Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween!

The historic Grove Park Inn hosted a special weekend, celebrating Halloween with family fun for all.  From parties to pumpkin carving , there was something for all tastes.  They decorate the front entrance with pumpkins, straw and cornstalks while inside a huge floral display graces the table int he Great Hall!

Over to the right, the entries to the pumpkin carving contest filled the huge fireplace.  I stopped by to cast my vote for the best Amateur and Professional carving.  Pumpkins don't look like they used to - so imaginative and detailed!  I voted for the last one in this post.

How did our Jack-o-lantern of Halloween come about? Hundreds of years ago Stingy Jack played tricks on everyone, even the Devil himself.  As one story goes, Jack tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree while Jack quickly placed  crosses around the trunk of the tree.  The Devil could not come down.  Jack made the Devil promise not to take his soul when he died, removing the crosses so the Devil could come down.

At the end of his life, Jack made it to the Pearly Gates only to be sent away.  At the Gates of Hell, he was turned away there too just as the Devil promised.  Now Jack was doomed to wander the world between Heaven and Hell for all eternity.  He asked the Devil for a light to help him see his way int he darkness and the Devil tossed him an ember.  Jack carved out a turnip and pu the ember inside. From that day forward, Jack  roamed the Earth, lighting his way with his Jack-o-lantern! 

 "The Pumpkin"

Oh!—fruit loved of boyhood!—the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
--John Greenleaf Whittier 1850 

Wishing one and all a very spooky Halloween!

Mosaic Monday

Friday, October 28, 2011

New Life

Our home sits on a hillside that overlooks our neighbor's pasture.  They have goats, ponies and donkeys.  Imagine my surprise when I went out this morning to take in some house plants before the cold front came through and saw a tiny foal that had just been born!

I ran inside to call our neighbors to alert them, grabbed my camera and headed back outside to get a closer look.  It was cool, blustery and still dark.  Excuse the graininess of the pics as I had to lighten them.  I used my zoom so not to disturb the mother.

She had just given birth when I saw her and was laying down which is what alerted me to something going on.  I could see a small figure behind her.  When she stood up, her placenta fell out and landed on the foal.  Mom picked it up in her mouth and seemed to be shaking it.  I am not familiar with horses so don't know what she was actually doing.

I was blessed to see the precious foal's first steps.  What a treat.  All seemed well and she walked off on wobbly legs to be with her mom safely away from me and other onlookers.  Bignify for a better view!  love living where I do - each day brings so many wonderful surprises! Wishing you all a lovely weekend!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bat Cave, Apples and Black Cats

On a warm day last week I decided to take a drive  from my town down the twisty steep Route 9,  dropping 1000 feet through Hickory Nap Gorge to tiny Bat Cave. The Gorge was formed by the Rocky Broad River which begins in the high mountains as a stream, gaining depth and width as it winds down to Lake Lure.  The canyon is 14 miles long and dotted with picturesque towns. With Halloween approaching, it seemed appropiate to stop in Bat Cave!  Bat Cave is named for Bat Cave Mountain  and yes there is a bat cave at the base of the mountain but it is on private property and not open for viewing. As you can see the foliage has not turned here yet.

One of my favorite places is this wonderful old building housing  the gift shop, A Touch in Time.  The front porch beckons with a line of pumpkins on the railing along with a cart full for sale on the lawn.   Local apples and cabbage spilled from the bins.  Halloween decorations and painted pumpkins filled every nook and cranny.

Since I like tart apples, the owner told me to try the Arkansas Blacks and to put in a few Pink Lady too.  It was only $5. for a bag full of delicious apples. North Carolina is the 7th largest apple producer in USA and this county is the largest producer in NC.  It is peak apple season so there were plenty of varieties to choose from.

Inside the shop, Midnight, the resident black cat, greeted customers from his perch on the counter.  Sitting next to a painted pumpkin, he certainly fit the spirit of the season.  I have several black cats and love them, dearly, perhaps even more since they are the last to get adopted in animal shelters. 

The shop sells lots of local crafts, postcards and many Christmas items.   I only took away some photos and apples.  I guess I have more than enough "stuff" already at my house.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Clouds, Swans and Mountain Colors

I had to run errands in Black Mountain the next morning after a rainy night.  The clouds still lingered, snagged on the mountain peaks.

Trying to get a better view of the clouds I headed over to the tiny town of Montreat.  Lake Susan sits in the center of the Montreat College campus and provided outstanding reflections of the fall foliage.

The lake is home to a couple of swans but I only saw one that day.  I do hope nothing happened to the other.  The one swan kept swimming back and forth along the wall in front of me like she was searching for something she may have lost in that spot.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Big Falls, Elk Park

One of my favorite picnic areas is along the Elk River in Elk Park just above Elk River Falls or Big Falls as they are also called..  A few years back there weren't many signs directing folks to the falls so we stopped to ask a local man outside in his garden.  He was happy to give us directions..  He also told us a colorful story of how one tourist just sat outside his home and blew the car horn for someone to come out.  When the local man went out to see what the problem was - the tourists just wanted directions to the falls.  Well, they got directions - a long round about route that sent them all the way around Hump Mountain and no where near the falls!  Our guide roared with laughter at the thought of the rude tourists getting lost in the mountains.  Served them right too.

The picnic tables line one side of the river above the falls and make for a lovely spot to eat.  It is just a short walk down to the falls along the river - not difficult but a bit rugged for some people.

 The falls drop 50-60 feet into a deep cool pool that is filled with swimmers in summer.  They have had fatalities here - someone was swept over the falls this past summer.  The current in the river above the falls is much stronger than it looks.

The river flows down a few more smaller cascades with a path along the river to view them.  After heavy rains, the trails can be a bit washed out and muddy, especially if the river has risen up to them.

View above the falls.
You can go out on the rocks above the falls and view the river as it flows downstream.  Be very careful and stay on the rocks!  For directions visit NC Waterfalls.

Watery Wednesday

Sunday, October 2, 2011

In Memory of A Special Friend

October 2, 2011 is Livestrong Day,  sponsored by Lance Armstrong's foundation.  Today is a day to help raise awareness of cancer and offer support to those who live with it daily.  Over 23 million people in the US live with cancer and my dear friend Emily was one of them.

Emily  was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago.She endured surgery, chemo and radiation only to have cancer return the following year in her spine.  It came back each year after that to her brain.  Emily took things in stride and resumed life as usual after each treatment.  She had two brain surgeries, plus multiple rounds of chemo and radiation.  She finally succumbed last weekend at the age of 55, leaving behind her husband and a teen age daughter.

Emily was my hero and inspiration.  No matter what she went through, she lived her life to the fullest, never complaining.  She was a talented artist, devoted mom, loving wife, sister, daughter, loyal friend, great cook, incredible interior decorator, supportive cancer center volunteer, avid animal lover, especially horses, gifted gardener, kind and dedicated special needs children's tutor, art teacher, and children's book author and illustrator.

I loved to shop with her at thrift stores and antique malls. Emily was so creative that she could see endless possibilities for an ordinary object.  She expanded my mind constantly!

She was the funniest person I know and kept her sense of humor thought it all.  She could make us howl hysterically with laughter, tears streaming down our faces with her hilarious stories about the minute details of everyday life from her perspective. Her special symbol was a dragonfly and she collected them in jewelry, art and crafts.  When I see a dragonfly, I always think of Emily.   The world will be a lot less brighter now that this lovely bright light has gone out.  Until we meet again Em!


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