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Leaving the place better than we found it
Seeing with my eyes closed
Thomas Jefferson on gun control
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Our hardy heartland
Breaking the cycle
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Thoughts from the inside
Leveraging the internet to build our walls
Twitters from the past
And the invincibility of youth
Without ego projection
Yet another gift of the road
The charming side of obstinance
The creative part of photography
A movie critic looks in the mirror
We are not alone
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Defecting from the rear guard
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Running out of dirt
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The Bay of Fundy, where the sea breathes
How to photograph them with anything, even your cellphone
A simple question we get every day
We may be failing to fail
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Becoming a hero in one's own life story
A writing assignment
You're on this page
Finding new eyes to see old landscapes
Hick humor
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Experiencing life with God
A radical thought about our radicals
Redemption with style
Hidden heroes among us
Resetting our parallel processor
A village with heart
A lesson from the road
The bullet dodged
A soul sparkles
Isolation in style
Painless ways to lose your virginity : 11/12/15
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A new discovery of something old

With Jamestown, Yorktown, so many Civil War battles, and the homes of Washington and Jefferson, Virginia seemed the history book of the nation. All well and good, but since my youth, I have not been a history buff. I was impertinent enough to ask my grammar school history teacher why I should memorize all these dates and names of dead people, except to win a few bucks on a game show. Even then, I knew science was the way to go.

This started to change when my current travels brought me to the South, a place where people live their history. This was a new concept for a California boy where a building that needed a fresh coat of paint was pronounced a historical landmark.

I had come to understand the people of the South, and I learned that was only possible by not just visiting their historical sites, but feeling what took place there.

Standing on the Plank Road near Virginia's Chancellorsville, I was overcome by the thought of the hand-to-hand fighting, of so many dead underfoot that the combatants slipped on the bodies. I tried to imagine human beings being shot once every second for 5 hours. So different from all I had known, and so different from the sleepy flowers I photographed.

I sat in the shade of Salem Church near Fredericksburg which became a field hospital after the battles where Col. Robert McMillan, 24th Georgia remarked, "The amputated limbs were piled up in every corner almost as high as a man could reach; blood flowed in streams along the aisles and out the doors." And one of the busy Confederate surgeons was George R.C. Todd, who was also President Lincoln's brother-in-law.

More than one such battlefield moved me to tears as I stroked the grass below me. History had become alive even as it spoke of so much death.

The home of the first colonialists in Jamestown promised some tranquility, except for a recent discovery dating to the Starving Time of 1609 when the folks who had escaped England's sooty towns discovered that they didn't know how to hunt or farm. The trash pit digs revealed how the colonialists had resorted to eating their horses, then their dogs, then the village rats. And finally, they had unearthed the body of a 15-year-old girl the archeologists named Jane who had starved, and ate what was left of her. I tried to imagine the hushed desperation that must have swept the camp around me.

History had become too much to bear.

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Evening fog

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Cuniculumphobia (fear of tunnels)

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Shenandoah National Park

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Busy as a bee

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Shenandoah Valley from atop Blue Ridge Parkway

For more pictures of Virginia, click here.

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