The Smoky Mountains

Gatlinburg is a small city at the foot of the Smoky Mountains, where Lily’s parents went to spend the weekend to get energized, as Lily’s father said. That was during the Harvest Festival, and the city and it’s surrounds were filled with the colors of autumn. Her father told Lily that there was Magic in those mountains, because a Shooting Star had vanished in those mountains and over many years many stories are woven within.

Lily loved to listen to her father and what she longed for the most in those moments were to uncover the mysteries of the Smoky Mountains… Matthew also came with them, at Lily’s request. Such an adventure required the best company, and what better company than Matthew.

It was very early Saturday morning, since Lily liked to get up very early to greet Father Sun. As she always said, “I want to greet him before the birds do” because her father told her the birds woke up very early to greet Father Sun, for his light, his life, and his warmth.

This time she went with Matthew, who had a difficult time waking up in those hours, but Lily was so insistent that he didn’t have a choice but to yield to her pleas. Lily and Matthew watched the sunrise in silence, and only the song of the birds around them could be heard.

Done! Lily said, smiling. We did it, greeting the Sun before the birds, and now let’s go get breakfast. I’m starving.

They returned to the Old Creek Lodge, a beautiful place near the city and at the foot of the National Park. After breakfast, Lily and Matthew went to look for supplies in the city for their great adventure:

homemade peach jam, cookies, and chocolates. They could not forget this, since the two children loved chocolate: for Lily, hazelnut and for Matthew, orange. The two children shared everything.

The children already had everything they needed, but suddenly inside the store they saw a burly, sunburnt man with shoulder-length hair, and feathers hanging from a strand on the right side.

Good morning, he greeted the children, and they responded in unison with a “good morning.” “Are you ready to go to the Mountain?” – the mysterious man asked, and Lily responded, “To the Mountain? How do you know?”

“Well, because of your supplies. The jam tastes better in the mountains and the chocolates are best enjoyed by a stream, what better place?”

“I’m sorry, but we should go. My parents are waiting for us. Excuse us, sir…”

“Sam Wolf,” the man responded, and he said goodbye to the children.

Matthew said to Lily,

“You know that we shouldn’t talk to strangers, right, Lily?”

“I know,” she said, “but a hello doesn’t hurt anyone.”

“It’s fine,” Matthew said.

And now with supplies in hand, and a compass that Lily’s father gave to her, the two children were ready to discover the mysteries of the Smoky Mountains and set off on their Great Adventure. The landscapes of the Smoky Mountains in autumn are magical, the trees resemble fire due to their beautiful orange color, everything in the Mountain was Magical.

Lily and Matthew felt little by little they were submerged in a different world, of colors, aromas, and sounds. They had walked an hour without realizing it and went deeper and deeper until deciding to rest near a stream. The only sound was water running over stones and the falling leaves. A squirrel watching from a distance quickly ran up a tree. Lily said to Matthew,

“I would like to stay here forever,” he looked at her and smiled because he knew that his best friend and adventure companion said it with complete certainty.

Matthew went to walk among the leaves near the water when suddenly, he heard a unique sound. He turned to look and he saw a huge black bear that began to roar. Matthew got up carefully and began running in the other direction towards Lily, and called to her,

“Lily, Lily, run!!”

Lily grabbed Matthew’s hand and together they ran as fast as they could, but the black bear caught up with them. The two children fell to the ground next to the pile of autumn leaves when suddenly, a man’s voice was heard saying,

“Mister Black, no!” the bear had been on two legs in front of the children, but upon hearing the voice returned to all fours. Mysteriously, the man from the shop with the eagle’s feathers in his hair was standing in front of them asking if they were ok. The children replied they were, but their hearts were still racing and their throats were dry from shock.

“Excuse Mister Black, he sometimes likes to chase away visitors so that they don’t damage his mountains.”

Lily and Matthew were still in shock when she asked, “And how can Mister Black listen and understand you?”

Mister Black responded,

“Sam and I are old friends!” -and the children couldn’t believe what was happening, a bear talking? And they could understand him! Mr. Sam told them,

“I’m Sam Wolf and I have been friends with Mister Black for many years, you could say that we’re adventure companions the two of us.” We love and care for the earth that our ancestors have left us.” -the children stood up and explained that they were only passing through and that they would not harm anything. “I know,” Sam Wolf responded, “but it’s better if you return back to the city, it will be dark soon and it’s not good to be alone in the Smoky Mountains, which come alive at night and they aren’t prepared for that.

Lily asked,

“What happens at night?” -Mister Sam Wolf replied,

“The entire mountain is alive, it speaks, and is transformed.” – Matthew asked,

“What does that mean?” – Mr. Sam Wolf replied,

“The trees speak, the fairies reappear, the gnomes are seen, the birds speak their language and we can understand them, and other things happen, also, but now is not the time. Lily, Matthew, let’s go back! – the children obeyed and set off, in silence they made their way to the city, Mister Black said goodbye to the children and told them,

“Sam’s friends are my friends, I hope to see you again soon, kids. I will teach you about the Mountains.” – the children said goodbye,

“See you soon, Mister Black,” – and Mister Black disappeared into the trees. It was getting late and Mr. Sam Wolf told them,

I will leave you close to the city, at these hours I don’t go there much, I don’t leave the forest.” – the children didn’t understand what Mr. Sam Wolf meant, but they continued walking. When they saw the city they said goodbye to Mr. Sam and thanked him for his help. He smiled at them and told them,

“We only want to help, now I must return.” – and they watched as he began to run towards the forest, and when he came to a fallen tree trunk in the road, he jumped and upon landing among the leaves transformed into a beautiful gray wolf that glanced back at them for a few seconds, and then continued on deeper into the forest.

Lily and Matthew could not shake their astonishment and holding hands they went back to the city. The two returned in silence to the Lodge, where Lily’s parents were already beginning to worry. On seeing them, Lily’s father was relieved and asked them why they had been so late. The children responded,

“We went to discover the mysteries of the Smoky Mountains.”

Lily’s father smiled and took them to wash up to go to the Harvest Festival. For the children, it was an unforgettable, magical day because they had seen one of the Mysteries of the Smoky Mountains and that would be a secret between Lily and Matthew. Leaving the lodge they looked toward the mountain and in silence they greeted Mister Black and Mr. Sam Wolf, and in her deepest thoughts, Lily said, “we will be back to see you.” Matthew took Lily’s hand and together they walked towards the Harvest Festival in Gatlinburg, on a very special day.

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