Friday, October 19, 2012

Cottages & Creatures

Thursday was definitely a creature day! I spent several hours on horseback then viewing pictures of wildlife in Tanzania.  There is always more to do in Aiken than I have hours to do it!  Aiken is well known as a “horse town”.  Yet it is also a vibrant small town with residents that are passionate not only about horses, but the land, arts, and history.

I went with my horse and three other friends and their horses to Hitchcock Woods.   The “Woods” as it called by the locals is one of the largest urban forests in the US.  There are over 2,100 acres of forestland with over 70 miles of trails.   One of the local hunt clubs,
The Aiken Hounds hunts in the “Woods”.   Riding through the longleaf pine forest is both beautiful and relaxing.   To me, it was as relaxing as a massage with my favorite therapist.  A bit more expensive though, considering hay, horse shoes, vet bills, and all those things horses need!  Thanksgiving Day, November 22, will be the annual “Blessing of the Hounds” in the Woods.  This is a tradition in the Woods and is also the formal opening day for the Hunt with other clubs invited to join along. 

The Aiken Hounds
                                           (photo by G. Southworth)

                                         The Horse Show in the Woods
                                               (photo S. Mcmillan)
Afterwards I rushed home with just enough time to wash my face, comb my hair, and then it was off to the open house for the wildlife photos.  Fortunately, one can go almost anywhere in Aiken in boots and britches.  It really cuts down on the need for other clothes!  Who knows, maybe a reduced clothing budget might offset some of the equine costs!  The pictures were taken by Michael Beckner who spent nine years in Tanzania working in wildlife conservation.  Michael is also the son of neighbors.   His photos captured these noble animals along with the essence of the land.  I have trouble just handling a point and shoot camera, so I began to ask questions about his camera, lens, etc.  I decided that it would take me nine years to understand…… 

 Michael is passionate about his work with these animals and it shows in his pictures.  Below are a few pictures of Michael with his some of his photos.  They are on display for sale at Aiken Art & Custom Framing.

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