Sunday, September 28, 2014

The wind: road trip in the mountains and woodpiles at home

post #209
      Tuesday I returned home after driving up, down and around in the Appalachian mountains to visit five friends in four states over six days. I love such a drive -- exploring corners of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina, each beautiful in their late summer greenery.  The roads were mostly great, the weather was totally great, and seeing those friends was amazing and great.
       I didn't take photos everywhere, but, as always, sometimes I can't stop myself. I wish I could have taken more.  I drove a whole stunning section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, going from Celo, NC to Blowing Rock, and made nary a photo.  How was that possible?!
       These first images are from Blowing Rock, NC, near Boone, where George Ella is currently the writer in residence at Appalachian State Univ..  This is "her" bungalow, for two months!

writer in her residence

     And this is the back yard seen from the back deck:
The mountains are hiding - due to the frequent fogs passing through, all year long.

     Even the road signs to her place were imaginative, though I since learned that Goforth is a local family name.  I listened to a storyteller two days ago whose name is Josh Goforth. He hails from Madison County, NC, near where Blowing Rock is located. (The annual Cave Run Storytelling Festival was this weekend, in nearby Morehead, KY.  Wonderful fun.)

George Ella and I went for a few walks in Blowing Rock, first around Bass Lake:

      We could only locate one other swan!  This one was busy dipping and sipping.

        The next day we decided we had time to go check out the actual blowing rock, which has an entire legend that goes with it.  For the extremely curious, here is the link that tells the story. The place itself is like a small park (including an admission charge) with a stunning vista. The wind on the viewing platform is constant, and fascinating.  
        And thrilling!       
        We gave in to going inside only after watching a rain shower move ever closer to where we were mesmerized by the wind and the view.  After all, I really needed to keep my new camera dry.  

        This first photo was taken by George Ella with her cell phone.  As she wrote me later,  "Here's that photo from the day/ we did not get blown away!" 

       Now some of my efforts:

I took this one from the walkway, with my iPhone.  See the rain coming towards us????
     While I was away from home, that tree from last week's post was entirely felled and cut into firewood size pieces and stacked up to dry.  Thanks, Frank!  Thanks, winds!  


Sunday, September 21, 2014

keeping up in the country, end of summer, part 2 of 3 or 4

post #208    
       Things happen all the time in the woods. For one thing, trees rot within and blow over.  Like us, most land owners invaribly have a chain saw so these fallen trees can become firewood. Both forest and human do the work they do, life cycles interacting and working together.  New light will shape that new space, and, for sure, more wind will be blowing, one of nature's harvesting tools. In the meantime, photos in that place.



       If new firewood isn't exciting enough, how about still another visitor in the chicken house!  This time it's a beautiful and big black snake.  Usually a black snake is good to have around. -- they eat rodents and such.  However, snakes also like eggs.  (The hens are large enough to be safe, and they know the snake doesn't want them, so they don't announce to us that a snake is visiting.)  The first time we saw the snake in action, it had eaten two eggs, and it lay curled up in the nest, very happy.  We didn't see it again for a week.  A few days ago I found it in the nest again, all set to eat an egg. I ran to the house and got my husband, Frank, and my camera. The following photo is taken on the quick, before the snake was interrupted and removed, but that hand held egg shows what I'd call snake slobber.... There wasn't a single crack in the shell.
       (Oh, and by "removed," I don't mean killed.  More like "put outside by means of the far end of a long pole."  The weather will soon be turning cold and we are trying to live with this snake until it hibernates then since it is the first one we have ever observed visiting our few hens.)

       Of interest here to me and to my friend George Ella, whom I am visiting today, is that the serpent with an egg is seen at the famous SERPENT MOUND in Ohio, which is at the minimum over 1000 years old.  The mouth of that serpent is open with an oval shape just beyond!  I look forward to learning more.

       Lastly, for today, let's cut directly to hay making, so to speak -- the second time this summer.  I love the designs the rows make on the hills.  I am sharing a few of the photos today just because it is one of my favorite things to photograph.  What can I say.  For one thing, I admire the workmanship of it all.

      Next month I celebrate beginning a fifth (!!) year of these weekly postings. I plan to do something both thoughtful and personal, and, if I can pull it off, humorous at the same time.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Kentucky moments this week, photos with stories

post #207

        "What, I am not welcome?  But there is all this tender grass in your field, and winter is coming, and besides I am bigger than you are...."

          A best ever display of cardinal flowers at the pond:


         But the milkweed this year is not as amazing as last year!  I never would have gotten the wonderful photos I have from June 2013 - July 2014 had I begun the series this year instead.  The year before that were fledglings after fledglings begging to be filmed, but I haven't seen them this year.  Maybe this year to year unpredictability is part of what makes the current cardinal flower display feel even more spectacular.

Yet even though this year's milkweed plants are way less showy than last year, here is a MONARCH CATERPILLAR, eating the milkweed leaves, preparing to hang out in a green sack.  I never saw one all last year!!  I thank Dustin Cecil for emailing me and making me a believer!!  


This photo is from the funeral and burial of Don Rita Butler, one of the first people I got to know where I first worked when we moved to Kentucky in 1974.  Her granddaughers were her pallbearers, per her request.  I love it that we have been close to her growing and fascinating family all these years.

    This yellow butterfly flew in just in time for the photo shoot.  And then moved on.

  Then there's this friendly soul who lives nearby, always a welcome stalwart presence... I hope everyone also enjoys some deeply rooted friendships!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

end of August, part 2, a family reunion in Maine

post #206
         After almost two weeks, it is time to share more about beautiful Maine and the every other year reunion with my fun paternal cousins.  My father was the middle of three brothers, who had a total of ten offspring, eight of whom are still living. This was the generation who were all there this year, and four of us had six of our young adult kids who brought along with them 7 kids, ages 2 - 12.  We all call each other cousins, whether it be first, second, third or once or twice removed.  And this is why there will be a photo of the 24 lobsters on our Saturday night table.  (We did the actual eating outside or inside, wherever we could find a place to sit.  I was way too busy to take any photos!  Dangerous to leave plate or place unprotected....)
         Of note: we can gather in Maine because of the generosity of my cousin Sarah and her husband Bill who live there and have a house they rent out in the summer - except during the last week of August.  We can't all sleep under its roof but we sure can eat and visit up a storm and feel we are present for a special time in a beautiful place. 

first evening, the deck end of the house

the deck, the view, the bay

Bill at work....

at the motel, made up of several buildings, located near the water

Between the motel and the house was a bridge that rotates to make way for high boats..  I managed to wait in line twice.  There is an osprey nest on one end of the top of the bridge though it doesn't show up in the photos.

Three views around and in the house

the next door house and their ramp

Two photos of cousins at play:

Dinner - keep it simple, keep it delicious, keep it beautiful:

 Sunday morning, three views from the motel, starting at 6:45 a.m.:

same elements but from a different angle and an hour later

I didn't take all that many photos over the weekend, but there were some I couldn't resist.  A shout out to all those cousins of all generations. It was great to be all together, and I even enjoyed the long day and a half car rides to and from home to be there.  However, one reason, as always, for sharing these photos is for all the visitors to this blog, from Kentucky and from around the world, who may never have the chance to go to Maine.