The Story of the Silent, Sparkling, Synchronous Fireflies

Just a few weeks ago, I drove 800 miles from Texas to Tennessee and pulled up to my parents’ house on a Tuesday night. It took all of one day to get up to the Smoky Mountains, thanks to the Bear (also known as Nate Croft). He took me to dinner on Market Square in downtown Knoxville on Wednesday evening, then we decided rather impulsively to drive an hour east and see if we could catch the synchronous firefly phenomenon that occurs for 1-2 weeks every year in the Smoky Mountains (I knew nothing about it until this week, so here is a link from the National Park Service: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/fireflies.htm). The Bear is the kind of person who would just up and drive anywhere, and with the wonders of nature involved, I must say I was rather excited myself. We hopped in the Runner and headed for the hills. I started looking for an address and quickly learned that there is no address for Elkmont Campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There were, however, GPS coordinates. We plugged the numbers into our map system and proceeded to wind our way through the dark, twisting roads, not even sure if we would find what we were seeking.   The directions took us straight to the Elkmont Campground, which we drove through slowly, asking a few campers about the fireflies along the way. After some helpful tips, we found a parking area which looked promising. As soon as the Runner’s engine was shut off, the trees in front of us came to life with the most unique thing I’ve ever seen. I...

Of Stuffed Cars and Knowing What’s Good for You

  And I say, “Oh that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; yes, I would wander far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest.” – Psalm 55:6-8 On Monday, June 8th, 2015, I stuffed Sofia (my Corolla) to the seams and hit the road. I was returning to my hometown of Knoxville after what has begun to feel like a seven-year exile. There are so many things (mostly deeply-loved people… and cornfields… and 1418 Coffeehouse) that I will miss about Texas; but everything in my being clamors that this is Home, and it is time to be here. It is probably confirmation that I’ve been in Knoxville for about three days, and all the health problems I’d been dealing with for over a year are just gone. I’ve gained about 15 pounds since January, and this is a good thing. For a while there, the numbers on the scale and the clothing tags were an obsession. Then the year of misadventure carried with it so much stress that losing weight was just a natural consequence. It felt amazing to reach a goal I had previously thought impossible… and then to go beyond it. But that’s when the health problems set in. I felt weak constantly and couldn’t run the way I used to. The bizarre symptoms of Raynaud’s Phenomenon had flared up: blanch-white fingertips when I was cold and under stress. This is one of the main reasons I knew that Tennessee soil would be good for me. It was...