Lens-Artists Challenge #91: Simplicity

As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.

Henry David Thoreau

When life was at its most complicated (What, was that only a month ago perhaps?), we found that time spent in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains, not far from our home, added simplicity and perspective to our daily lives.

Settled in the early 1800s, Cades Cove became much of what it is today: a source of beauty and inspiration as well as a place of livelihood for those fortunate enough to live there. For us, it may be a romanticized form of simplicity since life back then had its share of rough edges for those living far apart and subsisting on their own ingenuity and frugality.

But for most of us today, a visit to Cades Cove means a time to simplify. When we want to unwind, we leave home early and, quite often in the fall when leaves turn golden, line up with other families along the 11- mile Cades Cove Loop. We stop pretty often — at barns or houses or vast fields — but also any time anyone catches a glimpse of rabbits, deer, wild turkeys or even a bear or two. Cars back up quite a ways while we get out and take pictures and point into the distance.

Simple homes have stood the test of time and tourism. Visitors are free to roam and imagine the slower-paced life; we, too, envision (romantically perhaps) the family gathered ’round the fireplace after a day of work, happy to be there and with each other.

On our trips, we almost always end at Cable Mill, built in 1867 by builder John Cable, where we gaze at the steady flow of water through the sluice and over the mill wheel to grind corn or wheat. Just the way it used to.

With all or most of us now confined to our homes during this time of coronavirus, we’re finding ways to simplify: we may not be building cantilevered barns or working the land, but we are also not taking for granted what at least most of us have — our homes, loved ones, and a genuine desire to pull together for the greater good.

A trip to Cades Cove offers simplicity and a chance to unwind near fields, forest, and streams.

The residents, however, have known the good life all along.

Bert and Rusha Sams

Note to visitors: Since the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is currently closed due to this period of social distancing during the coronavirus, Cades Cove is also closed.

For more posts on Lens-Artits Challenge #91: Simplify, head to Patti’s blog. And for more of these challenges, check out this upcoming calendar:

18 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Challenge #91: Simplicity

  1. Leya

    I love old places like this – excellent choice for the challenge! Rough times, but we all seem to romanticize a bit, because we feel a need to. Lovely photos and the words to go with them. I have to chime in with the portrait of the man –

  2. pattimoed

    What a beautiful and thoughtful post, Rusha. A great choice for the challenge. I especially love the portrait of the man in the window. Beautifully captured. And your thoughts of the “simple life” in the past being romanticized is definitely true. I sometimes think of the trials and tribulations of Laura Ingalls Wilder and remember how tough it was. Thanks for joining us!

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      I, too, like the picture of the man in the window. He’s actually one of the men who work the mill and sell stone ground cornmeal inside. I just happened to catch him looking out the window at us tourists. Cades Cove is a beautiful place — hope you can come see it sometime.

      1. kzmcb

        Actually, in South Australia, we have minimal restrictions. As a teacher, I still have to go to work every day, and we can go out to exercise, so I get to the beach or another walking spot regularly. We really could be The Lucky Country, although not as Donald Horne depicted us.
        Your drives seem to be keeping you going!

      2. Oh, the Places We See

        You are fortunate to have few restrictions, but we are trying to make the best of everything. I’m finishing several projects — needlepoint, face masks, organizing photos, etc. — and for some projects there is no finishing!!! Thanks for being a loyal supporter of our blog. It means a lot to us. Stay safe in South Australia!!!

  3. Amy

    I enjoy this lovely tour of Cades Cove very much. Beautiful photos and words for this theme. Thank you for the reminder.

  4. Tina Schell

    A terrific choice for our simplify challenge this week Rusha. I tend to agree though. What looks simple must have been VERY difficult back before all the modern conveniences we have today. Hadn’t heard of Cades Cove before. Looks and sounds like a fun visit.

  5. dawnkinster

    My family went to Cades Cove when I was maybe 12 or 13. I remember I lost the lens cap for my camera there. Wonder if it’s still there…I could even tell you WHERE at Cades Cove I lost it! I don’t remember too much else about it, but now I want to go back!

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      I’m not so sure the lens cap is still there, but everything else seems untouched! Even though time marches on, it seems that time stands still in Cades Cove . . . and that’s why we love going there. Thanks for taking a look. Sorry about your lens cap!

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      Thanks for taking a look. It really is a beautiful place, but you’re right. I probably think it was a slower-paced time, but if I had to do all the hard work that those settlers did, I’m not so sure they wouldn’t think my life today is slower-paced than theirs. Stay safe out there.

  6. Nancy Stanley

    Loved this post! Cades Cove has always been a special place to me. Even my Cadey is named in honor of the fun times there with Chip and the girls.

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