Five Miles in Flip Flops

We could hardly sleep on Tuesday night in anticipation of finally moving freely through the park for the first time in over two weeks. We were jubilant that the State of Tennessee had made the decision to open the park for five days in spite of the shut down and planned our itinerary quickly. We began, yesterday, in Cade’s Cove which is a drivable eleven mile loop, dotted with historical buildings and fields that shine a light on the idyllic life led here by settlers before the Government took over (after they took it over from the indigenous people, that is). Cade’s Cove is rumored to be resplendent with wild life. Bill was particularly looking forward to Elk and White Tail Deer who are in rut. We saw turkeys.

Somebody had recommended that we stop along the loop at the Abrams Falls trail head and give it a go. We hiked a five mile, moderate trail which wound around, up and down rocky sand stone outcroppings. It was a little rough, even in hikers. I’m not yet convinced to attempt a strenuous hike. I was amazed that a woman from Missouri was walking it in flip flops. Some people are made of more mettle or idiocy than me. The falls were lovely and we enjoyed our lunch of peanut butter and jelly, hard boiled eggs with salt, grapes and cold water there. There were a great many people taking advantage of the fair day and the park access.

I needed to stop at Sugarlands Visitor’s Center on the way back to put money in the honor box at the head of Fighting Creek Nature Trail for the printed narrative which we had borrowed when we walked that path earlier in the week (another settlement, much like Cade’s Cove, except walkable and quiet).  There is a lovely wildlife museum at the visitor’s center. I can see why they liked my work. The center was packed with people and they were throwing money in the honor boxes left and right. One of the rangers was emptying them as fast as they were filling. (I wonder who does the accounting for the Association.) I’m sure there was much happiness over the opening and subsequent crowds. I can’t help but think about how much revenue was lost over two weeks. Surely this is big business; environmentalist business. And, I question any validity or wisdom in the decision to shut down the Nation. Who walks five miles over rocks in flip flops? It’s ludicrous. I see turkeys. They’re everywhere. They don’t know they’re turkeys. Image





Do I Pee Myself in the Woods?

Last night was so much fun in our quiet, little unit. I worked on my board for a few hours. We ate pasta for dinner and I worked on my board some more. Afterward, we ate chocolate and played two games of Spite and Malice (Bill won both games. He’s not a gracious loser). Just as I had finished my nightly, herbal, bedtime tea and was sitting on the back stoop smoking my last cigarette for the night, SUDDENLY, a big black thing that was decidedly not a bounding, slobbery Newfoundland came charging straight at us from out of the woods. She was bellowing at the top of her lungs and stomping the ground with her front paws; classic, aggressive behavior. I screamed like a girl, stubbed my toe and scraped up my arm pretty good, scrambling to get back into the house. We watched the bear and her babies circle the house a few times. I won’t forget now know what a bear sounds like.

We have always wanted to end up out in the wilderness some day. If we were to think about here in East Tennessee, I would really  need to adjust my attitude. The people are really nice, gas is cheap, the environment is breathtaking, food is really expensive, taxes are very high and the bears are certainly NOT trite. I did everything wrong when faced with a good Mama. I will do it differently when I meet with her again; tonight?

In any case, the bedtime regimen didn’t work last night. I had a beer and continued to work on my board since I was too jazzed to sleep. And, in case you were wondering, tea is a diuretic.




Blackilocks and Three Bambini

Not being able to drive to the trail – heads is a little frustrating. Yesterday we tried to hike to Laurel Falls Trail which ultimately loops over Cove Mountain and back down to Cataract Falls, which is an easy walk from our apartment. If the park was open, Christine said she could help get us outfitted for back country hiking, which this loop would require.

In any case, we decided to walk to the Laurel Falls trail – head. It was at three and a half miles up a steep incline that we decided to take pictures at Fighting Creek Gap, eat our lunch and head back down the hill. The vista was enough to make it worth the while.

I was so sore that I drove Bill to the Gatlinburg Trail with his fishing rod before I headed to the picnic tables to get my daily dose of internet. I’m not as young as I used to be.

This time, Bill had his camera when the bears were at the creek crossing. There are a mama and three babies that live in our neighborhood. The park estimates a population of fifteen hundred. This year there was a bumper crop of bear cubs; a rare occurrence that happens two years after a bad food shortage.

I’m wondering if the bears are a trite subject for a woodcut or if they are just perfect considering my current environment.


Though Shalt Not Covet Thy Bride’s Turkey Feather

The gift I found next to my right foot while drawing at Cataract Falls (apropos) has a metallic bit of trichroic coloration; copper, green and blue. Bill has been tying flies in anticipation of fishing if the park reopens. We had purchased some Ringtail Pheasant Tail at the tackle shop, but he was hoping to nick some of my turkey feather to simulate the Birds Stonefly which the trout around here seem to enjoy. Yesterday he followed Tom, Dick and Harry around the Visitors’ Center and they bestowed upon him, his very own gift. We’ve discovered that the Rangers are too few to enforce the closure of all the trails and feel fairly certain that we can traverse the more moderate trails that have had the cones removed at the trail-heads. Perhaps we shall eat fish. In any case, I am drawing after meticulous fashion, my gift. I think that perhaps when I get home I might try to pull the print over copper cine colle. Happy trails.


Off the Grid?

The park is shut down. I’m not supposed to be here. I’m not supposed to have internet access. Most of the trails are off limits. Yet, here I am hiking and drawing in relative peace and quiet. And, I can only do this outside at the Great Smoky Mountains Association offices which are about a half mile from the apartment.  It feels wonderful to be working again. Please pray that the situation takes care of itself so that I can do some real hiking.


Graphite on Paper, 17" x 11", 2011

Trying this bit again. Thank you for your patience.


On Control

When I arrived on the sixth floor, I carried with me preconceived notions about my practice which were set in stone.  On a lark, I also took Mom’s printmaking supplies and half a ream of somewhat foxed Arches Cover. It was there, after all. I might find a use for it. When I found myself actually making prints, I couldn’t help noticing that the processes crossed over. Drawing and etching seemed to be right up my alley. And, when I felt Mom right there along with me, it clinched the deal. I was ready to try anything, make mistakes and learn something new.

This is a photo that I took of a very, very, very old Honey Locust Tree on Dan’s Farm in those first halting days. I was struck by the light and texture of the image. The tree was like a huge umbrella that enveloped me in shade, while the dappled sun faeries scampered about. I hope I caught the Devil when I translated it to graphite.