July 10, 2022, Florence, AL- The woman, standing 5’2”, and looking for all the world like a present-day Madonna, arrived at her family’s gathering, and instantly commanded the room. Her strapping teenaged son, who had been alternating between being a responsible big brother and goofing around, for the benefit of the three girls at the teenagers’ table, straightened up with a brief, sharp glance from Mama. Her husband, likewise, exercised a measure of control- distributing portions of food and drink from the adults’ table. to the teens and the younger children. The after-church dinner thus proceeded smoothly, in the small, cozy southern Tennessee eatery. I sensed, though, that there was nothing but love in this family-no patriarchy, per se, just a devoted couple who treasure all their children, and one another.
I had left my friends’ house, in a bucolic section of Crossville, a little after 10 a.m., stopping for a few photographs along the route I had taken to yesterday’s Food Truck event. The most breathtaking was this view of Sparta, TN, from an overlook.
I was given an inkling to spend a bit of time in Nashville, a city that I have tended to overlook, in many of the journeys across our home continent. So, a brief visit was first made to the Tennessee State Capitol.
I headed out of downtown, along a route that took me to The Parthenon, a recreation of the original building by that name, in Athens, Greece. Tennesseans treasure the Classical Age, and this museum is the centerpiece of Centennial Park, a vast and salubrious gathering place for all of Nashville. This lush urban park was dedicated in 1897, one year after the centenary of Tennessee’s statehood. Parthenon has two floors: The first hosts special collections of art; the present exhibit being selections from the private collection of James M. Cowan, a Tennessee native and businessman base din the Chicago area. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5e305abfabc0e4424fd1454a/t/5f0ceb6694be7a33f9f830bf/1594682228862/15139+Parthenon+Cowan+brochure_PROOF+%281%29.pdf
On the second floor, there stands an impressive statue of the Greek goddess Athena. Here are some scenes of the lady, the building and the park itself.
The true circumstances of this woman’s life are lost in the mists of time; yet it is clear that she had a powerful personality, being influential in a variety of areas, from education and craftsmanship to the conduct of warfare. That such personages were dubbed gods and goddesses, by pastoral people, is not surprising.
I wandered about the park itself, after spending about a half hour in the museum, which was about to close, anyway. Here’s Lake Watauga, just north of the Parthenon.
After this long overdue attention to the delights of Nashville, I headed west and took in a sliver of Natchez Trace Parkway, which I encountered while looking for Loveless Cafe, a small restaurant southwest of Nashville. The Trace runs for 440 miles, from Nashville to Natchez, and offers a fine cross-section of Southern wilderness.
The Falls themselves were a trickle, as were other waterfalls in the area. The South could use more rain, as could any number of places. I left the Parkway and spotted a sign for Hohenwald, a town whose name means “High Forest”, in German. It has a sanctuary for elephants and is a haven for people in recovery. It is also home to very devout people, including the family mentioned above. The women and girls were conservatively dressed; the men and boys looked more like they had been working a bit. Nonetheless, they were all very relaxed and could have been any close-knit family, anywhere-an attractive, happy bunch. The very sweet waitress took good care of all of us, and it made for a pleasant end to a solemn (Martyrdom of the Bab) but hopeful day. I came to this northern Alabama town, on the Tennessee River, around 9:30.
I will long remember the strong women, both real and stuff of legend, encountered today. It was interesting that, just before leaving Centennial Park, I encountered two young men who claim to worship God the Mother.