Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fire and Ice

Once when the people were burning the woods in the fall the blaze set fire to a poplar tree, which continued to burn until the fire went down into the roots and burned a great hole in the ground.

It burned and burned, and the hole grew constantly larger, until the people became frightened and were afraid it would burn the whole world. They tried to put out the fire, but it had gone too deep, and they did not know what to do.

At last some one said there was a man living in a house of ice far in the north who could put out the fire, so messengers were sent, and after traveling a long distance they came to the ice house and found the Ice Man at home. He was a little fellow with long hair hanging down to the ground in two plaits.

The messengers told him their errand and he at once said, "O yes, I can help you," and began to unplait his hair. When it was all unbraided he took it up in one band and struck it once across his other hand, and the messengers felt a wind blow against their cheeks.

A second time he struck his hair across his hand, and a light rain began to fall.

The third time he struck his hair across his open hand there was sleet mixed with the raindrops, and when he struck the fourth time great hailstones fell upon the ground, as if they had come out from the ends of his hair. "Go back now," said the Ice Man, "and I shall be there to-morrow." So the messengers returned to their people, whom they found still gathered helplessly about the great burning pit.

The next-day while they were all watching about the fire there came a wind from the north, and they were afraid, for they knew that it came from the Ice Man. But the wind only made the fire blaze up higher.

Then a light rain began to fall, but the drops seemed only to make the fire hotter. Then the shower turned to a heavy rain, with sleet and hail that killed the blaze and made clouds of smoke and steam rise from the red coals.

The people fled to their homes for shelter, and the storm rose to a whirlwind that drove the rain into every burning crevice and piled great hailstones over the embers, until the fire was dead and even the smoke ceased.

When at last it was all over and the people returned they found a lake where the burning pit had been, and from below the water came a sound as of embers still crackling.

From Myths of the Cherokee, James Mooney

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Paying for Insults

I’ve been slipping into the habit of reading things I don’t understand. For me, that encompasses a vast swath of literature, and I do find it frustrating. For instance, I picked up Thomas Merton’s The Wisdom of the Desert after reading an intriguing reference to it.

The "wise man" of Athens?

The little book is a compilation of sayings and stories from the fourth-century hermits who peopled the deserts of Egypt, Palestine, Arabia and Persia. My mild disappointment in the book stems from my own inability to comprehend old folktales and other ancient stories.

Some of the sayings have straightforward meanings, repeating familiar themes of the early Christian teachings, such as “giving away all your possessions to assist the poor.”

It makes me wonder about the fourth-century poor. I wonder if they were different from “our” poor, the modern American poor who breed like rats, ride around all day with a cigarette in one hand and a cell phone in the other, and drag their sorry butts through Walmart, proudly showing off their hideous tattoos, multiple piercings and unfortunate wardrobe choices.

Like I said, there are lots of things I don’t understand.

Here’s one of the stories from The Wisdom of the Desert, and I enjoy it, even if I don’t quite “get” it:


Once there was a disciple of a Greek Philosopher who was commanded by his master for three years to give money to everyone who insulted him. When this period of trial was over the master said to him, “Now you can go to Athens and learn wisdom.”

When the disciple was entering Athens, he met a certain wise man who sat at the gate insulting everybody who came and went. He also insulted the disciple, who immediately burst out laughing.

“Why do you laugh when I insult you,” said the wise man.

“Because,” said the disciple, “for three years I have been paying for this kind of thing and now you give it to me for nothing.”

“Enter the city,” said the wise man, “it is all yours.”

Abbott John used to tell the above story, saying:

“This is the door of God by which our fathers rejoicing in many tribulations enter into the City of Heaven.”

Friday, January 29, 2010

Getting to Know John Howard Payne

Until recently, I was unfamiliar with the Cherokee scholarship of John Howard Payne. After learning a little more about him, I do and I don’t understand the reasons for his relative obscurity. But a year from now, his name may be better known than it is today. I'll attempt to sort this out…

John Howard Payne (1791 – 1852) was an American actor, poet, playwright, and author who had most of his theatrical career and success in London.

A 1917 biography by Lucian Lamar Knight describes how Payne took an interest in the Cherokee:

In 1832 Payne returned to New York. The question agitating the public mind at this time was the removal of the Cherokee Indians to a trans-Mississippi region. To one of Payne's fine poetic temperament, the idea of using force to drive these primitive inhabitants of the soil— these native Americans—into an unwilling exile was most repugnant.

Mr. Payne came to Georgia in 1836, on the eve of the famous deportation. It so happened that, at this time, Georgia was in a turmoil of excitement. Events were rapidly approaching a climax; and in order to deal, on the one hand, with meddlesome interlopers whose purpose was to inflame the red men, and, on the other, with lawless characters escaping across the state line into Indian Territory, it was necessary for Georgia to extend her jurisdiction, with a rod of iron, over the domain of the Cherokees.

There was, at this time, among the Indians two distinct parties, one of which, under Major Ridge, strongly favored removal as the wisest course for the nation to adopt. The other, headed by John Ross, strenuously opposed removal; and these were regarded as the sworn enemies of the state….

When John Howard Payne came to Georgia, he visited the Cherokee nation as the guest of John Ross…

His object in making this visit was unknown to the civil authorities; but his affiliation with John Ross put him at once under suspicion. He contemplated nothing sinister. His purpose was merely to gather information. But Tray was in bad company, at least, to Georgia's way of thinking, and, while visiting John Ross, he was put under arrest and imprisoned in the old Vann house, at Spring Place, in what is now Murray County, Georgia.

Eventually, Payne was released, and got on with his work of collecting and recording the myths, religious traditions, foodways and other aspects of the Cherokees. Payne submitted articles to popular newspapers, but most of his work was never published. He promoted a theory espoused by James Adair in the 1700s, namely that the Cherokee were one of the lost tribes of Israel.

During his time in the Cherokee Nation, Payne began working with the missionary Daniel S. Butrick, who went on to serve as a chaplain during the Trail of Tears and wrote of the experience.

In his Myths of the Cherokee, James Mooney had a couple of references to John Howard Payne. And in The Cherokee People, Thomas Mails relied heavily on Payne’s work. But the bulk of his research has been unavailable to most readers. That’s about to change, though. A collection of The Payne-Butrick Papers, edited by WCU professors William Anderson, Jane Brown and Anne Rogers is slated for publication in October 2010. Here’s the blurb for the book:

This landmark two-volume set is the richest and most important extant collection of information about traditional Cherokee culture. Because many of the Cherokees' own records were lost during their forced removal to the west, the Payne-Butrick papers are the most detailed written source about the Cherokee Nation during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In the 1830s John Howard Payne, a respected author, actor, and playwright, and Daniel S. Butrick, an American Board missionary, hastened to gather information on Cherokee life and history, fearing that the cultural knowledge would be lost forever. Butrick, who was conversant with Cherokee culture and language after having spent decades among them, recorded what elderly Cherokees had to say about their lives. The collection also contains much of the Cherokee leaders' correspondence, which had been given to Payne for safekeeping. This amazing repository of information covers nearly all aspects of traditional Cherokee culture and history, including politics, myths, early and later religious beliefs, rituals, marriage customs, ball play, language, dances, and attitudes toward children. It will inform our understanding and appreciation of the history and enduring legacy of the Cherokees.

While the forthcoming book might bolster Payne’s reputation as a student of the Cherokee, he’ll likely remain best known for a song he wrote in 1822:

Home, Sweet Home

'Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home;
A charm from the sky seems to hallow us there,
Which, seek through the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere.
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!

An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain;
Oh, give me my lowly thatched cottage again!
The birds singing gayly, that come at my call --
Give me them -- and the peace of mind, dearer than all!
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!

I gaze on the moon as I tread the drear wild,
And feel that my mother now thinks of her child,
As she looks on that moon from our own cottage door
Thro' the woodbine, whose fragrance shall cheer me no more.
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!

How sweet 'tis to sit 'neath a fond father's smile,
And the caress of a mother to soothe and beguile!
Let others delight mid new pleasures to roam,
But give me, oh, give me, the pleasures of home.
Home, home, sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!

To thee I'll return, overburdened with care;
The heart's dearest solace will smile on me there;
No more from that cottage again will I roam;
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.
Home, home, sweet, sweet, home!
There's no place like home, oh, there's no place like home!

While I was unable to find a vocal performance of Home, Sweet Home, I did manage to turn up this old gem from Ralph Stanley and Don Reno.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Love Wins

Love Wins, South of the Border, Dillon County, South Carolina (3/21/08)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Sound of Looking

Some of my best times are the times spent looking at the world through the lens of a Nikon.

Photo by Michael Disfarmer

Regardless of results, the process of discovery has me hooked. The best photographs convey something beyond the visible. And that’s the magic for which there’s no easy formula. Any time I go to Old Bald and the Great Divide I think about this – and the challenge of photographing a slant-eyed giant. Believing it can be done, I’ll keep trying.

Admittedly, I’m not much of a people photographer. There are times I long to have the boldness to walk up to someone…aim…and shoot. But I lack that. And so, some good photo ops slip away. A sunny afternoon in Barnardsville…a bunch of old timers in bib overalls…rared back in their chairs outside a mom and pop store. Missed that one.

And Lexington Avenue in Asheville. Everytime I go there and see the counter culture parade (if that’s what you can call it) my trigger finger gets itchy. Maybe some day I’ll figure out a plausible way to say “Whoa…can I take your picture?”

But it hasn’t happened yet.

What inspired this particular rumination is the music of guitarist Bill Frisell…specifically, his recording, Disfarmer, which celebrates the photographer, Michael Disfarmer. Maybe I can borrow a page from Michael Disfarmer and learn to start taking those portraits I’ve been missing.

Michael Disfarmer

Here’s how Bill Frisell himself tells it:

The photos alone would inspire music, but the mystery surrounding Disfarmer’s bizarre life really adds another dimension. I thought it would be important to actually visit Heber Springs, Arkansas, smell the air, talk to some people, taste the food, so that the music wouldn’t be coming only from what I had seen or read in a book. My wife and I decided to take a drive. We started in North Carolina, went through South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, stopped in Clarksdale (home of Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Son House, etc., etc.), and crossed the Mississippi River into Helena, Arkansas, and on up to Heber Springs. Driving through this part of the country gives you a lot to think about—where we’ve been, where we’re going.

After lunch at the Rustic Inn, I was so fortunate to meet and talk with Tom Olmstead, who was very generous with his time and information. Tom is the funeral director in Heber Springs and has lived there his whole life. As a young boy, he had his photo taken by Disfarmer and described his gruff, impatient way with his subjects. “Made you feel uncomfortable.” Tom said. He talked about how Disfarmer always wore a black suit, black hat, and heavy mohair overcoat in any kind of weather. He wandered the streets all night long. Disfarmer would appear seemingly out of nowhere, a big dark shape, scaring the kids to death. He never talked to anybody. Everybody was afraid of him.

Bill Frisell

Years later, as a young man, Tom Olmstead and his father buried Disfarmer. They found his body days after he had died—alone in the photo studio where he had lived—covered with mice and surrounded with cans of Spam. Tom’s father said, “You never know, someday this man might be famous.” They gave him a proper burial and even donated a head stone monument. I kept thinking about the many other misunderstood, unsung artists who never had the recognition they deserved during their own time—Vermeer, Van Gogh, Charles Ives, Henry Darger, etc. etc. I wonder who is here now?

I try to picture what went on in Disfarmer’s mind. How did he really feel about the people in this town? What was he thinking? What did he see? We’ll never know—but, as I write the music, I’d like to imagine it coming from his point of view. The sound of him looking through the lens.

Disfarmer: A Portrait of America - Trailer 2:30 mins. from Dennis Mohr on Vimeo.

More at - official site of the Disfarmer Project.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wild Hogs in the Smokies

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports on the continuing infestation of wild hogs in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

National Park Service photo

According to the article by Morgan Simmons, the hogs:

...wreak havoc on the ecosystem by eating rare plants and salamanders, defecating in streams and turning up the ground.

Howard Duncan, a ranger at Big South Fork [National Recreation Area], said the park's wild hogs tend to look more like Eurasian wild boar than feral pigs. "If you have any feral pigs or wild hogs, you have too many," Duncan said. "They have few natural predators, and quickly build to a large population. They have a taste for the bulbs of lady slippers. I've even seen them going down creeks, flipping over rocks for crayfish. They have no place in the ecosystem."

One of the places where I’ve seen the most damage is along Heintooga Road in the eastern part of the park. And at other locations, you might come across old traps that have been used in the past to capture the critters. During the winter, the park employs a team to hunt and trap the wild pigs which tend to move to lower elevations in search of food.

In 2009, the park's hog team removed 620 wild hogs, the third highest since the hog control program started in the late 1950s. Biologists say the hog population spiked last year because of a bountiful mast crop that enabled the sows to produce more than one litter.

And apparently, wild semi-domesticated hogs released by hunters near the park are compounding the problem.

Dan Hicks (what, no Hot Licks?) is a spokesman for Tennessee Wildlife Resources and confirms what I witnessed this past summer, when escaped hogs invaded my place:

"The hog reverts back to the wild quicker than any domesticated animal," Hicks said. "I've seen some on Catoosa with black fur and big tufts around the head like a Russian hog, but with white spots toward the back like a domestic hog. They're just plain ugly."

A 1990 paper by John D. Peine and Jane Allen Farmer, WILD HOG MANAGEMENT PROGRAM AT GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK provides historical background and includes recommendations on control strategies. For anyone who wants to know more about what was described back then as “the park's number one resident natural resource problem” it’s a good read.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Betraying the Promise of Change

I’d just as soon avoid politics, but I can’t resist posting this from a interview with Dennis Kucinich, since he expresses so well what I’ve been observing.

Back in ’08, I thought that Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul were the only two presidential candidates with anything interesting to say, even though neither had a snowball’s chance of getting elected.

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) on Wednesday said the Massachusetts election was a "wake up call" for Democrats and that his party had better change course or it could suffer devastating losses come November.

"People elected Democrats in 2008 to change the country's direction," he told Raw Story in a nearly hour-long interview.

"And the same entrenched interests that George Bush could not shake, this current White House is having great difficulty in shaking. One could suggest they might be more entrenched than ever."

Kucinich staunchly defended liberalism but alleged that Democrats are not behaving like liberals.

"There's nothing liberal about the bailouts. There's nothing liberal about standing by and watching banks use public money to get their executive bonuses. There's nothing liberal about giving insurance companies carte blanche to charge anything they want for health care... Since when did that become liberal?"

"There's nothing liberal about letting coal and oil write climate change legislation," he added. "Are you kidding me?"

The 13-year congressman lamented the lack of change in economic policies, tying it to the major problems Democrats are facing.

"The minute the president appointed Tim Geithner and Larry Summers to key policy positions, and the minute that [Ben] Bernanke was named to head the Fed again, we're looking at people who participated in the decline of the economy," he said. "This group has done us a disservice."

"Every area of the economy is still about taking wealth from the great mass of people and putting it into the hands of a few. If you don't have a economic democracy, you don't have a political democracy."

"We have to be more defined as being on the side of the people and not on the side of interest groups that are so entrenched," said Kucinich, who is widely regarded as a champion on progressive issues.

Kucinich said he's deeply disillusioned with what health reform has become, suggesting Democrats should "slow down" and "take a step back."

"Health care became too complex and too riddled with concessions to insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies," he said. "It's really time to take a new direction and that direction has to be back to the American people."

"We lost the initiative the minute that our party jumped into bed with the insurance companies. And soon they were looking at increasing taxes as a way of subsidizing insurance companies. It's just madness."

"We're redistributing the wealth of the nation upwards by giving the insurance companies 30 million new customers, $50 billion a year more in revenue."

"Well, which direction are we building in?" Kucinich responded. "If we give insurance companies a monopoly on health care, if we put no controls on premiums, if we give them antitrust exemptions... Is this the direction we build in to protect health care for people, or to protect insurance companies?"

He said part of America's distrust for the bill is the special deals the leadership cut with certain Senators, citing Sen. Ben Nelson's exemption for Medicaid expenses in Nebraska.

"People know when things get to that point, it's time to say stop. Stop what you're doing. Don't make another move. Slow it down. That's the message from Massachusetts."

Kucinich voiced his long-held view that the best way to address health care is to achieve a "Medicare-for-all system." He said Democrats shouldn't abandon health reform, but need to signal they realize it's been mishandled.

Kucinich said the Massachusetts election was also a referendum on the Obama administration's "inadequate" response to the economic crisis.

"We ought to focus on creating 15 million jobs, and if we do that, we'll regain the confidence of the American people on domestic issues," he said.

"With people losing their jobs, losing their homes, their investments, their savings, retirement security, losing opportunities for their children to go to college, we have to focus on economic issues."

The congressman from Ohio claimed these problems have arisen because the system is skewed against the interests of the people, and that Obama's economic team isn't helping to solve them.

He said the Obama administration was giving Wall Street banks "immunity and too big to fail protection," saying they "even pride themselves on that."

Kucinich lamented Democrats' growing camaraderie with big moneyed interests, claiming it's hurting the party.

"You ask the banks to reform banking?" he said. "Put the insurance companies to reform insurance. Call in nuclear to reform energy policies? Are you kidding me?"

"These problems, lest we forget, did not start with Barack Obama," Kucinich said. "It was George Bush who drove the economy over the cliff with a trillion dollar tax cut and a war based on lies, and an expanding trade deficit."

"And we can't do that by playing patty-cake with Wall Street, by caving into the demands of big banks, by playing footsie with insurance companies and by jumping in bed with the pharmaceutical industry."

"This isn't a left-right argument; this isn't a liberal-conservative argument. This is about down or up."

In what may come as a surprise to some of his supporters, Kucinich declined to blame Republicans for what he believes have been economic policies gone awry.

"We have to be looking at ourselves," he claimed. "We have to be looking at what we need to do to govern... It's really simple: the people don't like what we're doing."

"This isn't about the Republicans, this is about the Democrats."

"There's been a serious mislabeling of politics in America, where there's an attempt to confuse people about who stands for what, and in that it's the triumph of special interests."

- From Kucinich shreds Democrats for betraying the promise of change
By Sahil Kapur, Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Frog Gigging

Yesterday's reference to a frog hunting trip gone terribly bad ("when Thurston shot his nuts off") reminds me of one of my favorite family photos:

I remember going on a couple of those trips and, at the time, gigging frogs didn't bother me nearly as much as it would now. However, I was too much of a wimp to partake of the frog legs after they were sauteed. Some of my kinfolk compared the little delicacies to "fried rubber bands" so I don't think I was missing much.

At this point, it seems like a profligate waste of innocent bullfrogs...but way back when it made for one hell of a photograph.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Second Amendment Blues

Maybe you’ve seen the commercial for the upcoming Willie Nelson concert in Asheville. Unfortunately, I was fixing supper when it came on. Now, I confess a moderate appreciation for Willie’s music, his politics, and his tastes in recreational activities, but the commercial was enough to make me lose my appetite.

How 'bout them "guns"?

Can’t the old guy afford a shirt?

What a nauseating display of flesh!

Somebody needs to revoke his right to bare arms.

I’ve known people with the forethought to take earplugs to concerts. If you’re going to the Willie Nelson concert, a blindfold might be in order. [I'll warn you that the pictures here don't really show how bad it has gotten. Shaved armpits or not, it's time to put on a freakin' shirt, dude.]

Look up “indecent exposure” in your dictionary and you’re liable to see a bare-skinned Willie.

Speaking of the right to bear arms, a friend just sent me this:

And once again, it's time for the Darwin Award Nominees. "The Darwins " are awarded every year to the persons who died in the stupidest manner, thereby removing themselves from the gene pool.

Here is the official 2009 list.

This years nominees are:

Nominee No. 1: (San Jose Mercury News):
An unidentified man, using a shotgun like a club to break a former girlfriends windshield, accidentally shot himself to death when the gun discharged, blowing a hole in his gut.

Nominee No. 2: (Kalamazoo Gazette):
James Burns, 34, (a mechanic) of Alamo , Michigan was killed in March as he was trying to repair what police describe as a "farm-type truck."

Burns got a friend to drive the truck on a highway while Burns hung underneath so that he could ascertain the source of a troubling noise.

Burns clothes caught on something, however, and the other man found Burns "wrapped around the drive shaft.

Nominee No. 3: ( Hickory Daily Record):
Ken Charles Barger, 47, accidentally shot himself to death in December in Newton , North Carolina.

Awakening to the sound of a ringing telephone beside his bed, he reached for the phone but grabbed instead a Smith & Wesson 38 Special, which discharged when he drew it to his ear.

Nominee No. 4: (UPI, Toronto ):
Police said a lawyer demonstrating the safety of windows in a downtown Toronto skyscraper crashed through a pane with his shoulder and plunged 24 floors to his death. A police spokesman said Garry Hoy, 39, fell into the courtyard of the Toronto Dominion Bank Tower early Friday evening as he was explaining the strength of the buildings' windows to visiting law students. Hoy previously has conducted demonstrations of window strength according to police reports.

Peter Lawson, managing partner of the firm Holden Day Wilson, told the Toronto Sun newspaper that Hoy was "one of the best and brightest" (ed note:?) members of the 200-man association.

Nominee No. 5: (The News of the Weird):
Michael Anderson Godwin made News of the Weird posthumously.

He had spent several years awaiting South Carolina's electric chair on a murder conviction before having his sentence reduced to life in prison.

While sitting on a metal toilet in his cell attempting to fix his small TV set, he bit into a wire and was electrocuted.

Nominee No. 6: A cigarette lighter may have triggered a fatal explosion in Dunkirk , Indiana
A Jay Countryman, using a cigarette lighter to check the barrel of a muzzle loader, was killed Monday night when the weapon discharged in his face, sheriffs investigators said. Gregory David Pryor, 19, died in his parents' rural Dunkirk home at about 11:30 PM.

Investigators said Pryor was cleaning a 54-caliber muzzle-loader that had not been firing properly.

He was using the lighter to look into the barrel when the gunpowder ignited.

Nominee No. 7: (Reuters, Mississauga , Ontario ):
A man cleaning a bird feeder on the balcony of his condominium apartment in this Toronto suburb slipped and fell 23 stories to his death.

Stefan Macko, 55, was standing on a wheelchair when the accident occurred, said Inspector Darcy Honer of the Peel Regional Police.

"It appears that the chair moved, and he went over the balcony," Honer said.


Finally, THE WINNER!!!: ( Arkansas Democrat Gazette):

Two local men were injured when their pickup truck left the road and struck a tree near Cotton Patch on State Highway 38 early Monday. Woodruff County deputy Dovey Snyder reported the accident shortly after midnight Monday. Thurston Poole, 33, of Des Arc, and Billy Ray Wallis, 38, of Little Rock, were returning to Des Arc after a frog catching trip.

On an overcast Sunday night, Poole 's pickup truck headlights malfunctioned.

The two men concluded that the headlight fuse on the older-model truck had burned out.

As a replacement fuse was not available, Wallis noticed that the 22 caliber bullets from his pistol fit perfectly into the fuse box next to the steering- wheel column. Upon inserting the bullet the headlights again began to operate properly, and the two men proceeded on eastbound toward the White River Bridge.

After traveling approximately 20 miles, and just before crossing the river, the bullet apparently overheated, discharged, and struck Poole in the testicles.

The vehicle swerved sharply right, exiting the pavement, and striking a tree.

Poole suffered only minor cuts and abrasions from the accident but will require extensive surgery to repair the damage to his testicles, which will never operate as intended.

Wallis sustained a broken clavicle and was treated and released.

"Thank God we weren't on that bridge when Thurston shot his nuts off, or we might both be dead," stated Wallis.

"I've been a trooper for 10 years in this part of the world, but this is a first for me. I can't believe that those two would admit how this accident happened," said Snyder.

Upon being notified of the wreck, Lavinia ( Poole's wife), asked how many frogs the boys had caught and did anyone get them from the truck.

Priorities, after all!!

Though Poole and Wallis did not die as a result of their misadventure as normally required by Darwin Award Official Rules, it can be argued that Poole did, in fact, effectively remove himself from the gene pool.

And what did all of these folks have in common?

Clearly an abiding interest in the preservation of their Second Amendment rights but further investigation that all but the prisoner who electrocuted himself had recently attended and were strong advocates for Tea Parties.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tired - A Found Poem

I like the idea of found poems. Annie Dillard has an entire book of found poems, Mornings Like This, of which she writes:

Excepting only some titles and subtitles, I did not write a word of it.

And similarly, I did not have to write a word of it after I googled "people make me tired" a few months ago. As soon as I saw the list of results pop up on the screen, I recognized what I had found:


People make me tired
Cool people make me tired
Blue green algae makes me tired
Buspar with Zoloft makes me tired.

Eating makes me tired
Sleeping makes me tired
Ecstasy makes me tired
Being vegetarian makes me tired.

If my eyesight isn’t perfect will it make me tired?

Women make me tired
Stressful job makes me tired
Frugality fatigue makes me tired
Maintaining the rage makes me tired.

Why does turkey make me tired?
Milk make me tired?
Bud make me tired?
Coffee make me tired?

Is it possible that vitamins make me tired?

You make me tired
Media releases make me tired
Narcolepsy makes me tired
Thinking about today makes me so tired.

Xanax helps.

But it…

…makes me tired.

George Masa

He died in 1933, but questions persist concerning the life and work of George Masa.

An early proponent of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and a close friend of Horace Kephart, Masa worked as a photographer in Asheville for many years.

After his death, Elliot Lyman Fisher purchased his photographs and hundreds of them disappeared after that.

Some of Masa’s photos ended up on postcards published during the 1930s and 40s, although most of those cards failed to acknowledge Masa.

"The Tuckaseigee River, between Sylva and Bryson City, N.C."....OR NOT!

Several years ago I acquired the postcard above, not knowing of any connection with Masa. My immediate question - “where EXACTLY between Sylva and Bryson City was this photo taken?”

After studying the river and referring to several maps, I came to the conclusion that the scene was NOT between Sylva and Bryson City. Last year, I saw Masa’s original photo captioned as a view of the “Tennessee River” in the GSMNP.

At that point, I started to consult my historic topographic maps – ones that show the area prior to the creation of Fontana Lake. Those maps feature several islands downstream from Bushnell, where the Tuckasegee joined the Little Tennessee, and that could be a clue to pinpointing the location.

Here’s how Asheville’s Pack Library annotated the Masa photograph:

Photograph of river with island in center looking towards mountains. Back of photo has one title that is crossed out: "G.S.M.N.P. Looking Down Tenn. River" (Assumed to be Tennessee River.) Under that is written: "or The Tuchasegee River?" Bryson City, NC is written under that. Photo is from the APC collection and has been retouched. Not dated. Bottom left has numbers 0-2748 c (copyright symbol), and is assumed to be George Masa's numbering.

Despite the caption on the postcard, my best guess is that the scene is NOT between Sylva and Bryson City and NOT on the Tuckasegee. Instead, it probably is a portion of the Little Tennessee (now Fontana Reservoir), west of Bryson City.

Precisely where, I can't say.


Pack Library has a substantial collection of Masa photos online
The notes to those images explain how many of them reappeared on postcards.

An extensive collection of vintage WNC postcards, the LeCompte collection, is posted by the library at UNC-Asheville which can be compared with the original Masa images.

One online exhibit is devoted to Masa’s connection with the Asheville Post Card Company and includes side-by-side images of Masa photos that were remade as postcards.

Paul Bonesteel filmed a wonderful documentary, The Mystery of George Masa, and on his website he explained the keys to identifying George Masa photos.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Grimshawes and Gay

Two from long-ago Jackson County, NC:

Grimshawes, N. C., Smallest Post Office in the U. S. A.

Clark's Cottages, Gay, North Carolina

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Americans Who Tell the Truth

Non-violence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

While browsing for information on Derrick Jensen, I happened upon Americans Who Tell the Truth, a collection of portraits and quotes with paintings by Robert Shetterly.

Very impressive.

From the artist's statement:

The second strong feeling --- the first being horror --- I had on September 11 was hope, hope that the United States would use the shock of this tragedy to reassess our economic, environmental, and military strategies in relation to the other countries and peoples of the world. Many people hoped for the same thing --- not to validate terrorism, but to admit that the arrogance and appetite of the U.S., all of us, have created so much bad feeling in many parts of the world that terrorism is inevitable. I no longer feel hopeful. If one looks closely at U.S. foreign policy, the common denominator is energy, oil in particular. The world is running out of oil.

Political leadership that had respect for the future of the Earth and a decent concern for the lives of American and non-American people would be leading us away from conflict toward conservation and economic justice, toward alternative energy, toward a plan for the survival of the world that benefits everyone. We see hegemony and greed thinly veiled behind patriotism and security. We get pre-emptive war instead of pre-emptive planning for a sustainable future.

The greatness of our country is being tested and will be measured not by its military might but by its restraint, compassion, and wisdom. De Toqueville said, “America is great because it is good. When it ceases to be good, it will cease to be great.” A democracy, whose leaders and media do not try to tell the people the truth, is a democracy in name only. If the consent of voters is gained through fear and lies, America is neither good nor great. Nor is it America.

I began painting this series of portraits --- finding great Americans who spoke the truth and combining their images with their words --- nearly three years ago as a way of to channel my anger and grief. In the process my respect and love for these people and their courage helped to transform that anger into hope and pride and allowed me to draw strength from this community of truth tellers, finding in them the courage, honesty, tolerance, generosity, wisdom and compassion that have made our country strong.

One lesson that can be learned from all of these Americans is that the greatness of our country frequently depends not on the letter of the law, but the insistence of a single person that we adhere to the spirit of the law.My original goal was to paint fifty portraits. I've now gone beyond that and have decided to paint several more. The more I've learned about American history --- past and present --- the more people I've discovered whom I want to honor in this way. The paintings will not be for sale. They will stay together as a group.

The courage of these individuals needs to remain a part of a great tradition, a united effort in respect for the truth. Eventually, I will give the portraits to one museum or library on the condition that they continue to be shown. These people form the well from which we must draw our future.

A few more of the portraits and quotes:

"The greatest bulwark of capitalism is militarism."

Emma Goldman - Anarchist, Feminist, Labor Advocate, 1869-1940

"The most common form of terrorism in the U.S.A. is that carried on by bulldozers and chainsaws. It is not enough to understand the natural world; the point is to defend and preserve it. Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul."
Edward Abbey - Writer, ‘desert anarchist’, 1927—1989

"The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time."
Terry Tempest Williams - Naturalist, Writer, Environmental Activist, 1955 -

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Finding Refuge

I discovered a reference to Gaddy's Goose Pond in an unexpected source, Derrick Jensen's book, A Language Older Than Words.

He referred to a phenomenon I've often heard about, that "game" animals have an uncanny sense of where they can find refuge from hunters:

I told my friend that every experienced hunter I know often witnesses this same thing: bucks feed openly in fields a few days before the season opens, then disappear before the shooting begins.

She continued to look at me, her face bland, and I could tell she was losing patience. I pushed ahead, and told her about the Gaddy Goose Refuge. In the mid-1930s, a North Carolina farmer named Lockhart Gaddy began feeding Canada geese at this farm. Soon, there were so many that tourists began to visit. The geese felt safe: at neighboring farms they wouldn’t allow anyone within a quarter mile of them, but at Gaddy’s they allowed tourists to touch them. Both birds and visitors continued to increase until there were nearly 30,000 Canada geese, and as many human visitors. In 1953 Gaddy died of an apparent heart attack while feeding the geese. His wife, Hazel, said there was silence among the 10,000 birds there at the time.

Derrick Jensen always has an interesting perspective on what's happening:

Here, he talks about identifying with the system:

Some people detest him, but I appreciate Jensen's "attitude":

[Click here for all stories on Gaddy's Geese.]

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"She eats her own cooking"

Treasures abound at the postcards site from the NC Collection at UNC. For instance:

Caption -Laura Reigns Supreme in the Kitchen at Hotel Carolina, Sylva, N.C. "She Eats Her Own Cooking." Chas. Thomas -- Prop.

Published by Cline Photo Co., Chattanooga, Tenn.

Message on back of card: "This is Laura. We ate here on way to Park. It was so cold on the highest peak 6000 ft that we nearly froze. It rained ice water up there. Uncle Nate." Addressed to: "Frances Beers, 1549 E 61st St, Chicago Ill." Postmarked 30 June 1941.

Real photo view of a smiling woman holding a frying pan in a kitchen.

Citation "Laura Reigns Supreme in the Kitchen at Hotel Carolina, Sylva, N.C." in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill Digital Collection

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Old Asheville, II

If we get enough bitterly cold weather this winter I might scan a bunch of vintage postcards. As it is, I have about fifty cards of Asheville alone, not including Biltmore, that are finally scanned and up on Flickr.

Pack Square, Vance Monument, Jackson Building

Practically all these cards are from the first half of the twentieth century. After hitting play, the box at the lower right (with four arrows pointing outward) provides a full-screen view, which I would recommend:

I have yet to scan all the Biltmore cards printed in Switzerland. These might be the finest cards I've found - photography, printing and cardstock are all especially nice:


There are some good (online) repositories of regional postcards, including Macon County Historical Society and the library at UNC-Asheville. But the first choice would be UNC's North Carolina Collection, which has more than 3000 vintage cards online. It's fun to get lost there.

More from the Durwood Barbour collection later...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bending Hell

hellbent – "stubbornly and often recklessly determined or intent to do or achieve something." The word has been traced back to 1835.

Since the subject of hellbenders has come up, I’ve wondered how they got that name. Is it related to their alleged ability to withstand fire? Or what? And how, exactly, does one “bend hell?” Here’s about the extent of what I’ve found:

The origin of the name "hellbender" is unclear. The Missouri Department of Conservation says:
"The name 'hellbender' probably comes from the animal’s odd look. Perhaps it was named by settlers who thought "it was a creature from hell where it’s bent on returning".

Another rendition says the undulating skin of a hellbender reminded observers of 'horrible tortures of the infernal regions'. In reality, it’s a harmless aquatic salamander."

Vernacular names include "snot otter", "devil dog", "mud-devil", "grampus", "Allegheny alligator", "leverian water newt", and "vulgo".* The genus name [Cryptobranchus] is derived from the Ancient Greek, "kryptos" (hidden) and "branch" (lung); a reference to oxygen absorption primarily through side-frills and not lungs.
[ from ]

I’m told, as well, that hellbenders aren’t the same thing as mudpuppies.

*Now, here we go with another interesting word - vulgo. I found two trains of thought leaving this station:

1. vulgo (plural vulgos), noun, from Latin vulgus - the common people, the masses

2. vulgo (adjective) Derived from "vulgar" and "vulgarity". Means to be deliberately vulgar in fashion and style, like adapting a pornstar look or being scantily clad. The vulgo look can be seriously, humorously, or ironically adapted, but it is always deliberate. Otherwise, it is not vulgo. "Vulgo" can also mean being deliberately vulgar in attitude and language, displaying a behavior meant to shock and/or provoke.

Not necessarily an "either/or" proposition with those two definitions, eh?

Photos of hellbenders and two dozen other eastern salamanders at:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Salamander's Wool

I just came across the following list, a partial list of Appalachian salamanders. These names are new to me and what great names they are!

Aneides aeneus - Green Salamander
Desmognathus aeneus - Seepage Salamander
Desmognathus carolinensis - Carolina Mountain Dusky Salamander
Desmognathus folkertsi - Dwarf Black-bellied Salamander
Desmognathus fuscus - Northern Dusky Salamander
Desmognathus imitator - Imitator Salamander
Desmognathus monticola - Seal Salamander
Desmognathus ocoee - Ocoee Salamander
Desmognathus ocrophaeus - Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander
Desmognathus orestes - Blue Ridge Dusky Salamander
Desmognathus quadramaculatus - Black-bellied Salamander
Desmognathus santeetlah - Santeetlah Dusky Salamander
Desmognathus wrighti - Pygmy Salamander
Eurycea bislineata - Northern Two-lined Salamander
Eurycea cirrigera - Southern Two-lined Salamander
Eurycea lucifuga - Cave Salamander
Eurycea wilderae - Blue Ridge Two-lined Salamander
Gyrinophilus porphyriticus danielsi - Blue Ridge Spring Salamander
Gyrinophilus porphyriticus dunni - Carolina Spring Salamander
Gyrinophilus porphyriticus porphyriticus - Northern Spring Salamander
Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens - Red-spotted Newt
Plethodon aureolis - Tellico Salamander
Plethodon chattahoochee - Chattahoochee Slimy Salamander
Plethodon cheoah - Cheoah Bald Salamander
Plethodon cinereus - Eastern Red-backed Salamander
Plethodon cylindraceus - White-spotted Slimy Salamander
Plethodon dorsalis - Zigzag Salamander
Plethodon glutinosus - Slimy Salamander
Plethodon hubrichti - Peaks of Otter Salamander
Plethodon jordani - Red-cheeked Salamander
Plethodon kentucki - Cumberland Plateau Salamander
Plethodon metcalfi - Southern Graycheek Salamander
Plethodon montanus - Northern Graycheek Salamander
Plethodon nettingi - Cheat Mountain Salamander
Plethodon petraeus - Pigeon Mountain Salamander
Plethodon punctatus - Cow Knob Salamander (White-spotted Salamander)
Plethodon shenandoah - Shenandoah Salamander
Plethodon shermani - Red-legged Salamander
Plethodon teyahalee - Southern Appalachian Salamander
Plethodon virginia - Shenandoah Mountain Salamander
Plethodon wehrlei - Wehrle's Salamander
Plethodon welleri - Weller's Salamander
Plethodon yonahlossee - Yonahlossee Salamander
Pseudotriton ruber schenki - Black-chinned Red Salamander

Photos of these can be viewed at this outstanding website:

My most memorable event from 2009 was finding the Oconee Bells. 2009 was also the year I discovered how little I knew about wildflowers, when I started learning how to identify them.

At Black Camp Gap, "Masonic" Salamander, 6/10/09

Maybe 2010 will be the year of the salamander. It's about time that I see a hellbender in the wild. Long past time, actually. And this is just about one of the best places on the planet to find salamanders.

I've been thinking about salamanders since coming across this passage from Thomas Bulfinch's Age of the Fable:

THE FOLLOWING is from the “Life of Benvenuto Cellini,” an Italian artist of the sixteenth century, written by himself: “When I was about five years of age, my father, happening to be in a little room in which they had been washing, and where there was a good fire of oak burning, looked into the flames and saw a little animal resembling a lizard, which could live in the hottest part of that element. Instantly perceiving what it was, he called for my sister and me, and after he had shown us the creature, he gave me a box on the ear. I fell a-crying, while he, soothing me with caresses, spoke these words: ‘My dear child, I do not give you that blow for any fault you have committed, but that you may recollect that the little creature you see in the fire is a salamander; such a one as never was beheld before to my knowledge.’ So saying he embraced me, and gave me some money.”

It seems unreasonable to doubt a story of which Signor Cellini was both an eye and ear witness. Add to which the authority of numerous sage philosophers, at the head of whom are Aristotle and Pliny, affirms this power of the salamander. According to them, the animal not only resists fire, but extinguishes it, and when he sees the flame charges it as an enemy which he well knows how to vanquish.

That the skin of an animal which could resist the action of fire should be considered proof against that element is not to be wondered at. We accordingly find that a cloth made of the skin of salamanders (for there really is such an animal, a kind of lizard) was incombustible, and very valuable for wrapping up such articles as were too precious to be intrusted to any other envelopes. These fire-proof cloths were actually produced, said to be made of salamander’s wool, though the knowing ones detected that the substance of which they were composed was asbestos, a mineral, which is in fine filaments capable of being woven into a flexible cloth.

The foundation of the above fables is supposed to be the fact that the salamander really does secrete from the pores of his body a milky juice, which when he is irritated is produced in considerable quantity, and would doubtless, for a few moments, defend the body from fire. Then it is a hibernating animal, and in winter retires to some hollow tree or other cavity, where it coils itself up and remains in a torpid state till the spring again calls it forth. It may therefore sometimes be carried with the fuel to the fire, and wake up only time enough to put forth all its faculties for its defence. Its viscous juice would do good service, and all who profess to have seen it, acknowledge that it got out of the fire as fast as its legs could carry it; indeed, too fast for them ever to make prize of one, except in one instance, and in that one the animal’s feet and some parts of its body were badly burned.

Finally [or finally, for the time being] from The Hidden Life of Art, I learned:

The salamander is always pictured as engulfed by flames. Its primary significance is that of fire itself, of which it is both spirit and guardian. In medieval times, it additionally symbolized the heat of desire and , because it is sexless, chastity. In Christian iconography, the salamander represents faith and righteousness that survives the fire of temptation and evil.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Lost Archives

It's disappointing to log on to an old favorite, a huge collection of Tennessee Valley Authority photos...and find them missing.

Here's the site, but the photos don't load anymore:

Maybe someday the National Archives will get the whole collection of 120,000 Federal ("EAP") historic photos back online again. It was awesome. Fortunately, I had already downloaded a few like these:

From the Kodak Negative File, record group 142, Tennessee Valley Authority, National Archives

Sylva Electric Light and Power Company on the Tuckaseegee River

Smoky Mountain Power Company on the Oconaluftee River

Sylva paperboard company

Armour Tannery on Scott’s Creek

A very informative technical paper- - explains what was involved in getting all those photos online. Why they're gone, I don't know.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Forced Migrations

We’ve all read a description of the Smokies along these lines:

The wide range of elevations mimics the latitudinal changes found throughout the entire eastern United States. Indeed, ascending the mountains is comparable to a trip from Tennessee to Canada. Plants and animals common in the country's Northeast have found suitable ecological niches in the park's higher elevations, while southern species find homes in the balmier lower reaches.

I was thinking about that observation after encountering The Velocity of Climate Change, a recent article from Nature.

Discovery News summarized the research:

As climate changes, species will need to relocate to follow their ideal climate, generally by uphill or to higher latitudes. But how quickly will this change occur?

In a new study, researchers calculate that climates will shift about a third of a mile per year, on average, over the next century.

"When most people think about a rate of climate change, they're thinking about how much climate is changing in time," said study lead author Scott Loarie of the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University.

"But there's also a spatial gradient," he said. "How far do you have to go from a given point to change your climate? On a mountain, it's not very far. But if you're in the middle of the Amazon basin, you have to go very far to change your climate."

The researchers combined these two aspects -- how fast climate is predicted to change over time with how temperatures vary by location -- to create a global map of how climate will move across the landscape over the next 100 years.

In mountainous areas, the velocity is slower, because temperatures change quickly up and down a slope. This means organisms won't need to move as far to track their climate. Mountains may offer refuges for some species by providing a range of climates in a small area, Loarie said.

One thing’s for sure - adaptation to climate change will be an interesting process in these mountains. We already live in a dynamic environment, with the forests changing before our eyes. Long ago, the spruce-fir forests covered ten times as much of the Southern Appalachians as they do now. Go back far enough and you might find saber-tooth cats and mastodons on the icy slopes. Whatever the forest was yesterday, it will be something different tomorrow.

A 2001 article discusses the mystery of megafauna extinction on this continent:

WASHINGTON — As recently as 20,000 years ago, North America had an array of large mammals to rival the spectacular wildlife of modern Africa. Mammoths bigger than African elephants, as well as smaller, pointy-toothed mastodons, ranged from Alaska to Central America.

Herds of horses and camels roamed the grasslands, while ground sloths the size of oxen lived in the forests and bear-size beavers built dams in streams.

By about 10,000 years ago, all these animals — and others, such as saber-toothed cats and giant bears — were gone. Some 70 North American species disappeared, three-quarters of them large mammals. Why?...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Käna'sta, The Lost Settlement

Every new year starts with a list of places I have yet to visit. Pilot Mountain, in Transylvania County, is on the list right now.

In this old Cherokee story, collected by James Mooney...let's just say the cabins on Pilot Mountain turn out to be the ultimate gated community:

Long ago, while people still lived in the old town of Käna'sta, on the French Broad, two strangers, who looked in no way different from other Cherokee, came into the settlement one day and made their way into the chief's house.

After the first greetings were over the chief asked them from what town they had come, thinking them from one of the western settlements, but they said, "We are of your people and our town is close at hand, but you have never seen it. Here you have wars and sickness, with enemies on every side, and after a while a stronger enemy will come to take your country from you, We are always happy, and we have come to invite you to live with us in our town over there," and they pointed toward Tsuwa`tel'da (Pilot knob). "We do not live forever, and do not always find game when we go for it, for the game belongs to Tsul`kälû', who lives in Tsunegûñ'yï, but we have peace always and need not think of danger. We go now, but if your people will live with us let them fast seven days, and we shall come then to take them." Then they went away toward the west.

The chief called his people together into the townhouse and they held a council over the matter and decided at last to go with the strangers. They got all their property ready for moving, and then went again into the townhouse and began their fast. They fasted six days, and on the morning of the seventh, before yet the sun was high, they saw a great company coming along the trail from the west, led by the two men who had stopped with the chief.

They seemed just like Cherokee from another settlement, and after a friendly meeting they took up a part of the goods to be carried, and the two parties started back together for Tsuwa`tel'da. There was one man from another town visiting at Käna'sta, and he went along with the rest.

When they came to the mountain, the two guides led the way into a cave, which opened out like a great door in the side of the rock. Inside they found an open country and a town, with houses ranged in two long rows from east to west. The mountain people lived in the houses on the south side, and they had made ready the other houses for the new comers, but even after all the people of Käna'sta, with their children and belongings, had moved in, there were still a large number of houses waiting ready for the next who might come. The mountain people told them that there was another town, of a different people, above them in the same mountain, and still farther above, at the very top, lived the Ani'-Hyûñ'tïkwälâ'skï (the Thunders).

Now all the people of Käna'sta were settled in their new homes, but the man who had only been visiting with them wanted to go back to his own friends. Some of the mountain people wanted to prevent this, but the chief said, "No; let him go if he will, and when he tells his friends they may want to come, too. There is plenty of room for all." Then he said to the man, "Go back and tell your friends that if they want to come and live with us and be always happy, there is a place here ready and waiting for them. Others of us live in Datsu'nalâsgûñ'yï and in the high mountains all around, and if they would rather go to any of them it is all the same. We see you wherever you go and are with you in all your dances, but you can not see us unless you fast. If you want to see us, fast four days, and we will come and talk with you; and then if you want to live with us, fast again seven days, and we will come and take you."

Then the chief led the man through the cave to the outside of the mountain and left him there, but when the man looked back he saw no cave, but only the solid rock.

* * * * * * *

The people of the lost settlement were never seen again, and they are still living in Tsuwa`tel'da. Strange things happen there, so that the Cherokee know the mountain is haunted and do not like to go near it. Only a few years ago a party of hunters camped there, and as they sat around their fire at supper time they talked of the story and made rough jokes about the people of old Käna'sta. That night they were aroused from sleep by a noise as of stones thrown at them from among the trees, but when they searched they could find nobody, and were so frightened that they gathered up their guns and pouches and left the place.

[Source: MYTHS OF THE CHEROKEE, James Mooney, From Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 1897-98, Part I, 1900.]

From Mooney's notes:

Tsuwa`tel'da...known to the whites as Pilot knob is a high mountain about eight miles north of Brevard. On account of the pecukliar stratefied appearance of the rocks, the faces of the cliffs are said frequently to present a peculiar appearance under the sun's rays, as of shining walls with doors, windows, and shingles roofs.

Käna' ancient Cherokee town on the French Broad where the trail from Tennessee Creek of the Tuckasegee comes in, near the present Brevard.

Datsu'nalâsgûñ'yï - Shining Rock. The name seems to mean, "at the white place."

Apparently, Pilot Mountain is eminently hikeable. According to one set of directions:

Start from Gloucester Gap, which is 4.5 miles west of the State Fish Hatchery on FS Road 475...the trail climbs to Pilot Mountain, a former fire tower site with a 360-degree view. In mid-May the north side of Pilot Mountain is abloom with pinkshell azalea. There is a shelter and spring at Deep Gap. The trail then climbs to the Blue Ridge Parkway, winding through a mature upland hardwood forest. From the Parkway it is a steep climb to Silvermine Bald where there is a transition from a hardwood forest to a spruce-fir forest. Grass balds and an abundance of catawba rhododendron make this a good spot to hike in late June when these showy shrubs bloom. Near Silvermine Bald the Mountains-to-the-Sea Trail splits to the west while the Art Loeb Trail follows the ridge northeast to FS Road 816.

The photos above were taken by James Mooney, and all but one, in 1888.

From top, Tsiskwa-Kaluya or Bird Chopper, Chief Junaluska's son .

Next, Ayunini or Swimmer, Mooney's source for many stories, including this one.


Yanakalegi or Climbing Bear