The tornados in Oklahoma are heartbreaking. One thing I can do is share a few photographic highlights that touch my heart and hope they will help all of our hearts heal.
Ranger Jones loves his job, guiding wildflower walks, waxing poetic about the blossoms of the tulip tree and helping everyone on the walk love the plants in his park.
Here are a few I love. A birdsfoot violet...
and a rare pink lady slipper:
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park has preserved a few of the homesteads its many previous residents had to leave when the park was created. The five Walker sisters were allowed to stay in their home until they died. The last Walker sister left the homestead in 1963. Their home still stands and can be visited via a dirt road and a short hike. It has no locks, no guards, no barriers, no entrance fee. Just simple sweetness everywhere you look, especially in the places they walked or touched innumerable times every day over the years.
A rustic shutter...
The barn door latch...
The front door to their cabin...
The spring house...
The path from the spring house to the cabin...
Smoky Mountain Highland Games, Maryville, TN
It was a rainy, muddy weekend for the Games, but the dancers, musicians, vendors, clan members, sheep dogs and athletes put their hearts into it, even with very few paying attendees and audience members. Men and women competed in various "heavy events," including throwing weights on chains as far or as high as they could.
You've gotta love these big teddy bears in kilts.
The feats of strength include the women as well. This was the first time any of the women contestants had tossed the caber. First they all tested its weight - all 80 top-heavy pounds of it.
Then they each gave their all to lift the wobbly thing vertically off the ground and toss it high enough to flip it over. Miraculous efforts.
Perhaps the most moving of all the events is the ritual "massed bands" at the beginning and the end of the games. Despite thunder, lightning, and threatening rain, the pipes and drums ceremoniously gathered to close out the day with their glorious sound.
“Love doesna always mean burning flashes o' passion.
Sometimes, it's jus' the warmth o' yer hearts
as they beat yer day together."