A Toad in the Road and other Adventures!

Everyone (I hope) has those things they delight in doing.   Those activities that make them feel more alive – more appreciative – more thankful – more aware.

Walking and hiking and being in nature – surrounded by God’s great and glorious creation is one of those activities for me. I don’t just like or enjoy hiking in nature I absolutely – positively LOVE it.

My soul actually needs green and nature and sunshine and blue skies the way my body needs food and coffee (I mean water) to survive.   Hiking and walking outside feed my soul. They are essential to my life – happiness – and well-being.

When we left for Tennessee this summer – I declared – “I want to walk the Cades Cove Loop. My knees can handle it . . .”

For quite some time there – I wasn’t so sure I was going to be able to do this hike this year. I have struggled all year with joint pain (especially in my knees and shoulders) – nasty muscle spasms and chronic inflammation thanks to a particularly stubborn autoimmune disease flare-up. These wretched symptoms have made hills my nemesis – but the Cades Cove Loop is paved and not so very hilly.

I have these growing in my flower beds at home and they grow wild in Cades Cove.

Plus I had handled some hills at both Broadrun Park and Joe Creason Park. But then on Saturday came a setback. I slipped and fell. I fell really – really hard onto a wooden floor thanks to a very badly cleaned up spill in a restaurant. I fell so hard I heard everyone in the area gasp. I fell so hard the manager was afraid that we might sue . . . I fell so hard complete strangers asked if I needed medical assistance . . . (What I hope is both a first and a last for me!)

It was humiliating and it hurt. And I knew there would be consequences (my left knee – it is always my left knee!) But I was able to walk/limp away – which honestly felt like a victory.

Thankfully by Wednesday (the day the Cades Cove Loop is closed to all vehicle traffic) I was not only up and walking – I was up for a biggish hike!

This year Jason – Elizabeth – Linda – and I walked the Cades Cove Loop. Bob is still recovering from major back surgery so he and Will opted to stay home and keep the pets company.

Jack and Bella road their bikes (speed demons . . .) – but we oldsters hiked.

It was amazing. We were blessed with a truly perfectly perfect day for our hike through Cades Cove.

The sun was shining!

So beautiful. So peaceful. So lush and green and gorgeous.   So dazzling and lovely and everything I love about nature and hiking!

There were wild flowers galore.

We spotted a soaring eagle carrying breakfast in its talons. We met a turkey. And he stood very still while I took his picture and let me chatter away at him!

There were blooming rhododendron trees.

We lingered by mountain streams and watched the minnows and fish swimming in the crystal clear water.

We listened to the wind blowing through the trees and the meadows.

I watched the clouds. Oh how I love to watch clouds and gaze at the sky.

I looked a moss and ferns and tree bark.

We met a teeny – tiny orange toad in the middle of the road!

I chatted and chattered and Jason listened – because the love of my life is the best listener in the world (he would have to be to be married to me!)

We reminisced about previous trips to “The Cove.”

We gave thanks for God’s creation and for the opportunity to delight in God’s abundant blessings to us.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021 was truly one of the best days of my life.   It wasn’t fancy. We didn’t spend a lot of money or buy more than an iced tea for me and an ice cream cone for Jack. I watched clouds and talked to my husband and walked 10 miles in the mountains.   I will remember and give thanks for this day for a very long time . . .

What makes for a “good and blessed day” in your life?   What memories do you savor? What memories do you delight in and give thanks for?

You are all in my heart – thoughts – and prayers.

In Christ and with Love –

Pastor Kerri

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