out natcornMillions of years ago America and Africa rubbed shoulders and the Appalachian Mountains were created. The ancient Appalachians, at one time as high as the Alps or Rockies, created quite an east-west barrier from Canada down to central Alabama. Today’s kinder, gentler Appalachians eroded and for the most part still impact us in myriad ways. A lot of it has to do with weather. As most of our weather patterns come from the west, we on the east side of the Appalachians often have to wait and see what we get.

out natcornI was at the Allens Creek soccer fields Saturday morning watching Maddie play when my eyes were drawn to the mountains across the way. Red splashes like watercolor brush strokes climbing a mottled green canvas were shinning from the forests. It was Virginia creeper ablaze in autumn splendor. The hues ran from yellowish-orange to a deep burgundy-red — and a lot of really bright red.

out natcornFreedom may not ring Tuesday.

At least not from the Liberty Bell. I know, I know, the bell doesn’t ring any more, but freedom surely emanates from it — at least if it’s open to the public and the way things were looking as I wrote this column Monday night, it wouldn’t be come Tuesday.

Serendipitous hawk watch

out natcornThe rains came Saturday. It was a good day for a soaker, from my perspective. I had writing I needed to catch up on and it’s not as hard being stuck away down in the dungeon when it’s pouring. We had seen the forecast for Sunday, and I remember remarking to Denise — on one of my trips upstairs to the world of the living — that I bet Sunday was going to be a big day for migrating hawks.

Fall out for the fallout

out natcornThanks to an invitation from a friend — Blair Ogburn, senior naturalist at Balsam Mountain Trust — I was able to spend a few hours last Saturday (9/12) morning looking for fall migrants at Balsam Mountain Preserve.

Get thee to an eatery

out natcornSorry, I couldn’t help it – I saw Hamlet at Montford Park this past weekend. 

But to be more specific, get thee to City Lights Café this Friday, Sept. 13, at 6 p.m. for “Land of the Crooked Water.” The event is the inaugural offering of the Southern Appalachian Office of the Wilderness Society’s LAND/SCAPE project.

Owning the autumn sky

out natcornThe loud, piercing keee-eeeeerrrr jerks your head up involuntarily to see the essence of wild freedom — a red-tailed hawk, wings outstretched banking slowly in the blue. It stops you, if only for a second or two, it stops you.

A bird of two tales

out natcornRoger Tory Petersen called it, “one of the most breathtaking of the world’s weirdest birds,” and it was John James Audubon’s “rose-coloured curlew.” But the name that has stuck is roseate spoonbill. The roseate spoonbill is one of only six species of spoonbills in the world.

Wind birds up

out natcornLike the breathing in and out of newborns; like the ebb and flow of the tide, and like the cycle of day and night, the spring and fall migration is part of the pulse of the planet. 

A pistol of a shrimp

out natcornOnce again, through the gracious hospitality of a dear friend the Hendershot family found itself on the Isle of Palms — one of the South Carolina barrier islands just up the coast from Charleston. We have been here before and I have written about it before. It is always the same; it is always different; and it is always wonderful.

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