Archives for November 2011

Ag Day and the Spiders

Hitching a Ride

Each fall, the University of Tennessee sponsors Ag Day, an entertaining and informative way to showcase agricultural research and programs throughout the state. Children, in particular, are drawn to the colorful exhibits and bug collections at the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology booth. Sometimes the imposing giant spiders and cockroaches get to leave their cages and come out to play. I saw a lot of mixed reactions in the crowd when this tarantula got its turn.


“Thanksgiving Song”, by Mary Chapin Carpenter

Backyard: Color and Light

Layers of Fall Color

North Toward Craggy Gardens: Yearnings for Home

Nestled In

Traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway last week-end, I felt envious of the family who lives in this white house, deep in the valley below the fringes of sumac and poplar along the road’s edge. With each passing year, my yearning for home — the mountains of my birth — grows deeper.

Milepost 384. Come Visit.

Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center

Yesterday was a beautiful day in the mountains, so it was with some reluctance that I left the panorama of blue skies and flaming red, orange, and yellow foliage  to go into the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center just off milepost 384 in Asheville. Although the center is close to where I grew up and now return to whenever possible, I had never taken time to visit the new building. (Well, not exactly “new”, since it was built in 2008).

It was actually a sensory treat to walk into the Visitor Center. Everything, from the multi-textured structural materials to the artistic displays and interactive media stations, encourages visitors to “stay a spell”. It’s easy to spend an afternoon learning about the culture, history, and natural resources of the surrounding mountains – from the Cherokee Indian heritage to the blight that led to the loss of the American chestnut, and much more.

If you go, do not miss the high definition movie (big, big screen) that’s shown every thirty minutes or so. The aerial photography – especially the part about a biologist who scales the side of massive cliffs to check on the health of rare, native plants – is just breathtaking.

Small Arms Around Big Trees

Weaving Through the Trees

“Children, if you’re going to hug a tree, make sure there’s no poison ivy on it first”!
I overheard this rather urgent request from a teacher who was leading a group of children on a tour of the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill, NC. The huggable-size trees are just behind the young people seen here, barely-visible through the saplings and shrubs in the foreground.