Enjoy the Colorful Photographic Impressions created by Vann Helms
As September draws to a close every year, my meadow is filled with a sea of Narrow Leaf Sunflowers, and this year, there are more than ever. Although they are dramatic in bright sun, they take on a different personality in the early morning fog.
In the back meadow…
There’s just something special about the sunsets in the mountains, and late summer thunderstorms can produce some of the best.
Driving west on Interstate 40 is always memorable, but when the clouds and the Sun come together in just the right way, the effect can be breathtaking.
The Grove Park Inn in Asheville has one of the best panoramic views of the Great Smokies, but when conditions are just right, magic happens…
Montford Cove is a farming valley north of Lake Lure, and when eastern thunderstorms catch the setting sun, the colors are magnificent…
Finding a spot with an unobstructed eastern view a mile north of the house had me waiting for moonrise. Long Mountain dominates the horizon, and just after sunset, this was the view of Pinnacle Peak on the northern end of the mountain.
The last light turned Long Mountain into a blue cloud…
…and within twenty minutes, it appeared…………
…then the clouds moved in, and the sky looked more like sunrise than moonrise.
…but the Harvest Moon had one last appearance to make.
Constructed in the 1890’s to honor the man who took the Southern Railway across the Blue Ridge, this gravity fed frivolity shoots a powerful stream of water over 80 feet in the air. A 12″ cast iron pipe brings water from Mill Creek from a Mill Pond 600 feet higher up the mountain, with a 2″ nozzle that concentrates that flow at the bottom. It’s located in the center of the first “loop” of the famous “Old Fort Loops” where trains make many loops in their effort to climb over the Eastern Continental Divide.
The view I captured in Fall from a train on the adjacent track is really breathtaking.
Vintage Postcards are always a treat to the eye…
North Carolina is the fourth largest apple growing state, and the vast majority of that fruit comes from the valley just east of Hendersonville in a micro climate district known as the Isothermal Belt, because warmer days add weeks to the growing season. From the end of August to the end of September, growers feverishly gather sixteen different varieties of the nutritious fruit.
A trip from my house to Apple Valley, as it’s called, takes less than hour, and I had to go around 4,300 foot Little Pisgah Mountain, the tallest peak between the Piedmont and Asheville, south of Interstate 40.
After Little Pisgah, I drove over Bearwallow Mountain, the second tallest peak, emerging at Grand Highlands, an upscale development that overlooks Apple Valley, 2,000 feet below.
Driving down narrow roads into the valley, suddenly the world changes, revealing an idyllic setting more like Europe than the Southern Appalachians.
Ancient apple orchards cover the lower slopes with gnarled, drooping trees, laden heavy with fruit ready to be picked.
The mountains to the north ensure steady rainfall throughout the growing season.
You can smell the sweet scent of fallen fruit, fermenting underneath the rows of trees.
All through the orchards, large crates were filled with fruit awaiting pick up by large trucks that would transport them to the many Apple Houses located mostly along U.S. Highway 64.
It’s always a treat to stop at the different Apple Houses to shop and to enjoy their decorations. This one featured giant pumpkins and bounties of the harvest.
The most popular Apple House is called Grandad’s, and finding a parking spot is always difficult. It’s a family place where the kids can play on a number of attractions, and Mom and Dad can shop for apples, cider, pies, jellies, honey, and just about anything else relating to apples.
Once you’ve finished shopping, you can relax in a comfortable rocking chair, enjoying the beauty of the distant mountains and the large fields of corn surrounding the barn.
It’s a great way to spend an afternoon doing what people have been doing in this valley for over 200 years. A short drive takes you back over the Eastern Continental Divide, through Chimney Rock Village, and to picturesque Lake Lure, where 4,000 foot Mt. Shumont dwarfs the boats resting in the distant marina.
The tallest wildflower in these mountains can reach twelve feet in height, and in August it blooms with tiny pink flowers, attracting every Butterfly within a quarter mile. My meadow is full of them because I keep it natural, and they make a dramatic statement as summer wanes. The unusual name is believed to be from a Native American named Joe Pye, who first used the plant as a medicine in New England. It is threatened in the wild, but you wouldn’t know that when you look around my meadow.
This Anise Tiger Swallowtail butterfly can’t seem to get enough.
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