Likin’ “Likes”

We’ve just announced a new Facebook “like” contest. Go to either or and “like” either (or both) to be entered to win your choice of one 11×14 inch print. If someone recommends another FB friend and they win, I’ll award both a print! The contest ends 06/25/2011.  See the prints at


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The yearly reign of green receives its coronation in early April in the Blue Ridge, just in time to banish the tyranny of grey and brown. It starts with a tinge of color on the tips of the trees and in diminutive patches in the fields. Mid-April observes the advance of the populist desire for new life reflected in the influx of green and by the end of the month the revolution is complete.

I have two prophets in my yard that foretell the coming Spring, a forsythia and a flowering crabapple tree. Bright yellow and vivid pink strike a blow against the monotony of browns and greys, but yield their chromatic dominance to the yet tender but strengthening rule of green.

Now I can see the roof of my neighbor’s house through my woods, but in a few days that view will be obscured by the trees’ newly acquired leaf finery. And finery it is. Insects that will have ravaged those leaves by year’s end are still dormant or unhatched and have yet to feast on the new blades and fronds that garnish the mountains.

In April and May the colors are still vivid, the onslaught of humidity has not stolen the brightness and early fall dullness is months away. It is a rich time in the Blue Ridge and a season for the re-imagining of life.

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You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12 (NIV)

Ok, so when do trees clap? In the Blue Ridge they often clap in March. The sound of the wind rustling the leaves and conifer needles and flowing over branches gives the auditory sense of applause. In March that sound can be as standing ovation.

An ovation to laud what? It could be the demise of Winter or the arrival of Spring. This year I would wager it is for the fine prognosticating job Punxsutawney Phil did on February 2nd. No matter the reason, as I will accept all excuses, I agree and stand with the trees and clap along.

Rather than the muted oratory of the winter breeze in the bare trees on the Blue slopes, March brings the warming up of the mountain choirs. Bird song, insect activity and the “peepers” in my creek in this early Spring, all join in the crescendo of life that starts in March, fully arrives in April and sounds until October.

The sound and force of March winds can be fierce in these mountains. 20 odd years ago, when we lived in Boone, I had an MGB that was decapitated by the cutting tempests around the Ides. I woke up, looked out the window, and the fabric top of my car was completely gone, leaving only the frame. I searched diligently but never found it. Probably landed somewhere down in the Piedmont.

March is almost passed now and it’s winds are preparing to blow in the April showers. I applaud that as well.


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Spring Rain

The first rains of spring fell today. The Asheville area has been dry for the last several years, with the exception of one, so today’s shower was a blessing. The grass in my yard is now starting to rouse from it’s winter dormancy and change from somber grey to vivid green. I am hopeful that this shower will advance the march of green and thoroughly drive out the chromatic chill of winter.

I expect it will. Our temperatures have been moderate and now with a good drink of water my residential flora should start to awaken.

Now I like rain, in moderation. I can take a good thunderstorm every now and again, I have always been fascinated with the visual, auditory and physical power of lightening and thunder. Once a month anyway.  Give me a good gentle, refreshing rain on a quiet afternoon and in short order much of the stress and anxiety of life gets washed away. Sometimes I settle in with a good book, other times I let the peace that falls with the rain usher me into quiet meditation.

I revel in the delicate sound of the rain drops on the leaves in my woods. I enjoy the rhythmic cadence of the melody of drops on the patio from my needs-to-be-fixed gutter.  Perhaps that is why I haven’t repaired it yet.

I have a small creek that runs through my property and it comes to life with a good shower. Most of the time it winds its way around the rocks in its bed, politely excusing itself,  but the rain rejuvenates it and the water hurries over, under and around those hard obstacles, sometimes dislodging them completely. The vacancy is short-lived, however, as new stones from further up the stream take their place.

My creek has a good memory and I appreciate that. Even after the rain clouds have been evicted by the sun, the stream’s singing continues, prolonged by the runoff from the mountain sides above my plot.

Hyetal grey and sunlit blue, a delicious combination for a sumptuous week!


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Neglected Bridges

Neglected BridgesLead to nowhere. Don’t get me wrong, there are bridges that need a good cremation like addictions, bitterness, hate. Those are all bridges to nowhere and need to be gone.

There are, however, some bridges that crumble through lack of attention and are difficult, if not impossible, to restore. Connections to friends and family, links to your spouse and children. Bridges to other human beings.

The ruthless reality is that the bridges to the most important things in life are often those that receive the most neglect. The whip of vain urgency at the hand of tyrants of our own making relentlessly drive us from critical “bridge maintenance.” The tyrants of time (or the perceived lack thereof), the boss, our “responsibilities”, even our often poor physical condition extort from us the discipline of our attention.

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March Madness

The weather I mean. March in the mountains of Western NC is a climatically topsy-turvy month. 60 degrees one day, snowing the next, like today. I’m sitting in church and my wife pokes me, not unusual, she does that, uh, often, but for different reasons. This jab came with an invitation to look out the window at the heavy snow fall, rather than the customary “wake up!” directive. Don’t judge me too harshly, nocturnal sleep and I have parted ways recently. But I digress.

So a pretty good bit fell, enough to necessitate cleaning off the car windows, but with the recent warm spell, what little did fall didn’t last long. Seeing the new green growth and the “johnny jump-ups”, as my mother calls the small, humble yard flowers that are the first to add color to early spring, peeping out of a wet snow always gives me a warm sense of expectation.

The snow is now gone and tomorrow’s forecast heralds sunny and seasonably warm. Yes, I’ll have some more please.


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New Journal

Blue Ridge Pilgrim's new journal - the iPadI’m trying out my new ‘field journal ‘ with this post. Actually it is an excellent journal with many features that make it incredibly useful for this type of writing. This new tool is of course, an iPad. Now I’ve purchased a variety of tools that greatly enhance it’s ability to serve a writer, including word processing, dictionary and a method to wirelessly export my docs to my word processor of choice, Scrivener, that resides on my Mac back at home.

I’ve always  carried a paper notebook with me, in fact every jacket that I own has a small notebook in the pocket. That was convenient to be sure, but that type of note-taking always necessitates later transcription.  That is problematic since I can’t even read my own writing, much less ask someone else to try to make it out. My readability index has skyrocketed.

So will my productivity increase? Will I be better at my craft? I don’t know, we’ll see after w few weeks of investigation. For now, things are looking pretty good!


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The Forest Choir

“Now I’m sitting here before the fire the empty room, the forest choir…” from Caledonia by Dougie Maclean

I understand. I’ve been there and the peace is addictive. In my youth in upper East Tennessee I would sit in our living room at a cabin we had at South Holston Lake and be enfolded in the quiet sounds of nature.

The cabin was well off the worn path of “civilization”. A car might pass on the street where the cabin sat, but that was rare. The muted sound of children playing a street over would add ambience to a summer day. Mostly though it was the sound of a gentle wind caressing the leaves, every once and again a squirrel on the roof, the serene rain and bird song. The “forest choir” as Maclean writes.

These were times of soul-soothing peace for me. Human troubles were banished and allowed no entrance. The social and scholastic demands placed on teenagers would wait until an automobile would ferry me to them for they did not follow me here..

I wasn’t a hermit. I had friends and a handful of really good ones. I was content with my social situation. Truth be told though, I was deeply in love with the forest in which I was sheltered. I am still in love with the forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains.


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