My father-in-law’s family and ancestors lived off the land and the forest in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They lived in a small log cabin without electricity or running water. Fresh, fresh water ran in creeks and rivers nearby. His family and others were forced to accept payment from the Park Service and move off the land so that the land could be preserved as a park. Frank Abbott grew up on a farm immediately outside the park.
We always head up to Big Rock when we visit my father-in-law. B-I-G Rock is a big rock that overhangs a busy river. There Frank and his brothers and friends played in the summers — jumping off the rock and catching crawdads in the waters below. In Spring, the waters flowing below Big Rock are fridge but it is one amazingly mossy spot. (cont. below)
Each year we go up there my husband and others jump off the rock…and…I…watch. I like to think I’m a fairly rugged girl but when it comes to cold water, I’m a total wimp.
This year I wanted to be able to show a photo of myself jumping off the rock to my Facebook friends. (I know, I know, I’m not proud of this.) So I got up there and after 2-3 tries managed to jump off. The water felt like it’d melted off an ice pack mere seconds ago. I seriously felt like I’d get ice burn if I stayed in there. I swam and scrambled out of there as fast as I could. I think you can see how pained I was in the after photo below where you see me on the bank.
Karen Nierlich is author of Journal of a Moss Enthusiast, Albany, CA. Photographic prints of some images will be available in the future and she is starting to put together a book of moss photos and text.