It's early Sunday morning and from my room at the Residence Inn Nashville Airport, I am reflecting back over yet another wonderful time with two friends who have jumped off the pages of BlogLand and into my life forever. I've looked forward to Debby's visit for so long. Add my already good friend, Cammy, to the mix and you've got a winning combination. But I never expected anything otherwise!
If you read Debby's blog, you already know that she is an accomplished quilter. I was thrilled when she contacted me several months ago to tell me she was attending a quilt show in Paducah, KY (quilting mecca of the world) and would love to come a day or two early if we could work it out to meet. Things fell quickly into place for that to happen. I asked what she'd like to do while in my neck of the woods and without hesitation, her response was, "hike in your mountains." After a day of rest for her to acclimate to a three hour time difference, that is exactly what we did. Although I'll say, we certainly didn't let any grass grow under our feet on her "rest" day! With her help, I finally made a delicious batch of yogurt that actually BECAME yogurt. (I've had several failures attempting to do this on my own.) We invented a to-die-for muffin recipe that we plan to market and I'm certain you'll soon find in grocery stores everywhere. Mr. B treated us to dinner at one of his favorite restaurants. We walked one of my much-loved greenways and I toured her around my hometown. My guess is she was relieved when I suggested an early evening since we needed to leave quite early the next morning for our hike.
Mid-April in the Great Smoky Mountains National is peak wildflower season and I challenge you to find a more beautiful display anywhere in the universe. But I realized pretty early on, that this year was different and the wildflower show was going to be well past prime, if not over, by the time Debby was here. I found it hard to contain my disappointment, but quickly readjusted and determined to show Debby one of our beautiful waterfalls.
Debby probably has no idea what she "taught" me during her stay in East TN. It began shortly after picking her up at the airport along the short drive to her hotel - an area which I view as over commercialized and a traffic nightmare. Imagine my surprise when the words out of her mouth were, "it's so GREEN and beautiful! WHAT?? Here I was getting ready to apologize and she's seeing green and beautiful. I said nothing at the time, but I was already humbled at the realization of what I take for granted. Yet I often argue that I never take my mountains or the beauty constantly surrounding me for granted! But I do. And it took a quick lesson of seeing it through the eyes of another to wake me up.
Friday morning saw us heading out very early towards the Cades Cove area of the park. The trailhead to Abrams Falls begins about half way around the 11-mile one way scenic driving tour of the cove. We were hardly past the beginning of the loop when Debby started snapping pictures and commenting on the peace and serenity of the valley. We saw turkey and deer. I reminded myself to see it through her eyes and not those impatient eyes which have driven this loop so many times and wanted only to arrive at the trailhead. I remembered riding this loop a couple of weeks ago with Gene and Judi as we made our way to the Gregory Bald trailhead and wondered if I appreciated what I was seeing that day as I was a passenger rather than the driver (always a treat) and this was when wildflowers were near their peak.
By the time we arrived at the trailhead, I promised myself I WOULD appreciate every moment of this trail and waterfall that I distinctly remember visiting for the first time as a young child when we camped in the Smokies. So it was with great anticipation that I watched Debby's face because 2 1/2 not-so-easy miles later, we arrived at Abrams Falls and between the look on her face and the audible gasp of joy at her first glimpse of the falls, I finally got it. And vowed I'd remember the value of never becoming so familiar with any aspect of life that I fail to appreciate the gifts I have at my fingertips.
Yes, I call these "my" mountains and "my" trails because I have such a love for them. But always remember that even those things we "love" can become so familiar we forget their value until we see them through the eyes of another. That can apply to people, places, things, experiences, habits, character traits and yes, even a journey to a healthy life.
There is one thing, however, that I never take for granted and hoped for the opportunity to see through Debby's eyes. That is the special gift of seeing a black bear in the wild. And following our hike, as we drove the last few miles of the auto tour, there it was. He was back off the road - too far for a decent picture. But unmistakable and as always, truly majestic. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect ending to our day.
We traveled to Nashville on Saturday morning where we met Cammy and enjoyed a full day of fun which I'm sure both Cammy and Debby will write about. We parted ways late Saturday evening. Debby will join her quilting tour, Cammy headed back home to west Tennessee and I drove east toward my mountains.
But I won't soon forget the lessons I learned from Debby's visit. And I am grateful!
Enjoy a few pictures from our hike to Abrams Falls. (It's pretty obvious the joy I found in taking pictures of Debby taking pictures! LOL!) I did not take any pictures during our day in Nashville with Cammy, but every time I turned around, she was snapping pictures, so it's a little scary to think about what might appear on her blog!