110604autumn.jpgI took this photo more than 40 years ago, while still a student at Floyd County High School, using the school’s 4×5 Crown Graphic. The 4×5 transparency still produces beautiful, large prints and I’ve probably sold more copies of this photo than of any image taken in a long career in photography.

Yet the photo also captures a time long gone. I found this area behind Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway while hiking along one of the streams that feeds the mill trace. The fall colors and mist from the water provided a beautiful Autumn setting. After returning to Floyd County earlier this year, I hiked along the trail to find the spot but had trouble locating it. The stream, once wide and flowing, has all but dried up and the trees on the hillside are gone, replaced by vacation homes that now line the Parkway like vultures, waiting to devour a dying countryside.

I tried to take a photo of what the land had become but could not. I’d rather remember it as it was, not what it has become.