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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Peaceful Drive Down the Natchez Trace

Tuesday Feb 21, 2017 Comfort Inn Vidalia Louisiana 4 pm Hello once more, Trekkies! Today's photo album is probably best viewed as a slide show--with your own travelling music playing and the beverage of your choice at hand. It is mostly a stream of consciousness view of a scenic drive that is actually a National Park. The Natchez Trace runs 400+ miles between Nashville, Tn and Natchez,Ms. It is a favorite drive of Bill and I and, when travelling with her, my sister, Barbara and I. I've lost count of the number of times we've traveled the full length North to South or South to North. Also innumerable are the travels that covered only short sections of it--as we often did the year we spent three months in Nashville. We've seen it when there has been snow in the northern part or the puddles have been iced over. We've seen it when all the flowers and flowering trees and shrubs were in full flush of bloom. There is never a time that it is not beautiful and every time I notice something different upon which to focus. Today my mind seemed to notice textures, colors, shapes and change. From the twisted bare trees with branches gnarled and shaped like arthritic knobby witch fingers trying to pluck us right off the road, to the more graceful and stately tall trees of the end of the road, tree shapes were a focus. More evergreens farther north. Different colored flowering trees, oranges and reds. Trees whose branches were so fine and white that they look like dark trunks surmounted by clouds of smoke. The barks are patterned finely or with large patches of scaly wood. Other plants use the branches of these trees to perch and get exposure to the sun, so that they can make food for themselves. Some of these branch clingers or sitters are grateful for the support and do absolutely no harm to the tree --things like Spanish moss, wispy and ethereal at this time of year--so gray, like an old man's beard. Another beautifying plant using the trees, the gorgeous and dainty Resurrection fern. It sits dry and brown, sort of dirty looking along the thick branches of some of the evergreens. Then the rains come and it just get emerald in color and forms velvety looking sleeves on the thick arms of these trees. There are others, however, though beautiful are ungrateful takers--mistletoe looks like huge Christmas tree balls on the limbs of the pines and yet it is a parasite--taking food from the tree and weakening it. Another forms a mat of lovely small leaves with tiny bright yellow flowers. From this platform it drops graceful drapes of leaves and flowers---and in time it completely encloses the whole tree, top to bottom and prevents if from obtaining sunshine and kills it dead. This beauty spreads and kills entire sections --it is slowly eating the South and it was deliberately imported to control soil erosion in the 30's and 40's. It actually was imported even earlier as an ornamental and cheap provider of shade. It is a member of the pea family and does replenish nitrogen to the soil, as do all legumes. Not only were the shapes that caught my eye those of living trees--there is the 8 mile stretch of parkway which was devastated by a huge tornado several years ago. I am always interested to see how nature is reclaiming the area. And I always look toward the home behind the trees whose roof was blown totally away and which I saw as the roof was being restored. I cannot imagine living that close to a tornado! Some of the shapes were periodically distorted by the sheen of rain covering the windshield, my window and the window of the sun roof. The fickle weather would sprinkle, stop, later it would rain a bit harder, then a few small batches of blue would appear and the sky lighten a bit. Just as we'd believe the weather was clearing the skies would open up and a deluge would pour down on us. It is fascinating to me the difference in human optics and camera optics. Sometimes I shot a picture, look at it and see that it is totally worthless because of the reflection or glare on the windshield and yet, as I took the picture, I didn't even notice the obstruction. Other times I want the feeling of the depth of fog or heaviness of water and the camera blocks a great deal of it out. I've used my camera to see more clearly through fog when we've been driving through pea soup. More physics than I have ever bothered to research and probably won't. Eventually, the rain stopped and the cloud cover did break up--into such a dramatic series of thunderheads. So, once more Nature provided me with one of my favorite contemplations, cloud formations. As I write this in our room overlooking the Mississippi, the drama continues and my camera is out! At last, the Trace became a bit more manicured and graceful curves were introduced to the path--signs that we were now approaching Natchez. The Nashville end is all pretty park-land, too. Less natural--more designed. Down through Natchez, across the twin bridges into Vidalia, Louisiana. A quick shot of the motel from the bridge, a fast right at the end of the bridge along the Mississippi and here we are. Across the way, looking like a painting through the picture window--Natchez Under the Hill. To its left the Visitors' Center on the Bluff and to its right, a fancy resort beneath the Natchez water tower. This has taken forever to type, I keep stopping to take pictures of clouds and, more exciting, the barges and tugs going right under our window. God, I could live here! I will add more pix to this album or maybe make an additional one--sites from the picture window looking out on the Big Muddy. For now, though, I'm going to do the bills, since I have a good internet connection. Eat dinner and watch NCIS and Bones, while doing my nails. That is, if I can hide the camera!! Tomorrow--GRANDMOTHER"S BUTTONS!!! Cannot wait. Have to get going. Until tomorrow--take care, all. KandB

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