Tuesday, May 29, 2012

they mean so very much to me

I got a call from Brett tonight from the Smokies. He's down there in East Tennessee producing a Timbersports Special for ESPN, but he had a break and heard about the poor weather and checked in. I think the southern heat and humidity is getting to him. He sounded absolutely worn out. I told him he's too Anglo for that kind of heat, and to use traditional Scottish methods of sun protection such as going into a pub. He laughed.

I was glad he called because he happens to be in those holy mountains at a very special time of year. There's a peculiar species of firefly down in those humid hollers, a variety that synchronizes their lights. You can view them best at this magical old summer camp called Elkmont, a kiss from North Carolina's border.

Elkmont's history is interesting. Before it was taken from the original vacation-homeowners to become part of the national parks, folks just lived there. Most of the residents were very wealthy people from Asheville an Knoxville. They built docks and fancy cabins in the Victorian style and now they are all abandoned. But if you are quiet, and still, you can almost see them out on the edge of the docks, watching the same show with a bottle of decent wine and some close friends in the candlelight. The place connects you, and it stays with you. I have only see this once but it has burned itself in memory as one of the best days of my life.

I know of no place or experience on earth as mystical, as affirming, and as transcending as standing in the middle of a lush eastern forest at night and every six seconds having the entire world glow from tens of thousands of tiny yellow lights. You stand there among them in darkness so black you can't see your hand in front of your face, and then, a flash of light as warm and inviting as a campfire fils the forest so bright around you that bark ridges appear on trees.

"Visit Elkmont", I told the man before hanging up. And I assured him if there was one reason he met me, this was it. He had to experience it, no excuses. You can't be that close to that level of beauty and stay in a hotel room.

He said he'll go Monday night. I wore him down.

photo from larry's photography blog


Blogger Alexandra said...

Ha, do they travel? I'm moving down about two hours from Elkmont in a couple weeks. Love those magical nature moments!

May 29, 2012 at 7:47 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

Hmmm...we live about two or three kisses from the NC/TN border. Might have to add Elkmont to our list of mountain getaways. If the quantity of our local fireflies is any indication, Brett's in for a treat--this looks like a good season for the little lighters!

May 29, 2012 at 9:53 PM  
Blogger Trekout2 said...

Does it go on all summer? We are going in July I also want to see the highland games...

May 29, 2012 at 10:30 PM  
Blogger Glyndalyn said...

I love Elkmont campground. We have been there many times. Cosby is also a favorite. But we rarely go this time of year due to the garden.

Harvested several Jaune et Vertus scalloped squash 3 days ago from Annie's Heirloom Seeds. Pleased with them.

From the Phoney Farm, Middle TN. Hot and humid.

May 29, 2012 at 10:38 PM  
Anonymous Dani said...

I just got back from the Smokies within the month and I have that place burned in my memory without the fireflies. I have such a connection with those mountains. The kind that makes you ask yourself just about everyday why you aren't there right now.

As a kid my grandma's farm filled up with fireflies in the summer. They truly are magical.

May 29, 2012 at 11:49 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Here in Gettysburg there is an area of the battlefield where the fireflies look like twinkle lights in the trees. Did you know the Japanese believe fireflies are the souls of fallen warriors?

May 30, 2012 at 8:01 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Jamie, is it near Devil's Den or up by the roudtops? I remember the fireflies there one night and how amazing they were...

May 30, 2012 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

my dear boyfriend lives in waynesville, just about 20 miles from this campground. that area is beautifully feral, especially in comparison to where i live and where he grew up, the mostly manicured farms of the wealthiest county in the US.

May 30, 2012 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Timbersports special for ESPN? Well done, Brett!

I've missed so much in a week I may never get caught up, but I had to drop in and say that we're alive and well here, and still checking in!

May 30, 2012 at 9:39 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

The place I was thinking of is actually near Spangler's Spring but back off the beaten path. Honestly though, there are many places on the battlefield they seem to congregate- the Triangular Field near Devil's Den is one of them.

May 30, 2012 at 11:10 AM  
Blogger admin said...

Wow, ESPN timber sports...how cool.

Love those fireflies.

May 30, 2012 at 9:26 PM  

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