Of Deep Gratitude And Humble Reflection
Greetings and Happy New Year to all.
I hope this finds all those who watch the Slow Dog's Place here on dA graced with infinite love, peace and happiness. These are the genuine and priceless gifts of immeasurable value to be shared freely during the new year ahead. As 2017 begins, let us all pause to give thanks. It promises to be a very exciting time, indeed.
Here in Tennessee, things have been interesting lately, what with the fires and storms. Amidst all this chaos, folks have pulled together to rebuild and heal. During the crisis, covered on this site courtesy of the three local television stations, channels 6, 8 and 10, fellow deviants have visited in record numbers.
The word got out. Our mission was a success. Not only did local people such as Dolly Parton and many others (including folks such as you and I,) pitch in to help out, even the United States Government was called to aid and aid they did indeed.
My hat is off with head humble and solumn in bow. I thank you all. With everything I am, you are the reason this page will always be on dA. To those who are awaiting a fave or llama, I will eventually get around to you.
The Heroes Near And Far
Thanks also go out to the many brave men and women who faced death in order to save others when the flames came. They worked for days, many going without sleep, others resting briefly beside their trucks, working tirelessly and selflessly to save the forest and any homes they could get at.
Many have asked why those fires got so big so fast. They have even critisized the way things were done. Thus, we are compelled to convey the feelings of Deputy Superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Ranger Clayton Jordan, who stated that there were many factors at play, including extended drought, high wind, smoke, and remote terrain.
Tennessee is experiencing one of the worst dry weather patterns it has had going back over a century. The dirt is so dry that roots are parched. Trees that catch fire are thusly killed. When roots burn, it takes many years for the woods to come back. With the biodiversity of these mountains, it is feared that many small pockets of undiscovered life have been permanently lost.
When the fire started, winds kicked up and fanned the blaze. Smoke quickly filled the sky since most of the fuel for the fires consisted of dry leaf litter covering the forest floor, which as anyone knows, is excellent tender for a really hot fire that spreads with astonishing speed. As the winds reached hurricane force, embers the size of golf balls were hurled skyward, travelling for miles before falling back to earth. New fires were lit everywhere the embers rained down.
As the fire grew, the smoke became so thick that visibility dropped to zero. This matters because, even on a clear day, flying around in the Smokies is hazardous. Valleys are small, corners are tight, and visibility is limited at best since there is always a haze or clouds at the summit and above. Easy enough to slam a copter into a hillside. Smoke is a no fly zone and the choppers would remain grounded until it cleared off, which it never did while the drought continued. When the rains finally came, the birds were allowed in.
The Smokies are an ancient range, yet they are still rather rugged. Although a helicopter is a nimble machine, there is just not enough space in which to fly safely where the fire was burning. The lay of the land made it darn near impossible to get in there. Also, the nearest water source was many miles away, meaning that big choppers were needed to carry the buckets. Eight hundred thousand gallons of water were dropped on the Chimney Tops fire. It continued to burn.
The fact that so few of the four hundred people who worked the blaze were seriously hurt says a lot about those who wanted to save the Sacred Land of Blue Smoke. Of note is the fact that similar fires were burning in neighboring units such as Shenandoah, Cherokee, and Pisgah. The National Guard was mobilized to the area, covering several million square miles of Appalachian wilderness.
In the Smokies, Mother Nature has been kind, sending many rains which have been gentle enough to slowly soak the ground. The fires are out. The fire fighters have gone home or moved to other hot spots across the nation, including those fires still burning out west. Gatlinburg is slowly returning to being somewhat of a functional city. Visitors are strolling through, though numbers are drastically fewer than what we normally see this time of year.
Smoky Mountain Strong: Of Renewal And Rebirth
The money Dolly Parton was able to collect is already being paid out to those in need. President Obama has declared a state of disaster, allowing government funds to assist in rebuilding the many homes and businesses which were lost. Although no amount of money can replace the fourteen lives that were ended so tragically, it can help folks move on and return this small mountain town to its status as the central Gateway to the Smokies.
Dolly was able to surround herself with a plethora of ready and able people who were willing to do all that they could for the ones who lost so much. That goes to show just what kind of people live in these green hills. They have never forgotten their roots nor how to love each other. They have never lost their faith. And when trouble comes a calling, they always volunteer to help one another to the end. It is how things are done in Tennessee.
To those who filled their hearts with love and understanding, to comfort, heal, feed and shelter, we can never thank you enough. To all the park rangers, police officers, fire fighters, medics and clergy, we salute you. To all who pitched in with money and supplies, to those who gave their time to work the many urgent tasks, again, we salute you. And to all who leant a shoulder, a hand, a warm heart, you know who you are. Blessings and good karma be yours. Amen.
Looking Ahead To The New Year
In closing, the folks at the Slow Dog's Place would like to tell you about the events of the coming year ahead.
We are moving.
Yes, Rangers Ellen, Travis, and Ricardo are moving to a place in Blount County just outside the Maryville City Limits known as the House of Tuck, a family dwelling since the legendary home builder Wallace Dale Tuck took ownership over fifty years ago. Currently, things are in dissarray with possessions there and people here. The passing of parents has left the family in a state of confusion as things are slowly sorted out. It is a very long story, one beyond the scope of this journal.
Production Company News...
Computers... Oh, yeah. Thanks to a generous donation by CoyoteNET DSS, Walnut Hill Productions is gearing up to do business making music with several very powerful workstations featuring Intel Xeon CPUs and solid state drives. This will enable both fixed and remote sessions.
Rocky Branch Bluegrass... Good ole mountain music, as real as it gets to be among the local hillbillies. Rocky Branch Community Center in Walland, Tennessee, has signed a twenty year extention to the lease from the county. Walnut Hill Productions is planning on equipping the facility with a large multi track digital audio recording system.
Organs beeing gifted... Yes, there are organs in those hills, theatre organs, that is, way out in Florissant, Colorado. Provided a haul can be made, a wonderful lady out there wants to give Walnut Hill Productions a beautiful Conn Model 651 analogue electronic 3/17 mighty theatre organ. She also wants to include a really nice Hammond X77 with two Leslie speakers.
As Ricardo enters his thirteenth year on dA, his gallery has grown to over five thousand works. The favorites now number over twenty-five thousand. Watchers crowd in at around a thousand or more, with so many visits and faves they cannot be thanked in due time. A great debt of gratitude is sent out to all.
In the days ahead, activity in the form of submissions and replies might be delayed due to the move. However, we will continue to cover the hikes of the Alcoa Ridge Runners. We will also feature the organs we find while looking around in the land of the golden voice.
The favorites gallery will continue to grow as new artists are added each week. The watchers and friends lists will also grow accordingly. This page is a long term affair. It is a paid account with a long credit, so we are in it for the foreseeable future, no matter how weird things get high up on ye aulde dA totom pole.