Though he lived most of his life in large cities and traveled over much of the United States, my father always said he was a Tennessee hillbilly. Over three hundred years ago his ancestors settled into the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, and I, too, can feel the strong pull of heritage when I visit the region.
Earlier this week I was in the Smokey Mountains, so named for the fog which drapes over the ancient hills. A mist is created by the rapid cooling of moist coastal air as it reaches the higher elevations of the Southern Appalachians, and this causes the typical smokey appearance.
Perhaps my affection for the earth and living things comes from roots which spread through these mountains. It is easy to fall in love with the Smokies, with their gentle slopes and wide diversity of plant and wild life. I took all of these photos in and around the area known as Cades Cove, originally a farming community nestled in the mountains of Tennessee. Now human history and nature are preserved by the national park system and enjoyed by visitors throughout the year.
Do we all feel a tug when we visit the land of our ancestors? Do roots run through the generations, connecting us to the soil of our forefathers? I think maybe so.