Category: cades cove

Listening to Earth

Listening to Earth

SimoneLipscomb (16)It’s quiet here. Or perhaps I should say it’s still here. In the pale, pre-dawn light, the soothing sounds of crickets and other night-singers serenade me as I sit in the car, waiting in line with anticipation for the gate to open and allow a visit Cade’s Cove at sunrise.

Blue-gray fog hovers just above tree tops. Drops of moisture slide down tiers of leaves and finally on to soft, rain-soaked soil. Staccato drop….drop….SPLAT! Cool air caresses my face as it tentatively enters my open windows, soundless but equally pleasurable.

Softly, slowing the morning arrives. There is no place on Earth I would rather be than in this wild and protected place. I too feel safe here, protected and free to connect with wild acres of forest, meadow and stream…and resident wildlife.

SimoneLipscomb (37)Finally the gate opens and the line of vehicles slowly disperses, each of us going to our own sweet spot. With no particular plan, I am guided to the Primitive Baptist Church. It’s down a gravel road and sits, front door open, welcoming me.

SimoneLipscomb (1)I walk in timidly, checking to see if a bear family or, even more scary, a skunk family might have used it for their morning napping place but there is nobody here except me and the beautiful spiritual presence of this place. The potent nature energies weave through the building and invite a balance of human and nature.

SimoneLipscomb (3)As is my custom, whenever I find myself alone here, I sing. Today I notice how the notes and words roll through the large room, how the sound moves in waves…wave upon wave reverberating through old rough-hewn lumber.

I move on as other humans began to arrive and find myself, once again, alone.

SimoneLipscomb (38)This time I am sitting on a large rock, with a large fuzzy-covered microphone in hand and headphones over my ears. I am recording nature sounds–specifically…rushing water. I explore how sound bounces off of large rocks. It seems some rocks hold sound and I find myself intrigued and hold the mic beside a beautiful moss-covered gray rock sitting on the edge of the creek. I’m listening to Earth, I think. How sweet it feels to connect so deeply with Her.

SimoneLipscomb (42)At the end of the day fatigue from lack of sleep and long travels has disappeared and been replaced with an inner calm that is profound. Vision usually guides me in my explorations into the wilds but today sweet sounds of Earth were the guide. Something within me that was asleep has awakened and I feel more alive, more present…simply from listening to Earth.


It’s the Little Things….

It’s the Little Things….

800_1019I wasn’t really sure why the idea of a retreat to the Smoky Mountains came to me. I had been in a pretty weird place the past few months with no ability to focus on work. It felt as if I was lost in a big ocean with no rudder, wind or navigation aids. Frustration was building so I decided to take the month of August to do anything I wanted to do, even if it was doing nothing at all.

Doing is my trademark, it’s how people know me. Volunteering for one of several causes, preparing environmental education programs…always, always staying busy. But I had reached a point where I didn’t really know where to apply my energies. Nothing felt right except stillness, quiet….silence–not doing.

800_0234It was not easy untangling myself from the habit of busyness. I didn’t realize how much I used activity to distract myself. So at first…and honestly, the entire month….I really felt lost. Having removed the need to stay busy I struggled.

About the same time I took off a month from pushing myself to do something…to keep my mind busy…I began working out and putting my body into an intense series of classes, Pure Barre. The physical workouts were instrumental in shifting the stuck energy and the result was a clearer focus.

800_0019A little over a week ago I finally felt it was time to move forward and a short retreat in the Smoky Mountains was the idea that surfaced. I’m usually more of a planner but I wanted to be open to the flow. I packed my camera gear and clothes I’d need for woods and water and made reservations in a hotel in Townsend…the quiet side of the Smokies…far away from the chaos of Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg…and very close to Cades Cove, one of a few of my most favorite places on the planet.

800_1790Somewhere in the few days of simply following my intuition and opening to the experience of not knowing or planning, some really amazing experiences occurred. And sometime Friday morning, along a narrow road while covered in dew and kissed by fog-filtered sunlight, I had a breakthrough that opened me. But it didn’t come from any prescribed path or formula…it came from simply being present with whatever presented itself and letting go of everything else. I lost myself in beauty…surrendered to it.

800_1578I was feeling glorious about the sunrise Friday morning and fog and light and flowers but it was hundreds of small spider webs that blanketed the grass and glowed with dew illuminated like diamonds that pulled me free. I stopped and gazed into endless sparkling works of spiders and started weeping. Life felt so full and so precious. Everything felt intensely sacred and holy. It seems like such a small thing to create such a huge inner shift.

The past few months have felt like my life was going through a shake-down. The real stuff was being separated ¬†from the husks and now I have some really beautiful little seeds to nurture. And a lot of my busy work I’ll be letting go of…including some volunteer efforts and work I thought I “should” do.

800_1408I suppose anything can help us open if we are ready. For me, though, it always seems to be the little things that push me over the edge into complete surrender, complete trust and therefore utter peace and contentment. With gratitude I complete this retreat and return to my everyday life with a vision.

When Beauty Makes Me Weep

When Beauty Makes Me Weep

800_1605I didn’t set an alarm clock this morning. Making another sunrise shoot wasn’t something I had planned to do. But I woke up early and had plenty of time to drive to Cades Cove before sunrise…so why not?

800_1468It was fogged-in again this morning but within an hour or so of sunrise the mists began to lift. And it was so gradual that I was able to travel around the dirt roads and loop road getting really nice images.

800_1555There was one particular field that was aglow with yellow flowers, some lingering fog glowing golden and a multitude of spider webs. I pulled to the side of the road and grabbed my camera and waded through very damp, deep grass into the field and was moved by the light, illuminating fog and life in general. Birds and insects of late summer created a symphony of sound and I completely lost myself to the moment. I heard myself whispering….thank you…thank you…oh how beautiful…thank you.

800_1408Wandering up and down the road on foot, more little miracles of light and water and color kept presenting to me. I could feel my heart filling with magic that was building as the elements conspired together to create a perfect morning. At one point I looked at the grass and saw hundreds…maybe thousands…of sparkling spider webs and the miracle of life, the unbounded beauty, caused me to sob great sobs that came from deep within as I was wrapped in the ecstasy of life.

800_1570I gazed into the azure sky, the green mountaintops, the golden fog floating as tears streamed down my face and I cried aloud, “THANK YOU! I LOVE YOU! THANK YOU!”

800_1635 (2)I continued composing various images after that intense opening to spirit, to life. I was drawn once again to the open field of flowers and fog. I glanced down the edge of it and a beautiful black bear, still wet with dew, started climbing a tree. The bear had witnessed my weeping and my loud exclamation of love and emerged as if in perfect harmony with my own feelings about the day.

800_1766Even while collecting my thoughts to write this the sobs come, the tears moisten my sun-kissed cheeks and I know a big door opened within my being for that is what happens when beauty makes me weep.


Bear Jams…I Must Be in Cades Cove

Bear Jams…I Must Be in Cades Cove

800_0371In the foggy darkness I headed toward Cades Cove. A mere seven miles from my base of operation during my brief stay in the Smoky Mountains. In the pre-dawn chill the 58 degrees was intense for this tropical gal. But who can resist the lure of sunrise in this beautiful place?

I sat waiting at the gate with others, lined up in our vehicles awaiting the chance to visit this wildlife haven. This place of magnificent beauty. The pink clouds peeking out from the fading night sky completely disappeared when the ranger opened the gate. Cades Cove was officially fogged in. It was as if a curtain of white dropped on the day.

800_0435So when fog gives you lemons you made photographs…you know the saying. My lemonade was spider webs dripping with diamond-like water droplets, deer fading in and out of foggy meadows and then a glorious lifting of fog mid-morning when a lovely bear sauntered out of the woods.

800_0765A bear volunteer was busy yelling at people to stay back…stay back. One of three times I’ve seen a black bear show aggression toward humans was when a man was yelling at people to ‘stay back.’ The bear didn’t appreciate the loud and aggressive male shouting so she chased him to his vehicle. Go ahead and yell Ms. Volunteer. I’ll stay away from you!

And later, at sunset, a serious bear jam happened. No rangers or volunteers nearby to keep traffic moving or stupid people from getting too close to this juvenile. You can stand back and watch a bear’s boundary, where her personal space has been invaded. And yes, smart ass guy who thought walking within a few feet of a juvenile black bear was great fun….I saw you run like a scared kid.

800_1019It was a glorious day…sunrise to sunset. Some stupid people pushing the boundaries of the local black bear population and some very tolerant white-tailed deer made this just another day in Cades Cove. Bear jams, fog, wildflowers and mountain splendor. And today…I got to share the afternoon with a photog friend of mine from Asheville. Thanks Jen!

800_1173And thanks black bear, does, bucks and wildflowers…and of course the mountains, that surround me with such nurturing energy. Tomorrow awaits!