There is good and bad to having the Great Smoky Mountains as my "studio."
The Good: it's beautiful. I mean, knockout gorgeous.
The Bad: it's in East Tennessee - where the weather is somewhat capricious.
Now, Dustin had contacted me a while back to arrange for me to capture his marriage proposal to the fair Brianna. And he asked the question that most people do.
"What do you think the weather will be like?"
Well, in early May, I do expect it to be "nice." Warm-ish. Maybe a little rainy. While I told him that the weather could not be predicted accurately, I was fairly certain that we wouldn't have any undue problems. He would propose atop Clingmans Dome, the highest peak in the Smokies at 6,643'. Not so hard - a pleasant drive up US 441, just past the Tennessee-North Carolina border, and another 7 miles up a side road to the top. Sure, the half-mile trail to the observation deck is steep, but not impossible to climb. There, among the clouds, Dustin would declare his love to Brianna.
Two days before the scheduled proposal, hurricane-force winds, some clocked at 98 mph, hit the Smokies. Down went trees, blocking roads and trails within the park. And right behind the winds came a low pressure system, bringing dropping temperatures and precipitation. On the morning of Dustn's proposal, this was the scene at the Smokies's third highest peak, Mount LeConte:
And a balmy 25 degrees.
So, US 441 was closed for snow and ice, and rain and thunderstorms continued to threaten the day at the lower elevations.
But can this stand in thew way of love?
After some frantic last-second texts back and forth while Dustin and Brianna were driving from Ohio to the Smokies (he later confessed to Brianna that it wasn't his friend Chris as he told her that he was chatting with during the drive), we picked a spot that provided shelter from the storm and romance: the Primitive Baptist Church in Cades. Cove.
And I knew it would work because I saw both a bear and a coyote on my way to the chapel. Come on, if the citizens of the Cove were coming out for the occasion . . .
And then this happened:
But you cannot be mad at Mother Nature - while she may have closed off the top of the mountain, she did provide a gorgeous backdrop in Cades Cove to capture the newly-minted engagement of Brianna and Dustin.
And a beautiful sparkler for Brianna's finger, too!
So this newly graduated pharmacist and nurse defied the weather and began life together in the Smokies. While mountain weather can throw you for a loop sometimes, it always brings some magic along with it.
Congratulations, Brianna and Dustin - may your years together see abundant health and happiness!