Monday, July 30, 2012

Patio Chipmunk

Outside of the birds who come to the feeders in my small garden, this is what passes for wildlife at my house.

The fun fact is that you won't find chipmunks anywhere in the world except for North America. No European chipmunks, no African chipmunks, no Asian chipmunks. And as annoying as these tiny little creatures are - they devour all my safflower seeds that I fill my bird feeders with since squirrels will not touch it - they are really cute.

I have a family of five who have created a little den under the edge of the patio. They all look the same except for one who just has one eye (not this particular chipmunk). Perhaps due to a run-in with the cat I catch periodically hanging around my bird feeders?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Different Field, The Same Storm

Same Saturday storm, but a different field. Same results with the Birkenstocks though as this field was also mowed.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday Sunset, Greensboro, North Carolina

As ominous as this thunderhead looks, the storm that is producing it is actually to the south of Greensboro. No rain here at all.

The clouds caught the red from the setting sun and behind me, those clouds were a vivid purple.

And a lesson learned, too. Don't go into a freshly mowed field with just Birkenstocks on. I now have the scratches, scrapes and bug bites to go with the snapshot.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Glen Alpine, North Carolina

Some of you may be familiar with The Hunger Games; either through reading the trilogy of books or seeing the movie. I'll be the first to admit I've done neither as my reading tastes lean more towards non-fiction.

The entire movie was filmed here in North Carolina. The scenes for District 12 were filmed down the road from this house in the tiny village of Hildebran 25 miles to the east. This house  wasn't part of the movie, but it is part of the textile history of North Carolina's mountains.

As far as I can figure out this was either the mill owner's house or the mill superintendent's house in Glen Alpine. The mill was built in 1915 and produced socks for many years until most of the North Carolina textile industry collapsed due to the massive influx of foreign made fabrics and clothing. While this house has languished and become uninhabitable, some smart person bought the mill and converted it into a tasting room for a nearby vineyard.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Little Brown Mushrooms

While I can't grow daylilies this summer, I certainly can grow mushrooms in the small garden.

Like my sparrows that are fondly called LBJ's by birders (otherwise known as little brown jobs), these are called LBM's by mycologists or little brown mushrooms. I think this is the species called "Japanese Parasol" but if someone can really identify it, please let me know.

What a weird, wild summer we're having this year. We've had thunderstorms that have dropped six inches of rain in three hours and days where the heat index has gone over 107F. The garden is showing the effects - the daylilies are gone and the leaves have turned yellow despite soaking on the weekend. I am keeping a close eye on the hostas and heucheras that have been planted, but they seem to be weathering the situation well as they are protected from the height of the sun.

Monday, July 16, 2012

American Robin

When it gets too hot and humid to go outside to take a snapshot, I amuse myself by shooting through the sliding glass door at the various flora and fauna in my small garden.

A regular visitor to the bird bath (although not the bird feeders) is the American Robin. The early immigrants to America saw this bird's red breast and named it after the Robin that they knew in Europe although these two birds are not related at all. This is a large member of the Thrush family while the European Robin is a member of the Old World Flycatchers.

There are times in the winter that I will look out at the huge white oak in the common area behind the house and see the limbs full of robins who have decided to hang out here in Greensboro than migrate further south to Florida or Mexico.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The End of the Daylilies

A last look at the daylilies in my small garden. Next year these will be replaced with hostas and heuchera (coral bells) as the Forest Pansy redbud has gotten so big that it blocks the sun the daylilies need to produce nice blooms.

The names of these daylilies are unknown as I bought them as a bag labeled "Lost Tags".

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Barn Quilts in Old Fort, North Carolina

And more barn quilts along the Marion County Barn Quilt trail. These are located in the tiny village of Old Fort, home of the Andrews Geyser.  It is named Old Fort for the Revolutionary War fort that was once located here.

This quilt block is called Arrowheads in honor of the 14 foot rose granite arrowhead located next to the train depot which was built as a symbol of peace between the Cherokee and Catawba Indian tribes.

On the Mountain Gateway Museum, you'll find the Log Cabin quilt block.

And on the side of the Old Fort Mountain Music building, this quilt block has the appropriate name of Bluegrass Star.

A video shot inside of the Old Fort Mountain Music Friday get-togethers.

For my friends who think this would be a great idea for their areas, but are concerned there aren't barns or outbuildings to put them on, Old Fort is a good example that barn quilts can be put on any type of building from town hall to museum to commercial building.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Along the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

Sometimes when you are up on the Blue Ridge Parkway you can catch a glimpse of why these mountains were named as such by the pioneers who settled here. Fog had settled in the valleys after a thunderstorm came through with rain and higher humidity. I took this snapshot after crossing the Linn Cove Viaduct which is considered one of the engineering marvels of the world.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Andrews Geyser, Old Fort, North Carolina

One of the advantages to staying off the interstate highways and driving the backroads is that you can discover hidden gems that aren't amusement parks or shopping malls. This little park centered around this fountain is one of those gems. It is called the Andrews Geyser.

This is a man-made fountain in Old Fort, North Carolina in McDowell County. The fountain is named for Colonel Alexander Boyd Andrews, a North Carolina native who was the Vice President of the Southern Railway Company and one of the men responsible for the construction of the railroad between Old Fort and Asheville, North Carolina, in the late 19th century. The fountain was constructed in 1885 with a dual purpose: it was a feature of the Round Knob Hotel, and a tribute to the approximately 120 men who died building the railroad through this particularly treacherous stretch of land, that culminates with the crossing of the Eastern Continental Divide through the Swannanoa Tunnel. The fountain was said to be eye-catching for railroad passengers ascending the 13 miles of track and seven tunnels that peaks at the top of Swannanoa Gap because it could be seen several times along the route.

The Round Knob Hotel burned to the ground in 1903, and the fountain fell into disrepair. In 1911, George Fisher Baker, a wealthy New York financier and philanthropist who had been friends with Colonel Andrews, funded its restoration. The Southern Railway Company did not grant continuation of the easement for the fountain at that time, so a new, five-sided basin was constructed about 70 yards across Mill Creek, and the piping and nozzle were moved to the fountain's current location. The town of Old Fort was given rights to the basin and the pipe that carries the water, and the fountain was formally named Andrews Geyser.

The town of Old Fort continues to use Andrews Geyser and the surrounding area as a public park. Andrews Geyser underwent extensive restoration again in the 1970s, and was rededicated on May 6, 1976. Signs at the park describe Mr. Fisher's role in the early 20th century and the role of Old Fort's private citizens in the 1970s in keeping the fountain running.

Andrews Geyser shoots water continuously to a height of about 80 feet. Its water supply is drawn from a pond located at the current site of the Inn on Mill Creek, a local bed and breakfast. The Inn's property contains the original dam constructed by the railroad in the late 19th century, and the pond formed by the dam with the water of the Long Branch of Mill Creek. A 6-inch-diameter (150 mm) cast iron pipe runs from the dam, through a hidden gate valve, then underground approximately two miles downhill to the fountain. The water comes out a half-inch nozzle pointed skyward, and the 500 feet of elevation difference creates the pressure that drives the fountain.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mitchell County, NC Barn Quilts

And here are more barn quilts that can be found right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. These are a part of the Mitchell County Barn Quilt trail:

This is Dream Ship on the Little Switzerland Book Store.

On the other end of the book store you can find Books and Coffee Cups quilt block.

And from an overlook on the Parkway you'll see the Apple Tree barn quilt on the side of the Altapass Orchard store. In the fall you can go and pick your own apples from their trees or buy them in the store. The weekend that we were up in the mountains, they must have been having a clogging class as I could hear the music and the sound of tap shoes.

Way too hot to go out this past weekend to take snapshots. The heat was in the triple digits, breaking all sorts of records along with some severe thunderstorms. We were lucky not to have been hit by the derecho that swept just north of us from Illinois to Washington, DC.