I gave myself an Earth Day present this morning. I know it was a few days early but I’ve always enjoyed early presents. I, along with a couple of friends, visited Lilley Cornett Woods in southeast Kentucky. This forest is one of the few existing old growth forests in the state. It has been designated as a Registered National Natural Landmark by the U. S. Department of Interior. Lilley Cornett Woods has been described as “a unique ‘island’ of protected forest in a ‘sea’ of other kinds of land use.” Since one may visit it only with a guide it is not a popular tourist attraction but it is definitely a place worth visiting.
The old growth forests of the east seem puny compared to their cousins on the west coast but they still contain some very large and old trees. I was able to see a number of giant hemlock, beech and white oak trees on my walk today. Even though it was raining it seemed like the perfect day to be in the woods. Things were very quiet and peaceful. The songs of various birds and the rain dropping to the forest floor were the only sounds heard. The shades of green surrounding us were too many to count. There was not a huge variety of wildflowers visible on this particular day but there were still many beautiful specimens to behold. It was not difficult at all to sense the presence of God in this special place.
A couple of nights ago I watched a few segments of Ken Burns’ National Parks documentary. I was reminded how blessed we are as a nation to have such wonderful treasures and how important they are to us. At one point in the film my favorite John Muir quotation was cited, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” Our national parks certainly offer us such beauty, but so do lesser known places like Lilley Cornett Woods. I am very grateful that over the years people have been wise enough to realize that some areas have to be set apart and protected from development. We need such pockets of Eden to turn to and enjoy for Muir was right, they bring healing and “give strength to body and soul alike.” I know that for a fact; I experienced it today.
(All the images shown here were taken this morning at Lilley Cornett Woods.)