Unusual View of Otter Pond

This appeared five years ago, and is worth a revisit as Spring arrives.

Living in The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina- A Blog

Most of the year, Otter Pond is obscured by the leaves of all the hardwood trees on the slopes around it. This time of year, just before the first buds begin to open, is the best time to really see the size and setting of this gem in the mountains. A light steam was rising from the surface on this 30 degree morning. The ridge beyond is the lowest part of the rim of mountains that encircles the entire valley, except for the narrow entrance where Otter Creek finds in way out to eventually join with Cove Creek.

This time of year the farmers plow their fields so the soil can get moisture from the March rains. This bottomland will grow corn, okra, beans, pumpkin. In the distance is Otter Creek Road as it enters the valley through a very small opening.

Below is the last of the winter turnip and greens…

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Yoshino Cherry Trees near Lake Lure

Only two weeks ago, snow blanketed this area northeast of Lake Lure, and less days than that, the temperature plummeted to 16 degrees here in Otter Creek Valley, and yet, these Yoshino Cherry trees along Buffalo Creek Road about a mile from the Lake have burst forth with a most dramatic display this week. They are directly related to the famous trees in Washington D.C. which are also blooming this week.

sugarloaf 1Sugarloaf Mountain south of Lake Lure.

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KODAK Digital Still Camera

Mt. Shumont at 4,000 feet towers over Lake Lure and another flowering tree near the cherries. This is where the fires roared just four months ago.shumont 3

A springtime salute to Old Glory…Old Glory

18th Century Log House Reconstruction

Except for staining and a few finishing touches, the 18th century log farmhouse that I have been chronicling is finished.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

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The barn is untouched and really shows its age well. 

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A coat of red wash decades ago is almost gone with weather and sunlight. Let’s hope that  Barnwood Builders never find this place. All wood was milled on the site.barn side

Late Winter Snow is Short but Sweet

Sunday morning’s snow lasted but six hours, but getting almost three inches anytime in mid March is always a treat. The temperature never made it down to freezing in my area, but the 33 degree air was enough to create magic. A stroll at sunrise found a blanket of white, and a steady stream of flakes with no wind. My cowboy hat was much more appropriate than the usual wool ski cap.

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My neighbor’s blooming Peach must have been caught by surprise by the late flakes…peach tree

The house took everything in stride…Hemlock House 2

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Jeanne and Ron’s log cabin next door…

With no ice and snow on the salted roads, I drove out to explore the Northwest Rutherford Mountains, something I had not been able to do in heavier snows for the past eight years. What I found were clear roads with no cars, and a natural beauty that I had been missing while snow was still falling.KODAK Digital Still CameraNear Lake Lure

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Pinnacle Mountain along the Rutherford-McDowell County line

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Pinnacle Peak from Hemphill Road

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Southwest view toward Lake Lure’s mountains from Hemphill Road

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My house is just over that white ridge in the upper center.

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Hickorynut Mountain to the northwest from Tight Run Loop

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Hickorynut towers over Montford Cove Valley at over 3,000 feet.

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Willow trees in the Valley.

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Brushy Top Mountain log farmhouse.

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Brushy Top looking south. My house is on the other side.


Brushy Top looking north from Fibber Magee Drive.

I made this video from the car during the drive…..





Update on Cleghorn Plantation

In the summer of 2014, I reported that the 1837 Cleghorn Plantation mansion in Rutherford County, North Carolina, had been repaired with new windows, new woodwork on the veranda, and a general interior decluttering, making the dowager watertight. Today I revisited the house to see what had changed since then.

While I was disappointed that no new work has been done during this time, I am glad that the condition is no worse. The exterior glows with a new coat of white paint, and the structure looks to be solid. Here are the images that I made today. Most look very much like the ones I made in 2014. But here’s the best news of all.

In April of 2016, Tryon Equestrian Partners, developers of the nearby Tryon Equestrian Center, purchased the Cleghorn Golf and Country Club, including the historic plantation house. The new owners are planning to restore the house, and turn it into a farm to table restaurant in an effort to preserve and showcase the historic qualities of Rutherford County. 

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KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Cleghorn 4The view from behind the house looking up the 18th fairway. The mill stone is original.




Early Spring in Gainesville, Florida

Taking a couple of weeks break from this mild mountain winter, I have settled in Gainesville just a spring begins. Like everywhere else this year, it has come early to North Florida.

duck pondThe Duck Pond District near downtown…

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

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KODAK Digital Still CameraTangerines

Harbinger of Spring, the Hazel Alder

You wouldn’t expect to find shrubs blooming around Otter Pond in the dead of winter, but for the Hazel Alder plant, that’s exactly what happens. These hardy trees can bloom as early as the beginning of February, when sub-freezing temperatures are the norm. This unusually warm winter has been no exception.

hazelnut-2The dangling catkins are the male part of the flower, and the red buds along the stems are the female flowers. I made these images on February 21st, on a frosty morning. These hardy trees grow close to water, as you can see in the image below of Otter Pond. The Hazel Alder are the brownish bushes growing along the banks of the pond.


Unlike their close cousins, the American Hazelnut, these plants produce small pinecone-like seeds that remain on the stems for entire year. Both are in the birch family.