Here in Western North Carolina it has been a wet summer. Lots of rain and damp morning fogs makes for a soggy environment. I’m in the Nantahala Forest and, according to Wikipedia,
The word “Nantahala” is a Cherokee word meaning “Land of the Noonday Sun”. The name is appropriate as, in some spots, the sun only reaches the floors of the deep gorges of the forest when high overhead at midday.
My summer retreat is a 30-year-old mobile home in the hills of Franklin, North Carolina. Retreat is a very good word. When I finally manage to get up here in the summer months the rest of the world melts away.
This year has been a joy. My sister has visited more often and during August she and her husband Wes were here for more than a week. I’ve been writing almost non-stop and, in the last week, I finally saw the path for this book idea that has been clanging around in my head for months. I’ve had numerous articles published at Cannabis Now and Huffington Post. Continue reading “The Summer Retreat(s)”→
Frequent readers will remember my previous post about my Squirrel Buster bird feeder’s unfortunate encounter with a hungry bear. It was fun to write and share. I never expected much to come from it except some cute comments and sympathy. So, imagine my surprise when I received a comment on my website from the Customer Service Department of Brome Bird Care, the manufacturer of the Squirrel Busters, asking if I needed a replacement tube.
It had been my plan to order a replacement tube but I had not yet gotten around to it. I was still in shock that something could come along and so efficiently maul something so innocuous.
I replied that I had not yet done so and fully expected to receive an email with a direct link to their parts department. Instead I received this reply:
Normally bear damage is not covered by your warranty. However, as a goodwill gesture, we will send a seed tube free of shipping/replacement charges. Please provide us with your address. Thank you for your interest in our product.
Well, hot dang, that is just a nice thing to do, don’t you think? In an age that seems to be spinning out of control with companies doing every last thing they possibly can to extract yet another few pennies from the consumer, here is a company that has a true Customer Care Department.
A few days later the tube arrived and it was a simple matter of swapping out the damaged tube for the new one. Brome also sent a new top, which I would not of thought to order. The old one looked fine but I discovered it would not attach properly because of a slight bend in the hanging rod. Brome obviously has more experience with this than I.
So a heartfelt “Thank You” to Brome Bird Care. I love your products. I have had the Classic Squirrel Buster for at least five years, maybe more. Here is a picture of My Three Bro’s, all filled and ready to go. It is particularly nice to have the Super model back in business. It is fledging season here and the feeders are packed with nervous young birds learning to make their way in the world. They are eating like all children do…incessantly. Having the Super Brome back in service means a little less work for me in terms of keeping up.
And also “Thank You” to Maureen McKinnon, Customer Care Manager at Brome, for reaching out to me with a little help from Google Alerts. The 21st Century has given us so many new tools that can be used in so many ways — some good and some bad. For those unfamiliar with Google Alerts, they allow an individual to set a specific phrase or topic of interest and receive notifications of any new activity on the Web that relate to the topic. It is a great tool that I often use.
The birds of the air may never sow or reap but manufacturers do and I think Brome will continue to reap goodwill and loyal customers because they 1) make great products, and 2) they care. The only one who loses is the squirrel. ❧
Back in North Carolina, getting a late start on the summer season but better late than never.
This return to our summer place was made extra easy because my sister arrived the day before I did and had the house open, the refrigerator stocked, and my bed made. How cool is that!
As I got settled into things I realized that the large Squirrel Buster bird feeder I had bought last summer was missing. I also had a very bent hanging rod. These two things were a mystery because I knew I had put away all my feeders. And the I remembered getting a text from my neighbor who thought I was arriving in late April and told me she had checked the house and filled the bird feeder for me.
It occurred to me that something took the feeder…something big!
I found the feeder down the hill in the woods and if a squirrel did this to my feeder it may be time to head south again! 🙂
No, the answer is clearly a bear. One that saw an opportunity and, literally, grabbed it. With no people, lights or dogs the feeder was easy pickings, just pull it off that pesky hook and away he went.
The feeder is repairable and, yes, I will continue to feed my fine feathered friends. But feeders will be locked up tight as long as the house is empty. Sorry bears. ❧
Most people are aware of the horrific rains that we have endured here in the Carolinas. I am in Western North Carolina at about 2,ooo feet elevation so most of what falls here heads downhill…towards South Carolina. Poor South Carolina. Anyone who has watched the news in recent days knows the heartache that is being endured in the Palmetto State after a flood of Biblical proportions. But here in North Carolina things are drying out and the sun has shown for two days. It has been wonderful.
The return of the sun has encouraged my mushroom friends to emerge. The first were these helmet-style little guys who popped up at the base of my hickory maple.
I couldn’t believe it when I looked at the photos and saw another little one emerging under the bark.
Later in the day I climbed the ridge behind the house and found this soldier pushing its way up through the pine straw and perfectly lit in the setting light of the day. Things are drying out, life goes on. ❧
Still in the Carolina mountains but the days are slipping away. Summer officially ends tomorrow. The leaves are starting to change color and litter my yard. Soon I will join the birds in heading south.
My pictures this season, like my posts, have been sketchy at best. Today’s offering is a photo that was taken a month ago and sat in the camera, patiently waiting. It is Blue Velvet Fungi that I unearthed while moving some branches. It was in full bloom, an absolutely delicious shade of blue that this photo barely captures. The next shot gives you a close-up.
Amazing nature…it doesn’t care about pictures, blog posts, newsletters, speeches or meetings. It simply does what it does best…astound. ❧
My friend Joe Bruneau likes to post “Today’s Color” on his Facebook account. Today’s color is banana and I thought that was interesting since I found this almost banana-colored caterpillar on my deck rail this morning. I think this is his face but for all I know he could be mooning all of us. 😀 ❦
Have I mentioned that I live in a rain forest? Most people think of rain forests as tropical, mainly in places like Brazil and Africa. But the Nantahala Forest, where my home is located in Franklin, NC, is close to being a temperate rain forest (more than 55 inches of precipitation annually and a mean temperature of 39º to 54º F). It is very damp at times and this is one of them. You can almost wring the moisture from the air and I have found myself tapping the hygrometer dial on my weather station, convinced it must be stuck on 100%. It isn’t.
But for this mushroom loving gal this is THE place to be. The ‘shrooms are popping up everywhere, in a rainbow of colors and shapes. I have taken to walking early in the a.m. to see what emerged overnight. And while many may be termed mundane as far as mushrooms go, others are spectacular.
Take this blue mushroom. It is, I think, an Anise-scented Clitocybe but, honestly, it is so hard to know when the field guide gives you this: “dingy green to bluish-green, sometimes blue or nearly white”. Well, that’s a lot of latitude.
The shape seems right. I never thought to check its scent and by the time I had read the field guide and returned to check its scent it was gone. The field guide did mention it was edible and we have many fat squirrels and chipmunks around here.
Here is a photograph of its underside. The gills were spectacular in the morning light.
And if blue mushrooms are too dull for you check out these beauties.
They are no taller than a dime and they must not taste very good because they have been very long lasting. They are, I believe, Orange Mycena (Mycena leaiana). Once again our friends at Wikipedia provide some fascinating details.
Mycena leaiana, commonly known as the orange mycena or Lea’s mycena, is a North American species of saprobic fungi in the genus Mycena, family Tricholomataceae. Characterized by their bright orange caps and stalks and reddish-orange gill edges, they usually grow in dense clusters on deciduous logs. The pigment responsible for the orange color in this species has antibiotic properties.