Spring Sunset at Lake Lure

Sunset can be subtle, and this weekend proved that. Not much color, but a soft tranquility. Evidence of last fall’s fires is nonexistent on Rumbling Bald Mountain as it rises above the calm waters. Low humidity and cooler temperatures continue dominate. Sunday morning was 39 degrees in Otter Creek Valley five miles north of the lake.

Lake Lure Boathouse

Lake Lure Yacht Club Island bridgeThe bridge between Yacht Club Island and the main shore…

Lake Lure BoathousesLake Lure is known for it’s unique boathouses…

Lake Lure Rumbling Bald MountainRumbling Bald Mountain with waterfalls from recent rains…

Lake Lure SightseeingSightseeing on the lake….

The Song of the Whippoorwill

It just wouldn’t be spring in the Mountains without the melancholy call of the Whippoorwill well before sunrise. A member of the Nighthawk family, this small hunter feeds on flying insects, especially moths, and hides in the understory during the day. But every night from late April to early June, he has one thing in mind, finding a mate, and he competes with other hopefuls in the pitch and intensity of his song. Like clockwork, he begins long after sunset, and reaches his crescendo at the first light of dawn.

8f7eabe0ac89a2929f86b6e7562d106a  plate-82-whip-poor-will-final_0

John James Audubon watercolor of the Whippoorwill…….

This short video will feature the recent serenade captured from my deck well before sunrise. Turn the sound up and listen for all the other birds welcoming the morning. It’s a very special time of day, but it’s best you keep the windows closed if you want to sleep.

Laurel, Mountains, and Spring Flowers

Mid-May always brings a flurry of new growth and color along the Blue Ridge, and this year is no exception. 

Rooster 1

Red Hot Poker with showy spikes of tubular orange and yellow flowers. Native to South Africa, this durable wildflower is highly attractive to hummingbirds.

Mountain Laurel PinkThe Mountain Laurel is in the rhododendron and azalea family. In the distance is Hickorynut Mountain along the Blue Ridge Escarpment.

Mountain Laurel bouquet

Ragwort MeadowRagwort always adds a bright touch to mountain meadows.

Wolfpen Mountain EvergreensWolfpen Mountain is surrounded by every kind of evergreen tree.

Milkweed Thistle

Thistle Milkweed at Sunrise

Daisy Bouquet

Daises are found in meadows everywhere

Rumbling Bald Mt. Shumont in springAbove is 4,000 foot Mt. Shumont and Rumbling Bald Mountain where the “Party Rock” fire over Lake Lure was centered. The darker areas show fire damage, but the lower slopes have recovered very nicely. Below is a view from further north.

Mt. Shumont fire damage

Hemlock Christmas treesHemlock is not a popular choice for holiday trees, but don’t tell the growers at this Rutherford County tree farm. Years of pruning and shaping have created remarkable specimens that are much thicker than wild Carolina Hemlock.

 

 

 

Spring Wildflowers in the Valley

Because of a late hard freeze, everything is late blooming this year. February was so warm that nature was fooled into thinking that it was March already, and that proved disastrous for the flowering trees, especially the Dogwood and Bradford Pear, and for the local Azaleas and other shrubs. My Princess tree never bloomed, and I feared it had succumbed to the fall drought, I never found a Blood Root in bloom.

Finally,  things have begun to open. Here are a few…

KODAK Digital Still CameraWild Rose

KODAK Digital Still Camera

blackberryBlackberry

blue barn 2

KODAK Digital Still CameraHoneysuckle

KODAK Digital Still CameraWild Dwarf Iris

KODAK Digital Still CameraWild Azalea

KODAK Digital Still CameraThe last Dogwood

virginia 1Virginia Pine

KODAK Digital Still CameraColorado Blue Spruce

 

 

The “Greening of the Mountains”

Every Spring, the most dramatic change comes when the trees burst fourth with their new leaves. The variety of green hues is a sight to behold.

green 1Pinnacle Peak above a field of new hay…

shumont 1Mt. Shumont above Hemphill Road…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToward Wolfpen Mountain…

 

Carolina Allspice along Otter Creek

Don’t be deceived by the light sweet fragrance and attractive “flowers”of this bush that grows along streams here in the valley. It is a close relative to the plant that produces strychnine, and can be very poisonous if eaten. I found these growing all along Otter Creek this week.

Carolina Allspice

Carolina Allspice

CAT023 - Mark Catesby - The Chatterer

A watercolor by Mark Catesby from 1731, 100 years before Audubon…

Carolina Allspice

Carolina Allspice

 

Clear Horizon at Montford Cove

After four inches of rain on Sunday and Monday, a passing front cleared the air and lowered the humidity to winter levels. The clarity of the mountain views was remarkable for late April. Montford Cove is a farming community a mile north of my home. This is one of my favorite vantage points anywhere along the Blue Ridge Escarpment. This image was made looking to the southeast, with Tryon Mountain in the far distance along the North and South Carolina border. Charlotte would be just over the mountain on the left.

Montford Cove toward Tryon Mountain

Looking toward the southwest toward Lake Lure…montford cove toward Lake Lure

That’s Tryon and Bill’s Mountains on the horizon with Oak Mountain to the right. New Spring leaves give the canopy a rich glow of every shade of green. Visibility was unlimited.montford cove toward Tryon and Oak Mountains

This was a similar view just three weeks ago…montford cove view of Tryon Mountain