The Blue Ridge Parkway is a very special piece of American scenery. It was conceived and started by President Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression as part of the government’s efforts to put people to work, to help the unemployed in a way that preserves their dignity. The parkway is now nearly 500 miles of scenic road winding along the Blue Ridge Mountains, mountains noted for blue color when viewed from a distance.
Although I love scuba diving, I have to admit that I feel more at home in the mountain forests than the ocean. The living, breathing, pine landscape speaks to me. It has always been this way. Years ago, I was wandering in the woods and became disoriented. I was lost. Rather than panic, I closed my eyes and opened my heart to the energy of the woods. In that moment, I could feel a tree summon me. I opened my eyes and followed this call. It led me to a specific tree, a beautiful pine. I looked around and the way back was immediately apparent.
There are, of course, numerous explanations for my tale, but like so many Native cultures, I prefer the reality that all things have an energy, a spirit, with which we may communicate. The choice to listen is ours.1
It is possible that the name “Appalachian Mountains”, of which the Blue Ridge are a part, was given for the pre-European Apalachee people. In some Native dialects, “apalaci” means “people who bring light.”