Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

Into the Hills

The mountains have pulled on my heart-strings all Summer long.  I guess when the end of August approached, I felt an urgency to go into the hills, and so I did.

The Devil's Garden Overlook on the Blueride Parkway in North Carolina

The Devil’s Garden

Click on above image for a closer view of The Devil’s Garden Overlook

We first arrived at Stone Mountain state park in North Carolina without a reservation.  The trout-laden creek makes the area especially desirable to fisher-people (most of whom are men and boys).  The park ranger instructed us to keep driving north, which I didn’t mind too much.  The higher up we went, the cooler the weather became, and we found a nice little spot to camp. 

I’m not sure that the area we were in is specifically what the Cherokee called, Shoconage, meaning, “The Land of Blue Smoke,” but we did see the blue hue over the mountains and the clouds did look a bit like blue smoke.

My son and I went on our first mountain camping trip when he was only five years old.  I was pretty young myself.  We had joined a friend who was always saying that I should give camping a try.  He was right.

Oddly, after more than twenty years and many outdoor adventures later, I find myself longing for and returning to that same area of the Blue Ridge mountains in North Carolina, Doughton Park Recreation Area, where my son and I first camped with our friend. 

The rolling green hills and awesome views always make me feel like I’m in the right place.  Happily, my son still enjoys coming along with me to camp.

“What do you think would make you feel better?” my son had asked, several days before I decided to pack my gear and go camping.

“I’d like to sleep under the stars and wake up when the sun rises,” I told him.  “I want to feel the rhythm of nature.”

Little did I know that only a few days later, my wishes would come true.

We could only camp for a few nights.  Neither of us wanted to leave, but I hadn’t packed well enough to stay longer and was tired of driving to the store, which was twenty-some miles away.  Twenty mountain miles make for a pretty ride, but feel like fifty when you’re tired.

My favorite part of the trip was on the second day when my son and I had a heart-to-heart talk.  He was more relaxed than I’ve seen him in a long time.  We both remarked on the good night’s sleep we had each experienced.

There’s something about sleeping outdoors, feeling the wind blow, listening to the sound of nature without background noise and tuning into the rhythm of nature that brings clarity to the mind.  Perhaps Mother Nature unfolds a veil.

My next favorite part of our short trip was sitting by the fire, which was the night I removed the rain-fly from our tent, providing me with my second wish the following morning; an awesome view of the sun rising above the mountain. 

On our way home, we drove down to the creek at Stone Mountain State Park, where we spent the day by, “the small falls.”  We enjoyed local sour apples and tart blueberries.  My son and our dog rested on the flat rocks.  I chased a pretty little black and blue butterfly.

Water Energy is a Green Healing

The Small Falls

Butterfly Beautiful

Two children, a girl and an older boy, came to play and of course, they loved our dog, sweet little Ruthie Mae.  Everybody loves Ruthie. 

They were mountain people.  The boy looked about eleven years old. 

“You want me to take her down to the water for you?” he asked. 

Ruthie Mae feels my stress and one way she shows this is by pulling on her leash when we walk, which she’s been doing off and on for a couple of months.

“Sure,” I said to the boy. 

I trusted him right away with my dog, which is unusual.

“C’mon girl,” he said in a lovely Carolina mountain accent.  “C’mon now.  We’re gonna go right down here.  Okay?  There ya go.”

His way with her made me feel good.  I love seeing her happy and she was smiling.

I could tell he had been to those falls many times.  He had a sure foot and the younger girl with him did as well.  I liked him and so did Ruthie.

Ruthie’s enthusiastic walking didn’t seem to affect him.  He continued talking to her in his kind voice and down the craggy path they went toward a sandy spot by the water. 

“You’re really good with her,” I told him.

“Yeah,” he said.  “I been ’round dogs all my life.  I can tell she’s a good one.” 

For a moment, I could imagine him being a grown man and what he would be like.  I imagined a gentle man in the making.

He and Ruthie Mae didn’t get to play together for long because his mother’s cell phone wouldn’t work.  I liked that mine didn’t work.  I figured the woman had to be available for some important reason. 

After the boy and his family left, Ruthie joined my son for a nap on one of the big flat rocks by the water.  He made a soft place for her and she cuddled up next to him.  I occupied myself chasing the pretty black and blue butterfly that liked the sand.

I wanted to stay.  I mean, I really wanted to stay and I almost did, but I had responsibilities waiting and not enough money to do whatever I wanted.  I wish I could go back and stay for the rest of Summer.

(You can click on any photo in the gallery to view a slide show)

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Stately Winged in Carolina

The Stately and Lovely Northern Cardinal

In the first weeks of Spring, a female Cardinal started visiting my backyard.  She liked the fallen seeds below our bird feeder.  

Within days of her arrival, she had two bright and very handsome red suitors.

I watched for weeks as the two male Cardinals chased her through the edge of the woods, swooping from branch to branch, stopping momentarily to show off their plumage or grab the best perching seat.

The female Cardinal appeared to enjoy the chase.  From where I stood, her future looked pretty good.

I don’t know which of the two males finally got her attention, but on Mother’s Day, I was delighted when just before Dusk, I walked outside to catch the last of daylight and heard a symphony of unfamiliar sounds.  

I thought at first the frenzy was normal dinner-time excitement in the backyard.  I soon suspected something more special was going on out there.  And it was!

A female Cardinal was feeding a fledgling!  I could barely make out the color of the little bird, but I sure heard it, and siblings too! 

I felt a surge of delight.

Slowly, I walked a little closer to a nearby briar patch where the loud and persistent cries were coming from.  I hoped for a photograph.

A bright male Cardinal flew across the yard, landing clear on the other side.  I’m pretty sure he was asking me not to get one step closer to his family.  I returned to the view from my deck.

The cries of the young birds moved me.  Although, the fledglings made lots of noise, I had a feeling their tweets were more a communication of location and confident awaiting, rather than ones of unmet needs.  

The mother was surely capable of providing and proving as much to her new children!  She looked well-fed and strong, yet when she bent over to offer her little one a bit of food, it was with an amazing gentleness. 

My heart was struck with love.

I returned inside to give the beautiful family peace and privacy.  I watched from my kitchen window until dark.

What a terrific gift for Mother’s Day!

I’ve seen many beautiful birds so far this Spring, but I must say, like my Winter resident, the American Robin, the Northern Cardinal has captured my heart.

Thank you for visiting dogkisses!

A Backporch View

Little Red One (LRO)!

small red winged

“You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird . . . So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing – that’s what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.”
Richard P. Feynman

LRO!

“You must not know too much, or be too precise or scientific about birds and trees and flowers and water-craft; a certain free margin, and even vagueness – perhaps ignorance, credulity – helps your enjoyment of these things…  ~Walt Whitman, Specimen Days, “Birds – And a Caution”

PHOTOS by Michelle for dogkisses, the blog.

QUOTES:

  All Great Quotes

  The Quote Garden

The Dogs I’ve Loved ~ Poochie

Poochie

one cute dog

Poochie was my first four-legged friend.  He was a small dog with sandy blonde hair.  I was three years-old when I knew and loved Poochie.

Memories of my third year are short snippets of time sketched in my mind.  Poochie curled up in a little ball, basking under the sun in our front yard is an image that never faded.  My love for him is a feeling I’ve never forgotten.

I was temporarily in a wheelchair from a childhood bone disease when Poochie was my dog.  I’ve always wondered if I was confined to the little chair when Poochie met his last day on earth.

I’ve always thought it rather odd that I remember anything at all about my third year, but it makes sense now that I’m an adult, considering all that happened and the way things were.

We had plenty of love in my family, but from what I understand, my third year was much like the rest of my childhood.  Our lives were chronically hardened with strife.   On occasion and unpredictably, fear from violent emotional explosions that led to all sorts of trouble visited our family, yet we were familiar with unfortunate circumstances and that each time could have ended much worse than it did.

I had a boyfriend when Poochie was my dog.  He was also three years-old.  We spent a fair amount of time sitting on my front porch steps together.  I remember the way I felt being around him.  I know I loved him.

According to my mother, the little boy and I had deep conversations about life.  “Lord, I couldn’t believe the things the two of you talked about.  I used to stand there at the door listening and just shake my head,” she says.

A child in our neighborhood had thrown a rock that hit my head and knocked me unconscious.  Afterward, even as my mother had made it clear to everyone that nobody would ever hit me with a rock again, my boyfriend and I didn’t play on the days when the child who had thrown the rock was outside.  

Upon reflection, the accident may explain memory problems I had for the best of my childhood and maybe to this day, but I was hit in the head again during fifth grade.  I had decided to play baseball, but the boys didn’t want girls on the team. 

“Easy Out!  Easy Out!,” the boys shouted enthusiastically.  The pitcher tried hitting my head with the ball every time I approached the batter’s box.   Finally, he succeeded, and I quit playing baseball.

The brain is amazing and so is the human spirit.  I later found ways to cope with what I thought was normal, like my less than good memory and, “the bad things,” my grandmother said I had seen.  “You were too young to see what you saw,” she would later tell me.

My third year was in the late sixties.  The place was in the heart of the North Carolina Blue Ridge mountains.  We were not poor by the standards of the day and perhaps we were Middle class.  The stories I’ve heard about medical treatments I endured during those years sound like we came from a time I thought was in history books before I entered this world, which reminds me of the way I met my first boyfriend.

He and I were born minutes apart, in the same hospital room, delivered by the same doctor, separated only by a thin hospital curtain, which the doctor had left open for the laboring hours preceding our births. 

“We talked the whole time we were in labor,” my mother tells me.  “The beds were side-by-side.  Nurses came in to prep us and that’s when the doctor pulled the curtain closed, but we still went on talking.”

The boy’s mother and mine were best friends.   I was due several weeks before her child was, but as it happened, we were born on the same night.  The boy came first.  His mother, lying in her hospital bed, told them to open the curtain again, which they did. 

“What’s wrong over there?”  she asked my mother.  “Why haven’t you had that baby yet?” 

Looking over at my mother, still in labor, the woman noticed that Mother was still wearing her teeth.  “Lord God!,” the woman shouted to the doctor.  “She can’t have that baby ’til she takes out her teeth!”

The doctor ordered my mother to take her teeth out.  “You were born just as soon as I took them out,” she tells me. 

“Why did you have your teeth in?” I asked my mother, many years later as she told me the story.

“Well, I can’t remember, but I guess I didn’t want that doctor seeing me without my teeth,” she said.  “He was a good-looking doctor.”

I realized I was born in pure vanity, but I come from a long line of women who expect good-looking doctors when they get to a certain age in life.  I recently noticed that my doctor is pretty cute.  I’ve seen him for years and have never once thought about his physical appearance.  I wonder if this means I’m getting to that certain age.  Alas.   I’ve truly regressed, if that’s possible in this piece of writing.

My sweet boyfriend wasn’t there the day when I was sitting on the porch steps and saw our neighbor back her car out of the driveway, running over Poochie in the process.  I wanted to help Poochie, but I couldn’t.  I don’t know if it was because I couldn’t walk or if the accident simply happened too fast. 

Later, my mother said the woman wanted to apologize and that she had made me cookies.  I wanted nothing to do with her cookies and doubt if I understood what an apology meant.  My dog was gone.  In my three year-old mind, I fully believed it was the woman’s fault for backing out of her driveway at a speed that I was sure had been too fast.  By the time she heard me screaming, it was too late to save Poochie.

Mother said my boyfriend and I sat on the steps and talked about what happened for days afterward.  “The two of y’all came up with the idea that you would go to her house and poke her eyeballs out like she had done to Poochie’s.”  Mother says I pointed two fingers to show her what I had in mind.

My family and I did go to the woman’s house.  Apparently, I behaved well, but I didn’t like her house any more than I liked her car.  From my point of view, both were way too big for one person.

I did not eat her cookies.  I was sad for a long time. 

For years, it hurt to remember what I had seen and I did remember.  I also missed Poochie in a terrible way.  I’m glad the images of the accident finally faded and that today, my memories only include him basking in the sunshine, and how it felt to love a dog.

The next dog that came into my life was a long funny looking Wiener dog.  I’ll tell you about him, and my life when he lived with us, in an upcoming post about, “The Dogs I’ve Loved.”

 

12/30/12 Post updated to allow ‘Likes’ 🙂

 

Weekly Photo Challenge ~Lines in Carolina

The Fence Lines

do you think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence?

The Fence Lines… A little closer.

The other side of the fence...

 Carolina country lines

Lines in Carolina

Carolina land lines

Carolina country lines