Finding Beauty in the Everyday, Everywhere

(Soapwort Gentian-autumn wildflower found at Craggy Gardens)

In an earlier post, I wrote about how my Mama loved Craggy Gardens and how she went there as often as possible before she was stricken with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.   So to celebrate and honor her birthday last week, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and I decided to head once more to Craggy.

Fact is, I feel drawn there lately.  It’s funny—I never even think about visiting Mama’s gravesite in Greensboro, NC.  I know that many find solace in visiting the place where their loved one’s body was laid to rest, but not me.  That grave holds only her earthly remains—the broken body that failed her.  Craggy Gardens is the place she loved while she was living and strong and healthy and able to hike its many trails.  Lately, I have a sense when I go there that I’m seeking something, though I’m not sure what.  I do know that I often feel her presence there, especially when our children are along. 

So, with my heart wide open, I go to Craggy.  Always seeking—and hoping that whatever I’m supposed to find there will reveal itself in due time.  And I did find a lovely treasure this visit—a wildflower I’d never seen before.   Fortunately, no one was around at the time but BRBCM, because I couldn’t contain my excitement and hollered like I’d found a bag of gold, instead of a common soapwort gentian.  As I’ve written before, despite being a very shy person, I have an inclination towards frequent and unbridled episodes of unrestrained exuberance over what others might regard as insignificant natural events.   And I’m afraid, in my case, there is no cure.  :-)  

I get that from my Mama.  Although she encountered a great deal of hardship and sadness in her life, she was as open to the world as a baby and prone to childlike enthusiasms when discovering some new natural treasure.  And though I too have had much hardship and sadness, I have that same huge capacity for finding joy in the ordinary and delight in the commonplace.  Praise be.

Mama taught me to see beauty everywhere, and I am so grateful. It was one of her many gifts to me and is so often the grace that saves me.  And I like to think that I (and Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man) have passed that on to our own children and that they, too, have the gift of seeing beauty everywhere and in the everyday.

So here is just a bit of the beauty I captured and the new (to us) wildflower we found on our pilgrimage to Craggy Gardens—on the birthday of Queen Winabel.

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14 Responses to “Finding Beauty in the Everyday, Everywhere”

  1. luckypennies Says:

    Dang straight we have that ability! And I too am thankful that I have parents who raised me to see that way. Thank you. It’s so cool that you saw Soapwort Gentian. I can’t remember ever having seen that before.

    I can’t wait to see you in a couple of weeks. :)

  2. Cathy Says:

    I believe your Mama would be ever present in these gardens, in the sky above, and for sure in these mountains. Her reflections are everywhere, she was Queen Winabel. I didn’t know your Mama but I think I know her heart. So beautifully written Beth…..and I understand why you feel so drawn to this place.
    In this part of Canada, this soapwort wildflower is called “Queen Lace” …..just so you know.
    Cathy

  3. Margie Miller Says:

    The flowers and the memories were just wonderful!

  4. Judy Says:

    Those pictures are absolutely breathtaking. I can’t imagine how wonderful it must be to actually be there and partake of the view and the wildflowers.
    If this was your mother’s favorite place, I feel she would be there with you any time you go there. I have always felt my mother’s presence at certain places. Like you, I don’t think about her being at the cemetary.

  5. Sara Says:

    oh so pretty!

  6. wesleyjeanne Says:

    Beautiful, as always. Of the things I love most about you are your capacity for joy, your appreciation of beauty, and your pleasure in what may seem ordinary.
    I like to think I have those qualities, too, inherited from my Granny. Granny’s place was Pisgah. She could be brought to tears by the sight of the rhododendron blooming at Pisgah.
    Thank you for reminding me of her.

  7. Margie Says:

    Hi:

    Beautiful pictures… a beautiful place! I have been wanting to visit Craggy Gardens for some time now, but last I heard it was still closed. Can you tell me if it is open and where you got these great photos?

  8. Clara Melvin Says:

    Beth, You are finding “Joy In Your Journey” If we couldn’t do this, it would be a sad world. I know your Mother is smiling down on you everyday and especially when you go to Craggy Gardens.

  9. Benjamin Says:

    I was reading this post and looking at those lovely pictures at the same time “Ave María” was playing. That was almost an emotional overload. I feel like I’m seeking more than ever now…when I go hiking, when I get together and play music with my friends…every moment has something concealed truth to find out. Craggy Gardens and Pisgah are two of my very favorite spots on the Parkway.

    I look forward to seeing you. Haha luckypennies, I get to see her in one week! ;-) But I do wish I got to see you too. :-(

  10. wesleyjeanne Says:

    Beth, I found this quote to day and thought that it so very appropriately fits here:

    “What is the value of preserving and strengthening this sense of awe and wonder, this recognition of something beyond the boundaries of human existence?…Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”–Rachel Carson.

    Amen.

    Wes

  11. wesleyjeanne Says:

    By the way, Margie: the visitor’s center area I believe is still closed but you can go up to the hiking trail from the Asheville side.

    Is that right Beth?

  12. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    I actually answered Margie’s question in an email to her earlier, but it occurred to me after reading Wesleyjeanne’s comment that there might be others who were wondering the same thing Margie was. Wesley is right. The visitor’s center at Craggy Gardens is closed to vehicle traffic due to the collapse of a nearby retaining wall. However, you can still travel to the Craggy Garden’s picnic area at Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 367.6 and take an easy trail from there up to the Craggy Gardens bald, then down another trail to the visitor’s center. It is particularly lovely now because you can walk near the Visitor’s Center down the Parkway, untroubled by passing traffic. I would also highly recommend that you walk on from there, through the tunnel on to milepost 364.1, where you can take Craggy Pinnacle Trail for absolutely amazing views. It’s also great fun (at least to those of us who are easily amused) to be able to walk through the tunnel on foot and sing and listen to the sound reverberating off the walls. When all four of us went a couple of months ago, we whistled Beethoven together in the tunnel and it sounded quite grand. :-)

  13. Going Crunchy Says:

    Those are beautiful pictures Beth! I love the one in the woods, what a special place that feels like. Shan

  14. colleen Says:

    Ypur photos are breathtaking, Beth. What kind of camera do you have? I loved them so much (here and on the other post you mentioned) that I googled Craggy Gardens and was pleased to learn that they are close to Asheville where my son lives. So I’m putting in on our list of things to do next time we visit him.

    That purple is utterly royal.

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