This morning was our first full day in the Smokies. The weather see-sawed between the high thirties and low forties. There had been a snow storm up the mountain toward Newfound Gap…seventeen inches…so that road was closed. From Sugarlands to Treemont there was a little rain and a little snow, and that’s the area where we hung out.
We drove around
enjoying the scenery. The leaves have passed their peak but there is still a lot of color.
We stopped and walked around
in some of our favorite spots.
We walked down Middle Prong trail as far as the cascades.
We had snow the whole way.
Then we decided to walk up Chestnut Gap trail
for about a mile. About a quarter of a mile up, I got hot and started peeling off clothes.
By the time we were half way there I was down to my base layer…and that’s where Joel drew the line. My clothes ended up either in Joel’s pockets or hanging from my belt. When we returned to our car, we headed back to our cabin to cook supper and wait for Adam and Laura to come in. It was a good day.
This morning a little after eight, Joel and I left for Tennessee. The drive between Pineville and the Mississippi River is rather dull and slow, but through conversation the time seemed to go fairly fast. We discussed the needed balance between values and priorities and the difference between positive and constructive feedback. We talked about direction, competence, opportunity and motivation, otherwise known as DCOM. By the time we reached the mighty Mississippi we had touched on ABC, which stands for antecedents, behavior and consequences. When our little green Outback touched down on the east side of the river, we were pretty much through with posing as intellectuals.
By the time we got into Alabama we were getting hungry. According to the signs, there was a Sonic nearby. We didn’t want to waste time driving around looking for it, so we took advantage of a tower used for scenic overlooks.
We decided that if we couldn’t see it from the tower we would head for the next town.
We never did see that Sonic.
About the time we got to Gadsden, our conversation went something like this: “That’s number one. What are you talking about? The Ruby Falls sign, that’s number one, but I’m not going to count them. You have to count them, it’s a tradition. Alright, let me find something to write on because I’m not keeping count in my head. We never come up with the same number anyway.”
So, I got out a pen and the check book. Not long after that, we reached Fort Payne where we got a room at a Hampton Inn, and evening and morning were the first day.
The Great Smokey Mountains have called to us, and tomorrow morning we will be headed their way. For the past four or five years, we’ve made it a point to show up in those hills at least once a year…sometimes twice. We go when it’s not hot and not crowded. I just love how breathing in that crisp mountain air can affect you…and not just you. It can trickle down to the ones you love until they find themselves in your fantasy.
Sometimes it’s just Joel and me, but most of the time we make it sort of family thing. This time Adam and Laura will meet us there. The last time they came,
They took a hike up to Ramsey Cascades…
just the two of them…
and Adam proposed.
Thank goodness, she said,
“Yes!” This little incident, as you know, led to a bigger one
which involved an antebellum home, a horse-drawn carriage and a lot more people. Isn’t it funny what a little mountain air can do?
I recently came across a term that I had not heard before; ‘woodshedding’. It’s a musicians term, usually used by jazz musicians, meaning to go off to practice or hone skills. It doesn’t have to pertain just to musicians, but includes creative people in general. It’s sort of a self-imposed exile which a creative person endures in order to reach his full potential. (Woop- t- do, right?) HOWEVER, I have planned myself a woodshedding trip…to Alaska…in January. I know what you’re thinking, but being from the South, I can’t say that I really know what winter feels like. I figured it was high time to find out. And, it seems that Alaska’s winter landscape would lend itself well to watercolor, a medium that twenty years ago I had a pretty good command of. You know what they say: If you don’t use it you loose it, and I fear that that includes working with watercolor. I suppose you could say that I will be watercolor woodshedding in a winter wonderland. Wow!
I will arrive in Kenai early on January 24th and go to Nikiski where the Grouchy Old Woman Bed and Breakfast will serve as my woodshed for a week. I plan to take pictures during the daylight hours (such as they will be) and use them as reference for my paintings. The Grouchy Old Woman has assured me that she has proper outerwear to fit me. That means that I won’t have to buy stuff that the only time I would wear it again, would be if I went down to Parkway Grocery and sat in the cooler. She also promised that she will not let me get frostbite. I can only hope she’s right because, bless my heart, I don’t have a clue when it comes to surviving in those temperatures.
I’ve been looking at a blog by Patrick Endres who is a photographer in Fairbanks. Following are some of his images.
Well, creation calls…I’m going…and those are the cold hard facts.
I had so much fun with Kerry at the lake Friday morning that I decided to do it again on Saturday…this time with Joel and the twins. Saturday morning before six Nikki sent me a text saying that the boys were up and dressed. We weren’t scheduled to leave until seven. Joel said, “Did you tell her to send them over?” I said, “Are you crazy? We’ll pick them up on our way out.” The way out took place about 6:30. As we headed toward the lake, Hudson said, “Isn’t the sky beautiful?” As we topped a hill, Denton said, “Wow, I can see Woodworth from here!” When Joel reminded him that we were in Woodworth, Denton replied, “Oh.”
After entering the gate at the lake, we stopped to pay the fee. Before daylight you are on the honor system. You get an envelope out of a box, put your money in and drop it in a slot in the door. While Joel was doing that Hudson yelled out, “There’s nobody in there!” I told him that we still needed to pay. Then he said, “You mean nobody controls this?”
On our way to where we would ‘set up camp’, we saw five deer. The boys were excited. They had brought with them guns that they had made out of sticks and blue painter’s tape. You see, they had already planned to hunt deer while we were cooking breakfast.
Joel started the fire,
and the boys ran to the lake. I heard one of them (it was dark and they were dressed alike) say, “This is the edge of the ocean!” The other one chimed in with, “Yes, and this is where the tide comes in!”
They had a grand time running along the water’s edge
and discussing the deer tracks that were in the sand. At one point, I heard Hudson say, “We must risk something to save our lives! Follow me!” Then he headed up the hill to the deer camp, which happened to be under the picnic table.
Just before breakfast was served, there was a disturbance in the deer camp. When I asked what was wrong,
Hudson said, “He made me get snot on my gun!” But, he wiped it off and went on. When breakfast was served,
Denton turned and said, “These are the best eggs I’ve ever had.” THANK GOD!
I’ve discovered that if you’re not intentional about visiting with people, then you probably won’t do it. So even though I am past fifty, I schedule ‘play dates’ with my friends. This morning EARLY, Kerry and I had one of those play dates. We met at the lake to cook breakfast and watch the sunrise, although we weren’t sure what time that would take place. We beat the sun to the lake by an hour, but that was alright because we had to build a fire and cook. It didn’t take any time to get the fire started, and soon we had bacon in the cast iron skillet. So…
we decided to walk along the lake shore, and we did, until we thought about the bacon, which by that time was well done. Setting the bacon aside (because we would be eating it)
we threw some other stuff in the pot to use as a clincher for our eggs. When that was done, we scrambled our eggs, mixed it all together, plated it up
and sat down to eat.
We cleaned our plates…crispy bacon and all. By that time, across the lake,
an orange glow could be seen slowly rising above the trees.
So we watched,
and we took pictures
as a day began that had never been before.
I was taking a picture of the view behind us when I heard Kerry say, “Turn around and take a picture now! There’s a cross!” That’s when it ceased to be the sunrise.
Now it was the Sonrise. It reminded me that God puts His mark on each new day, whether we’re paying attention or not.
In case you were wondering how things went that Friday night that I stood down on 3rd Street trying to make some extra money, I thought I’d better report in.
Of course I used my real name, but I added the title “Metal Artist”, to assure folks of what I was selling. (You can’t be too careful.)
I set up at my appointed spot on the corner of 3rd and Murray,
which I thought was a pretty good spot. There was a little shade, and perhaps of more importance, there were bathrooms in City Hall, which was directly behind me.
I was pleased at how things went. I sold the “Heart of Stone” piece and the wind chimes.
I sold these two angels, and
I sold this piece based on Psalm 29:7 which says, “The Lord’s shout strikes with flaming fire”. Besides getting a nice orange t-shirt out of the deal,
I connected with some really neat people. If I had to do it all over again…I would.
Saturday evening we rode down Forestry Road where it parallels the lake. We took the boys with us. Nothing out of the ordinary happened…thank God.
They pretty much just hung out by the lake and explored a little.
They did pick up a few shells and
found some seed pods.
I walked across the road and visited
with the guys working the wild flowers.
Monday evening we took the boys out back
and let them build a fire.
They had a good time getting the fire started
and watching it grow.
Then they experimented with catching the cattails on fire that we had collected by one of the ponds.
They even tried branding the pine trees.
One of the boys walked over to me and said, “Mammy, smell this. It smells like roasted cat.” Now, I know that recently they have had trouble with a stray cat hanging around their place, and I feel confident that they didn’t ‘put him in a pot’. But it sure made me wonder…….
This morning while I was in the bathroom getting dressed I heard a gunshot. I pulled back the curtain and opened the window to find Josh with a riffle about to shoot again. Immediately I assumed that the hogs were back, but I yelled out, “What in the world was that!” Josh answered, “There’s a coyote trying to get your goats!” And then, BLAM, “I think I got him!” I quickly finished dressing and went out to meet Josh. Together we rode the golf cart around to check for any damage. The goats were fine and the chickens were fine.
But we did come upon a pile of guinea feathers, and the guineas were nowhere to be found. We then headed in the direction that the coyote was last seen.
Josh was right…he had not missed. It WAS a pretty animal. But pretty is as pretty does…right? Then we heard a noise, and a guinea flew out of a nearby tree and headed for the roof of the barn. Before long, another one joined it. Now there are only two.
Usually, the guineas travel pretty much the whole property. But not today…they’ve stayed close to the barn.