Alpine Glow, video by Carolyn Paul. Carolyn is an artist who lives in the Heritage Ridge Villas. She created this video from her back porch in the late summer of 2020.
Last week one of our residents drove the Blue Ridge Parkway from 80 S to past Mt. Mitchell. She had the privilege of witnessing an afternoon of the great Monarch Butterfly migration from all over Canada and the eastern US to Mexico. Thousands of Monarchs were pausing on their 2500 mile journey and refreshing themselves (nectaring) on the Blue-ridge wildflowers. You could see them all over the wildflowers and everywhere in the sky. Pure heaven. She stopped at every overlook, sat in the grass, and simply experienced this awe-inspiring event. She shared these pictures with us.
In the landscape images of the views from the overlooks, you may be able to see the butterflies in the sky, although it's hard to see on small internet images.
Normally monarchs live 2-6 weeks. The monarchs who fly south to Mexico live closer to 9 months. The same butterflies start the return trip to the States and Canada. They start an inter generational relay of sorts when they reach Texas, as one generation dies out, and successive generations carry on the migration back to their many northern homes!
If you look up to the skies above and around Mountain Air, often you see the monarchs flying through in the fall. The Nature Center in the Mountain Air Village also has coccons which hatch and a whole program dealing with monarchs. Stop by to take a look.
#MonarchMigration #MonarchButterflies #nectaring #BlueRidgeParkway #GreenKnobOverlook #BaldOverlook
The HRV board, under the guidance of Carol, has had all of our flower beds enhanced with beautiful new flowers this year. We have not yet had a frost, and so the flowers keep on blooming. Our resident photographer, Louise, writes:
Awaken to the mystery of being here
and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.
Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
. . .
Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek
Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven
around the heart of wonder.”
~ John O'Donohue ~
(To Bless the Space Between Us)
#PurpleConeFlowers or #Echinacea are still blooming in the mountains of NC. I have been nurturing them in the gardens outside my condo, along with the help of Carol and a few others. They are a little beaten up at the end of the season, so I hand painted in the petals a bit in Photoshop, to give them a more painterly and less pocked appearance. I also love the imperfections and quirks, especially in end of the season flowers. But this time I decided to go with the hand painted version.
The colors are also sometimes a bit more faded at the end of the season, but I think that has its own beauty too. Each day, as I leave to walk my dogs in the morning, or to go off on errands or a hike, I am so happy to be greeted by these flowers.
Residents of the Heritage Ridge Villas enjoy hiking on the Jump Off trail at the top of the mountain. This trail follows a ridge line, and has a long gentle trail, with a lookout point. For those who want a bit of a steeper hike, it's a short climb up to an even higher lookout. This trail goes through an old growth forest, with these giant trees. Residents of the villas have access to the many miles of hiking trails within Mountain Air. The trails are well maintained and well marked. What a beautiful way to spend part of a day.
A few large American Chestnuts which fruit every year are growing right outside the E building of the Heritage Ridge Villas. Jan took some of the fruit and twigs with leaves to the American Chestnut Foundation in nearby Asheville. Ben Jarrett, the science coordinator, wants to come next fall and collect some of the fruit from our very rare Chestnuts, to help with their breeding program, designed to bring back now extinct American Chestnuts into our forests.
Giant Chestnuts used to cover the western North Carolina forests, but by 1950 had succumbed to blight, a fungal disease. They became extinct. The dead trees were attacked by insects and removed, drastically changing our forest environment and climate. The wood from these dead trees, called wormy chestnut, is prized and rare today and still used for decorative purposes.
The American Chestnut Foundation is trying to bring these trees back. By finding the few rare trees that still grow today, and breeding and selecting for the most resilient, they may succeed in bringing the trees back from extinction. The blight is here to stay, but some rare, remaining surviving trees may help repopulate our forests. Our Heritage Ridge Villas' trees are among these stars survivors.
See the pictures and videos below for more information and a view of "our" Chestnut trees.
The trunk, and the root sprouts, of one of our Chestnuts. View looking up.
Video showing location of HRV chestnuts, and a view of the hull of the fruit and the trees. Stoney Falls condos are on the left and the Heritage Ridge Villas E building and the 18th tee box are on the right (but not visible through the trees).
Another view of the Heritage Ridge Villas' chestnuts, with E building on the upper left, and Stoney Falls condos on the lower right, driving toward Mountain Air Drive.
Two of our Heritage Ridge Villas residents have enjoyed wonderful hikes at nearby Rocky Fork State Park in Tennessee. It is about a 30 minute drive from our villas, mostly on 4 lane highway. Louise contributed the videos below.
Rocky Fork Park
We walked along a gentle path, with the above river gently flowing along the path. A beautiful, peaceful and easy walk, with many places to pause and sit along the river. A great place to bring a picnic.
There also are many harder trails and waterfalls in the park.
The park literature says: "The park is predominately Appalachian cove forest, one of the most biologically diverse habitats in North America. The well drained, loamy soil supports the growth of a variety of hardwoods and evergreens. Oak, hickory, beech, pine, hemlock, and rhododendron are just a few of the species found here. The diversity of tree species has historically made the area a desirable timber ground. The park and the surrounding Cherokee National Forest offers miles of old, unmarked logging roads.
Native wildflowers find ideal growing conditions and include Pink Lady’s Slipper and Yellow Fringed Orchid and Lesser Purple Fringed Orchid, and several native lilies, including Turk’s Cap and Michaux’s Lily. Diverse and varied fungi thrive in Rocky Fork’s cool, damp climate.
. . . The park contains a noted cultural site at the junction of Flint Creek and Rocky Fork. This location was the winter encampment of Creek and Cherokee Indians in the late 1700s when Colonel (later Governor) John Sevier and his troops surrounded the encampment and mounted a surprise attack in response to long standing tension between the two groups. The Creek and Cherokee sustained heavy fatalities and casualties during the conflict."
More than one of our Heritage Ridge Villas residents are from Florida. Some of us were attracted to buy here because not only do our condos provide a beautiful home away from home, or year round home, but they also offer shelter from the Florida hurricanes. Some of us sought shelter here. Our residents live in the Florida Keys (experienced repairable damage), New Smyrna Beach (little damage), the west coast (escaped flooding and damage), St. Augustine (minor damage), Miami, etc. Many of us have enjoyed the shelter of the mountains, both during Hurricane Irma, and during the disorder of the aftermath. We are all grateful that damage was minimal, and grateful that our North Carolina mountains provided such good and beautiful shelter. We are saddened by the devastation caused around the world this year by so many natural disasters.
Of course other residents are from many other parts of the country, including New Orleans, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Charlotte, NC, South Carolina, etc.
Louise Lindsay contributed this "After The Storm" sunrise image, taken from her Heritage Ridge Villas' living room porch.
© Louise Lindsay 2017, prints, etc. available at www.louiselindsay.com by request
The weather has been gorgeous here at Mountain Air. The past several days have been comfortably warm and sunny. Some of us have been hiking on the glorious trails here. Below is a view from the first look out on Jump Off Trail. Simply drive over to Timber Sky. Download the hiking trail map on this website, or get one from the Outdoor Discovery Center. There is a trail head over in Timber Sky, that takes you to a gentle trail along the top ridge of Mountain Air. You arrive at a lovely lookout, where this picture was taken. Then, you can continue on up a steeper trail, to an even higher lookout if you wish. The first part of the jump-off trail is gentle and easy, even for beginners.
© Louise Lindsay 2017, prints, etc. available at www.louiselindsay.com by request
© Louise Lindsay 2017
Many Mountain Air residents saw the partial eclipse from Mountain Air, and others traveled to nearby places to experience the total eclipse. Mountain Air's Outdoor Discovery Center chartered a bus and took a large group to Clemson University. Louise and Steve coincidentally also stopped at Clemson University on their drive up to Mountain Air from Key Largo, FL. It turned dark, and the cicadas started chirping.
For those looking for something different to do, try a Friday or Saturday night of star gazing in one of the few dark sky locations. The Bare Dark Sky Observatory is located at the Mayland Earth to Sky Park in Yancey County, very close to Mountain Air. The address is: 66 Energy Exchange Dr, Burnsville, NC 28714. It offers a 360 degree view. People can view the moon, planets and stars through the 34" diameter Sam Scope, as well as the smaller planetary telescope. Or you can simply appreciate the dark night sky.
The Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina have stood as silent witnesses to the uninterrupted, nightly rain of starlight for nearly a half-billion years, but artificial light now threatens this nightly show. In honor of notable local efforts to preserve the natural nighttime landscape of western North Carolina, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) designated the Mayland Earth to Sky Park and Observatory as the first IDA-certified Star Park in the southeastern United States.
The Mayland Earth to Sky Park and Bare Dark Sky Observatory is open to the public many Friday and Saturday nights. More information and tickets are available here.
© Louise Lindsay 2017
No, this was not taken at Mountain Air. Most years I am at Mountain Air for the Perseid meteor showers in mid-August. Kat, our naturalist, always has a great program on the runway at the top of the mountain. It's a great place to view the meteors. But this year, I am still in Key Largo. It is also a great place to view the meteor shower. The streaks here are star trails, as this image was created from tons of images stacked together, taken over 40 minutes. The stars move and create these beautiful star trails. The horizontal streak across the image toward the bottom may be a plane that crossed my path, rather than a meteor. But maybe it's a meteor.
The meteor showers are still active tomorrow night, 8/13/17. Be sure to look up at the sky if you are awake at night.
A homeowner, Carol, sent us this beautiful image. How lucky we are! We get to wake up every morning to this long range mountain view from our condos. And then we are only a 35 minute drive to nearby Asheville, and yet we are in the high mountains, with more altitude and the lovely coolness that comes with it. On mornings like this one in the image, we are also gifted with glorious views of cloud inversions, drifting through the mountain ranges. In this image, and from our living areas, bedrooms, and back porches, we get to look out on the glorious Black Mountain range. Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak (6,684') in the Eastern U.S. is part of this amazing range. And then, more gifts. We are only a 10 min. drive to our lovely local village, Burnsville, where there is ample shopping, and all the artists and crafts you could want.
Many events are occurring around Mountain Air in June and early July. For those of you wanting to take some artistic workshops, checkout the new schedule at the world class and nearby Penland School of Crafts. There are workshops in clay, and in journal making, as well as photography and painting.
The world class Carolina Mountains Literary Festival is in September, but the time to get tickets for the banquet and keynote address is now. They usually sell out quickly. This year the Sept. 8 keynote address is by Ronni Lundy, author of Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, winner of the 2017 James Beard Award, Best American Cookbook as well as Book of The Year. You can contact them directly at: email@example.com Volunteers are also always needed.
June means the rhododendrons are in bloom on Roan mountain, and all over Mountain Air also. There are many concerts and festivities scheduled at Roan Mountain over the next few weeks. Be sure to check them out. The phone number is 423-772-0190.
Sallie sent in this picture of the beautiful rime ice that formed around the Heritage Ridge Villas and all of Mountain Air. She also sent in some older pictures of past snow. She got to see the rime ice, but left before this recent snow came through. Those of you staying at Mountain Air hopefully enjoyed the beautiful snow. Some of us are in Florida enjoying sunshine! But we miss the beautiful snow and rime ice also. One picture of the "storm" rolling in to Key Largo is below. The water is usually Caribbean blue, not muddy brown, and still, not full of white caps and waves. When snow or heavy weather hits NC, Florida usually feels a tiny echo of the storm.
Key Largo, FL, today, with our windy storm, left, and on a more typical day, right.
Some Heritage Ridge Villas residents spend the holidays in other parts of the country. Louise (Jan) sends everyone her family's greetings from Key Largo, FL.
Several of our villa residents were at Heritage Ridge and Mountain Air for Thanksgiving. The feast at Mountain Air Country Club was reportedly fabulous.
After the big meal, everyone needed some exercise. Our resident naturalist, Kat, guided a lovely morning moon walk. Several of our residents attended.
Many intersting creatures make an apearance around the Heritage ridge Villas area. Sallie took the following pictures of deer, of an adolescent bear, and of a racoon. We all have seen many deer around the mountain this year. The nearby 18th hole often is visited by deer crossing the fairway. Bears seem to be a bit shier but also make their appearances.
Fall color is beautiful right now. Of course, in the mountains of western North Carolina, there is no real peak. It is so bio-diverse here that fall color goes on and on for weeks, painted every day with different colors. But this moment is beautiful and will be for the next few weeks. Right now, there is still much green in the landscape, but also the fall colors that create a beautiful patchwork quilt are popping out everywhere. Cloud inversions are kissing the mountain most mornings. Fall wildflowers are blooming- purple asters and bottle gentian are especially plentiful. More detailed fall color reports can be found here and here. A taste of the mountain around the Heritage Ridge Villas follows. Louise
Images © 2016 Louise Lindsay
Debbie contributed this lovely “find”. Fall colors are popping on the trees and mountainsides, and even at the small macro level. The weather has been glorious. It was been cool, yet warm for the season, with blue skies.
We do keep all of our Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coastal residents in our thoughts and hope that the hurricane moves off shore. There are a couple Florida residents, who are here, who are very happy that they have a second home in Mountain Air. At least they know that they are safe, even if they still have property to worry about.
Heritage Ridge Villas residents and guests
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