Rocky Top


I was not born in Tennessee, rather my place of birth was in the flatlands of Oklahoma. But my grandmother was born in Tennessee, in Smith County at the end of the nineteenth century. Her pride in being from Tennessee never faltered and she would sing the praises of the Volunteer State to anybody that would listen, or even those who would would rather not. To hear her tell it, there was no finer place on earth from which to hail.


Fate brought me to live in Tennessee after several moves from coast to coast, to the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. This area is known locally as Rocky Top, for the ground is full of stones. I was thinking about those stones while trying to dig holes for some newly purchased Echinaceas. My little shovel is no match for the concrete mix of clay and rock in late summer, but determination and a twisting motion like a weak drill can excavate enough dirt to be able to plant a potted specimen if half of the rootball is sliced off. That is my method. Sometimes the plant dies from such treatment, but there are enough successes that a garden has been made here.


Thoughts came uninvited while I was trying to plant prairie loving plants in this lean, stony soil, a line from the song Rocky Top came to mind and I started humming the tune.

“Corn won’t grow at all on Rocky Top,
Dirt’s too rocky by far.
That’s why all the folks on Rocky Top,
get their corn from a jar”


Right. Too rocky for corn and too rocky to be a prairie, but we keep on trying, fighting a losing battle, but sometimes with small victories.


The mind is a strange beast, going where you least expect it sometimes. These song-based thoughts took a turn to a story that has been on the news both locally and nationally in the last few days. The story is of the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers Basketball coach, Pat Summitt. Ms. Summitt is a living legend and strong female role model, having broken every record in the book as she has taken the women’s basketball program to the highest heights with grace and class. She has reached the summit, some wags might say. Pat Summitt has been in the news before for winning championships, but she is in the news right now for her diagnosis of Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. At the age of 59 she is still vibrant and in excellent physical condition. More importantly, she is a fighter and smart. I watched an interview with her son about how she is handling this scariest of health problems. She has a plan, he says, and has come to terms with her future, even cracking jokes about her forgetfulness.


As I was twisting the shovel to plant the Echinaceas, all of these thoughts were swirling and singing in my brain. Tears began to flow and will not stop, and I am not a teary type of gal. Please join me in sending your best thoughts and prayers to this brave woman and her family as they deal with the deadly and daunting opponent. This is sad, but we must celebrate life still living, so I invite you to join Dolly to sing the praises of Rocky Top by clicking also on the second link.


Video Tribute to Pat Summitt

***

Dolly Parton Live
(Turn it up, and sing along!!!)

Rocky Top
by Boudleax and Felice Bryant

Wish that I was on ol’ Rocky Top
Down in the Tennessee hills
Aint’ no smoggy smoke on Rocky Top
Ain’t no telephone bills
Once I had a girl on Rocky Top
Half bear, other half cat
Wild as a mink,
but sweet as soda pop
I still dream about that.

Rocky Top you’ll always be
Home sweet home to me
Good ol’ Rocky Top
Rocky Top Tennessee,
Rocky Top Tennessee

Once two strangers climbed ol’ Rocky Top
Lookin’ for a moonshine still
Strangers ain’t come down from Rocky Top
Reckon they never will

Rocky Top you’ll always be
Home sweet home to me
Good ol’ Rocky Top
Rocky Top Tennessee,
Rocky Top Tennessee

Corn won’t grow at all on Rocky Top
Dirt’s too rocky by far
That’s why all the folks on Rocky Top
Get their corn from a jar

Rocky Top you’ll always be
Home sweet home to me
Good ol’ Rocky Top
Rocky Top Tennessee,
Rocky Top Tennessee

I’ve had years of cramped-up city life
Trapped like a duck in a pen
All I know is it’s a pity life
Can’t be simple again

Rocky Top you’ll always be
Home sweet home to me
Good ol’ Rocky Top
Rocky Top Tennessee,
Rocky Top Tennessee

Frances

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17 Responses to Rocky Top

  1. Poem -Flowers- Garden – Lovely ! (((:-

    Thanks!

  2. You may not be able to grow corn, but you did manage to make a beautiful garden despite nature’s opposition. I’ll enjoy this tune stuck in my head today and think of you, dear Frances.

    You are sweet to say so, Helen, thanks! I actually love this song.
    Frances

  3. I did hear about this the other night on TV and saw her son speak. This was a wonderful tribute Frances.

    Eileen

    Thanks Eileen. Usually the television is just a buzz in the background to me, but this story hit a nerve.
    Frances

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    It is a sad thing about Pat. I too was so sorry to hear this. Her being ill with this devastating disease will bring more attentioin to it and hopefully more research to help find a cure/prevention. It is scary that she is so young. Your garden is so pretty despite the tough conditions you have to deal with. Have a great week Frances.

    Thanks Lisa. Yes, this should bring a new face to this horrible disease. Pat Summitt was always at the Breast Cancer Race For The Cure events, too, getting the crowd in the spirit to walk or run to raise money. She is one of the good guys in collegiate sports and this is so sad. You too enjoy your week, friend.
    Frances

  5. I don’t know Pat or of her, but we have an illness of dementia in our family and so I send you really profound thoughts and good wishes. Wonder what effect plants and gardening can have to stave off the onset of dementia? Something I am on a quest to learn more about.

    Thank you Catharine. You have my deepest sympathy and strongest thoughts for the illness that has affected your family. No matter where one lives, this dreadful disease is something we all know and fear. Plants and gardens have great healing powers, I truly believe that. I hope you find what you seek.
    Frances

  6. Barbara H. says:

    Pat Summitt is a strong, strong woman, isn’t she? She has a plan, she is facing an uncertain future and she is bravely showing us all the way to acknowledge and deal with adversity. Not being a sports fan I didn’t know much about her but was struck by her integrity and strength of character when she announced her illness. Good reason to cry when connecting in to this tragedy, Frances, and may all our tears and prayers help smooth the way for this strong woman and all who are loving and supporting her journey.

    Thank you, Barbara. Pat Summitt is to be admired for so very many reasons, but may be remembered as a light leading the way to fight this horrible disease. Her sports legacy gives her more name recognition, maybe that will help to fight the fight for us all.
    Frances

  7. Gail says:

    Frances, It’s always amazing to me that anyone in Tennessee manages to have a garden blooming throughout the summer ~especially one as lovely as yours. Very sweet photos of your garden and critters for this tribute to Coach Summitt. It’s so very heartbreaking for her and her family. I’ll have to sing RT later when our company wakes up and can join me. Both of them are UTK grads! xxoogail

    Thanks for those kind words, dear friend. Glad to hear your company will know the words for the singalong!
    xxxooo
    Frances

  8. Jeanann says:

    I have known that song for many years but I never knew anyone that lived there! It seems we garden in the same environment-I live half way up Bull Run Mountain in VA and we have lots of rocks here with a little sandy soil between the rocks. The rocks do make for a nice raised bed! Thanks for your inspiring blog!

    You live in a beautiful place, Jeanann, thanks for visiting and those kind words. Those who love to garden will find a way, no matter the conditions. I would love to have some sand between the rocks rather than the solid clay. Compost and mulch have helped improve the soil here, but we need a million more bags of it.
    Frances

  9. Lola says:

    Being from Tn. I’m familiar with the song & the rocks although we didn’t have that many in the Western part. Regardless of the opposition you have made a beautiful garden. I so enjoy seeing it in your post. I like the song too.

    Thanks Lola. The southeastern part of Tennessee could not be more different than the western edge, like another planet! Glad you liked the song.
    Frances

  10. Christina says:

    Frances, having seen photos of your incredible beautiful and lush looking garden I would have never thought that you have such a rocky hard clay soil. That sounds almost like my soil conditions! To me it is very encouraging to know this, since it gives me hope that one day I might be able to create a lovely garden here, too. I just need to be persistent. A little compost once in a while will of course help, too :-)! I loved your photos in this post, you have a very special way to see the garden through the camera lens!
    Christina

    Thanks Christina. Sad but true, the soil here is less than ideal in most spots. You will need more than a little compost, though! HA Hard work and determination and tons of compost, and if you hold your mouth right, the garden will grow. Time, too. Lots of time. Sounds like a lot of work, but worth every minute of it.
    Frances

  11. commonweeder says:

    I didn’t know the song but I did hear about Pat Summitt from a dear friend. Your garden gives us one kind of inspiration, but a woman with a plan to handle a difficult and painful situation is another inspiration.

    Well said, Pat. A woman with a plan, may we all have such a plan to deal with adversity with such grace.
    Frances

  12. Victoria says:

    I loved this post, Frances – it was like a poem. Love your coleus too! Victoria xxooxx

    Thanks Victoria, I am so glad you liked it. That coleus, Henna, laughs at the heat and drought with minimal watering in containers.
    xxxooo
    Frances

  13. Elizabeth McLeod says:

    I want to visit your part of the world…..it sounds so nice!

    It is nice, Elizabeth, and friendly!
    Frances

  14. Just an example of “Bloom where you’re planted!” Way to go, Frances. 🙂

    Thanks Shady! I love that saying.
    Frances

  15. I have been to Tennessee a few times and have always found it very beautiful. Those hills and the people are beautiful. It is sad about Pat…and you are right…it is time to celebrate life.

    Thanks Sage Butterfly. East Tennessee is so beautiful, it is true. Pat’s has been a life to celebrate, and we continue to do so.
    Frances

  16. Lyn says:

    A lovely post! And your garden looks amazing. That is one great song, too.

    Thanks Lyn. The garden looks pretty good, considering the weather. I have had to get out there with the hose nearly everyday, though. Rocky Top makes my want to dance!
    Frances

  17. Rose says:

    I’ve seen tributes to Pat Summitt and knew of her amazing success, but I didn’t know about this diagnosis–so, so sad. My heart goes out to her.

    On a happier note, how wonderful that you have returned to your grandmother’s roots. I’m not a big country fan, but I’ve always loved Dolly Parton and remember this song. You may not have corn growing on Rocky Top, but you have created the most beautiful garden in this rocky terrain.

    Thanks Rose. There is just something about Dolly, she has chutzpah!, and she has done a wonder for the very poor Appalachian area where she built her big theme park. She is highly regarded in these parts, as is Pat Summitt. Two strong women.
    Frances

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