The Rural Life – Back to Bare Ground

The new year is always a kind of chronological trope, an imaginary point of debarkation. We are so deeply knotted to time past and time future that come Jan. 1, we are hardly shoving off for parts unknown. Still, the change implicit in the new year can be a mental leap forward, a recasting of the imagination. Entering the new year also can be an act of conscience, and more so this year than in many years past.

Somehow it’s fitting to come into the new year on bare ground, even as the snow is gathering again. It makes it so much easier to take account of the work to be done, the decisions to be made and, for that matter, unmade. Some years it is just a gray transition from one calendar to the next, the resumption of a postponed meeting and an old agenda. But that is not how this new year feels. Time for the rotting fence posts to be replaced, the sagging gates to be rehung.

The Rural Life – Back to Bare Ground – Editorial –

The image conjured up by the above comes easier to me this year than it ever has in the past. I am starting 2009 with my life barer than it has been in many years. A prime place to begin rebuilding who and what I want my life to be. The old year brought an end to the life that was. The safe, the familiar, the known…What comes next, both for me and the country is not known with any degree of certainty. But life will continue, the family will endure, as will the country. New directions, new paths, new objectives…New life.

The move to the mountains becomes more pressing as the world changes in all of the wrong ways. The climate, the economy, the world political stage…All are looking pretty grim. A place less crowded, not so close to a major metropolitan area, is becoming a real draw.

Personally, the mountains call me…Especially as I sit here on the third day of the new year, in what feels like summer weather in the North Carolina and Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains. Of course, there are trade offs…Winters in the mountains are a bit cooler to say the least. But, to be able to enjoy spring…and summer…and fall, not just a few days each winter…It is a dream, a plan, a goal…

Merry Christmas

From Coffee Muses

A fifty year old Christmas Card greeting being sent from my family one more time just as it was in 1958. Merry Christmas all…

I’ll be doing the family bit for the next couple of days. Y’all enjoy the holiday and I’ll catch ya on the other side…

"Too Pretty to Develop" – FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) has purchased the 101-acre Jackson Knob Cove tract in McDowell County, on the Blue Ridge escarpment in the Catawba River Basin. The property, near milepost 326, is visible from Altapass Orchard and several overlooks along the Parkway north of Little Switzerland.

The property was owned by Augusta Developers, LLC, represented by Johnny Craver of Mooresville and Fred Suther of Concord. They planned to subdivide it into 21 house lots. Instead, over time, Craver grew to love the beauty of the landscape and the scenery around it.

“It’s just magnificent. It’s so pretty that it’s impossible not to have a good view anywhere you go on it,” Craver said. “It’s probably the only property I’ve ever seen in my life that was too pretty to develop.”

“Too Pretty to Develop” – FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

One of my favorite areas of the Blue Ridge Parkway will saty just as beautiful tomorrow as it was on my last visit.

Sharing the dream…Not the path

I stumbled upon this today…

The Way Home.

If you are a lover of straight lines and tidy endings, be forewarned. This is not a straightforward drive from point A to point B. It will meander and ramble in an untidy way.

I flew the terrain in my mind’s eye as a hawk might, swooping in to assuage my sharp hunger with live and tender bits, soaring from the flatland piney woods of northwest Florida to the dusky mountain peaks of Western North Carolina. But in the end, the crude map I drew with the pen moving and my eyes closed, was of my own heart. It is bisected with a fault line down the middle: one chamber is Rice Cove, near Canton, North Carolina; the other is Cantonment, near Pensacola, Florida.

Go read the rest at Switched At Birth.

Watauga County Farmers' Market | Please Support Local Farmers

Watauga County Farmers’ Market will be having the first holiday market of the season this Saturday, November 22 from 10 to 2. We are expecting more vendors this year and you will have a wide selection to choose from.

Cold weather has slowed many of the local vegetables, but Shiloh Avery and Jason Roehrig of Tumbling Shoals Farm will be harvesting a nice variety of fresh treats including kale, collards, mustard, carrots, chard, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, beets, salad mix, spinach, arugula, mesclin and salad turnips. Charles Church will have four kinds of potatoes: Yukon Gold, Rose Finn, Apple Fingerling and Red Norland. Charles will also have garlic, butternut squash, Swiss chard, parsley, carrots, onions, apples and sweet sorghum molasses. Eugene McGuire and James Wagner will have fresh eggs from free range chickens.

Watauga County Farmers’ Market | Please Support Local Farmers.

Look’s like a good time to start thinking about those Chrismas gifts…Wish I was in the area.

"I walk the Earth"

For almost three decades, John Francis has been a planetwalker, traveling the globe by foot and sail with a message of environmental respect and responsibility (for 10 of those years without speaking). A funny, thoughtful talk with occasional banjo.

Missed The Blue Ridge This Year…

It looks like we won’t get the opportunity to roam the Parkway this year.

November 2007
From 2007 Vacation

No Craggy Garden sunrises, no foggy mornings above Valle Crucis, no apples from the Orchard at Altapass, no shopping trip down King Street.

November 2007
From 2007 Vacation

I missed another Valle Country Fair.I didn’t make it to the Games this year either.

July 2006
From North Carolina Mountain Dreams

There wasn’t an afternoon spent up on Grandfather…or Grassy Knob…or Roan…or Mitchell either.

No walks in the Valle Crucis Park, no trips to the Mast Store.

July 2006
From North Carolina Mountain Dreams

No pizza on top of Beech. No bar-b-q and bluegrass in Linville. No outdoor grilling on the deck above Clark Creek.

No morning coffee as the sun comes over the mountain and the valley fog rises to meet it. No evening glass of wine waiting for the stars and the fireflies to come out to play.

June 2004
From North Carolina Mountain Dreams

I missed the blue ridges fading into the dusk and I missed them when they faded back to blue again the next morning.

As I stare off into the distance here at home, my mind tries to make the tree line across the pasture become the ridges of the mountains from my memory…The layers of branches take on the look of the layers of ridges when my eyes let my memory take over…

In the years that I miss making the trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains, I feel the call stronger with each passing month…Next year…

Next year I’ll get there…Next year we’ll make the move…Next year we’ll make it permanent…Next year…

Maybe I’ll see you there…Next year.

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Record Low Temperature Tied at Grandfather Mountain – Constantly Updated High Country NC News Source

It has been a season of extremes for Grandfather Mountain.

Earlier in the month, the tourist attraction experienced record highs for two days in a row, but unseasonably cold weather tied the record for the daily low temperature in Wednesday.

The reading was taken at the official US Weather Service reporting station located next to the Mile High Swinging Bridge on Grandfather Mountain.

The temperature dipped to 18 degrees early in the morning tying the previous daily low record for the day set in 1968.

The all time lowest temperature ever recorded in October at Grandfather Mountain is 12 degrees on October 26th, back in 1962.

The storm also brought high winds and snow to the area. – Record Low Temperature Tied at Grandfather Mountain – Constantly Updated High Country NC News Source.


It’s not easy to find silence in the modern world. If a quiet place is one where you can listen for fifteen minutes in daylight hours without hearing a human-created sound, there are no quiet places left in Europe. There are none east of the Mississippi River. And in the American West? Maybe twelve. One of these is in the temperate rainforest along the Hoh River in Olympic National Park.

In a forest like this a drop of rain may hit twenty times before it reaches the ground, and each impact—against a cedar bough, a vine-maple leaf, a snag—makes its own sound.

You can change the pitch of a stream by removing a stone. A stream tunes itself over time, tumbling the rocks into place.

Gordon Hempton

Silence Like Scouring Sand | Kathleen Dean Moore | Orion Magazine.

One of the things that keeps calling me back to the Blue Ridge Mountains is the sounds of silence like those mentioned in the Orion article above. I recall the first time we stayed up on Nettles Knob out of Valle Crucis. Standing at the upper reaches of a cove in on the north side of the knob in a gentle summer rain listening to the water trickling down under the rocks at my feet. Ferns and moss covering everything. More species of vegetation within sight than I had ever before seen…I was in awe.

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