- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Stephen Lyn Bales, editor

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Scripps/HGTV spend Volunteer Day at Ijams. Thank you!

Many special projects here at Ijams would simply never get done without volunteers. The Ijams staff can only do so much.

That's why we love it when Scripps/HGTV calls and wants to spend one of their Volunteer Days helping us. They usually come en masse with their sleeves rolled up ready to tackle something big, eager to help.

Yesterday, over 45 Scripps volunteers showed up to work on the new ropes course being constructed on the Hunter Site (western edge of Ijams near the overflow parking opposite the front gate). 

That many people can get a lot done quickly, and for that we say "Thank you" over 45 times.

- Text and photos Stephen Lyn Bales

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Monarch butterfly commits its future to Ijams park bench

As a life-long naturalist, I'm still overwhelmed, shocked, amazed by the miracle of nature. Generally, on any given day, if you look hard enough you will find something that is truly, well, miraculous; life-affirming in its beauty. 

Although nature is not always beautiful, it is always interesting. And in this case, it is both.

Saturday afternoon, after hours of heavy rain, on a walk through the plaza in front of the Visitor Center, I spotted something miraculous happening. A monarch butterfly caterpillar was beginning to shed its last larval skin and morph into a chrysalis. Inside something astoundingly wondrous happens. The caterpillar breaks down and reforms itself into a butterfly, a classic metaphor for reinventing yourself. 

After a short time, if the fates allow—after all it is quite vulnerable—it will emerge as an adult monarch and fly south to Mexico, having never been there. 

The park bench is dedicated to Donna Young, retired City of Knoxville Greenway Director and I can think of no one more "full of life" than Donna. Perhaps the monarch sensed this was a fortuitous, good karmic bench to risk its fortunes on.

- Story and photos by Stephen Lyn Bales and Rex McDaniel. 

A teachable moment: Kids from Bearden United Methodist at Ijams on a field trip
pause to examine the monarch chrysalis on the park bench.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Artist Derek White's sculpture showcased at Ijams

Ijams symbol, the great blue heron, cut into 1/2 inch steel, now greets visitors to the park. 
The sculpture is on loan but we hope it finds a permanent home here. 

Clean-cut, as though he used an X-Acto knife on construction paper. 

But, no! It's far more substantial. The metal sculpture of artist Derek White was featured at last weekend's Symphony in the Park at Ijams. His work captures the delicate, flowing lines of nature in a remarkable medium: sheets of steel. A feather that will last a millennium. White creates and sells a variety of products. He can be found at the Farmer's Market every Saturday on Market Square in downtown Knoxville.

Derek White

- Story, photos Stephen Lyn Bales, Jennifer Roder.

Monday, September 9, 2013

28th Annual Symphony in the Park was très bien, enchanting!

Maybe it was the Bach adagio from his "Cantata No. 156," or maybe it was the medley from "Les Miserables," or it was Logan Brill's version of "La Vie En Rose" sang in French, or maybe it was the metal sculpture of Derek White, or maybe it was the food and fellowship or the passing nighthawks that flew overhead at twilight. A great event is the sum of its many parts, and last night's 28th Annual Symphony in the Park at Ijams was just that: a great event!

As always Maestro Lucas Richman and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra were superb blended with the nature sounds as the sun gave way to early evening. Guest artist Logan Brill with guitarist Brian Downing preformed three songs, all beautiful, even oh là là très bien, enchanting. 

Special thanks to Symphony Sponsors Stephen and April Harris; plus Jupiter Entertainment; Alcoa, Inc.; City of Knoxville; Pinnacle Financial Partners; The Trust Company of Knoxville; Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, P.C.; Bryant Research; Knoxville Beverage Company; Knoxville News-Sentinel; Moxley Carmichael; Prestige Cleaners; RockTenn; Southern Shores Development; UT Medical Center and Vulcan Materials Company.

Congratulations to Carol Evans of Legacy Parks Foundation for receiving the Ijams Spirit Award. 

Symphony in the Park is a fund-raiser for Ijams. Congratulations to Ijams staffers: Mary Thom, Sarah, Jenny and Jeff for planning such a wonderful event! And many thanks to the dozens of volunteers.

For more, visit Cynthia Moxley's The Blue Streak: SIP 

- Story and photos, Stephen Lyn Bales

Young symphony attendee plays among crow sculptures by Derek White

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Early morning canoe trip found plenty of atmosphere

This morning's canoe trip on Mead's Quarry Lake was memorable for its mist. Early morning fog blanketed the water as we set out in search of freshwater jellyfish. So there was plenty of moody atmosphere, but no jellies.

Special thanks to AmeriCorps member Victoria for helping me!

- Stephen Lyn Bales

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Magic and cuteness abound at Ijams

Fairy dust and enchantment were in the air as 20 glitter-clad fairies alit in the Ijams Visitor Center. 

While it is true that most fairies are hard to find, I was lucky enough to draw a few out to join me for a Fairy Tea Party yesterday. 

Attendees were treated to toadstool cupcakes, complete with white chocolate spots. They mixed their own woodland trail mix with ingredients like dried fairy berries, pixie pretzel pieces and even twinkle sprinkles! 

The event concluded with each fairy planting and decorating their own fairy garden…in case they need to keep a little nature nearby!

I must say that fairies make the most delightful, spirited, giggling guests a hostess could ask for and I look forward to the next event that allows these winged lovelies to make another appearance at Ijams!

- Story and photos by Jennifer Roder.