Friday, September 19, 2008

White Gowns and Waterfalls

Summer is the season when life thunders in the rush of wild abandon. It is a time when the blossoms of newly minted promises gleam on fields of virgin white. It is the season of waterfalls and white gowns.

This summer we’ve logged about 9,000 miles in the bus (and have hiked or biked hundreds more), and at every turn in the road, at every clearing on a forest's path, the moment we spot the plume of falling water or the puff of a wedding gown, we grab for the camera and record the moment. It isn’t a weakness. We simply can’t help ourselves.

Of course, we’re not the only ones who swoon at the sight of white flowing things.

The waterfall, above, trickles through the rugged wilds of the Great Smokey Mountains. To get to this tiny falls, you have to labor many steep miles uphill (driving and hiking) away from the easy splendors of Gatlinburg, TN. This is saying something. This is also to say that no matter how big or small, how elaborate or ordinary, the spectacle of a white gown or a waterfall is utterly alluring. People will sweat, swear, and even put their “off-road” vehicles in harm’s way to see them up close.

And why not? For only in the great white north of Nova Scotia, Canada will you behold the breathtaking tableau of sea and sky and land and brides and bridegrooms.

And only at the western edge of New Brunswick, Canada, can you gawk at the largest waterfall (by volume) east of Niagara Falls.

Indeed, travel deep into French-speaking territories of Quebec, the hilltop towns above the St. John’s River induce a sort of white-knuckled vertigo.

These are lovely sights. But the beautiful treachery of a dizzying falls is nothing when compared to the dastardly knots tied upon the tracks of eternity…

… or the dazzle of competing princesses…

… and the pearly gleam of awaiting carriages…

… and white-suited suitors…

… and sometimes a little of everything.

It seems to me that we don't really care if a given waterfall is the biggest, the tallest, or carries the most volume. It’s just that the bigger the falls, the more people can see it at once. Behold, Niagara Falls.

Likewise, we truly don't care if a gown is elaborate or simple. We love them all with equal adoration. And I think I know why.

Though waterfalls may seem permanent, they are, in truth, rushing through time and space. Though a woman may spend a lifetime planning for her white gown party, in truth a bride shines for one short day. And because this beauty is of a fleeting sort, because they have the permanence of mist and air and light, because this glory dazzles in the flash of the whetted eye, every white gown and waterfall is splendid in its own way for the moment we behold it...

... and we are powerless to resist their every charm.


  1. great blog, I love all the traveling that you do in your bus.
    I have a double cab that I am restoring and cant wait to do some trips of my own.

  2. Hey VW Double Cab,

    Thanks for reading! I'm glad to hear you're restoring your bus. Please let us know when you take it on your own road trips. We'd love to follow your adventures.