Grandma Lin wrote a post about rocks the other day, and unintentionally, perhaps, challenged her readers to do so ( a new kind of prompt). This got me to thinking about rocks, and the more I thought…rocks big and small popped out of my memory bank.
After I thought about for a while, I realized rocks were so important that I would either write one long post that would put the reader to sleep over their conflakes or bedtime cocoa, or several shorter posts. I chose the latter because it hurts my knee to sit at my desk for a very long time. (It would take a long post to explain.)
The first rocks I can recall seeing were in North Carolina. Coming from the coastal areas of Texas or Georgia, where I lived until age 2 or 3, en route to grand parent homes in Norris Tennessee or further away in Wisconsin, and driving into the mountains (photo above) was a startling experience for a little flatlander. The view above is famous, taken from Blowing Rock NC, a major tourist destination.
The shot is also very familiar to anyone who has seen the Daniel Day-Lewis film, Last of the Mohicans nineteen times (me). Much of the film, shot in the mountains of North Carolina, mostly in the Mount Pisgah National Forest or at the Biltmore Estate, relied on the last vestiges of ‘primeval forest’ on the East Coast. The closing shots taken at or near Blowing Rock needed the requisite breeze to lift hair gracefully into the wind.
However, my memories of Blowing Rock and the mountains around western NC come from a later time when I was older. I recall fun family vacations: riding in my dad’s business partner’s pink Cadillac convertible, my mom and dad arguing about child rearing methods in the front seat, we three kids in the back seat fighting over space, my dad reaching around to smack one of us in the face, usually the one he could reach…me, and my bother puking all over the car.
My brother always got car sick. On one trip, he puked out the car window while the car was passing through Oconolufte (Cherokee Village). Mom carried ‘lemon drops for car sickness’ but they never worked, probably because our parents were chain smokers and the car reeked of stale smoke and ash. In between bouts of puking, Mom tried to divert us with the Burma Shave signs and signs, like “hidden curves” and “soft shoulders.”
Dad, who was building a rock garden back home, stopped the car every so often to pick up a rock from the highway. Rock slides were fairly common in those days, so he wasn’t stealing them, just removing them from the tarmac where they could cause accidents.
Over the years Dad collected enough rocks to build a bank side garden in the ravine behind our house, as well as a beautiful rock outdoor fireplace and stairs set into the side of the hill. He took some photos of his project, and I wish I had them, but they are mouldering in my wicked stepmother’s attic.
Mostly they were igneous rocks like quartz and granite, excavated with dynamite when the Blue Ridge Parkway was constructed by the Works Projects crews of the 1930s and later.
After he completed his degree in forestry at Michigan in 1940, Dad moved South to work with the CCC which planted zillions of trees along the Parkway, and restored land that had been ruined by years of poor farming habits.
I haven’t been up in the mountains for a couple of years, but it gladdens my heart to know that children and grandchildren are benefitting from the preservation of land by Gilded Age millionaires like Biltmore who donated the land that comprises the Pisgah National Forest, as well as the federal works projects of so
This post linked to Nature Notes.