Gratitude Day 14: Perspective

"Dome's Eye View"
Rime ice clings to trees on the slopes of Mt. Collins, Sugarland Mountain, and
Mt. Le Conte as inversion clouds cover the valleys north and west of Clingmans Dome.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
© 2014 Kristina Plaas, All Rights Reserved
“Sometimes all it takes is a tiny shift of perspective to see something familiar in a totally new light.” 

I learned a great deal about weather during the years I lived in Salt Lake City. In particular, I learned about temperature inversions -- a situation when atmospheric conditions keep clouds (and smog and pollution and germs) trapped in the valley between mountain ranges and clear, blue skies aloft. It's the one time when it's colder down in the valley than it is at the top of the mountain. After listening to local weather reports, I knew yesterday would be a perfect set-up for an inversion and blue skies at Clingmans Dome. 

Most days the valley fog rises up, swallows the Dome, then lifts to reveal everything below. Even on the clearest days of early spring and autumn, from the observation tower atop Clingmans Dome I can see all the peaks and valleys of the Smokies and Blue Ridge. Yesterday was different. This image was taken late in the afternoon -- not the normal time to see valley fog. I drove through dense cloud cover to the park and through the fog to Newfound Gap.The trees in the fog zone were covered in a unique type of one-sided frost called rime ice. I adore rime ice on fraser fir trees! It just makes me happy in a silly, Christmas morning kind of way. I expected to see rime at the Dome, but there was none. No fog, no humidity, no rime. Instead, the 6,643 ft. perspective from the top allowed me to look over the rime and fog and appreciate the amazing peaks of Mt. Le Conte, Mt. Guyot, and other 6,000+ ft. mountains in the area. Wow!

As a photographer, light and perspective are everything to a great shot. If the light isn't right, the image won't pop. If the perspective isn't right, the viewer may not have an engaging experience with the image. If you have perfect light but lack the vision to see what is before you, you may miss the beauty, the message, the meaning of the place. For me, that means exploring my options, changing my perspective to see what I can learn. I took many frames of the icy mountains yesterday, but this one, which includes the architecture of the observation tower, says something a bit different to me. I kind of like it.

Shifting my perspective on a scene while keeping my eye on the same objective says something about life. I go to the top of the Smokies because I need to rise above the inversion clouds of daily life challenges that block my view. I need the tutoring that comes from looking at things from another perspective. I need to maintain an eternal perspective in a very earthly life. I need the balance that comes from multiple perspectives to keep me going. Elder M. Russell Ballard put it this way:

"Faith in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ, is absolutely essential for us to maintain a balanced perspective through times of trial and difficulty. Remember, nothing will occur in our lives that He does not understand. Alma taught, “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.” (Alma 7:11.) Please turn to Him if you are discouraged and struggling for direction in your life. Armed with the shield of faith, we can overcome many of our daily challenges and overpower our greatest weaknesses and fears, knowing that if we do our best to keep the commandments of God, come what may, we will be all right." General Conference October, 1992
I'm grateful for the hope I gain from looking at things from varying perspectives. I'm grateful for heavenly assurance that things will be all right. I'm grateful to live in a beautiful place where I am constantly taught, not only in church, in the words of scripture, and from God's chosen prophets and apostles, but in the hills and valleys of the Great Smoky Mountains.

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