Archive for the ‘through the lens’ Category


Happiness is two days in the mountains with Walt and my girls.

Shelby & Chaps in their carseats, ready to hit the road!
My grandfather helped build the hiking trails and roads in Cades Cove when he was a teenager working for the Civilian Conservation Corps around 1941.  I grew up visiting the Smoky Mountains at least once a year with both sets of grandparents, so this place is very special to me.
One of the many mountain streams


Chaps loves hiking…


...and Shelby wants to follow every trail.

 I always forget how beautiful this place is, even on a cloudy winter day.

In the higher elevations, at the Tennessee/North Carolina state line.


We drove to Cherokee, NC, which is almost unchanged in 35 years (with the exception of the casino nearby).
A small rain blew into the valley, bringing a rainbow!

Stormy skies

 A new friend gets in a few more bites before the rain starts.


 Taking the back roads…

Cades Cove

 Stopping to watch every waterfall for a while…

Under one of the stone bridges

Rising early for an incredible sunrise…

Gatlinburg, still sleepy

It was an amazing weekend.  And like these two turkeys…


 …we had an incredibly peaceful holiday.  For this I am truly thankful!

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“Summer makes me drowsy; Autumn makes me sing.” -Dorothy Parker

At "Hatchie Bottom"

Stream at Hatchie



South road frontage at the Mt. Pinson farm

Behind our house


Another incredible view behind our house

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If you blink, you’ll miss it. 

Walt and I were lucky enough to catch cotton-picking in progress at dusk one evening last week.  Three men, each in their own modern marvel of machinery, picked our entire 400-acre field in a matter of hours. 

One picked, baled, wrapped, and dropped each bale out of the back without ever slowing down.  It would have taken over 300 laborers to hand-pick what this alien-looking machine did in one day.

The picker utilizes GPS technology, so that the operator never has to slow down to align with the rows.

Without missing a beat, he drops each completed bale out of the back of the machine…

 …and a tractor outfitted with a forklift rushes in to move each bale as soon as it is dropped.  The entire process of unloading and moving the bale took less than 30 seconds.

This bale is lined up with the others, precisely in a row, and the driver moves on to wait for the next.  Meanwhile, another tractor methodically cuts the now empty stalks to the ground.

Bales in the Moonlight

The bales have already been transported to the cotton gin for processing.  Long gone are the days when giant trailers holding loose cotton in which to jump and play would have provided days of entertainment for a little curly-haired country girl…but that wonderful freshly-picked cotton smell evokes memories that will never fade.

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The late summer heat has soon worked its magic on the cotton bolls, and what was lush green just 3 short weeks ago is now speckled with color.

Some of the bolls have begun to open now…

…and a few others are already “cotton angels”……as the journey from plant to product continues.  It’s hard to imagine that in just a few more days, the entire field will be sparkling white, as the relief of fall gently lands in The South.  I can’t wait!!!

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After a couple of excrutiatingly hot Southern days, sprinkled with a few summer storms, everything looks particularly green on the farm.  I noticed the cotton field behind the house sparkling with blooms, and grabbed the camera for the first time in a while. 

Many folks only see cotton once it’s cotton; but for a couple of days each August, you can walk through the field and see every phase of the process before it’s cotton, simultaneously…each step every bit as lovely as the full cotton bolls will be come October.

First, there is the bud of the blossom…

which will bloom into an etherial white flower.

The petals will soon become tinged with pink…

before turning almost purple…

…and then shriveling away…

…to reaveal the cotton boll.

On this particular day, the non-cultivated part of the farm also proved to be quite photogenic.  Passion flowers abound, and will soon produce sweet fruit.  The old-timers refer to this as wild cotton, and although they consider it a pesky weed, I’m fascinated by the fact that it grows wild around the cotton fields of Tennessee.

Polk Salad (pronounced “poke sallet”), a potentially poisonous Southern delicacy made famous by Elvis, grows here

entwined with a lovely wild variety of trumpet vine.  If you need a little dose of soul today, I highly recommend you watch this video and learn the story of Polk Salad Annie from The King himself.

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Goals for the weekend were to sleep late, make homemade lemonade, and swim.  Done, done, and done.

Sounds like a pretty soft weekend, huh?  Well, there were a lot of other things that had to be done that were not so pleasant – some are still undone.  But I’ve realized recently that if I don’t start forcing some happy into my life, I’m going to lose all sight of what it used to mean to be happy…and I do have a lot to be happy about!

So I slept late, under freshly washed sheets and blankets, and remembered how much i love my bed…

…which has these cool pillows our niece made…

…and is SO much greater when my bed buddies are snoozing late with me.  Here are Atticus Finch, Chaps, and Shelby – wondering why I don’t put the camera down and go to bed!

There was no time for swimming, but Walt and I made time Sunday afternoon – that’s the thing about these promises to the universe (aka the handful of people who read this blog).  Besides, it was steamy hot outside, and the water looked so inviting.

The lemonade almost didn’t happen, either, but I’m so glad it did.  I even used fresh mint from the garden, which usually grows there year to year untouched.

“Pick the day. Enjoy it – to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come… The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present, and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future.”
— Audrey Hepburn

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