Increasing numbers of our Tennessee mountains are slated to be robbed of their ability to do the miraculous work only they can do. So much of what is life-giving about the mountain is its way with water. Wendell Berry, Kentucky advocate for the mountains, says it so well in the Afterwards for Missing Mountains.
“And so on any still intact slope of Eastern Kentucky, we have two intricately living and interdependent natural communities, that of the forest and that of the topsoil beneath the forest. Beneath them, moreover, the forest and the soil are carrying on a transaction with water that, in its way, also is intricate and wonderful. …..the rain does not fall upon the forest as upon a pavement; it does not just splatter down. It’s fall is slowed and gentled by the canopy of the forest, which thus protects the soil. The soil, in turn, acts as a sponge that absorbs the water, stores it, releases it slowly, and in the process filters and purifies it. The streams of the watershed — if human dwellers downstream meet their responsibilities — thus receive a flow of water that is continuous and clean.”