Pigeon Forge, Cosby and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Tennessee (USA) in April 2017
There was a riot of spring flowers all along the roads and hiking trails. The most unexpected nooks and corners – one being the area behind Starbucks in the heart Pigeon Forge (a heavily constructed town full of restaurants and theme parks) were bustling with life and bursting with blooms. The cool breeze carrying the whiff of the “invasive” honeysuckle transported me to the summer holidays in Kashmir and my fascination with this vine. Every tree, scrub and shrub was vibrating with all types of life forms playing their own precious parts.
The miniature sweet-pea like flower in this urban treasure trove at Pigeon Forge got my body contorted into a peculiar posture that Arun captured in great amusement. We had a good laugh on how hatha yoga is coming to some practical use now.
On our drive up to the Great Smoky National Park, there was a moment when I thought I saw a patch of snow in April, soon to discover they were tiny little white flowers with a peculiar furry kind of texture (Phacelia fimbriata).
Then, there was the bright yellow of the dandelion contrasting perfectly with purple violets scattered on the patch between the road and the Little River.
I wonder why dandelion’s are considered to be “weeds”. Such a discovery was rather upsetting for me as I hold fond childhood memories of blowing away the seeds from the snowflake-like ball to make a wish. Amano had once shared the photograph of a beautifully presented meal in Austria with dandelion as one of the ingredients and told me how it is eaten in Kahsmir as well. Dadiji (my grandmother) just mentioned that the plant is of high medicinal value and besides being eaten as a vegetable in Kashmir, it is considered to be very good for women post child birth and is used to cure several ailments like joint pains, blood pressure, skin ailments etc. More can be discovered about its medicinal uses, below –
While reading about the dandelion, online, I just came across an interesting blog post right now. It seems that many of us share this feeling. Looks like someone has done quite a research and it may interest people who have connection with the Himalayas in India and Europe (as dandelion grows in these regions).
Our day hikes were great fun. The fields of trilliums and violets of all types fascinated me. I had never seen anything like this and the hike ended up becoming a slow walk of wonder and photography. Arun taught me how to use the “professional mode” on my Moto G4 phone camera, which I often refer to as ‘camera’ rather than ‘phone’ as that is the main purpose it serves for me!
Here, we also ran into a sole dimpled trout lily (Erythronium umbilicatum). This one stood in the midst of dry grasses and it almost looked like he was searching for someone!
The creeping bluet (Houstonia serpyllifolia) really stole the show in terms of proving that size does not matter. As we walked towards Clingmans Dome these clusters of small little flowers simply caught your attention with their striking blue and yellow, contrasting with he drab rocks they were tucked around. Passer by’s were rather inquisitive as to why I am crouched on the roadside.
We enjoyed a short day hike to the Grotto Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Many of the flowers listed in the gallery were seen around this area. Around ten minutes away from the starting point of the hike was a little creek laden in mauve. I excitedly rushed down to discover this flower heaven nestled under the bridge.
This is the first “blog process” connected with Breathing with Beings. It has been quite an adventure – from taking the photographs to the rather tedious identification process. My father said it is hard for him to teach me the intricacies of plant taxonomy and shared how just engaging with the process of identification shall be a lot of learning in itself. It took us fair amount of time to do this as he also is not fully familiar with the American flora. Often, I searched on my own and had him make corrections in what I had derived from the internet. There are so many similar looking flowers that one can differentiate only by looking at minor details like the shape of leaves, number of petals and the colour of the stamens. I had no clue that this exercise would take me into such fine details and observation. The initial idea was simply to post a picture gallery. However, as I was putting this together, the desire to highlight little tit bits of this rich experience with the blooms emerged.
Note : The images in photo gallery are unedited to maintain the original colours for botanical reference