Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Connemara Hiking Trails, Flat Rock

Carl Sandburg's home is nearby in Flat Rock and there are several trails there to hike with water features to enjoy. We visited last year about his time and spend the better part of our day there. There are picnic areas in the front next to Side Lake (see above) and a trail going around Front Lake below(very imaginative names, don't you think?)

This trail is easy and well-maintained trail and courses through the wooded property, encircling the Front Lake and heading to the summits of Glassy Mountain and Little Glassy Mountain. Along the way, shiny patches of galax, violet, plantain, and periwinkle, grow beneath the rhododendron, mountain laurel, huckleberry, and dogwood understory. A second-growth, of oak-hickory forms the canopy.

From the parking area, the trail meanders uphill to the Main House and barn area where the bleating kids and goats beckon even the most avid hikers for a short detour. Today's goats are descendants of the prize-winning herd Sandburg's wife, Paula, raised. I will post about them another time.

The well-marked trail (2 mile round trip) to Glassy Mountain begins at the Main House and climbs steadily but comfortably with benches along the way. This old quarry pond sits at the base of the rail. While the view en route is best before foliage, the vista from the summit offers a spectacular year-round panorama of Mount Pisgah and its neighboring peaks. Connecting trails for a longer hike lead to Little Glassy Mountain and around the Front Lake where beavers, Canada geese, song birds and mallard ducks make their home.

Hope you enjoyed our visit to Connemara Trails. Please do stop by Outdoor Wednesday and Watery Wednesday for more great posts.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Urban Garden Paradise

I love hydrangeas, especially the blue ones. These were on the garden tour we took last week - the house was pretty nondescript but the yard was heaven...filled with whimsical art, a lovely blue butterfly chair, gazebo, and fire pit with colorful chairs to relax in. Just what they billed themselves as - a paradise in the city! Enjoy!!!!

For more uplifting blue pictures today visit Blue Monday!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cats and Gardens, Westwood Cohousing, West Asheville

Last weekend hubby and I took a garden tour of West Asheviille. This one was Westwood Cohousing Community Garden - an environmentally friendly intentional community situated on four acres bordering Rhododendron Creek.

The main farm house still sits in its original location and the homes, gardens and community buildings cluster around it leaving two acres of woods untouched for all to use.

The lawn in front of the farm house is used as an outdoor common area as are the front yards of each home. The back yards are private and for the homeowners only and many abut the wooded trails behind. The community garden sits next to the farmhouse and is tended by all to provide fresh organic produce for the group. A small orchard of apple, pear trees, grapevines and blueberries add to the garden.

An elevated walkway spans the garden connecting the farmhouse area to the rest of the homes and the community buildings. Potluck dinners are common and open for all to join.

Each of the homes had lovely gardens in front - some with flowers, others had vegetables and all were so charming and eclectic!

A few cats roamed this lovely area, safe from traffic and other animals. These two sat in the shade of the porch of the farm house and enjoyed the attention they got!

This little Siamese mix greeted the new arrivals with a foot rub and then retired to the walkway area to sit it out in the shade.

I could see living here if I were older or single - it comes with a ready built community of like minded folks, who all work together to help each other out. If something needs fixing, someone else knows how to do it and it gets done. If you are not in good health, others are nearby to help. There seems to be a nice balance of working together and privacy - you can do either or both - whatever suits you.

Thanks for taking the tour today. I am participating in Camera Critters, Scenic Sunday and Today's Flowers so please do stop by and visit them!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Wamboldtopia Gardens, West Asheville

On Father's Day I gave my husband, an avid organic gardener, a Garden Tour of the urban gardens of West Asheville hosted by Greenworks. This one garden, owned and created by Damaris and Ricki Pierce, pictured above, was the last one we visited and I thought the most unique - very inspiring, creative and filled to the brim with wonderful ideas.

Every nook and cranny was filled with elf towers, gnomes, fairy doors, birdhouses and faces on trees as well as inscriptions.

The water feature started at the top of the hill behind the house and flowed down into another pond just by the back door. It created a lovely soft sound and movement.

Pathways wandered throughout, over the stream and into shady areas provifing plenty of places to sit and rest.

Ricki ,also called the Rock Pirate, is steadily working on adding rock facade to the buildings on the property. He began with the doghouse, then his wife's studio, garage and now he is hiding their ordinary looking house under a lovely rock exterior. Turrets and towers dot the landscape.

Black cats roam the grounds busy exploring and adding to the charm of the place.

And finally when you leave, an inscription over the arch gives you that warm fuzzy feeling - as if you didn't have it before! "You are loved"

After wandering gardens all day I had used up my camera battery and memory card so some of the photos are mine, some from Wamboldtopia website and others from the Mountain Express. I hope you have enjoyed this tour as much as we did and will visit Outdoor Wednesday and Watery Wednesday for more wonderful posts!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Solstice and World Peace and Prayer Day

Today being the Summer Solstice, it is fitting for all the flowers to be yellow! Our yard is full of banks upon banks of lilies of all shades of yellow, orange and everything in between!

Today is also World Peace and Prayer Day for Native Americans and all of us on the planet.

World Peace and Prayer Day was founded in 1996 in the Black Hills of South Dakota by Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th generation keeper of the sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe of the Sioux Nation. Arvol Looking Horse was led by a vision to honor sacred sites and to invite all nations and all faiths to do the same, to heal our relationship with our mother, the Earth. World Peace and Prayer Day is held annually on the summer solstice, a powerful day to pray for peace among all living beings.

Let's all do something to honor all creatures and Mother Earth on this very special day. It can be as simple as a moment of silence. Below is a request for prayer from Chief Arvol Looking Horse.

To All World Religious and Spiritual Leaders
My Relatives,

Time has come to speak to the hearts of our Nations and their Leaders. I ask you this from the bottom of my heart, to come together from the Spirit of your Nations in prayer.

We, from the heart of Turtle Island, have a great message for the World. We are guided to speak from all the White Animals showing their sacred color which have been signs for us to pray for the sacred life of all things. As I am sending this message to you, many Animal Nations are being threatened, those that swim, those that crawl, those that fly, and the plant Nations. Eventually all will be affected from the oil disaster in the Gulf.

The dangers we are faced with at this time are not of spirit. The catastrophe that has happened with the oil spill which looks like the bleeding of Grandmother Earth, is made by human mistakes, mistakes that we cannot afford to make.

I ask, as Spiritual Leaders, that we join together, united in prayer with the whole of our Global Communities. My concern is these serious issues will continue to worsen, as a domino effect that our Ancestors have warned us of in their prophecies.

I know in my heart there are millions of people that feel our united prayers for the sake of our Grandmother Earth are long overdue. I believe we as Spiritual People must gather ourselves and focus our thoughts and prayers to allow the healing of the many wounds that have been inflicted on the Earth. As we honor the Cycle of Life, let us call for Prayer circles globally to assist in healing Grandmother Earth (our Unc I Maka).

We ask for prayers that the oil spill, this bleeding, will stop. That the winds stay calm to assist in the work. . Pray for the people to be guided in repairing this mistake, and that we may also seek to live in harmony, as we make the choice to change the destructive path we are on.

As we pray, we will fully understand that we are all connected and that what we create can have lasting effects on all life.

So let us unite spiritually, All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer. Along with this immediate effort, I also ask to please remember June 21st, World Peace and Prayer Day/Honoring Sacred Sites day. Whether it is a natural site, a temple, a church, a synagogue or just your own sacred space, let us make a prayer for all life, for good decision making by our Nations, for our children's future and well-being, and the generations to come.

Onipikte (that we shall live),

Chief Arvol Looking Horse
19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe
For more sunny yellow subjects..click Mellow Yellow Monday!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Life in the Wild

This young bear was spotted wandering through downtown Asheville a few weeks ago. No one was hurt and lots of folks were treated to a close encounter with a bear! (Photos courtesy of Asheville Citizen Times.)

There have been lots of reports this year of black bears in town already. Two goats and one dog have died locally from bear attacks. Click on the words for the local newspaper story about them. The bear population is on the rise here and so is the human population - not good for the bears. Last fall less food was available for the bears to store up for hibernation so they woke up hungry this spring.

We had a bear try to get into our screen porch last year late at night. We have hog wire nailed to the wood frame under the screen and that kept the bear out. I have not put bird feeders out except for the hummingbird one this year and keep the cat food inside.

Yesterday I went off to town to a doctor appointment and was only gone 2 hours from 1pm until 3pm. When I got home the screen was all torn off the porch yet again - with rips and holes in the screen. Looks like he tried to pull on the hog wire but it held thank God. My cats like to use the porch and they would have gotten out or possibly hurt by the bear who was most likely looking for the dry cat food.

I put the screen back up and booby trapped the area next to is with metal wire tomato cages, trellises and poles hoping it will deter him if he gets caught in it. Plus it will make noise. This looks like it will be a long summer for us and bears. Our neighbors have lots of livestock but also have guns...so I do pity the poor bear who messes with any of them.

Below are tips from the local police about how to handle any encounters with bears -

- If a black bear attacks you, fight back. Punch, kick, scratch — whatever you can do to discourage the bear.
- Bear pepper spray can be effective in an attack.
- Don't leave garbage cans outside. Bears can smell food sources from way off and will make a habit of visiting the cans daily.
- Never feed bears. It helps eliminate their natural fear of humans and can lead to problems that ultimately result in bears being put down.
- Don't leave pet food outdoors.
- Bird and squirrel feeders also will entice bears.
- Bears have excellent memories, so if you only move the trash or food inside for a few days, the bears likely will come back in a few weeks to check.

Be careful out there folks! For more animal posts please visit Camera Critters!

UPDATE - Mr Bear returned two days later at the same time! I was home and went to go outdoors and noticed the screen all down again. This time we reinforced the screen with boards across the middle of the frame and set up ladders, trellises and all sorts of things to make it impossible for him to squeeze in next to the porch without knocking things down on himself! Hope this works!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Nantahala River Outdoor Center, Great Smoky Mountains

We like to take a very scenic drive south into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to meander along the Nantahla River where lots of people go white water rafting. It is cool and refreshing here in summer even if the temps are high. We usually stop for lunch at one of the three great places to eat along the river and just enjoy watching the kayaks go by!

Since 1972, the Nantahala Outdoor Center or NOC has shared the outdoors with millions of guests on white water river rafting trips, with all varieties of kayak and canoe instruction, on mountain bikes and around the world with adventure travel trips. When you visit Nantahala headquarters, you'll also find a complete outdoor destination with lodging options, three restaurants and a pub, a fully-stocked Outfitter's Store, the Wesser General Store and Fly Shop and the Nantahala Welcome Center.

When we have had lots of rain the water can be running pretty fiercely! The word "Nantahala" is a Cherokee Indian word meaning "Land of the Noonday Sun." The name is appropriate as, in some spots, the sun only reaches the floors of the deep gorges of the national forest when directly overhead at midday

Here is one of the restaurants - great spot right on the river!

You can rent kayaks, take lessons or just enjoy the activity at the Outdoor Center. I am hoping this year I may be able to purchase a used kayak for myself at the end of the year sale they have in September! Big discounts on very nice kayaks. I am not into white water but would use it on the lakes nearby! I am not that brave!

For more water and outdoor picts please visit Watery Wednesday and Outdoor Wednesday!


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