One of my favorite composers, Samuel Barber, set part of the prose to music as a piece, I understand, commissioned by the late soprano Eleanor Steber in the 1940s. Without doubt, this piece bearing the same name, is the perfect marriage of prose and music. Lyrically haunting, I own at least 5 recordings of this amazing work, my favorite being the Leontyne Price recording (I think in 1968) followed closely by a recent Dawn Upshaw recording. Autobiographical in nature, it so exquisitely conjured up images in my mind that I could hardly wait to go to Knoxville, TN.
Thus it is with images of “From damp strings morning glories hang their ancient faces” and“The dry and exaulted noise of the locusts from all the air at once enchants my eardrums” that we drive through Knoxville to find freeway closures, dingy aging buildings, motor vehicle fumes and traffic noise that did anything but “enchant[s] [our] eardrums.”
But wait, it gets worse! Leaving I-40, at exit 407 we take Hwy 441 south to Sevierville, TN to spend one week visiting Great Smokey Mountains National Park. What we fail to realize is the entire strip of highway, from exiting the freeway to the boundary of Great Smokey Mountains National Park, is what the locals call “Hill-Billy Vegas.” Never ending theaters, chain restaurants, motels, hotels, wax museums, Ripley’s Believe-it-or-Not, etc. line each side of the highway. Thankfully our RV Park sits below and out of sight of the mayhem. Disappointed, we take no pictures of either Knoxville or the circus surrounding us. On to the national park:
One of several former dwellings we find along the way
We find many hiking trails and take advantage of them when a parking space becomes available. Along the route, you come to cabins which were family homes, many years ago.
Interior of former home
As we drive along the main road, Bob pulls over so I can take a picture of a stream which runs through the park. The ranger at the Sugarlands Visitor Center tells us to be sure to visit the Little Greenbriar School and meet the teacher who is there today.
Stream along the roadway
Picture of former class
Exterior view, Little Greenbriar School