The Beauty Within

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The swirling colors of a sky set on fire by the sun rising.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

Don’t forget to follow me in LOCUS: A journey in search of PLACE!

Do you have any great quotes about place that you’d like to share?  Feel free to post them in the comments section below!

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The Cold Light of a January Sun

A winter view of the mountains in Black Mountain, NC, the green of the leaves replaced by dull grey mountains against a pale sky.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

“The last leaf has fallen.  The grey pall of winter has descended on these mountains.  The glory of Fall is gone, and the world is colder and sadder without it.  Every day seems empty of color.  I miss the leaves.  I wish they hadn’t gone”

I wrote these lines before arriving at the place I am in now.  Here, winter seems to be holding itself back.  Stubborn oak leaves the color of rust cling to the branches.  They rustle in the wind as it blows.  It sounds like the deep sighing of waves, with the very same rise and fall.  I close my eyes and let it wash over me.

Oak leaves the color of rust rattle and shake in the wind against a blue sky in Western North Carolina.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

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The Journey Home

A surreal look at small town America; a color photograph of a bridge leads to the sepia tone of small town America buildings.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”  Matsua Basho

For a long time, I thought I was looking for my home.  I have loved and lost many places in pursuit of this dream; left them behind me and kept on looking.

I lived in Missouri for 19 years, and never once felt like I belonged.   My youth was a series of unfortunate events, plagued by a desperation to be anywhere but where I was.  The road that led me out of there was chiseled into the hard edge of the limestone hills that had always seemed like strangers to me.

I remember Missouri best rolling behind me in the rear-view mirror, my past receding in a speeding haze of rust and green.  The rush of the wind against my face blew away the stale air that had hung in all the places I had been before.  A weight in my chest lifted, and the motion of the car kept it suspended.  Finally, I could breathe.

I followed the road south until it hit the Gulf of Mexico, and I could drive no further.

The waves of the Gulf of Mexico lap against the white sand beach of Pass Christian, MS.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

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Wherever You Go

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”

Anita Desai

A sculpture of a black bear in Cherokee, NC that is painted with the blue ridge mountains , an eagle, a deer, and a wolf.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

Don’t forget to follow me in LOCUS: A journey in search of PLACE!

See the bears for yourself!

This bear is one of 20 life-sized sculptures scattered around Cherokee, NC.  They have all been painted by local artists, and each one represents a different aspect of the Cherokee culture.  If you’d like to see more of the Cherokee Bears, click here for the map!

Finding Your Character’s Voice Through PLACE

A blue sky reflects in the surface of a bayou in Pearlington, MS.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

Dialogue, simply put, is the VOICE of your characters.  It is the words that they speak.  What does this have to do with place, you ask?

The answer is, just about everything.  From a practical standpoint, people speak differently depending on where they are from.  They have accents, speak in dialects, make particular word choices (syntax), follow or break the rules of grammar, use slang.  When someone speaks, you can often infer what part of the world they live in merely by the sound of their voice.

Looking deeper

A large yellow and orange grasshopper in southern MS in close-up.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

Beyond accent and dialect, I have recently discovered that when it comes to writing fiction there is a much more profound connection between voice and place.  By connecting the two, you can find your way deeper into your characters, and in turn they will lead you deeper into your story.

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Falling Out of Love with New Orleans

A live oak twists over an artist selling her work on the wrought iron fence of Jackson Square in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

There is nothing quite like falling out of love with New Orleans.

I first saw the city when I was 19 years old, and I fell immediately into the spinning, blind, careless kind of love that only youth is capable of.  Leaving it behind me was my first real heartbreak in my love affair with PLACE.

The focus is on an angel statue holding a shell in the foreground, with the expansive interior of St Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

In the Garden District, the air is cleaner, sunnier, yellow even.  The breeze generated by the streetcar is Elysian.  Everything seems happier.  Cheerful.  More beautiful.

For whole blocks St Charles can make you feel this way. Continue reading

Life is Always in the Setting of Nature

Beautiful salmon pink leaves grace a twisting tree against a blue sky outside Asheville, NC.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

I drive south, seeking Fall in new places.  Mountain after mountain rolls before me in waves across the landscape.  Ribbons of the Blue Ridge Parkway intersect thick forests in every shade imaginable.  Clouds race across the sky.

An entire mountain appears rusted in place.  Upon closer inspection, a bright orange leaf begins to grow brown and crisp at the edges; the impression of rust an illusion created by distance.

I round a curve and there is the whole spectrum of color again.      As I drive further my world changes and then changes again.  The forest is in motion along the side of the road, a dappled world of shadow and light.

Vibrant fall leaves frame a shot overlooking Looking Glass Rock along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Western North Carolina.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

Life is always in the setting of Nature.  It is landscapes like the ones I show you here that will shape our futures; places like these that will shelter and weather our joys and mistakes.

If you think hard enough, every memory you possess is probably accompanied by a mental snapshot, a panoramic image of the specific PLACE in which it occurred.

It is these places that provide the framework and the texture for our lives. Continue reading

Autumn Falls Across the Mountains

Autumn colors burst forth, scarlet blooming from green against a blue sky on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Western North Carolina.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

Autumn falls across the Blue Ridge mountains in a blaze of glory, a fiery riot of color announcing the arrival of the dying of the leaves. It is beautiful beyond all telling, but it is a beautiful death. It is the year closing in on itself.

Here in the mountains Fall means one thing: Leaf Season. Soon all the mountains will be patch-worked with color. The higher elevations have already erupted into shades of red, orange and yellow.

Yellow leaves set against a blue sky in Western North Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

There is still plenty of green holding strong, guaranteeing many more weeks of prime leaf watching to look forward to this year.

Winter looms on the horizon of Fall, when the leaves will all be gone and the world will look naked against the hard blue sky. The trees will stand gray and sad in the chill of the season, and green will be but a dream far off and waiting in a distant spring.

Now’s your chance! Keep reading for tips on how to plan a trip of your own to see Autumn fall across the mountains.

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Pura Vida

A black and white self-portrait of me writing edited with a watercolor treatment.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

I have a terrible habit of writing in notebooks that no one ever reads.

Sometimes, late at night, I break them out and read through them again, notebooks spread all around me. This blog is my way of breaking that habit.

From time to time I’ll post some vintage notebook material on here. You’ll see something I wrote before; words that have rested in these lines and have never been read by anyone else.

A strangler fig grows tall in the jungle of Zancudo Beach, Costa Rica

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

I’ll show you some of the places I’ve seen, the ones I love and the ones I hate. The ones I just had to get down on the page. You’ll find these posts in the category, LIFE as I know it.

You’ll also find parts of my life as they happen in mid-stream, as well as things I discover about PLACE that refuse to fit nicely into the stifling convention of any category at all.

For today’s post, here’s something I wrote while in  Playa Zancudo, Costa Rica, one of the most extraordinary places I have ever been.

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