Smokies LIVE Blog

Tis the Season to get grounded

Image by Sue Wasserman

By the time we reach the end of the year, I often find myself running out of steam. When I look back over this past year, it’s easy to see why.

Thanks to COVID-19 and its sad continued squashing of several work-related projects, I’ve devoted even more time and energy this year to outdoor pursuits, such as hiking countless trails in the hopes of infusing the vibrant colors of so many wildflowers into my somewhat flagging spirit. I literally and figuratively immersed myself in streams and creeks, exploring the movement of the water, before spending countless hours on my laptop determining which photos were suitable for printing and selling and how to pull them together into a book. A few grants allowed me to do some serious professional stretching to create new outdoor programs for children. This year also came with requests to edit client books, which require intense focus.

Frequently, I look to nature for answers or lessons. The changing season offers so many.

All I need to do is look around anywhere in the Smokies to see how the trees have so graciously let go of their leaves. Until a few years ago, I had no idea that trees conserve water and energy to survive the winter months through that shedding of leaves. The trees absorb the nutrients from their leaves and store them in their roots to use as needed. There is also the thought that shedding also helps trees pollinate once spring arrives.

Can there be a more perfect time to do a little shedding of my own? Can I let go those stresses that no longer serve me and look deep within my own roots to take stock of and be nourished by what I have and what I’d like to pollinate in the spring?

Although I can clearly hear the crunching of leaves beneath my feet, my walks are happily growing quieter. With no deeply colored wildflowers taunting me to get my attention, it’s easier to focus within. I realize there is ample activity taking place beneath the soil, much the same as is happening within me. The context, however, is subtly different in its focus on being and growing rather than doing.

Despite the season’s colder temperatures, I love that I can feel the sun’s light more directly since there are no leaves to get in the way. Not only does it warm me, but I also feel like it’s helping me germinate whatever’s getting ready to blossom come spring.

With the frenzy of the holidays upon us, I realize it can be difficult to find quiet time, but trust me, there’s no greater gift than making time to get grounded and replenish your spirit. May the energy you save, may the quiet discoveries you make, lead you happily onward!


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Great Smokies

Welcome Center

Hours of Operation

(subject to change)

Open year round (closed December 25)

January - February

Open Daily 9:00 am - 4:30 pm

March - November

Open Daily 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Open Daily 9:00 am - 4:30 pm

The Great Smokies Welcome Center is located on U.S. 321 in Townsend, TN, 2 miles from the west entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Visitors can get information about things to see and do in and around the national park and shop from a wide selection of books, gifts, and other Smokies merchandise. Daily, weekly, and annual parking tags for the national park are also available.

Physical Address

7929 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway Townsend TN 37882


865.436.7318 Ext 320