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Archive for the ‘Mountains Other Than Mine’ Category

credit: Brian Stansberry/Wikimedia Commons

Bob white quail

Charles Frazier’s novel Cold Mountain came to me first as a purchase on the recommendation of my uncle J.T. and then again, as a gift from my cousin Linda, who knew I would enjoy a book of local historical fiction. I kept one, and gave the other to my brother.

I remember when Uncle J.T. told me about Frazier’s book. J.T. had found himself in a conversation about Cold Mountain. “I said, Yeah, I know where Cold Mountain is. I was raised in the shadow of it at Toxaway.” Well, as often happens, there IS more than one Cold Mountain, just like there is more than one Toxaway. Frazier’s Cold Mountain is over in Haywood County and can be seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway. And J.T.’s Cold Mountain is indeed at Toxaway.

Frazier has received considerable acclaim for Cold Mountain, and I am not saying it is undeserved. But one thing ruined Cold Mountain for me. At various places in the narrative Frazier has the unmistakable call of the little bob white quail ringing out AT NIGHT! Did not anyone in the whole process from manuscript to press know the difference between a bob white and a whippoorwill? Makes you want to whack your forehead in exasperation.

J.T. and Linda have both gone on to their reward now, but of course they knew, as I do, that no self respecting quail is going to be out after dark. That mistake just didn’t matter that much to J.T. and Linda, since it was such a good story otherwise.

Now, I have recently finished reading Wayne Caldwell’s two books Cataloochee and Requiem By Fire. I notice on the internet that Mr. Caldwell’s writings are considered to be somewhat akin, or shall we say, somewhat equivalent to Frazier’s. Of that I am no judge. I enjoyed Caldwell’s writings lots more than Frazier’s, but I noticed Caldwell has his plants a little out of order; for instance rhubarb in February. But as Linda and J.T. forgave Frazier about the whippoorwill, I am forgiving Caldwell also.

I have seen Frazier’s Cold Mountain from a distance, and of course my Uncle J.T.’s Cold Mountain is practically over the hill from here. And, I have actually been to Cataloochee, twice. Cataloochee intrigues me. It is not the animals, the elk, the bear, the turkeys or the deer. It is not even the old buildings, lovely as they are. It is the imprint of the past that remains on the land.

It has been nearly a hundred years since the National Park took over the valleys of Cataloochee. But an observant eye can still discern the old fields that today are grown over in pines and poplars. Nor is it hard to hunt out ruins of old stonework, and other evidence of human habitation. The hiking trails so popular now were not made by deer and bison, but by people, whose bones now mingle with the dust beneath the grave markers in the churchyard and cemeteries.

It was the intent of the founders of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that the corridors of Cataloochee would revert to wilderness, and to that end nearly every house, barn, shed, and chicken coop was destroyed. Nevertheless, so thin is the veil between those days and these that even today one can almost hear the ringing of axe and anvil along Cataloochee Creek. The unfortunate residents of Cataloochee were long ago dispersed. But there’s something, what is it, that remains?

Mr. Caldwell answers that question in Cataloochee and Requiem By Fire. And for a short read, check out my article in Yahoo Voices entitled “Cataloochee — An American Treasure.”

The photo of the quail is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and is just one more great shot by Brian Stansberry.

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Gorgeous Scenery in Cades Cove

Gorgeous Scenery in Cades Cove

A little over a week ago Jack expressed a desire to visit Cades Cove on Sunday. Though it was Easter, we packed up some bananas for a snack, some water, and the dog, and off we went. Cades Cove is such a scenic place. It is really worth a trip if you have not been there.

It takes us about three hours to get there. We go through Wolf Mountain, Sylva, Cherokee, and over the mountain by Clingman’s Dome, to the Sugarlands Visitor Center, then down the road that follows the old railroad grade by Elkmont to the entrance to Cades Cove. We passed up the entrance and went a few miles further to Townsend for lunch and then went back to the Park.

I became interested in Cades Cove years ago while doing genealogical research.   So many of my family documents on my father’s side gave the birthplace as Cades Cove. I found out that my great, great grandfather Nathan Rose went from the area that is now Yancey County, NC and lived in Cades Cove for a number of years. Several of his children were born there.

An Old Church in Cades Cove

An Old Church in Cades Cove

We always see a lot of wildlife at Cades Cove. Turkeys are common, as are deer. It is not unusual to see  a bear, though we did not see a bear this time. Once we saw a coyote stalking a deer. I would rather have not seen that. I hope it got away. Once we saw a bear with two cubs crossing the road. They had traffic blocked near us. One lady was out in the road near them with her camera. Brave soul!

There are a few old structures in Cades Cove. Most of the houses were torn down when the Park Service took over the cove in the early 1900’s. Only the oldest and sturdiest structures remain. Today an old barn I used to see has vanished, having been allowed to rot down. There was at least one more old property at Cades Cove when I first went there that is no longer accessible. There was a large barn on the trail. Maybe they tore it down also.

One thing I do not like. They are letting some of the fields grow up. If they had to cut the timber and grub up the new ground as the old people had to, they wouldn’t be so quick to let it revert back to forest. Another thing is that they allow fallen timber to simply lie. The area toward the end of the 11 mile loop road is littered with fallen timber, like one gigantic brush pile, and most of it is pine. One zap of lightning and the blaze would reach to the top of Thunderhead.

Mostly though, Cades Cove is a beautiful, beautiful place. You can see why it was settled – wide, wide bottoms, plenty of water, though the smaller streams dry up toward the end of summer. (Thankfully, ours here at Lake Toxaway run all the time.) And those beautiful, sheltering hills.

We had lots of places here in Transylvania County that were every bit as pretty as Cades Cove, along the upper French Broad River Valley between Brevard and Rosman, but very few any more. I know people have to live somewhere, but, oh! What we have lost!

Cades Cove was lovely, but this Sunday I am looking forward to being in the Lord’s house.

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