Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Foray into Appalachia

A very belated report on a fall excursion to the southern Appalachians. I stayed most of the trip in and around Boone, that lovely hamlet in the mountains. It was quite cold and rainy, so I didn't get to hike as much as I would have liked. But with the magic of a rental car I was able to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway some, and explore around the Asheville area. Even the metro area had a tucked-in-the-mountains feel of original culture and eccentricity. I discovered many neat nooks in the city, but the outlying small towns and mountains held my attention the most.
The Rhododendron and Tulip Poplar are a perfect marriage here, this was a hiking trail off the Parkway that joins up with the Mountains-to-Sea trail.
This is some kind of Selaginella, or spike moss. It was all over the forest floor.
View from the Parkway
Grandfather Mountain with hemlock skeletons

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Year Opens with a Bloom

It's happening: the first flowering of the year, the first natural event that shows signs and stirrings of the waking up to come. Here in the Ozarks, that first flower is the Ozark Witch Hazel, Hamamelis vernalis. On a warmer January afternoon, I meandered down the drainage to walk on the Ozark Trail- to make a seasonal pilgrimage up to Stegall Mountain, to experience again what quiet winter woods feel like. My curiosity averted my eyes from the trail, to the ground to see what sprouts. Following the creek to find a crossing my attention rose to the woody stems that hold the soil, and I spotted a flash of color in a muddled dormant landscape.
I feel it an important aspect of inhabiting a place; to come to know it's rhythms. Growing wild only along Ozarks streams, I feel that this plant is indigenous in the same way that I feel a sense of belonging here; and I expect that if the species were animate it would have the same repulsion over the destruction of this patria.