Archive for September, 2009

“O World, I Cannot Hold Thee Close Enough!”

September 23, 2009

driveway in autumn blog

(My driveway in autumn)

Well, it turns out that I had so many mountain sky images I wanted to share with you that I decided to do a second sky post.  I hope you don’t mind.  I like to think of this as a way to have my virtual neighbors out there in Blogland sit a spell on my front porch with me.  So, go ahead, have a seat—in the rockers or the swing—whatever you prefer.   I’m really glad you came to visit.

And instead of my own inadequate words (trying to express the inexpressible) here’s a poem from Edna St. Vincent Millay that I’ve always liked because I think it captures so perfectly that feeling I get sometimes when the sky is so blue and the maple leaves so red and the world so achingly beautiful that I feel like I’m going to bust.  I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, but if you don’t, then you probably need to go find a porch to sit on.  Or maybe a trail to hike.  Or sometimes all it takes is a little patch of grass where you can stretch out on your back and gaze up—-into the infinite and always changing sky.

God’s World

Edna St. Vincent Millay

O WORLD, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this;
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart. Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year.
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

 sunrise blog

(My favorite sunrise ever from our porch.)

clouds and shadows blog

(I love how light and shadows dance across the mountains when there are clouds.)

rainbows and blue skies blog

(Well, I couldn’t do TWO sky posts without at least ONE rainbow shot!)

After the Rain blog

(Yes, the sky really was this color that day. Those are mammatus clouds.)

layered cloud blog

(Some more unusual cloud formations. The layered clouds that look a bit  like a stack of pancakes are lenticularis clouds.)

winter sunrise blog

(Yet another sunrise. Yawn.  Yes, of course I’ m kidding–I never tire of sunrises.)

night sky blog

(Of course, I had to show at least one night sky.)

sky curtain blog

(Yes, the black at the top really was like that—as though a shade were being lowered on the sunrise.  And, in fact, the black shade DID eventually fall, blocking out the sun.  And we had a rather fierce, but exciting early morning storm.)


The Many, Many Colors of the Always Changing Sky

September 19, 2009

a certain slant of light blog

(A certain slant of light.  In this case, late afternoon—-the golden hour after a storm)

When we first began to contemplate a move to the mountains from the flatlands of eastern North Carolina, we thought mostly of how wonderful it would be to be able to rest our eyes on the blue ridges of the Appalachians every day.  What we didn’t consider was just how amazing the skies here would be.  From our porch here at the Doublewide Ranch, we can see almost all of the eastern and southern firmament, and it is often a wondrous sight to behold.  We feel truly blessed to be a few thousand feet closer to the heavens.

So, if you, like me, have been oppressed by grey and dreary skies and fog this week, here are a few pictures (all taken here, mostly in the past year) to help you remember the infinite glories of the world above us. 

sunrise blog

(Sunrise, over the mountains.  From our porch.)

light escapingblog

(“Crepuscular rays.”  Such an unbecoming name for the glory of these sunbeams)

after the rain at sunset blog

(After the rain—at sunset)

sundog over Asheville blog

(A sundog at sunset—over Asheville, eleven miles away)

fog and light blog

(Fog and light)

golden sunrise blog

(Another sunrise over the mountains)

the many blues of the sky blog

(The many, many shades of blue in the sky)

autumn oak blog

(Oak in autumn)

colors of autumn blog

(The radiant colors of autumn.  Glory be.)

Face to Face

September 12, 2009

Mr. Tomato and Mr. Apple blog

So, earlier this week I suddenly realized that last Sunday was my two-year blogiversary, and I was thinking that I really should write something thoughtful, insightful, and profound to mark the occasion. But then Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and I saw this face on a little tomato. And I found an apple with a mouth and two eyes looking right at me so, of course, I couldn’t resist sharing them both with you.  And really, this (and this from 2007–a favorite) probably gives you a truer sense of who I am than anything else I could write.

Mr. Apple blog

Yep, I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff. Just yesterday, our local news featured a potato shaped like a duck, and I laughed in delight like a five-year-old. And my friend Clara had this picture on her blog earlier in the summer of a heart-shaped spud, which thrilled me to pieces. And, too, I love those stories you hear of someone who had lost hope and faith but found a reason to believe again when they found, say, a corn flake with the image of Jesus on it or a rock shaped like a cross or a knot in a tree that looks like the Virgin Mary.

I hope I don’t sound deranged when I tell you that I see faces everywhere. In tree trunks, in fence posts, in flower blossoms. And even when the face isn’t readily apparent, all I have to do is add two little googly eyes, and there it is. Yep, it’s true—I could entertain myself for hours with two little googly eyes and a world full of wonders. And even if you’re not so easily entertained as that, I hope these goofy shots will at least make you smile and remember, just for a moment, the pure pleasure and joy of silliness. 🙂 

Mr. Snapdragon blog

There’s one in every crowd.

There's something strange here blog

Hey, what’s that critter on sitting on the bull thistle?

bull thistle critter blog

Egads!  It’s the rare Fuzzy Breasted Spiky Headed Thistle Bird!

Mr. Squash too blog

Mr. Squash blog

It’s not easy being squash. 

Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man Takes Us For a Ride

September 2, 2009

view of the Parkway from Waterrock Knob blog

The last of our family road trip adventures was to celebrate Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man’s birthday which, unlike the other birthdays, really IS in August. We had no idea where he’d choose to wander, but we did know for sure that it very likely would involve two lanes, four wheels, and plenty of fossil fuel. The man loves to drive. And, boy, does he love his road trips.

Sure enough, before the day was over, we’d driven over 250 miles, down the Blue Ridge Parkway and on curvy country back roads. In fact, we drove all the way to the southern end of the Parkway, then into the countryside a ways before meandering back to the Parkway.

But even though much of our day was spent going forty-five miles-per-hour, there was still plenty of time to take a more leisurely pace on foot. After all, no Blue Ridge Blue Collar Family Road Trip is complete without a hike. First stop: Waterrock Knob at Milepost 451.2.

paved part of Waterrock trail blog

The beginning of the trail to the summit of Waterrock Knob is paved and quite civilized looking, so it somehow gives the impression of an easy stroll, a painless promenade, a serene saunter. HA! It didn’t take me long to realize that the handrail they had there wasn’t just to steady yourself. It was there so that people like me could heave themselves up with their arms when their legs and lungs wouldn’t go any further. No easy ramble here—really more of a wheezing, shuffling trudge I’d say. At least in my case. But ultimately very rewarding, once I was able to breathe again. I wasn’t too surprised to read that, at 6,400 feet, this trail goes higher than any other trail on the Parkway.

rock and ferns Waterrock Knob blog

(Rock and ferns at Waterrock)

The next stop was the Devil’s Courthouse at Milepost 422.4. It was not what you’d call an easy leg-stretcher either, but at least I didn’t feel in need of immediate medical attention at the top. It’s a lovely trail, with nice plants growing on both sides, including the pretty pink turtlehead. We were all amused at the juxtaposition of two particular sentences in the description of Devil’s Courthouse in the excellent Guide to the Blue Ridge Parkway that I always take along on our Parkway travels. It reads:

According to Cherokee belief, the devil had a courtroom in a cave inside this mountain where he delivered judgment to those who went astray. To avoid damaging rare plants, please stay on the trail.

We were very, very careful to stay on the trail, and I’m happy to say, didn’t go astray a single time.

Devil's Courthouse view blog

trail to Devil's Courthouse blog

turtleheads, ferns, white wood asters blog

(Pink turtleheads and white wood asters)

down Devil's Courthouse Trail blog

As we headed back home on the Parkway, Tom saw a sign for a side road at Elk Pasture Gap (milepost 405.5) that said something like: Caution! Steep, winding, curvy and generally-nail-biting road! Avoid like the plague if you’re driving an RV or towing a trailer! When I read that and saw the gleam in Tom’s eye, I knew for certain we’d be taking that road (NC 151) back home.

And what a lovely road it was, especially in the gloaming of a hot summer day. We glided down the cool, tree-shaded road, the late-day sun illuminating the trees at a golden slant, the only sound the low hum of our motor and the rustle of the wind in the trees and the birds singing their last song of the day. There was even a tiny waterfall spilling over the rocks on the side of the road that we saw as we rounded a curve.

It was a perfect end to my day with those I love best. The kind of moment that makes you sigh with satisfaction and pleasure, where you feel like there has never been a better moment than right here, right now. And you close your eyes and smile and breathe a simple but profound prayer:  Thank you.

ferns with shamrocks blog

(Oxalis and ferns)

hoary mountain mint blog

(Hoary Mountain Mint)

little waterfall on 151 blog

(You never know what you’ll find around that bend in the road.)