Under glazed hazel, fibrous tissue tugs, fixing eyes to matching four inch screens. Father and son synchronize strides along the cement path. Colorless injection molded earbuds drown cardinal song, eddies whispering rivulet secrets, and eighteen wheelers thumping down the concrete and steel bypass twenty feet above. Stopping, the boy slaps dad on the shoulder, points, then shouts, “Listen!” The irony of exclamation from self-induced deafness is lost when curiosity focuses on two syllables yanking son and father from oblivion for a few minutes.
Around 3:30, the Ocoee recedes over the course of a couple hours as the Tennessee Valley Authority’s dam no. 3 diverts millions of gallons of water from a four mile stretch engineered in 1996 for “the world’s first Olympic whitewater event on a natural river” (USDA Forest Service). This isn’t what they had in mind.
The Zen practice of stone stacking brings mindful awareness to balance, weight, texture and shape.
Resident trail guides Buster and Dixie collect stones from the stream, often carrying them great distances. Buster greeted the sculptures with growls and barks as the fur on his shoulders stood straight up.