Hubble Space Telescope Photo

By Bob Weaver

Where to find beauty?

Henry David Thoreau's book "Walden, Life in the Woods," is considered to be among America's most influential and popular books. Thoreau discovered beauty and utility among the smallest of things while living 26-months beside a remote pond in 1847.

While embracing the beauty of such in the hills, hollers and creeks near the Village of Hur as a child, I returned in 1979 for a year to live in the woods.

It was a time for healing from a drinking problem, dropping upward mobility and returning to the curious. What a wonderful experience it was.

Then in 1996 we returned permanently.

I was reminded of the importance of curiosity by interviewing long-time Calhoun educator Don McCartney, who said "If all students were curious, we'd have no problem educating."

McCartney acknowledged that some people travel with a myopic view of life and what the world offers, their journey sadly deprived.

From childhood I was blessed with curiosity, growing up in the woods and having parents, who with small means, indulged me with books and music, and supported my curiosities.

I almost suffered from a curiosity of so many things that I was almost a master of none, and maybe I am.

In those early years, while connected to nature, I expanded my curiosity from building a radio station (illegal), a chemistry lab (my mom feared I was going to burn the house down) and a miniature movie theater, all in our cellar house, while making rocket ships, sky watching and blowing things up.

In between, I read books, newspapers and magazines.

Mostly I walked for miles across the hills and valleys.

Mario Livio, who does a web site called the Curious Mind, is an astrophysicist and an author of popular science books. His research interests range from extrasolar planets to supernova explosions and cosmology, but he is also passionate about art - astounding and breathtaking images that have been taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Many breathtaking images have been photographed from Calhoun's park by amateur astronomers who come to the county because we're a dark spot, a universal view not obstructed by metro lights.

Now, a project is proposed to develop the park as a Dark Skies Astronomy Center, long dreamed.

Livio says of such photography, "The effect they have on the viewer is on one hand the result of their sheer visual impact, and on the other, the fact that the objects being imaged truly exist in this wondrous cosmos. This fusion of evocative reality with artistic rendering is simply irresistible."

And to think, those images, art and beauty are available right here in the backwoods of West Virginia.

All it takes to is some curiosity to gaze a few steps from your back door to discover beauty.

And with a small dose of silence, life has more meaning.

Space photos from Calhoun Park:


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