water into the air and is the centerpiece of a public park in the town of Old Fort.

The lake that furnishes the water for the geyser is on the current site of a Bed & Breakfast, the Inn on Mill Creek. Visitors to the Inn can enjoy its trout filled lake and visit the site of the valve and pipe where the water begins its long journey down the mountain to Andrews Geyser below.

— Dan Hardison

August 21, 2009

Live Your Life

"When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, you rejoice and the world cries."

— Cree saying

Photo by Dan Hardison
Wilmington, North Carolina

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August 14, 2009

Dark and Deep

Into the quiet of woods
dark and deep,
a stream flows gently
never disturbing the calm
of its surroundings.

Along the way,
the stream starts to tumble
as rocks block the way.
Louder now, it rushes on
as the stream begins
a downward slope.

the stream is airborne
as it is pulled down,
down into a basin
of boulders and rocks.

Now the calm is broken,
the serenity dispelled
by the sounds of water
crashing on rocks below.

Onward flows the stream
unscathed and renewed
as it continues its flow
into the quiet of woods
dark and deep.

— Dan Hardison

Photo by Dan Hardison
Western, North Carolina

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August 7, 2009


Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

David Wagoner
From his book "Traveling Light: Collected and New Poems"

Photo by Dan Hardison
Red Clay State Park, East Tennessee

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July 24, 2009

Summer Rain Coming

Haiku and image by Dan Hardison
Photo: Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

Haiku appeared in Word Salad, Volume XV, No. II - Summer 2009

July 17, 2009

Mystery of the Morning

I awoke this morning
and all that was once clear,
and all that was familiar was gone -
shrouded in a veil of mystery.

Now, in the early hours of morning
a fog has descended
obscuring all that was once known
and leaving in its place mystery.

But as the hours of morning pass
the sun will gradually but assuredly
cut through the veil of mystery
and make all that was once lost
familiar again.

— Dan Hardison

Photo by Dan Hardison
Balsam Mountain Inn - Balsam, North Carolina

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July 4, 2009

The Lily

Night after night


enters the face

of the lily

which, lightly,

closes its five walls

around itself,

and its purse

of honey,

and its fragrance,

and is content

to stand there

in the garden,

not quite sleeping,

and, maybe,

saying in lily language

some small words

we can't hear

even when there is no wind


its lips

are so secret,

its tongue

is so hidden –

or, maybe,

it says nothing at all

but just stands there

with the patience

of vegetables

and saints

until the whole earth has turned around

and the silver moon

becomes the golden sun –

as the lily absolutely knew it would,

which is itself, isn't it,

the perfect prayer?

Mary Oliver
From her book "Why I Wake Early"

Photo by Dan Hardison
Columbia, Tennessee

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June 26, 2009

Postcard: Mountaineer's Home

East Tennessee
(No postmark - c1907-1915)

The Rev. William S. Claiborne (1871-1933) dedicated his life to missionary work in the mountains of East Tennessee. He sought not only to bring spiritual teachings to those living in remote areas of the mountains, but also to provide education and health care.

Rev. Claiborne was ordained an Episcopal Priest in 1901 and would later become an Archdeacon. During the early 1900's, he established some twenty mission churches in Southeastern Tennessee. At Sewanee, home to the University of the South where he was a trustee, he founded the St. Andrew's Industrial School for Mountain Boys and St. Mary's on the Mountain Industrial School for Girls. These two schools would eventually be combined and still exist today as St. Andrew's-Sewanee School. He also served as superintendent of Emerald Hodgson Hospital in Sewanee.

This unused postcard, c1907-1915, was one of several used to encourage charitable giving to the work of the missionaries. Printed text on the back reads: "A Typical Mountaineer's Home – In this one room these five adults live the year round. There are no windows and no drainage. The sanitary condition can be imagined. Our Charity Hospital exists to care for the sick among these people and to teach them the laws of health. Will you help us to carry on this magnificent work? Rev. W. S. Claiborne, Rev. Stuart L. Tyson, Sewanee, Tenn."

Rev. Claiborne was the author of several books including "Twenty-one years in the mountains of Tennessee" that chronicled his years spent in missionary work. He was one of many missionaries who sought to better the lives of people through better education and better health care. A cause we still struggle to provide today.

— Dan Hardison

June 19, 2009

Eva Cassidy - Songbird

In today's world of "reality TV" and televised singing competitions where people with and without talent too often appear for the celebrity factor rather than a serious pursuit of a musical career, it is refreshing to discover someone who not only has an extraordinary voice, but who is humble and even reluctant for the spotlight.

Eva Cassidy was born in Washington, DC, into an artistic and musical family. She learned to play the guitar at an early age with her father as teacher. During and after High School, she sang in area bands always choosing to just be another member of the band. She loved music yet it was never a career pursuit, just an enjoyable hobby while performing other jobs including work at a plant nursery.

A bit shy and not comfortable being the front person, Cassidy preferred being a backup singer and singing in the recording studio behind others. She developed a reputation as a singer with a powerful voice with a natural ability for harmony and could adapt to a variety of musical styles. By 1992, she had been encouraged to make the move up front and began to perform frequently in the DC area with a backup band.

Eva Cassidy's first commercial recording would be a duet album with Chuck Brown, a favorite DC performer who had already recorded several albums. "Her voice projected her feelings, and I could feel everything she was singing," Brown has said.

Cassidy could sing anything: folk, blues, pop, jazz, R&B, gospel, standards - and she did. When she performed, she would move from one style to another and make each her own. Record companies showed interest in her, but they wanted someone who could fit neatly into one category, they did not know what to do with a singer like her. Cassidy did release a live album and worked in the studio on an album she would never see released.

In 1996, Eva Cassidy was diagnosed with melanoma that had already spread to her bones. Although she immediately began chemotherapy, she was given only three months to live. Cassidy would sing in public for the last time in September of 1996.

Friends in the music community had organized a tribute concert for her at a popular nightclub in Georgetown. The club was packed that night with Cassidy's friends and fans as fellow musicians took the stage to perform for her. At the end of the evening, Eva Cassidy was introduced. Frail, she appeared on stage using a walker. After being helped onto a stool and handed her guitar, Eva began the Louis Armstrong standard "What a Wonderful World." The song began weak, but grew in strength with the voice everyone knew and loved. It is said that by song's end, there was not a dry eye in the club except for Eva's.

After the concert, Eva's health began a steady decline. On November 2, Eva Cassidy died, age 33.

A compilation of her recordings was released in 1998 as the album "Songbird." In 2001, the album reached number 1 on the UK charts. It became a success throughout Europe, eventually finding success in the US as well. Since then, several albums of her music have been released as her popularity continued to spread.

Several television shows and movies have since featured her music. When the producer's for the movie "Maid in Manhattan" wanted to use singer/songwriter Paul Simon's song "Kathy's Song," he suggested they use Cassidy's recording of it instead of his own.

Singer/songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter referenced Eva in her song "My Heaven" with the line, "More memories than my heart can hold, when Eva's singing Fields of Gold." Sting, the "Fields of Gold" songwriter, is said to have been moved to tears when he heard Cassidy's version of his song.

Even the judges on television's "American Idol" have used Eva Cassidy as an example to contestants for her voice and song arrangements. She never sought fame in life, but after her death the world finally found her.

At the tribute concert in 1996, as Eva Cassidy completed the song "What a Wonderful World" she sang the final line "I think to myself, oh, what a wonderful world" and looked around at the audience. With a wave of the hand and "Thank you so much, thank you so much," she was gone.

— Dan Hardison

Photo by Dan Hardison Wilmington, North Carolina

June 12, 2009

The Path

The path before us
awaits our journey.
A path of our choosing –
our destiny not always certain.

We can choose to be in a rush
and chance to miss the beauty
and opportunities
along the way.

Or we can choose a pace
that is measured and slow
and enjoy all that awaits us.

The choice is ours . . .
the path is waiting.

— Dan Hardison

Photo by Dan Hardison
Linville Falls, Western North Carolina

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June 5, 2009


The windows of the place wherein I dwell

I will make beautiful. No garish light
Shall enter crudely; but with colors bright,

And warm and throbbing I will weave a spell,
In rainbow harmony the theme to tell

Of sage and simple saint and noble knight,
Beggar and king who fought the gallant fight.

These shall transfigure even my poor cell.

But when the shadows of the night begin,

And sifted sunlight falls no more on me,

May I have learned to light my lamp within;

So that the passing world may look and see

Still the same radiance, though with paler hue,
Of the sweet lives that help men to live true.

Abbie Farwell Brown
From the anthology "High Tide: Songs of Joy and Vision from the Present-Day Poets of America and Great Britain", 1916.

Photo by Dan Hardison
New Hanover Arboretum - Wilmington, NC

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May 29, 2009

Going. . . Going. . . Gone!

Going. . .

Going. . .


Photos by Dan Hardison
Sliding Rock
Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina

May 16, 2009

Postcard from the Past: A Message from School

The front of the postcard is a picture of an ivy-covered school. The school is the Columbia Female Institute, an Episcopal school for girls established in Columbia, Tennessee in 1835. It was well known for its high standard of education and served girls from across the country.

A school catalog described it as "a school offering the advantages of a well-balanced curriculum and the environment of a Christian home; a school where the best formative influences prevail and where the tone is distinctively and dominantly moral and spiritual."

On the back of the postcard is an address for Knoxville, Tennessee with a postmark of September 22, 1913. The message is from a young girl living away from home and attending school there. How different things must have been for this girl so young, so long ago. The message reads:

I got your letter this morning and sure did enjoy it. Will answer it real soon. Please be good and next Wednesday send me a package of chocolate cakes. If you send it then, I will get them by Friday. Am very happy up here.
Love to all from the "noise of the family"

Then again, maybe there are some things that never change.

— Dan Hardison

Image: Postcard of the Columbia Female Institute, Columbia, Tennessee, postmarked 1913.

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May 8, 2009

Then and Now

When years have rolled o’er thee
And summers are fled
And this comes before thee
Like one from the dead –
When these scenes and these days
Shall be past and afar
Let them live in the blaze
Of bright memories star!

Let fate do her worst these are moments of joy,
Bright dreams of the past which she cannot destroy!

— Naomi Hayes

Far from home,
separated from family,
a young girl
is away at school.

In a journal are written
words and thoughts
by schoolmates and friends –
the year 1855.

Words of love and friendship,
of misdeeds and accomplishments,
of hopes and dreams,
of everyday life so dear.

As I read the words
written by those
so long ago,
I wonder . . .

Perhaps the hopes and dreams
are not so different
for a young girl
of then and now.

— Dan Hardison

Image: The poem by 17-year-old Naomi Hayes was written in a school journal kept by Rebecca Pettit in 1854/55 when they were students at the Columbia Female Institute – an Episcopal finishing school for girls that was located in Columbia, Tennessee.

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May 1, 2009

Rain Music

On the dusty earth-drum
Beats the falling rain;
Now a whispered murmur,
Now a louder strain.
Slender, silvery drumsticks,
On an ancient drum,
Beat the mellow music
Bidding life to come.
Chords of earth awakened,
Notes of greening spring,
Rise and fall triumphant
Over every thing.
Slender, silvery drumsticks
Beat the long tattoo –
God, the Great Musician,
Calling life anew.

Joseph S. Cotter, Jr.

Photo by Dan Hardison
Red Clay State Park, East Tennessee

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April 24, 2009

Postcard: Biltmore Estate

Asheville, North Carolina
(Used - postmark 1911)

Completed in 1895 after six years of construction, the Biltmore House was the country estate of George Vanderbilt. Located in Asheville, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, it remains the largest private residence in the United States. The house is remarkable – if "house" is the correct term for a 250-room mansion – but equally astounding are the surrounding grounds.

Originally 125,000 acres, the estate now covers 8,000 acres. Vanderbilt chose the area for his home because of his love for the mountains, but at the time, the site was anything but scenic. It was an area of worn-out farmland, and depleted and fire damaged forests.

Conceived to be a self-supporting estate, Biltmore Estate remains family owned and self-supporting today. Farming was a primary function for the estate in the beginning and it continues there today. Although it may be hard to imagine a four-acre house with 43 bathrooms as "green", many of the concepts used in the construction of the estate and the restoration of the land were forerunners to some of today's conservation and environmental efforts.

Vanderbilt hired landscape architect Frederick Olmsted, known for his design of New York's Central Park, to transform the site. Olmsted was an early conservationist believing in natural settings and the use of native plants. He created five distinct gardens surrounding the house. From the gardens, the grounds gradually turn into managed woodland to create a natural setting.

Vanderbilt also hired Gifford Pinchot, a German trained forester, to replenish and restore the surrounding forest. Pinchot believed that forests could be preserved yet also yield timber. Vanderbilt wanted Biltmore to be the proving ground for "managed forestry" – a concept unknown in America at the time. Pinchot's work at Biltmore turned it into the first planned forestry program in the U.S. In addition, 86,000 acres of the original estate is today the Pisgah National Forest. Pinchot would go on to found the U.S. Forestry Service.

The Biltmore Estate has been open to the public since 1930. Today it provides visitors a look not only at an extravagant house, but with its original furnishings and history it also provides a look back at a period and lifestyle we can only imagine. Through George Vanderbilt's love of the mountains and its forests, and through his foresight, we have learned how to preserve and maintain the land. Within Pisgah National Forest, you can visit the Cradle of the Forestry, a learning center dedicated to the men who believed in forest conservation.

— Dan Hardison

(Unused - undivided back era, early 1900's)

April 17, 2009

When Morning Comes

In youth my thoughts were filled
with lofty goals,
wondrous dreams,
and endless possibilities.

As years slipped by
these goals and dreams
became harder
to achieve.

New courses made,
expectations altered,
goals changed,
dreams were lost.

But now I find a need
for new goals and dreams
or perhaps . . .
the ones I left behind.

When morning comes
I will rise to a new day
with goals and dreams
I have yet . . . to realize.

— Dan Hardison

Photo by Dan Hardison
Balsam Mountain Inn - Balsam, North Carolina

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April 10, 2009

Just Once

Just once in the year do the geese fly south,
And once does the first snow fall,
Just once do the buds burst forth in spring,
And once does the corn grow tall!

Just once in the day does the purple East
Light up with the glow of dawn,
And once do the deepening shadows fall,
At dusk, when the sun is gone.

Then how can a person be tired of Life
Or bored in a world like ours?
Where once is the season of crimson leaves
And once is the time of flowers.

For so it is planned in the life of man,
His story is quickly told,
Just once he's a child at his mother's knee,
And once he is gray and old.

Then give me the wisdom, good Lord, to know
The miracles shown to me,
That I may watch any passing day –
Yet never again may see!

Stillman J. Elwell
(From his book "Windows of Thought")

Photo by Dan Hardison
Off the Coast of Provincetown, Massachusetts

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April 4, 2009

"Gifts - An Open Studio Exhibition"

"Holy Mountain"
Digitally Enhanced Photograph

The image is a composite of two photographs. The mountain landscape was taken along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina as the sun broke through an overcast sky. The photograph of the Christus Rex was taken at Epiphany Mission Episcopal Church in Sherwood, Tennessee. The image was created as a reflection on the collect for the last Sunday after the Epiphany.

"O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen." — Book of Common Prayer, p165

This image was included in the online exhibition "Gifts: An Open Studio Exhibition" for The Espicopal Church and Visual Arts (ECVA). Visit to view the exhibition.

Dan Hardison

March 27, 2009

Postcard: Balsam Inn

Balsam, North Carolina
(No postmark - early 1900's)

During a by-gone era, guest inns could be found in the mountains for people living in low-lying cities to provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and from the heat of summer. To provide such a refuge, the Balsam Mountain Springs Hotel was built in 1905. The unincorporated community of Balsam, North Carolina, is located in Balsam Gap, a mountain pass through the Great Balsam Mountains, one of the highest ranges in the Appalachian Mountains. The hotel was situated on a hill behind the Balsam Depot, the highest railway station east of the Rockies, where guests could arrive by train.

The decline in railway passenger service brought an end to the Balsam Depot and the old building was moved in the 1960's. But the old hotel continues to accommodate guests today as the Balsam Mountain Inn. The three-story building with its two-tier porch offering views of mountain vistas remains today much as it did during the heyday of the railroad.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Balsam Mountain Inn still offers a quiet respite with rooms and furnishings that hark back to a simpler time. You will not find room telephones or televisions, and at 3,500 feet, there is little need for air conditioning. What you will find is the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and as a nostalgic reminder, the occasional whistle of a freight train as it rumbles past.

Dan Hardison

March 20, 2009

There Was a Time

There was a time
when "iron horse" and "riding the rails"
were at the heart of this land.

Moving commerce and people
when tracks were abundant
and destinations aplenty.

Where once could be heard
that familiar whistle and rumble
the tracks are now idle or gone.

And the prized depots
that were once the center of life
are gone or simply forgotten.

What happened to this thing,
this mode of transportation,
that carried the weight of our nation?

Yes, there was a time
when the railroad stood proud
but those days are past.

You see . . . the train
doesn't run here anymore.

— Dan Hardison

Photo by Dan Hardison
Balsam, North Carolina

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March 13, 2009

The Night Will Never Stay

The night will never stay,
The night will still go by,
Though with a million stars
You pin it to the sky;
Though you bind it with the blowing wind
And buckle it with the moon,
The night will slip away
Like sorrow or a tune.

Eleanor Farjeon

Photo by Dan Hardison
Wilmington, North Carolina

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March 6, 2009

Seeking Life

The river cut deep into the earth
as it tumbled around a bend –
the bank steep in crumbling layers
of moss covered rock.

On a stony ledge, its roots exposed,
a lone tree grew –
not knowing that God
never meant it to be there,
but seeking life just the same.

— Dan Hardison

Photo by Dan Hardison
Fall Creek Falls State Park, East Tennessee

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February 27, 2009

Postcard: Union Station

Nashville, Tennessee
(No postmark - early 1900's)

During the railroad's heyday, many cities built architecturally grand depots where people, commerce, and mail flowed every day. Such was Union Station in Nashville, Tennessee.

Completed in 1900, the massive gothic style railway station served for years as a center of activity. Its train shed was said to be the largest such structure in the world. As passenger rail service in the U.S. declined following World War II, so did Union Station. When the last passenger train ended its run there in 1979, this once grand building was abandoned.

The building stood unused until redevelopment brought it back to life as a hotel in the 1980's. Its grandeur is preserved today (albeit without trains) as Union Station - A Wyndham Historic Hotel.

Dan Hardison

February 20, 2009

Water from Another Time

We encounter many things as we make our way through life that help steer us along our path, or perhaps set us upon another path entirely. There are people who influence our thoughts and beliefs. There are events that remain with us always. But we also encounter little things that can impact our lives – sometimes without realizing it at the time.

Often times we may hear a song that will take us back to another place in time. I remember my first awareness of music when I listened to Chet Atkins' album "Mister Guitar" in the early 1960's. The album turned me onto music and would lead to my own guitar lessons and a love of music that today includes many varied styles. My every day is filled with music (most of it instrumental), but when I pull out "Mister Guitar," I am transported back to where it all began.

During my school years, literature was not to my liking. If our grades ranked school subjects from favorite to least favorite, literature was definitely at the bottom. It did not matter what form or style of literature – if it had words, it was disliked. Everything changed in the mid 1970's when I picked up Jim Metcalf's small book of poetry "In Some Quiet Place." That one book created a love for words that literature classes could not. Although today I read many different forms of writing, I still occasionally pull out one of Metcalf's books and discover again that first thrill of the printed word.

I have long had a passion for visual art. I owe most of my knowledge and appreciation of art to my uncle, but a turning point came when I purchased a book, "The Art of Andrew Wyeth." Wyeth's work fascinated me. His art was realistic in that the scenes and subjects were immediately recognizable, yet they also told a deeper story and created a mood that drew you in and captured you. Most art critics dismissed Wyeth, yet the general public adored him.

A high point for me came in 1980 when I visited the Greenville County Museum of Art in Greenville, South Carolina. At the time, the museum held the Magill collection of Andrew Wyeth art. Here for one's viewing were most of the important works by Wyeth – primarily from the Olson and Kuerner periods. This was an event I would not forget. My love of art today embraces many different styles that include the world of craft as well. But for me the soft tones and quiet melancholy of Andrew Wyeth's world will forever remain a fascination.

Andrew Wyeth passed away in January 2009. Chet Atkins died in 2001, and Jim Metcalf died in 1977. So excuse me while I get a cup of tea, put on Chet Atkins' "Mister Guitar," grab my tattered copy of Jim Metcalf's "In Some Quiet Place" and "The Art of Andrew Wyeth," and settle down for awhile. I need to revisit some old friends, drift back to where things began, and dip once again in water from another time.

Their stories quench my soul and mind
Like water from another time

— John McCutcheon

— Dan Hardison

Photo by Dan Hardison
Rock Island State Park, East Tennessee

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February 13, 2009

Winter Visitor

If the time of April
were upon us,
you'd be just another day –
so much like the ones
that came before you
and the ones that would come after –
that your loveliness would go unnoticed
in the sameness of a springtime sequence,
when beauty follows beauty
from sun to moon to sun again.

But now, in winter,
you violate the mandates
of a calendar that dictates
what your nature ought to be . . .
and your warm kiss
is made the sweeter
when felt on cheeks
that recall the touch of winter . . .
just a day ago.

Jim Metcalf
From his book “Please to Begin”.

Photo by Dan Hardison
Moores Creek National Battlefield
Currie, North Carolina

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February 6, 2009

A Time for Sleeping

Trees that have stood
so stark and forlorn
are sprouting new leaves
as Spring brings new life.

Summer brings fulfillment
with trees full and shapely
casting their shade
with life at its fullest.

With Fall life has slowed
as leaves begin to fall.
Days grow shorter
and living has taken its toll.

In Winter trees are bare
and life seems weary
in need of a rest –
a time for sleeping.

— Dan Hardison

Photo by Dan Hardison
Bledsoe County, East Tennessee

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January 30, 2009

Postcard: Columbia Female Institute

Columbia, Tennessee
(No postmark - early 1900's)

The Columbia Female Institute was an Episcopal finishing school for girls established in 1835. The school's building, designed after an English castle, was completed in 1838. The school became well known for its high standard of education and was attended by girls from across the country. It was forced to close in 1934, a casualty of the Great Depression. The school building was used for storage and left abandoned until a fire in 1959 burned it to the ground. As a six-year old living in Columbia with my family, I witnessed the Institute burn. Standing on the sidewalk in front of the historic building, we watched as its massive stonewalls were engulfed in flames and crashed to the ground.

An advertisement for the school from the late 1800's read: "The Institute building has long been famed as a model of striking and beautiful architecture. Visitors are charmed with its resemblance to the old castles of song and story, with its towers, turreted walls, and ivy-mantled porches."

— Dan Hardison

January 23, 2009

A Winter Day

A lustrous sky of gray,

trees draped in white,

a world in fallen snow.

A realm so quiet

snow can be heard falling

and footsteps seem intrusive.

One can almost sense

water freezing

in a nearby stream.

Today, God's creatures

can only wait . . .

and dream of spring.

— Dan Hardison

Photo by Dan Hardison
Fall Creek Falls State Park, East Tennessee

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January 16, 2009

It's A Long Way

It's a long way the sea-winds blow

Over the sea-plains blue –

But longer far has my heart to go

Before its dreams come true.

It's work we must, and love we must,

And do the best we may,

And take the hope of dreams in trust

To keep us day by day.

It's a long way the sea-winds blow –

But somewhere lies a shore –

Thus down the tide of time shall flow

My dreams forevermore.

William Stanley Braithwaite
From the book "Negro Poets And Their Poems, 1923."

Photo by Dan Hardison
Provincetown, Massachusetts

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January 9, 2009

Randy Pausch – If You Remember Me

Jim Metcalf writes in a poem, "I hope if you remember me at all, / it will be for what I was, / not for what / you would have had me be, / or what others thought." If we were to leave a legacy when our time here has ended, would we not want to be remembered fondly for who we were and how we lived our life? And if you unexpectedly were told that you have only a few months left to live, what would you do to be remembered for "what I was?"

Randy Pausch was an award-winning Professor of Computer Science specializing in virtual reality research at Carnegie Mellon University and previously at the University of Virginia. He also worked with Adobe, Google, Electronic Arts (EA), and Walt Disney Imagineering, as well as pioneering the educational software tool the Alice project. He was married with three young children when in August 2007 he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. Randy Pausch was forty-seven.

Each year at Carnegie Mellon, a faculty member is asked to deliver what would be hypothetically a final speech to their students before dying known as "The Last Lecture." It is a chance for both the speaker and listeners to reflect upon what matters most in life. Pausch had been asked to deliver the lecture in 2007 and by the time the speech was given in September, it would ironically be his last lecture. Under the circumstances, he could easily have canceled the lecture. However, since the lecture would be videotaped, Pausch wanted the lecture to be a way for his children to later, "understand who I was and what I cared about." It would be a "message in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children."

The lecture was called "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." It was about living a full and meaningful life, the importance of overcoming obstacles, and seizing every moment. It was not about dying.

The lecture was given as scheduled before a packed auditorium and was a sensation. The subsequent video has been viewed by millions and can still be seen. Pausch went on to write the best selling book titled "The Last Lecture" with Jeffrey Zaslow, a columnist for "The Wall Street Journal." As Pausch explained, "A book allows me to cover many, many more stories from my life and the attendant lessons I hope my kids can take from them. Also, much of my lecture at Carnegie Mellon focused on the professional side of my life - my students, colleagues and career. The book is a far more personal look at my childhood dreams and all the lessons I've learned."

The book is also available as an audio book read by Erik Singer who invokes Randy Pausch's wit, intellect, and inspirational storytelling as if Pausch were actually right there telling you his story.

On July 25, 2008, Randy Pausch died. In his final months, he had wanted to leave a message for his children – an accumulation of everything he had come to believe about life. What he left was a remembrance from which we can all learn and a legacy for all to treasure.

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."
Randy Pausch

— Dan Hardison

Photo by Dan Hardison
New Hanover Arboretum
Wilmington, North Carolina

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January 1, 2009

Place in Time

There is a time
before the New Year begins
and that of our Savior's birth –

to look back on our journey
to this place in time
and the year

that is dying.

Places we have been
people we have known
and those we have lost -

the accomplishments,
the sorrows,
and all that was

good or bad.

For once the first day
of the New Year has arrived
there will be no turning back –

only to move forward,
to face our goals, our dreams,
our hopes, and perhaps

another chance.

— Dan Hardison

Photo by Dan Hardison
Wetumpka, Alabama

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