Monday, October 3, 2011

Wild Beauty

Often, in my reading material, I will find something that I like so much that I will copy it down on a back of an envelope, or these days,  I might print it out on the computer and then, I take these pieces of paper and fold them carefully into my handbag.  There they sit and accumulate piece by piece until I have no room for more, and then I have to decide what must be thown out and recycled...So, the wonder of this blog is that I can take these pieces of paper and translate them into a post, and thereby save these bits of wonderful written material and also, save paper too.  I want to copy out here something that I found when I was researching some family history from Virginia.   This came from a description of Wise County near Big Stone Gap, written by Charles Dudley Warner in the late 19th century.  

The pass itself, which shows from a distance only a dent in the green foliage, surprised us by its wild beauty.  The stony road, rising little by little above the river, runs through a magnificent forest, gigantic trees growing in the midst of enormous boulders, and towering among rocks that take the form of walls and buttresses, square structures like the titantic ruins of castles; below, the river full and strong, rages over rocks and dashes down, filling the forest with its roar, which is echoed by the towering cliffs on either side.  The woods were fresh and glistening from recent rains, but what made the final charm of the way was the bloom of the rhododendron, which blazed along the road and illuminated the cool recesses of the forest.  The time for the blooming of the azalea and the kalmia was past, but the pink and white rhododendron was in full glory: masses of bloom, not small stalks lurking like underbrush but on bushes attaining the dignity of trees, and at least twenty-five feet high.  The splendor of the forest did not lessen as we turned to the left and  followed up Pigeon Creek to a high farming region, rough but fertile, at the base of Black Mountain.  Such a wealth of oak, beech, poplar, chestnut, and ash, and sprinkled in, the pretty cucumber magnolia in bloom!

Wild beauty, indeed. 


  1. This is truly a wonderful description! I wonder what it looks like there now, and how much of the wild beauty is left.

  2. Librarian,
    I'm glad that you appreciate this too. When I found this amongst the dry facts of the US Census I was viewing, it was like finding a gem in the dust. There IS wild beauty left in the Great Smoky National Park and also in the Joyce Kilmer National Forest. Thank goodness for those protected areas. I'm afraid the area around Big Stone Gap was heavily "timbered", as they say, which means all those lovely trees are more than likely no longer there...