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Hermit in the house

out natcornI can be standing five feet from my girls and say something simple like, “wash your hands,” “brush your teeth” or “clean your room,” and not even an eyebrow will twitch in acknowledgement. But put those same girls down in the basement with TV or ipad/pod blaring at decibels that would make NASCAR jealous and the tiniest thump at a window anywhere in the house will bring them flying upstairs clamoring, “Dad, did you hear that? Sounded like a bird hit the window.”

out natcornTraveling from east to west, the Mississippi River Bridge is a time portal for me. 

I drive for hours squarely focused on the here and now, then I reach the bridge and in a breath I’m suspended above the Big Muddy, the river stretches for as far as I can see to my right and my left. When I slide off the span onto terra firma I’m in ‘Loosiana,’ a strange world of memories, nostalgia and anticipation.

Changing of the guard

out naturalistI believe the annual treks into the Town of Waynesville’s watershed began back in 2007. They have provided a unique opportunity for interested parties to get a glimpse of the property, learn a little about the history of the watershed, the new management plan and the native flora and fauna. The hikes have been well received, and this fall was no exception.

A climate for change

out natcornLast week we talked a little about how mountains can influence climate. Lenticular clouds are often created when warm air masses bump into mountains. Mountains can create rain shadows — point in case, Asheville, surrounded by temperate rain forests, is the driest city in the state of North Carolina. We know that traveling vertically from the valleys to the peaks of the Southern Appalachians is biologically comparable to traveling from Georgia to Canada.

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.

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