A “Tribute” to Appalachia

I went to see the Hunger Games last night and was delighted to find some of my favorite places on earth displayed in full color on the big screen. (Warning: minimal spoiler alert)

The entirety of the Hunger Games was shot in North Carolina. In the book, District 12 is located in the beautiful, but socially-grim, coal-rich Appalachia of the future. Luckily for Katniss, the “arena” within which the tributes fight was created to be very similar to these woods. Most of the filming took place in and around Asheville and, as the tourist office would like for you to know, all of the film’s stars stayed and “played” in town also. (woop)  Many of the Arena woodland scenes were shot up in Barnardsville, close to location of my campout a few weeks ago. (Check out my post to see what the area looks like before it’s all leafed out)

oh hey, tulip poplar in the righthand corner

In between the blooming anxiety over Katniss’s survival and near two hours of heart palpitations (all this from someone who actually read the books!) I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful the forest was! When I should have been concentrating on which tribute was creeping up to kill our trusty heroine, I was examining a patch of chickweed directly behind Katniss or the budding rhododendron that she briskly runs past. When Katniss woke up from her tracker jacker-induced slumber with a compress of leaves on both arms, my friend, and fellow plant dork, actually leaned over to me and whispered, “aren’t those bloodroot leaves?” Looks like it to me! (which actually isn’t all that cool, because bloodroot is endangered! Hopefully they didn’t disturb the root)

The Real Deal: Bloodroot leaves

I’m well aware that a botanical fascination was not “the point” of The Hunger Games movie, but it’s definitely one of my more lasting impressions. Sitting in that theater and drinking in the panorama of those breathtaking forests, I felt this incredible heartwelling urge to run, right then and there, to the woods and see what new green had come up since I’d last visited. All at once, I remembered summer and the incredible procession of unfurling– blooms, leaves, flowers and canopies– that is still to come, and I was exhilarated!

Sometimes, you really need to be reminded of just how lucky you are, and of the incredible abundance of the life (and learning) awaiting you. This time, there just so happened to be a multi-million dollar movie poised and ready-to-release at the head of spring to help me remember.

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