I recently read and enjoyed an article about someone’s experiences in two of our national parks. I haven’t been fortunate enough to visit our national parks, except for one. I have lived much of my life in the shadows of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the North Carolina side. Over the years I’ve done hiking, picnics, day rides, camping, leaf looking, and even tubing once upon a time in the Smokies, and I feel they’re always watching over me and protecting me. In fact, on occasion they have protected us from severe weather, tornadoes, thunderstorms, big snows. I’ve seen bears and deer and watched the elk that have been fairly recently reintroduced here; gazed at mountain vistas for miles; listened to the music of creeks and rivers; and admired old historical buildings from long-ago lives, from the Cherokee Indian reservation (Qualla Boundary) up to Clingman’s Dome and over to Gatlinburg and Cades Cove in Tennessee. There are a lot of memories in the Smokies.
I love these mountains, and we have quite a few national forests nearby, and also I’m just a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, so a beautiful place for a pantheist to live! I’ve never taken the park for granted, and I think most people around here feel the same way. It’s a wonderful and special place to us, and I never get tired of the mountain views, the trees and flowers, streams, waterfalls, and all the critters that call it home.
I don’t do so much hiking as I used to, don’t have the time right now, but maybe in the future I’ll be able to again. Regardless, even if I move away to be nearer to children and grandchildren, I know these mountains will always be a part of me. It’s hard to explain, but the feeling is real, that feeling of connection that goes so deep, that oneness with nature, with all of life. This talk of privatizing and selling off some of these lands and using them for development or drilling/fracking makes me both worried and incredibly sad. I can’t imagine western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee without the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the history of it, and having children growing up without knowing the beauty and specialness of such a place that we’re fortunate to live so close to and that so many people visit. Hopefully, that will never happen and it will be here for many, many years to come just like it is now.
~Honeybee (previously published in Pantheist Vision)