'Autumn leaves shower like gold, like rainbows, as the winds of change begin to blow.'
I am so lucky to be travelling through America during Autumn. From the time I departed from Cleveland, Ohio until now, I have been a witness to the most amazingly beautiful treescapes; natural forest that changes from shades of green to bursts of yellows, oranges, and reds. Being surrounded by the northern autumn season's beauty along with the consistently cloudless azure skies and warm sun is truly uplifting. Within a couple of weeks, splendid colours will be gone for the year.
We get a short burst of cold weather and I witness Jack Frost spreading his icy fingers over the land, freezing the grass and the windows of the cars and turning the creamy blooms of the magnolia grandiflora and camellia sinensis to an ugly shade of brown.
I meet a local artist and her son. They live near Leiper's Fork on a small farm; the house is a delightful mixture of timber and stone with the most amazing timber spiral staircase in the living room. Huge windows provide an everchanging snapshot of the outdoors and it is almost mesmerising to just stand and watch the icy patches disappear in the sunlight and a light breeze ruffling the piles of leaves on the ground.
We enter the studio; a two-roomed place that exudes creativity; photographs and paintings created by Anne Goetze. Her son, Nathan's exquisite photographs of birds feature on the walls. Nathan has cerebral palsy, but despite his disability, he has become an excellent photographer with a special interest in birds. Not any birds, but the ones that are found close to his Tennessee home at different times of the year. His self-published book is beautiful and it is inspiring to meet a young man who faces huge challenges each and every day yet has achieved so very much.
I spend three days exploring the area surrounding the Natchez Trace Parkway, where I learn about the history of President James Polk, who, during his one term of office between 1845 and 1849 was instrumental in acquiring over a million square miles of land, thus establishing the current borders of the contiguous United States. I stop to see where Meriwether Lewis, half of the Lewis and Clarke explorers, died and where he is buried. I explore the area where childhood hero Davy Crockett lived and hunted (and made whiskey) and I have walked along historic trails where Native Americans, settlers, soldiers have walked before me. This has indeed been an incredible week and it is topped off with an extraordinary performance by the St Martin of the Fields musicians, who performed exquisite classical music in the local and beautiful Franklin Theatre.
I say goodbye to my friends and leave the peace and quiet of the farm for the noise and the buzz of Nashville, where music blares from every bar, and there are a lot of them! The streets are filled with tourists and locals and football fans. The bars are full; there are huge queues waiting for a spot table in restaurants, and people shouting at each other over the noise of the music that doesn't stop until the very early hours of the morning. Nashville is alive, vibrant, and I will be sad to say goodbye to it tomorrow.
Quote: Dan Millman