This a view from Edwards Point, the mountain bluff above where I grew up and the pinnacle of every hiking trip I made as a kid.
This is the Tennessee River Gorge. Just across the river is Elder Mountain, where my grandfather hid from revenuers.
To the right is Prentice Cooper Game Reserve. The Cumberland Trail weaves its way through there, down from the top of the mountain, down across the creek, then up to where this scene depicts.
I grew up in the community of Suck Creek. Just out of view, just below the rock bluff, the creek would feed the river. Up until a hundred or so years ago, during hard rain the creek and the river would create a powerful whirlpool capable of pulling small boats under and stopping paddle wheelers.
It was only after a system of dams were built along the Tennessee River (operated by TVA), that the river was tamed enough for safe navigation.
This is also where my Cherokee ancestors on my paternal grandmother’s side resided. They were the ones who actually attacked the early settlers of Nashville when their boats were stuck in the “suck.”
The mountains and the river will always be in my blood. The peaceful drift of the water. The fresh air of old-growth forests. The legends and unforgettable scary bedtime stories from the old-timers.
Unfortunately, much has changed over the last decade. Much of where I spent my childhood and teen years are unrecognizable. Time has exacted a heavy toll from both progress and neglect. And where there was family land that outsiders feared to visit, now there’s million-dollar homes where outsiders moved to “preserve” the beauty.
Yet, I still remember. I still dream. I still imagine. That will never change. Time will only make the memories sweeter and the stories even better.
I may have left, but it’s never left me.