Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - July 28, 2004)
Nature holds secrets that we can share
The aged Smoky Mountains hold secrets. So many joys
and sorrows have been shared on these wild, Blue Mountains covered in morning glory
|Photo by Rick Tremmel
Theyve seen babies born, young men come of age, mothers tending
children and fathers tears shed over lost sons at the hands of brothers
against brothers wars. No one was ever right. No one was ever wrong but the
soil remembers those tears of joy and sorrow just the same.
Along her ledges, I put my feet in her cold stream waters, breathe her pine
scented breezes. I can feel her. There, somewhere in the heavy sultry fogs that
shroud her in blue mists she holds secrets. I grew up in these mountains, sipped
honeysuckle, ate wild watercress, apples, blackberries, pecans, persimmons,
The mountain offered a plentiful bounty to a roaming, wild red-headed child with
cloud dreams and pure, innocent love of nature. This young girl learned early in
life that peace, harmony, balance and beauty were found in nature and these Blue
Mountains. My soul needs to return to this soil every so often to replenish itself,
to touch nature, nurture and truth. I learned this from three important people in
my life, my mother, my uncle and my grandfather, my role models. They tolerated my
wild explorations and encouraged them with books on birds, plants, trees and
My uncle made certain I always had a supply of paints, pencils and paper. My
grandfather gifted me his love, wisdom and humor. My mother gifted her gentle love,
soft spoken, with a gentle awareness and forever with a nurturing hand extended.
She healed dogs, chickens, children, horses, squirrels, plants, man or woman, mean
or kind, she made no distinction. She forgave those that harmed her. She held, fed,
sewed for, cooked for and gently offered that loving part of herself to all that
touched her life.
When I lost her in my life I felt as if the earth shifted.
My father, outstanding in our community, was outwardly kind to all he met, but
behind closed doors he was volatile. We never knew from one minute to the next what
his mood would be. He abused his family. My brother and I stood by disabled to
help. Mother knew we could do nothing without making matters worse. She would push
us outside, out of his reach.
When I remember back it was the verbal abuse that was most harmful. No matter how
anyone tried to make this man happy he found something wrong. He constantly
badgered his family with statements such as: Youre no good. Youre mean
to me. If you had not done that, then this wouldnt have happened. Its
all your fault. Im in control.
We couldve carried this abuse, negativity and harmful words with us for the
rest of our lives but we chose not to be his victims. My brother and I fled to the
mountain. When not in school we disappeared into the folds of the mountains
arms. She nurtured us and held us. We learned her ways and we learned that no
matter how a person is treated there is strength deep within us to go forward in
harmony, balance and beauty. People go on. Nature is persistent. Nature has the
will to live.
I was reminded of these lessons as someone recently asked me about the Florida
native moonflower. I explained it was of the same family as morning glory, Ipomoea,
but that it had quite a secret story behind it. Indians lived in Florida in
relative harmony for thousands of years. It wasnt until 1513 when the white
man claimed to discover Florida that these peoples and natural Florida
began to decline, but it took some doing. These people knew their land. They knew
what was edible, plants for medicine, natural insect repellent, how to survive our
own breed of violent weather. This was their home.
Andrew Jackson returned to Florida in 1821 to establish a new territorial
government on behalf of the United States. What the U.S. inherited was a wilderness
sparsely dotted with settlements of native Indian people, African-Americans and
As Floridas population increased through immigration, so did pressure on the
federal government to remove the Indian people from their lands and take away their
homes. Indian removal was popular with white settlers, but the Indians would not
give up their homes without a fight.
One legend states as the white man approached their villages the inhabitants would
suddenly vanish in what seemed to be thin air. The invaders had no way of knowing
that the moonflowers thick, strong vines provided the Indians a soundlessly
upward escape. They climbed and then ran over the top of the moonflower canopy.
These peoples were in harmony and balance with their natural world, their home.
They learned natures ways, secrets and knew that no matter how a person is
treated there is strength deep within to go forward.
People go on. Nature is persistent. It has the will to live back to nature.
Today, reservations occupied by Floridas Indian people exist at Immokalee,
Hollywood, Brighton (near the city of Okeechobee), and along the Big Cypress Swamp.
In addition to the Seminole people, Florida also has a separate Miccosukee tribe.
(Florida Division of Historical Resources: A Short History of Florida, Web site: dhr.dos.state.fl.us/flafacts/shorthis.html
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.