June in the mountains – Twenty O’Four


It’s been three years now since this picture was taken up on the top of Roan Mountain. We were a bit early for the full bloom but even what we were in time for was impressive. Every time we go back to North Carolina I try to take the time to run up to the AT and the Garden’s. Even an old fart like me can walk a bit of the AT on the Roan. And the views go on and on and on, even when the ceiling is hanging low and the mists are brushing your hair as you walk.

Roan Mountain is actually a massif, or mountain mass, with two summits. It is part of a ridge known as the Roan Highlands, and is the highest peak in the Unaka Mountain Range. At its lower elevations, vegetation as southern as subtropical orchids can be found. But at the mountain’s height, vestiges from the ice age remain, including wood sorrel (Oxalis montana), witch hobble (Viburnum alnifolium), and green alder (Alnus crispa), a species usually found in New England.

In June, Roan’s open balds burst with the magenta-colored blooms of Catawba rhododendron, which John Fraser designated Rhododendron catawbiense on this mountain during his 1799 expedition. Each plant in the 600-acre spread of natural rhododendron “gardens” might produce as many as 100 flowers.

The combination of heath balds, Canadian-zone spruce-fir forests, and, at lower elevations, hardwood coves, supports more than 1,500 species of native plants, flowers, herbs, trees, shrubs, ferns, club mosses, lichens, and mushrooms. Bird scholar Fred W. Behrend named the snow bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) when he discovered it wintering on the balds. The area is also home to one of southern Appalachia’s greatest concentrations of threatened, endangered, or sensitive plant and wildlife species, with nearly 30 identified, including Gray’s lily, saxifrages, sedges, the saw-whet owl, and the northern flying squirrel. In 1941, 7,000 acres of this naturally significant area were incorporated into the Pisgah National Forest and Cherokee National Forest.

We have spent a number of hours walking through the Gardens on the Roan. Considering the actual number of hours we have spent exploring North Carolina, there are just a few places that have monopolized our time more. I look forward to eventually sitting on top of the Roan in the winter with the balds covered in snow…Probably wont happen this year, but soon, my friends, soon I’ll be North Carolina Mountain Dreaming for good.

Sherpa Guides are one of my favorite websites when it comes to checking out the natural world of the Appalachians. I spent so much time reading them on-line I finally chased down my own copies through Amazon. Check out the website, they have the full text of the books online. Then go pick up your own copy through the links below…The copies I have were all bought used through Amazon. I saved a few bucks and added some great guides to my bookshelf.

Source: Sherpa Guides | North Carolina | Mountains | Roan Mountain and Roan Mountain State Park

Don’t forget to check out my new blog at Coffee Muses

ROAD READS – washingtonpost.com

Way to go Fred…You’ve made the big time now. Reviewed in the Washington Post…Somebody send me a hard copy. Gotta love it…

ROAD READS

ROAD READS

“Slow Road Home” (second edition), by Fred First

Sunday, May 20, 2007; Page P02

BOOK: “Slow Road Home” (second edition), by Fred First (Goose Creek Press, $15.95)

TARGET AUDIENCE: People who find wonder in the woods and joy in solitude.

Source: ROAD READS – washingtonpost.com

Join Me For A Visit…

Today for lunch I joined a friend I’ve never met. We walked along a creek with no name under hemlocks in a valley I’ve never seen. We passed a barn I’ve only envisioned in painted light upon my screen. The sun I couldn’t see glistened on grasses in the field to dry the dew I did not feel. I wasn’t there, and yet I was, visiting with Fred on Goose Creek in the mountains of Floyd County.

I’ll go there again tomorrow for lunch as I revisit a “Slow Road Home”. Won’t you come along? We’ll visit Ann’s Falls, we’ll sit a spell under the white pines, we’ll wave at the neighbors from the front porch. We’ll while away the time as we discuss the important issues of the day, the bumblebees at play, and the hawks upon the wing. We can discuss anything at all as we visit there on the creek with no name along that “Slow Road Home”.

A visit to Fred thru a “Slow Road Home” always slows the day, sets the pace to another time, and takes you to another place. The place you’ve longed for since childhood, a place that brings back the memories of grandparents and more. A time when the constant companion was a single word…Why? Walk a while and listen to another’s whys, you may discover the child you left a long time ago, far, far away.

Where else can you feel free to laze in a summer rain, loll in an open field at night to watch the fireflies rise and stars fall, or chase spiders as they glide by? There is a maple on the cover that shelters a house that seems to have been there forever. The house is nestled up to the ridge like you shelter in the covers of a bed. How do I know this? I have seen this house thru the eyes of someone who loves it, and the tree, and the ridge and all it encompasses. You can see it too. Come walk the pages of Fred First’s “Slow Road Home”…You never know, we may meet along the road.

From Amazon.com Slow Road Home

Join Me For A Visit…

Today for lunch I joined a friend I’ve never met. We walked along a creek with no name under hemlocks in a valley I’ve never seen. We passed a barn I’ve only envisioned in painted light upon my screen. The sun I couldn’t see glistened on grasses in the field to dry the dew I did not feel. I wasn’t there, and yet I was, visiting with Fred on Goose Creek in the mountains of Floyd County.

I’ll go there again tomorrow for lunch as I revisit a “Slow Road Home”. Won’t you come along? We’ll visit Ann’s Falls, we’ll sit a spell under the white pines, we’ll wave at the neighbors from the front porch. We’ll while away the time as we discuss the important issues of the day, the bumblebees at play, and the hawks upon the wing. We can discuss anything at all as we visit there on the creek with no name along that “Slow Road Home”.

A visit to Fred thru a “Slow Road Home” always slows the day, sets the pace to another time, and takes you to another place. The place you’ve longed for since childhood, a place that brings back the memories of grandparents and more. A time when the constant companion was a single word…Why? Walk a while and listen to another’s whys, you may discover the child you left a long time ago, far, far away.

Where else can you feel free to laze in a summer rain, loll in an open field at night to watch the fireflies rise and stars fall, or chase spiders as they glide by? There is a maple on the cover that shelters a house that seems to have been there forever. The house is nestled up to the ridge like you shelter in the covers of a bed. How do I know this? I have seen this house thru the eyes of someone who loves it, and the tree, and the ridge and all it encompasses. You can see it too. Come walk the pages of Fred First’s “Slow Road Home”…You never know, we may meet along the road.

From Amazon.com Slow Road Home

A Sunday in Early Spring

Weather – Again I sit here listening to the avian chorus. The predominate notes coming from Redbirds this morning. An occasional percussive note being introduced by a woodpecker here and there. I am waiting for the mockingbird (speak of the devil), there’s one now. I am beginning to hear crows and hawks in the distance. The sun hasn’t broken through the overcast yet, but we are setting on 60 already at 8:30am (I slept in this morning). I see it’s still winter on the the Blue Ridge and points north.

From the weeks forecast on “Sunday Morning” all you folks in the northern tier of states need to hang onto the winter coats…Looks like another batch of winter heading south out of Canada at the end of the week.

Reading Links

Sherpa Guides

After a few years of using the Sherpa Guides “Longstreet Highroad Series” of guides to the Mountains of Appalachia On-Line, I broke down and ordered paper copies last week of the Virginia, Tennessee and, of course, North Carolina Mountain Guides. I actually found them all on Amazon in their used books. The description from their site reads:

Sherpa Guides showcases an online collection of guidebooks produced by Lenz Design. Visitors to this Web site will find a wide range of information on historic resources, outdoor activities, and even lodging and restaurants. When the site is finished, there will be more than 3 million words, 1,000 maps, 1,000 illustrations, and much more.

From the North Carolina Mountains volume online is this excerpt about the Blue Ridge Parkway in far northwest North Carolina…

The Blue Ridge Parkway in the Grandfather Mountains

It could never happen today—469 miles of concrete coursing through mountainous wilderness, across two states, six congressional districts, 29 counties, 181 miles of national forests, and 11 miles of the Qualla Boundary Cherokee Indian Reservation. Today, red tape and paperwork would bury the project before the first shovel broke the ground.

But when plans for the Blue Ridge Parkway took shape, times were hard. It was the Great Depression, and people needed work. Although the idea for a road through the southern Appalachians had been around as long as the automobile, the Great Depression gave it new purpose. The National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 ordered the Public Works Administration (PWA) to develop a program involving the construction, maintenance, and improvement of public highways and parkways. During that same year, President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited the Skyline Drive, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) project in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. When presented plans for a similar road connecting Shenandoah with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Roosevelt agreed. Later that year, Congress allocated $16.6 million for the project, and on September 11, 1935, officials broke ground on a 12-mile section at Cumberland Knob, just south of the Virginia/North Carolina border. The Blue Ridge Parkway was under way.

For what it’s worth I highly recommend you spend some time exploring the areas covered by these books, virtually before you explore them in life.

Photography – I have been posting a few photo’s of our NC vacations over at my Photoblog. I am very proud of some of these shots. Please take a moment and swing over…Here is a picture from the archive.

Brinegar Cabin

0609387-R1-033-15

A cool, misty, rainy day on the Blue Ridge of North Carolina…a sturdy log cabin for shelter…a warm fire in the firepace. There’s a garden out back, planted with the seeds we saved from last year. There is a springhouse down below with milk from the cow fresh this very morning. The cow and her calf are in the pen out by the barn. Chickens and pigs or turning and scratching the fall garden plot. there is fresh butter being churned by the door. Momma is working on grannies loom, cloth for new clothes for the commin’ winter. The dogs are resting under the porch awaiting the next hunting trip into the woods up the hollow…Life is hard here on the Blue Ridge but really…what more could a family ask for?

An original log home, built by Martin Brinegar (1856-1925) about 1880. He lived here until his death. His wife Caroline Joines Brinegar (1863-1943) lived here until the property was purchased by the government in the 1930’s. Both are buried in a tiny cemetery on a sunny knoll near the parkway.

Location. Blue Ridge Parkway MP 238.5

June 03, 2006

This post has had more hits than any other on any of my pages.

A Quote for the Day
– “If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.” ~ Nadine Stair

Floyd County Naturalist/Photographer’s Weblog Published as a Memoir of Place

Fred’s getting some good press these days. They are even offering the book through their on-line store. 

(Floyd, Virginia) Some of us long for belonging to the land, for roots in particular and special places where, for reasons usually beyond our knowing, we resonate with the landscape.

For those like Fred First who have lived other places and then been drawn to the Blue Ridge, it is almost always the mystery of mountains that brings them here. Fred describes this as a “magnetic resonance in their bones” that pulls them toward an altitude, latitude and slant of sun that simply feels right for them. For such souls as this “the mountains hold a nutrient that they can not live without.”

For anyone who hasn’t checked out their site before it has some great info…

Source: Floyd County Naturalist/Photographer’s Weblog Published as a Memoir of Place

Finding a Clear Path

A few weeks back Colleen over at Loose Leaf Notes quoted some of Jim Minick’s “Finding a Clear Path” published by the West Virginia University Press. Her recommendation sent me online and a week later my copy of the book arrived. I have to say I am thoroughly impressed. Jim Minick has a way of writing that makes you think he is talking to you alone. With every chapter you want to continue the conversation and add your own experiences. This is another of those books that you don’t sit down and read in a couple of settings, you have to enjoy this one a chapter at a time. So far I have only made it a little over a third of the way through, but each and every page is enjoyable by itself.

As a bit of serendipity, the chapter I came to tonight spoke of Great Horned Owls. Ya gotta wonder about these kinds of coincidences…

In this same vein, I came across a quote from “the rural life” by Verlyn Klinkenborg on someone’s blog (pardon my lack of brain cells). It caused me to chase down the excerpt on Amazon which really wetted my appetite, which caused me to buy the book when I found it on Daedus Books for a pittance and since I was already placing an order I added it in. This author is a wordsmith. He can put together a sentence, then tie it to others in a paragraph, add additional paragraphs to complete an essay that leaves me breathless with envy. Just speaking about binders twine in the way he does, you can almost feel the coarseness as it cuts into your palm as you throw that bale of hay from the loft. Again, this is another of those books you take your time reading. I am up to May and looking forward to the summer.

When you add in Fred First’s “Slow Road Home”, it begins to look like my reading habits have really changed. Blame it on the blogs, I guess.

“Slow Road Home” by Fred First

Fragments From Floyd was one of the first blogs I discovered when I went googleing on the phrase “Blue Ridge Mountains” (actually Marie Freeman’s “Blue Ridge blog” was the first site I hit and it was her links list I was following to Fred’s). Fred’s writing spoke to me and when he starting blogging about the book project I was intrigued. When he made the pre-production order offer I jumped for it.

As you can see from the photo, I have been having a time warping experience of it. Reading both the book and the “Fragments From Floyd” archives. Moving forward on one “slow road” as I move backwards on the other, makes for an interesting if warped sense of time and place.

I highly recommend the book as a great read of the sort I haven’t read in years. And having the ability to follow the evolution of Fred’s style as he explored his muse in public on Fragments only adds to the enjoyment of the book.