Just a stone's throw east of the eastern continental divide is a small town in western North Carolina. Following a country road, then another, and still a third, with names like Sugar Hill, Bat Cave, and Mack Noblitt (old Mack once owned all the land surrounding this road), you come to a steep driveway that leads through dense woods to the top of a hill. A house with a wooden wrap-around deck affording views of the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains, the oldest mountain range on earth, sits on that hill. I spent the last week in this rural enclave in the foothills, visiting my aunt Laura, one of the most amazing women I know, and her husband Joop, whose paintings adorn many of their walls. No email, no blog entries, no traffic. Not missed a bit (well, maybe a bit of withdrawal from lack of email and blogging access).
There's plenty of reading material. Laura and Joop's library includes a floor-to-ceiling bookcase filled with books on art, dance, philosophy, books in Dutch, many classics, music, history, and science. There's months of listening material. They have an impressive classical music CD collection (and some vinyl, too). But most important to me is that Laura gives me connection to my family, meaning to the faces in old family photographs, unknown relatives that had personalities, histories, and connections to me. My brother Scott and I spent hours with Laura going through the family albums and she told me about her life as a girl, and my father's life as a boy. So precious.
Thaïs, Laura's kitty, uses the abundant vegetation to warily watch and sometimes hunt.
The front yard has a wonderful butterfly bush that attracts tons of ... butterflies. Beyond the backyard is a pathway fortified with strategically placed wooden berms. It snakes down the hillside through the dense woods thick with cat claw vines, to the creek, a lazy running waterway that babbles and whispers, but can roar if swollen with rain water.
Days are still warm, but it cools off at night. In the night's coolness is a steady roll of cicadas accompanied by the high-pitch shrill of crickets. From inside it sounds distant, but you go outside and it becomes a night-time symphony. Indeed, night time is louder than days.
Many of the wildflowers are passed blooming, but we still saw a few.
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