Autumn Leaves and a Hungry Bear

Published 1:14 pm Sunday, October 8, 2023

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“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” For one who thinks like that, I would suggest a ride along the 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway in just a few weeks. From mid-October until the first few weeks of November, this national parkway, also known as the All-American Road, will be most representative of the handiwork of the Creator of this world.

            On this 58 degree morning, while our hardwoods are still green, I’m remembering two special people who would, annually, make it a point to take the time to “smell the roses,” albeit in the form of viewing the panorama of the Fall foliage that God planted eons ago in the Appalachian Highlands of the eastern seaboard of the great United States of America.

            Bud and Rosa Lee Harrell are remembered, not only by me, but by many who witnessed their faithfulness to the Lord at the Sutton Chapel Church in the Mt. Pleasant community. They have, since, gained a better view of the glory of the various mountain ranges that made up one of their favorite places. About this time of the year, they would be planning a trip to travel along that Blue Ridge Parkway and be dazzled by the red, yellow, and golden leaves of Autumn.

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            The All-American Road begins a little south of the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains in the town of Cherokee, North Carolina, and winds its way north through Asheville and the impressive Biltmore Estate all the way to Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park.

            I’m thankful to say that I have traveled quite a few miles on America’s Favorite Drive and it was during the peak season for Autumn leaves. As looking up into the night sky and seeing the glory of God, according to one of my favorite Psalms, #19, there is the thought that this world declares the work of His hands and there can be no doubt. As I began this column, only a fool would say He is not real!

            Most of our family’s vacations were brief two or three day respites when the tobacco was too green to gather. On those few times, we would go to Wilson’s Beach near Alligator Point and Panacea in Florida.

            Growing up in adjacent Mitchell County, there might have been a hill or two but not much more. There wasn’t even a high point by the name of Climax.

            There was one summer, though, when we went to the Smoky Mountains. We drove up Old US 19, at that time known as the Dixie Highway, through a not-so-bustling Atlanta…remember this was long ago, right after the last Ice Age. We drove by Stone Mountain, the biggest granite rock I had ever seen, then and now.

            Onto Franklin and Cherokee in North Carolina where we stopped at a tourist store that had a wooden Indian out front and a big, black bear in a cage. Daddy said, “Don’t mess with the bear.”

            I’m not so foolish as to say, “There is no God,” but I was foolish enough to get close to the bear cage and, absentmindedly, laid hand on the iron bar as I ate my snack. I turned my head long enough for the bear to come over and bite my hand. I guess the bear was interested in his own snack!

            I must have been about ten years old and was really impressed as we wove our way along those narrow mountainous highways. Gatlinburg was part of the trip, although Pigeon Forge was, at that time, just a bump in the road.

            We didn’t take many vacations when I was young, but I won’t ever forget going up into the Great Smoky Mountains. Or that bear chewing on my finger!