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Savor the four seasons
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Summer arrived officially here in Tennessee yesterday. Called the “Northern Solstice” by astronomers, it came in around 5:51 a.m., to no great acclaim. Why? Because to those attuned to the nuances of nature, it’s felt a lot like summer for several days.
As I learned long ago in a college meteorology class, astronomers use scientific terms to divide our seasons into categories to track their comings and goings. Thus, the “Vernal Equinox,” spring to you and me, rolled in on March 20 this year, and rolled out yesterday, just in time for summer. Before we know it, summer will surrender to autumn, and autumn to winter.
“Seasons come and seasons go. We get a little sunshine, rain, and snow ...” Those lines came to mind as I pondered the passing of spring into summer. Sung by the late, great Johnny Cash, they resonate in the heart more than any technical terms could ever do.
Thanks to the U.S. Army, I’ve seen the seasons come and go in faraway places through the years. From Berlin to Bangkok, Hong Kong to Honolulu, Seoul to Saigon, and cities beyond, I’ve witnessed their passings. Some had distinct differences, others were more subtle, and a few showed little to no change at all. 
I’ve sung the praises of seasons many times before. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate their glory and grandeur even more. Seasons were among the main reasons I was drawn back to my homeland of Tennessee.
Here in Tennessee we are blessed with four different seasons, each with its own distinctive charms. One of the best ways to sample and savor these charms is by walking among their wonders. In contrast to some other forms of exercise, walking requires only good walking shoes and comfortable clothing. Besides that, you can walk most anywhere, during any season, in Tennessee. 
Tennessee’s state and national parks offer walkers of all ages ample opportunities to commune with nature. From Bristol to Memphis, there are more than 50 parks with nature and walking trails to suit any taste and degree of difficulty. No matter where you live in the Volunteer State, you can find one or more of these parks within easy driving distance.
To savor the seasons on foot, all you have to do is get off your assets, vacate your virtual world of technology, and enter the real and exciting world that God and nature have so abundantly graced us with in Tennessee. I promise you that walking will do wonders for your heart, mind, body and soul.
Retired Army Col. Thomas B. Vaughn can be reached at