Butterfly Magnet

I can't find this bushy bloom in any of my flower books, but hopefully someone else knows its name. I noticed it growing all over southern Ohio and northeastern Kentucky, and it's a butterfly magnet (like our Butterfly Bush in the northwest). This one flower head had 7 butterflies on it; there were probably 2-3 dozen spread out on the plant. If it grows in my zone, I'm planting them!


Butterfly Hatch on the Blue Ridge

The plan today is to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway north through North Carolina, and into Virginia, and get as far as practical before stopping for the night. This road is very cool, very uncrowded, and we wished we were in the MX-5.

Upstream we went, into the park alongside one of the prettiest rivers I've ever seen. there are butterflies everywhere: indigo blue, monarch, different colors of swallowtail, black and white. They must have just hatched, because literally, they're fluttering around everywhere. The road through the park is beautiful, with grassy verges and dappled trees on both sides. The mountains are doing their namesake thing: mist rising really makes the hills look smoky.

We went as far as the ridgetop overlook, took pictures, enjoyed the sunshine and distant vistas, then headed back down. We stopped at a bridge we'd seen on the way up, and took more photos. The way the sunlight bounced off the water was really cool.

My favorite is a wide-angle shot taken vertically, with the pattern of river tumbling over rocks repeated until it was out of sight.

Night Sounds

The night isn't a silent place in the South. Oh, no. At the first streaks of sunset, the woods come alive with insect sounds. Loud, resonating, sounds. As we drove through the North Carolina mountains at dusk, we were treated by the sparks of fireflies in the road ahead of us, and our open windows (thank goodness it was finally cool enough to open them!) meant we could hear the cacophony of night sounds from the woods.

At our little motel in Bryson City, North Carolina, one of the forest residents took a wrong turn and ended up on our rental car. We had a good time checking him out, and taking his picture. He must have liked us, too… he was still there when we got up the next morning. Big, green, long antenna, hard to fit into the viewfinder. Isn't he grand?



We stopped often today to take photographs. Like the tobacco growing in nearby fields, I've never seen kudzoo in person before, but I knew instantly what it was. It's like rich green moss that molds itself to the shape of the boulder underneath. Kudzoo grows over trees, rocks, roads, power poles, whatever is in the path. You can see what's underneath by the shapes under the green vines. Like this forest of trees, completely hidden. It was creepy.

I thought about a Victoria Holt book I read in my teens, which was set somewhere in the south. Kudzo played a major role, hiding an old cabin completely, and providing a hideout for the bad guy. I was skeptical as I read this book so many years ago, but I'm a believer now.

It's Sweeter in the South

It's impossible to not notice differences while on vacation. I enjoy the scenery, the people, the architecture around me, but sometimes, I can't comparing it to home. Prices (especially gas prices!), scenery, weather, temperature… but brown sugar?

Dave had oatmeal for breakfast this morning, with small side dishes of toasted pecans, raisins, coconut, and brown sugar. He offered me a sample, and said I had to taste the brown sugar. Our light brown sugar at home is flabby, insipid, nearly flavorless. You taste the sweetness, but that's about all. In Tennessee (and as we learned, throughout the South), brown sugar is rich and full of flavor. More molasses? This is something I plan to investigate. Maybe I'll have my friend Louise send me care packages of brown sugar from New Orleans!


Accelerating can be hazardous… to furniture?

I was waiting at an intersection on my way home from work when I heard a loud crash. A pickup had accelerated hard when the light changed, then stopped dead in the road. The girl in the passenger seat climbed out of the truck, and ran behind the truck, out of sight. She came back carrying the footboard to a waterfall bed, antique by the looks of it. Then two guys were pumping gas at the nearby 7-11 left their car and ran out into the highway to help. They soon walked back with a huge entertainment center and muscled it up into the truck. I'm sure by this point my jaw had dropped. What else fell out of the back of the truck? Sure enough, the two guys walked back again, and came back with the headboard for the bed. There were no tiedowns for any of this, and the tailgate was down. What were they thinking? You can't just put stuff in the back of a truck and expect it to stay there. Lucky for them, the stuff just slid out and landed flat on the road, and it didn't look like anything got broken. It was, however, a highly entertaining example of how not to move furniture.