Last February, I heard keynote speaker, Knoxville News-Sentinel columnist Sam Venable, at the Rose Glen Literary Festival in Sevierville. Sam told the luncheoneers a few of the humorous stories he had written about over the past 40 years. (My favorite: an entire funeral procession in cars that took the time to go through a KFC drive thru for chicken dinners here in East Tennessee. I'm sure the deceased would have wanted everyone to have lunch.) Sam also announced that he had the "best job in Knoxville."
Now, I like Sam, read Sam all the time and love his off-beat stories which he swears he never makes up, because truth is stranger than fiction. I agree. But Sam got one thing wrong. I have the "best job" in Knoxville: a senior naturalist at Ijams Nature Center.
Every week I get to walk and talk about nature here in the Tennessee Valley. Some days it's lively kindergarten kids, some days its precocious third-graders and some days it's completely grown-up kids with cars and mortgages and garages that need to be cleaned out...some day.
Today, it was my demographic: the lively, precocious, completely grown-up over 50 AARP crowd at the Seniors Outdoors Urban Wilderness event held at Mead's Quarry at Ijams. There were multiple hikes and walks and speakers and a little bit of lingering rain with surprisingly cool temperatures for May. But all went well and lunch was provided! I led two quarry history/natural history walkabouts along the east flank of Mead's, a former working quarry pit that's now a beautiful 25-acre lake.
Special thanks to the event's organizers and sponsors: Tennova, CAC Office on Aging, City of Knoxville, Legacy Parks Foundation, Local 8: WLVT, Happy Hikers and Ijams Nature Center!