I love being in the woods. I love the smell of the air there. I feel sheltered and safe when I'm surrounded by trees, and that sense of security stayed with me throughout our time in the park. Except for that one time when my sister ran over a fairly large fallen rock where there was a sharp drop-off on my side of the car and for a brief second I fully expected us to go tumbling down the mountainside. Except for that I felt safe. Oh, and except for a few minutes late in the afternoon when the trees were so thick that no sunlight got through their branches, and we couldn't see another car either in front of us or behind us. That was a little spooky, too.
So, I love the woods, and I also love the individual trees. There's something about tree bark that appeals to the old soul inside of me. It has a timeless quality, I think, and I especially appreciate the texture of wood in its rawest form.
Sometimes it's the shape of a particular tree that catches my eye.
Or a graceful posture that sets it apart from all the others, the way a prima ballerina stands out from the rest of a dance troupe.
Employing an even narrower focus, what would a forest be without the leaves on those trees?
The beauty may be in the shape of the leaves...
...or in the way the light shines through them...
...or in an unexpected pop of color like these...
The Smoky Mountains are famous for cloaking themselves in vibrant colors every autumn. We arrived a little too early in the year to enjoy the full display, but every now and then, scattered among late summer's lush greenness, we came upon a few clusters of over-achievers and got the tiniest hint of the color that would surely arrive shortly after we returned to our homes:
I envy the tourists who will travel these trails in the next six weeks. They're sure to see some of Mother Nature's finest work.