Thursday, May 31, 2012


Can you tell they're related? (Margot and Julia on the banks of the New River)

Miles at work

Miles Dreyer collecting a rainwater sample up on Clingman's Peak, just below Mt. Mitchell. Every Tuesday, he drives up there, gets a bucket with whatever rain was caught, replaces it with a fresh bucket, and then sends the water to the University of Illinois. The Mt. Mitchell collection site is part of a national network monitoring the composition of rainwater. Sometimes the weather is not as pleasant up there as it was this Tuesday.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Isak at work

Our homeboy Isak Pertee is doing excellent tree work these days. He took down six trees for us the other day, including a large hemlock that was right next to a shed (he can also remove threatening limbs). He's got insurance, he's careful and methodical, has reasonable rates, and all the trees went in the right direction.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Knife and Fork Wins the Quarter Finals of the 2012 WNC Chef's Challenge at Pack Tavern Asheville

(Note: Once you click above, you'll be able to drag up and down and around in the panorama.)

My favorite dish: Chef Nate Allen, Gaelan Corzine, and Elizabeth Scultenover made an incredible sweet potato doughnut with candied hog jowl (which Nate, during the post-dinner Q and A, called "face bacon").

Nate and company had stiff competition from Jesse Roque of Never Blue Tapas Bar and Grille and her Thai potion-soaked ribs, served on a bed of sweet potato au gratin and topped with a cilantro creme fraiche gremolata.

(Yes, I did go home and look up the origin of "gratin" and "gremolata" -- the first from grate and the second from the Italian word for a stick used to beat the fibers from hemp or flax -- the gremola.)

The semi-finals of the 2012 Chef's Challenge will be sometime in August.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mountain Heritage High School Graduation 2012

In her exceptional Valedictory Address, Sarah Dewitt-Feldman reminds the audience how much we all have been given, and challenges us to make a difference, big or small.

Paul and Emma Feldman and Forrest McCall glow in the crowd.

Abigail Dewitt and Larry Elworth are another spot of pride and light.

Katherine Rothe-Skinner presents the Salutatory Address, gracing the Mountain Heritage High School gym with, among other things, the profound words of the Dalai Lama.

Also graduating, after 30 years of inspiring the youth of Yancey County to pay attention to the world around them, was Mountain Heritage Science teacher -- and newly elected school board member -- Norb McKinney.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Singecat Ridge

Nancy Raskin on Singecat Ridge. The plant in the lower right corner of the picture is hudsonia montana (a.k.a. Mountain Heather), the rare flowering plant that Nancy's mother, Carol Henry, discovered in this spot years ago. The plant was officially listed as growing only in Linville Gorge, so Carol's discovery was met with skepticism when presented to experts on North Carolina botany. She finally made the great Don McLeod hike out there with her, and he conceded that she had made a surprising and unlikely botanical find.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Occupy Mount Mitchell

Today is encouraging people all over the world to organize actions, large and small, to draw attention to the effects of climate change. A big part of it is Connect the Dots, which is collecting pictures (with homemade dot-shaped signs) designed to call attention to places where climate change is visible or might be very soon. Tammy and I were going to attend an event in Asheville, but it looked like it might get rained out. So we waited for the weather to break and then went and occupied Mount Mitchell for a little bit.

Here's what we learned in the process: The fraser firs that grow at the top of the Black Mountains can't thrive much below 6,000 feet in the current climate. If temperatures go up, they can't migrate to higher altitudes, because the mountains just aren't high enough. The firs have already sustained decades of damage from acid rain and insect infestation. A small increase in temperature could wipe out the firs and their plant community in these mountains.

Mitchell's distressed ecosystem has been the subject of so many studies that some biologists call it an "icon of degradation."

Vegetables as tall as a small person

Emma Feldman with a few of the enormous leeks that are coming out of her daddy's garden.