Life in The Cloud

Ah yes. Now I remember. Life in the cloud.

It was mysterious and eerie and the relentless fog lent a kind of drama to the aloneness that first year in Floyd County living, just me and the cat, on Walnut Knob, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I especially remember the disembodied language of a flock of Ravens roosting in the invisible trees a few hundred feet into the milky distance. This morning, it is the crows, in the same opaque beyond that ear can cross but eye cannot.

This is the first of its kind since moving here ten weeks ago from a valley cleft where fog “up top” was a surprise as we reached the pavement less than 2 miles but more than 500 feet above the creeks where we lived.

We’ve had fog other mornings here, but this one has drenched everything on the porch all around.

It is as if the entire outside world has been silently powerwashed by a superwet aerosol that reaches anywhere there is air. Everything still remaining from the move that had not found place inside is now very wet, outside. This includes stuff we had felt certain would stay dry under the porch roof.

This, and the coming of the Winds, we must prepare for, plus those vagaries of nature we can only know by surviving them this first year.

Meanwhile…

It’s a start. I’ll create a partition to separate new from aged organic matter. The pine tree under a powerline clearing must go. The small fenced area contains Jerusalem Artichokes. Deer love ’em but can’t have ’em.

We now have a place to put coffee grounds, apple peels, corn shucks and such that, regrettably, we have been sending to the landfill until now. I took three more-or-less equal sized pallets and wired them together to form three sides of a cubicle to contain vegetable scraps and yard waste plus topsoil, browns and greens laid down towards next years REAL garden.

We had eight 8’x4′ cattle panels and lots of T-posts for this year’s 8×24′ space, then added a bit for gifted raspberries. Come spring, this year’s sod will be ready for direct planting inside a sturdy fence–design yet to come to mind.

This year’s pitiful little space is making us ‘maters, in a fraction of what next year’s first real effort will encompass. We’ve mulched the full intended dimensions ()24′ x 32’) with hay from a busted bale over against the edge of the pasture.

And little by little, we’re learning to live here.

Music, Mountains and Big Trees

Back in December, I was offered the opportunity to contribute a “500-700 word article on Southwest Virginia’s outdoors or nature” by the Crooked Road folks. It now appears (on page 23) in the program guide for next week’s Mountains of Music regional celebration.

The topic I chose (because Jane Cundiff and I had been talking about Big Trees in Floyd County) was SWVA’s known and as-yet-unrecorded Big Trees–and the Stadium Woods issue on the Va Tech campus.

You can read my article; see a larger version of the wonderful image of Stadium Woods that Tech allowed us to use for the essay; and view a 6 minute video by Chris Risch (who filmed the To The Last Drop video on Floyd’s water back in 2014.)

And then take a look at the MOMH program guide and decide where you’ll go next week to hear some of the best live-performance music our part of the country has to offer. (See you on June 13 at the Floyd Country Store for the Stanleys and company.)

Mountain Lake(less)

Click for larger image

Mountain Lake (on Salt Pond Mountain) in Giles County, Virginia, was familiar territory once upon a time. I took five-week-long studies at the UVa Biological Station there in the summers of 1977 and 1978.

I have been back a few times since, doing author tables maybe twice. The last time I was there, I think there was still a lake. Last week’s visit was sad: there is now no lake at all.

Memories abolished by cataclysm, “progress” or decay are bitter sweet.

I remember diving off the large boulder nearest to what used to be the center of the lake. This part of the lake was called the Garden of the Gods. The water was unbelievably cold–even in July.

This, by the way, is (or was) one of only TWO naturally occurring lakes in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The other is Lake Drummond, in Dismal Swamp. At least that is what I have stated as being accurate and think it to be true (vs alternative) fact.

A trail follows the perimeter of the lake. I’ve walked it many times, finding amazing bird life, which, like human visitors, came for the water.

If you know of the Lodge (off image far right) it might be because it was the site of filming for some of Dirty Dancing.

I’ve told the geological story of the lake before, I know, but I can’t locate it just now. You can read some of the history of the lake and the lodge here.

 

 

Parts South

Two weeks ago this morning I was in high clover–among vegetation and birdlife unlike anything around here, that’s for sure.

Sarasota is another world, and on a beautiful balmy morning surrounded by herons and ibises and spoonbills and ducks and…

It was really the first time I’ve been able to use the long-lens function of the camera I got only last August. So here’s a gallery of images in a slide show. Or click them individually at the gallery link here. 

Flights of Fancy

We will, overriding our former determination to never again leave the ground, fly off in the not too distant future, to a somewhat far-off landscape that is not the mountains.

I will have  window -seat neck pain, of course, and this time, Walter Mitty, famous world explorer, will have something like the tool of his dreams in his sweaty little hands: the iphone app called Flyover Country.

This Mapping App Makes Flying Way More Fun | Outside Online   https://www.outsideonline.com/2094356/mapping-app-makes-flying-way-more-fun

I’m lead to believe that it is not all it might someday become. I had thought, and I was wrong, that you could plug in your flight number and departure and arrival destinations and it would have that route ready to explore with some precision.

While the path between traveled points is less precise than that, I still look forward to using this app in trips locally by car, since it gathers points of geographical or geological or paleontological interest. And that scratches where I itch.

For giggles, I tapped our home location and then Roanoke. And it gave me points of interest that, while they were not located with any precision along that straight line, nevertheless offered to show me a number of worthwhile places I’d like to know about. Here are two:

Maggoty Gap: about five mile south of Roanoke. Wikipedia has this to say: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Maggoty_Gap

“Maggoty Gap” describes a natural gateway of the Great Wagon Road (locally known as The Carolina Road) that made it possible for wagons and livestock traffic to pass through the Blue Ridge Mountains at Roanoke, Virginia near Maggoty Creek (now called Maggodee Creek).[2] It carried enormous amounts of traffic in the late 18th century and much of the 19th century until a railroad was extended over the ridge in 1892. During the years from 1760 to 1776 it was said to be the heaviest traveled road in all of America.

The other point I’ve found in my first five minutes exploring via Flyover Country this morning is Chestnut Creek Wetlands Natural Area Preserve.

This is a 244-acre (99 ha) Natural Area Preserve located in Floyd CountyVirginia over near Willis. It is accessible to visitors only with prior arrangements with a state-employed land steward. I just might want to do this someday.

And from the Chestnut Ridge site, I clicked the coordinates in the map sidebar image and was taken to GeoHack. OMG. The day is spoken for. Maps heaven.

GeoHack – Chestnut Creek Wetlands Natural Area Preserve   https://tools.wmflabs.org/geohack/geohack.php?pagename=Chestnut_Creek_Wetlands_Natural_Area_Preserve&params=36.8427_N_-80.4483_E_region:US-VA_type:landmark