A tourist’s impression of trees

My husband and I headed to Kentucky this weekend to run a race – a 10K road race for me and a 60K (!) trail race for him. This was my first visit to Kentucky and my husband’s first stay there when he wasn’t just driving through from one state to another.

We ran in a beautiful National Recreation Area called Land Between the Lakes, and I was struck by how much beauty and grace trees lend to a landscape. Maybe I was thinking of the trees so much because I had a long wait for my husband to come through a path among the trees before he could head to the finish line.

I’d had enough time after my race to drive back to our hotel, shower, change and check out before heading back out to watch him finish. I waited at this final trail crossing/aid station for over an hour, grateful for having finished my race but also grateful for such a beautiful place to run. I was also happy to see little signs that spring was coming, the hint of color rising on the trees, a bit of green peeking through here and there. I also didn’t mind the wait because it’s always fun to see how different runners react when heading in to another loop or turning toward the finish.

I wasn't the only one waiting for a runner to come out of these woods.

I wasn’t the only one waiting for a runner to come out of these woods.

LBLtrailcrossing2013

A little green vine by the runners’ trail promised of spring coming soon.

When we drove through Land Between the Lakes the day before, we stopped at one of the visitor centers to walk around a bit. While there, we walked through a historical exhibit that spoke of the sacrifices of turning this area into a National Recreation Area. The Tennessee Valley Authority displaced whole communities to create this area, and though I’m glad for the beauty of the place, I know it didn’t come without great economic and emotional cost for those who lived here before.

From trail to traffic
After my husband finished his race, we headed for Nashville. Talk about a transition! We went from serene, quiet, tree-filled trails and small towns to really, really terrible traffic and the constant wail of car horns and sirens. We headed to the Ryman for a concert Saturday night, and the traffic on the way from our hotel left me saying, “I would not ever want to live here.” 

The traffic in Nashville isn’t the city’s best recruiting tool. But there’s a park in its city limits that soothes and calms and lends an air of tranquility to its hustle and bustle. We ran in Centennial Park Sunday morning, and the park did more to win me over to Nashville than any part of the rest of our visit. Thanks to this beautiful space, I left the city feeling more relaxed and rejuvenated.

Springtreeswintertrees2013

I saw this gnarled tree a couple of times on a loop we ran through the park, and I especially loved the way it looked framed by the two trees in bloom.

NashvilleCentennialParkTreeRoots2013

Who says winter trees are boring? The base of this one really intrigued me. Anyone know what kind of tree it is? (I don’t.)

ParthenonNashville2013

A Parthenon replica graces Nashville’s Centennial Park. We hope to come back on a day that it’s open, but it was fun to stop mid-run just to check out its exterior. The huge, high steps weren’t kind to tired runner legs, though.

Just as with the Land Between the Lakes, I know this park came at a cost, but what a gift to the city, despite the sacrifice of the space that could have been used for homes and businesses and roads. To Nashville’s residents and visitors, this place offers sanctuary and a place to enjoy the restorative power that only being in nature can offer. And all throughout the park, there were signs that spring was getting ready to make its glorious appearance.

I’ll leave you with two questions. What signs of spring have you seen this year? And does your city or town have a park like this or some other natural area where residents and tourists can go to escape into nature for a bit?

7 thoughts on “A tourist’s impression of trees

  1. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all Ill be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon

  2. Mark and I lived in Nashville right after we were married. I love that park – very fond memories of this place. And we lived there before the traffic was so bad. Congrats to you and Chris on your races. I love Umstead Park and really excited about the park to go on the Dorothea Dix property here in our hometown.

  3. WOW! Those trees are so unique. I hope someone will know what kind they are!

    I grew up in the city and right down the road from Schiller Park in downtown Columbus, Ohio. http://parks.columbus.gov/SchillerPark.aspx My elementary school was across the street from it, as well. In matter of fact, they held an annual Halloween costume parade around the park that we would all walk in. The parents would show up and clap for us. What a fun time! It was truly the center of my childhood; Easter egg hunts,the best playground, tennis int he spring, theater in the summer, football in the fall, picnics, sledding down “the hill”, classes at the rec center, and so much more. I can’t even imagine growing up without my beloved park!

    Several years ago we went for a visit to the park and it is still the same – full of families and peewee football players, dog walkers and bike riders. However, the sledding hill does not seem as daunting as when I was 10!

    Thank you for the trip down memory lane.

    • I’m always happy to provide a trip down memory lane. Funny that your sledding hill has “grown smaller.” I remember that happening to my entire elementary school building. 🙂

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