Beth Meadows

"hiking"

My Mountains

"Knoxville", "hiking", "inspiration", "mountains", "outdoors", "south"BComment
Today, I feel a strong pull to be in the mountains, more severe than the usual beckoning. Work keeps me away, so I went on a walk instead, across the bridge that runs over the interstate exit by my apartment. Looking beyond the pavement, cars, and buildings, far off in the distance, I can see the Smoky Mountains. Well, not today, because it's hazy, but I imagined them there, and wondered why they were speaking so loudly today.


It's getting hotter. I walk outside and feel the symptoms of summer approaching, the constant dampness of certain areas of my clothing, the feeling of dirty hands- swollen and salty- personal attributes I have to accept for many months ahead.



Looking out from the city, I realize the mountains' allure is stronger when the seasons change.

Summer in the mountains means a cold but refreshing river and possibly a yellow tube. Lush green grass and trees. A soft path for miles upon miles.

It means other things, too. Bugs. The fear of snakes. A mixture of sunscreen and sweat in my eyes.

It's all meant to be taken in tangibly- good and bad.

It's not just any mountains that call, but the Smoky Mountains- soft, unintimidating, and welcoming from afar. Challenging and life-altering in their midst.

And there's not just any road to get me there, but the one through Townsend, past the Alcoa plant, the Drive-In in Maryville, the flea markets and antique shops scattered along the way, the boiled peanut man, the winding two-lane road through the smaller hills that opens up into that calm and peaceful valley- my favorite doorway to the Smokies.


I'm going soon, to properly welcome this looming southern summer.


Thoughts on Strong Women

"folk", "hiking", "love", "men", "mountains", "simple", "single lady", "women"B1 Comment
I saw this old lady on TV a while back who lived in the mountains. Her hair was long and grey and she wore a pink nightgown. She grasped the rungs of a wooden ladder with her bony fingers to climb on top of her tin roof where she showed off apples she had laid out to dry. (The photo below is not her, but it reminded me of her.)


My dad and I went hiking last weekend in the Smokies near Wears Valley. It had been raining off and on, saturating the color of everything. When we reached the Walker Sisters Cabin, the rain stopped for a brief moment. I walked around in the silence, imagining what it would have been like to live there.


I did some reading about the Walker Sisters later. They refused to give up their home when the government began buying up land in the 1930s to form the National Park. Eventually they gave in in exchange for a lifetime lease so that they could spend the remainder of their days there.


I wonder about their lives, especially in regard to men and love. They were spinsters, but what was the reality of that? Did any of them ever fall in love or want to have children? Did any of them go on hot dates while the others stayed at home? Were they satisfied living a simple life together?

They were known for living traditionally and for possessing good character, so much so, they became a tourist attraction.

Imagine walking through the woods and seeing smoke rising from their chimney.


When I was in Namibia several years ago, I met a woman who raised Arabian Horses on a farm with her husband. She was overwhelmingly hospitable, kind, a woman full of virtue. We talked under an expanse of stars while she grilled meat from their game reserve for my friends and me. We only spent a few hours with her, but I'll never forget her for as long as I live.


I think about these women a lot, strong women living amongst nature because that's what they want. 

I imagine this kind of woman knows her worth outside of a romantic relationship, and if a man ever did come around that was worthwhile enough, she'd be the best lover of him. She would love out of fullness, not necessity.


Life can feel like it's racing by at a speed we can't keep up with, and simultaneously many women struggle with if they're doing enough, adding up enough, accepted enough.

Lately, I try to think about things, like

an old woman in a pink nightgown drying apples on her tin roof.
five sisters writing a letter to the government, refusing to give up their home.
a naturally beautiful woman leading a glossy horse by its reins.

I think about what and whom I've been given a capacity to love. What is right in front of me and am I taking care of it the best that I can?