Thursday, March 23, 2017

March Madness

 It appears March is not mad at only me but everyone else around town.  What has angered her so?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March Blew in Like a Lion

Blew the door off of the tool shed.

Blew the siding off of the house.

Blew the branches off of my favorite tree in the woods behind the house.

Blew this little tree down which was not a surprise. I knew it was about to go last year when I leaned against it and it swayed.

Tried but failed to blow this tree down.


The next to fall.

Yet these never fall.

March, it is time you go out like a lamb!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Snow on the Mountains

IT SNOWED!  Where is Spring? This is what we awoke to this past weekend at our twice a year "teetotaling drinking buddies" vacation at the cabin in the woods.  We were high up in the mountains and driving back down the slick road was too treacherous.

So, what do four women all alone in the woods on top of a mountain with no internet service, no cell phone service, and no television reception do?

View of the full moon off the back deck at night.
We decided to circle the fireplace and share the latest news.  We relived old memories, discussed future plans, laughed together, cried together, and then hugged each other.  We had packed plenty of food so no one worried.

Old friends are the best friends and they don't need much to have fun.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Famous Rock, Berlin, Tennessee

A  few people were skeptical when I shared my post about all the rocks in Tennessee.  I do believe there were those who thought I was absurd, well, now I am going to brag!  There is a FAMOUS ROCK close to my neighborhood. You doubt me?!  YOU DOUBT ME?!   Our FAMOUS ROCK, even has a plaque to prove it is famous!  Nobody can argue with a plaque - especially one that looks so official.

It states:
1844 Berlin Rock 1925
Used as a Rostrum by Presidents
James K. Polk
Andrew Johnson
Senators...Congressmen...Governors...Judges...blah, blah, blah.

Impressive, I know.  This is THE FAMOUS ROCK, to the left of the tree.

So what is a "Rostrum"?  I didn't know either so I looked it up.  It is a stage from which to make speeches.  This makes sense because there were no microphones back in the past and we all know HOW IMPORTANT IT WAS TO HEAR WHAT POLITICIANS HAD TO SAY!  (Tax, spend, repeat)

President James K. Polk used this rock to make speeches, a president of whom I approve.  He was the 11th President of the United States, from 1845 to 1849. During his one term, he expanded America's territory by more than one-third.  He did this by securing the Oregon Territory, acquiring California and most of the Southwest by winning the Mexican-American War.  Also, he reduced tariffs and reformed the national banking system.  Any politician that can reduce taxes and put the banksters on a leash, earns my praise.  He died at the age of 53 soon after leaving the White House.  I have read his diary, I think he worked himself to death.

The other president who spoke while standing on this FAMOUS ROCK was Andrew Johnson, 17th President.  He was chosen to be  Vice President by Abraham Lincoln, then assumed the presidency upon his assassination.

The FAMOUS ROCK is sitting beside a fresh spring which flows from a cave in a large rock.


Water flowing away from the spring.
 It is possible to walk back inside further but I was not curious enough to get my feet wet.

Scooter, on the other hand, has no qualms about getting his feet wet or dirty.  Nor does he mind drinking from a fresh spring, mud puddle, nasty trash can lid, or anything else.  He, has no standards.

Cold and delicious! Yum!
To the right of the spring is a man made staircase leading up the rocks.  It is rumored, you can drop an apple through the crevices on top and they will float out below into the stream.  I am too lazy to climb the stairs and too cheap to waste the apples, so this is one rumor I can't substantiate.

Stone steps leading up to the top of the rock above the spring.
The FAMOUS ROCK is located in the small community of Berlin, Tennessee.  "Berlin" is not pronounced like Berlin, Germany.  I was corrected quickly by local residents.  It sounds like Bur (rhymes with animal FUR) and then Lun (rhymes with bread bun).  BUR-LUN with the emphasis on the BUR...then you drawl out the rrrrr, and then also drawl out LUN.  It is to be pronounced slowly, Southern style.

I thought I had met a grumpy grammarian the first time I was corrected; but, when I mispronounced it the second time, I was again corrected.  I learned quickly...BUUUUURRRRRR...LUUUUNNN.

There are many other interesting things to see in the small park like...MORE ROCKS!

Trees with weird roots caused by trying to grow around the rocks.

Trees attempting to grow between rocks.

There is also a small cave beside the spring.  To the untrained eye this might appear to be nothing, but to a skilled hunter (Bill), he saw a worn path leading into the opening.  Something lived inside.

After he pointed out the path, I decided to inspect further.  The area was indeed well worn in front of the cave.  I squatted down, and slowly, quietly inched closer.  I did not want to wake whatever was inside.  What could possibly live there?  A spider? racoon? skunk? BEAR???  As I was contemplating these thoughts, I decided I was too lazy to crawl inside plus too cheap to waste my money on an outrageously expensive insurance copay for an emergency room visit.  The mystery will remain.

Because it was dark inside the cave, the automatic flash on my camera went off unexpectedly and I suddenly feared I had awaken the grizzly bear hibernating inside.  

I flew back to the safety of Bill and Scooter.  Surely they would save me from being eaten alive.
Scooter immediately began searching for a way of escape from the rampaging grizzly bear.

Jeannie (Me) on the left and Scooter on the right.
Beside the park sits the Berlin grocery store that has served as the center of the community for decades.  If you ever decide to plan a vacation to see the FAMOUS ROCK, be sure to pronounce "Berlin" correctly when you enter the store in search of souvenirs.

Originally the Berlin springs were used as a water source by Native American Indians.  Later, North Carolina Land Grants (1782)  were given to the veterans of the American Revolutionary War (1775- 1778) and they became the early settlers.  James Watts received a 1,200 acre grant which includes the current Berlin area.  Another veteran, Frederick Fisher, also received a grant in the area.  He was a severely wounded Revolutionary War soldier, who was issued a "meager $3.33 pension" and due to bureaucratic red tape "found it necessary to enlist the help of James K. Polk to" receive his pension payments.  These men were some of the early settlers who tamed the land and some of their descendants remain in the area today.

So, in conclusion,  the government took land it did not own from the Indians (taxation) to give it to the soldiers instead of the promised cash, to pay them for their services in a war that did not benefit those paying the taxes (Indians).  Then the government (Veterans Administration) would not give the assistance they had promised until the president (Polk/Trump) intervened.  Today's descendants seem to have the same problems.

It appears, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

View from the road toward the spring.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Buttercup Footprints

In the country, during the early spring before the trees leaf out, you can find buttercup footprints left behind at old homesteads.  They were planted long, long ago by forgotten gardeners; but they continue to bloom year after year even though the farms have disappeared.  Below is a straight line of buttercups in a field on the edge of town.  Did they originally line a sidewalk, a fence row or maybe a front yard flowerbed?  Someone planted them because they are in a long straight line.

In the picture below, only the barn has survived; however, if you look closely at the left side of the picture, hidden in the clump of bushes sits the rocks which surround the old well pump.  There was a house somewhere here long ago.

Often the houses are hard to see because the wooden structures were made from local trees so their colors blend in with the woods.  As soon as the trees leaf out, this house will be hidden.

The wooden structures usually rot and vanish first.  Many times the chimney or just a few foundation stones remain.  This chimney was built first with stone then higher up two different types of brick were used.  I wonder, was it repaired or did they run out of supplies and use what was available?

Usually, the old homes are easy to spot because they are close to the street since 150 years ago there was not much traffic.  A wagon rolling down the road was newsworthy.

This would have been the view of the road from the porch of this old house.  It was looking right down over the road and beside it is a creek.

This was the old driveway up to the house.  

This area would have been the front yard. Nature has a way of improving any landscaping a man might have done.

A soon to be old homestead.  This one still has the "modern television antenna" attached to the side of the house.

This home did not have many buttercups around it, but, given enough time, they will multiply as they spread.

While driving down another backcountry road I spied this large bunch of buttercups in a field close to the street. There had to be an old home somewhere close but I could not see anything from the car.  I searched the landscape and saw nothing; however I knew the buttercups must point to something.  Curiously, I slipped out of the car and carefully crossed the open field toward the treeline.  I would not try this during hunting season!

My risk was rewarded!  

How old is this cabin?  How long has it been since anyone lived there?  Other than being seen by me while trespassing, how long has it been since anyone, other than the property owner, visited this place?

As time passes, each flower bulb slowly spreads and naturalizes.  Each single bulb becomes a larger clump.

Then the clumps spread...

and spread...

and spread.

If you are willing to search throughout the country, the footprints can be found hidden in plain sight.  They last only for a few weeks each spring but they will return year after year.  Long after the gardeners are gone, these buttercups will continue to bloom and cheer many future generations.   I wonder, what positive footprints am I leaving behind that will last so long?
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