Tag Archives: Mountains

I Love the Landscape Because It Is So Sincere. It Never Cheats Me.

“I love nature, I love the landscape, because it is so sincere. It never cheats me. It never jests. ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

from-townsend-to-cove-w

Taken between Townsend, TN and Cades Cove, TN

Most of you know me as the BamaSteelMagnolia. And, there is a reason for that. For most of my life I’ve lived in Sweet Home Alabama, a state I love from the top of my head to the tip of my toes.

I’ve gone to school here, married one guy from here (big mistake, but not because he was from Alabama), birthed a child here, divorced here, remarried a Tall & Handsome southwestern cowboy here and battle twice non-smoking lung cancer here. I’ve lived more decades than I care to share here in this state I am passionate about.

In other words, I’ve done a lot of living, losing, loving and everything in between in this place I call home – Alabama.

What you may not know: on a cold January morning I was born to two young people in an East Tennessee hospital as the Great Smoky Mountains stood silently in the background, an ever present sentinel in my early life and childhood.

cominghome-day-1-7-1954

I’m the little head peaking out in the crook of Momma’s arm. My gorgeous parents.

So, what does that mean and why am I telling you this?

Well, it’s been a rough week for me and my family as we’ve watched the Smokies and Gatlinburg burn.

I don’t care how long you’ve been gone, it’s not easy to watch the places of your childhood and childhood memories, and the places of your ancestry go up in smoke. It’s a helpless feeling. And, if you still have family living in those parts, the helpless feeling is compounded. I can’t even begin to tell you what I feel to know these fires were started by arsonists.

I spent about the first 12 years of my life in or around East Tennessee with the exception of a year or so when I was two. My daddy worked in the engineering department of an aircraft company in the Dallas area at that time. But, you just don’t take a mountain boy out of the mountains and put him on the flat plains of Texas, and, so, back to Tennessee we went.

We eventually ended up in the central Alabama area and I think it stuck for a couple of reasons. Daddy worked for an engineering company started by brothers who were University of Tennessee grads (where Daddy started his college career), the terrain is similar to East Tennessee – we all ended up living on this little mountain top in Alabama because it reminded us of our roots – and the people here in Alabama are 24K gold.

But, oh, the childhood memories I have of those times and places in East Tennessee.

Walks with my Papaw as he pointed out the name of each tree. Watching him have his faithful hunting dog do all kinds of tricks for cornbread. MaMaw and Papaw letting us dig up peanuts or pick some cotton from the garden. This gal from the burbs thought she was a real farm hand then.

Weekend trips to the mountains taking in the fall colors, wading in the cold mountain streams, picnics with the grandparents, and my Aunt Ruthie’s house in Kinzel Springs. You had to walk over a swinging foot bridge to get to her house. It sat backed up against the mountain and even in the summer time, that house never seemed hot. As a matter of fact, back then, those mountains always seemed like the coolest place on earth to be.

It was just a “hop, skip and a jump” over twisting, hairpin two lane mountain roads to Cherokee, NC where we could see a Cherokee chief. My paternal grandmother was originally from Western North Carolina and it was said she was part Cherokee. She looked the part, but we’ve never confirmed the ancestry.

My PaPaw worked at the Little River Lumber Company back in the day. He was a clerk in the company store. My cousins tell me there’s a picture of him in the train museum in Townsend. He was also the fill-in mail carrier for Cades Cove and Daddy went on that route a time or two with PaPaw.

That’s my roots on the “quiet side of the Smokies”, my Daddy’s side. My little Momma is a different story.

Several years ago I started the journey into genealogy and it’s a journey I’ve loved and wished I had started sooner. Once I jokingly told Momma she was a half-breed. She was startled at first and then I laughed and explained.

Tennessee is divided into West Tennessee, Middle Tennessee and East Tennessee. Any good Tennessean knows that. Mom’s ancestry is Middle Tennessee/East Tennessee (on her mother’s side). Half and half.

And, it is that East Tennessee ancestry on Momma’s side that carries me back to Gatlinburg.

You see William Ogle and Martha Jane Huskey Ogle are my 5th great-grandparents. Martha Jane Huskey Ogle’s cabin was the first house built in what is now known as Gatlinburg. William and Martha had 7 children and I descend through two of their sons, William “Black Bill” Ogle and Isaac “Shucky” Ogle.

A few years back I went to Edgefield, SC to get a copy of William Ogle, the father’s will. That type of documentation is like the holy grail for a genealogist. The Ogle family was living in Edgefield and William went to Tennessee to prepare for the family to move. He laid up provisions and he cut and notched timbers to build a log cabin for his family. He went back to Edgefield to get his family for the move back to Tennessee, but before they could leave South Carolina, William fell ill and died.

Martha Jane didn’t go to Tennessee at first, but she eventually did and family members helped raise the cabin using the timbers William had prepared.

It was the first house built in White Oak Flats, a place that would become known as Gatlinburg. Over time other families moved in. You saw the formations of clans with names that pop up in my family tree. If you throw a rock into a crowd of locals there’s a good chance I’m distantly related to them – including a famous country songbird who shares a common ancestor with me named Henry Bohannon, my 5th great grand-father.

My family was founding fathers of an area I watched decimated by a historical fire this past week. I never thought I would live to see anything like this. I hope I never have to see anything like this again and I pray for more rain to come their way.

I listened and watched as I saw names like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Chimney Tops, Clingman’s Dome, Newfound Gap, Wear’s Valley and others threatened and burned. And, each time my heart broke.

For me, it’s not only pride in the pioneer spirit of my ancestors, but it’s also love of the location and area. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth. When I go into the mountains, my heart sings and my spirit is refreshed. I feel at home.

Just like the people, this area is resilient. They survived the Great Depression and floods after floods before TVA. It will come back and they will come back. There will be regrowth and rebirth. Mountain folk are good strong people, just like the land around them. They have learned from the land. They need our continued support and prayers.

Thoreau said it best, “I love nature, I love the landscape, because it is so sincere. It never cheats me. It never jests.”

My birthplace is sincerely hurting right now, but it will be a beautiful landscape once again – and the people will be there with it – rejoicing.

© 2016 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Birth, Cades Cove, Central Alabama, Daddy, East Tennessee, East Tennessee Fire, East Tennessee Heritage, Family, Gatlinburg, Gatlinburg Fire, genealogy, Grief, Home, Memories, Momma, Mountains, Nature, Ogle, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day

Backyard Trillium, by Beverly Hicks Burch

backyard trillium

Spring ushered in very early this morning, so it’s official! Spring has sprung!

Now, that doesn’t mean we can’t have anymore cold weather. Nineteen years ago, right before spring ushered in we had the infamous Blizzard of `93. Yes, it was an honest to goodness blizzard in the Deep South. I had 24” of snow in my backyard. There were people without power for weeks.

We’ve also had snow as late as April. One year I had an apple tree in bloom when a surprise snow storm blew in and dumped a few inches on an unsuspecting population. The snow on the blossom laden apple tree was too much and it uprooted the tree.

It’s not cold like that now. As a matter of fact it’s been warm…very warm…warmer than it should be. It was 86 yesterday. That’s a little disconcerting because overly warm weather in the spring can result in bad storms later on.

March, April and early May is considered our top severe weather season. Last April 27 is a sobering example of what can happen this time of the year, but as Jan. 23 of this year pointed out, tornadoes and severe weather is not limited to this season only. In Jan. the place of my childhood was in essence wiped off the map.

But, looking forward and to celebrate spring, I thought I’d shared today’s picture of the day. I love for spring to roll around because I know it will bring the trilliums to my backyard. That is one of the bonuses of living on a mountain top. I’m not totally sure, but I think this might be a trillium reliquum which is found only in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina and is considered an endangered species. I plan on taking care of these babies as long as I can…which means leaving them alone and just letting them grow wild…

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Backyards, Central Alabama, Enviroment, Horticulture, Mountains, Photography, Picture of the Day, South, Spring

God’s Green Earth, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Between Townsend and the Cove

In the foothills of the Smoky Mountains there is a little hamlet called Townsend, TN. It is part of my ancestral roots. My Daddy was born there and his daddy before him and so on and so on. The Hicks Family and the Walker family and the Dunn family were Blount County residents for generations. There were many Scot-Irish in the area and I strongly resemble that remark and that probably accounts for my love for all thing Scottish…well, except for haggis…

Even though I grew up and spent most of my life in my beloved Alabama when I think of “home” I also think back to the mountains of East Tennessee. Any chance I get to go back and meander through the cool, quiet, tranquil  places I visited as I child, I jump on it! Nothing is as exhilarating as driving up to the top of those smoky mountains and seeing that unique haze grazing the tops of the mountain summits for as far as the eye can see…and standing and breathing in vista after vista of rolling mountain top in the middle of August and feeling a cool breeze gently embrace your body, knowing in the back of you mind that miles away, in cities, mankind is broiling in August heat and gridlock.

My heart sings in those moments…

There’s another place nearby called Cade’s Cove. This cove is nestled in a valley between mountain bases and was also home to family from long ago. If you drive the loop around the cove you can see old barns, churches and homes, deer, wild turkey and a place that seems untouched by time. My daddy remembers my Papaw filling in as the mailman as the postal carrier in the Cove when the full time carrier had need for time off.

Three or four years ago Tall & Handsome and I spent some time one Memorial Day weekend up in that area. I was doing a little genealogy research and just enjoying God’s green Earth. It was a great time for us…

The picture above was taken between Townsend and Cades Cove. While so many in the US are suffering through wildfires, floods, storms and other travails, I thought it would be nice just to remind everyone how wonderful God’s green Earth can really be…especially in East Tennessee…back where I come from…

© 2011 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Blount County Tennessee, Cades Cove, Dunn, East Tennessee, East Tennessee Heritage, Family, Hicks, Home, Mountains, My Tennesse Heritage, Nature, Photography, Picture of the Day, South, Tennessee, TN, Townsend, Walker

Mountain Top Stroll, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Mountain Top Stroll

By Beverly Hicks Burch

This afternoon Mom asked me to take a stroll down her little “road” that runs along the ridge of her and Daddy’s mountain top lot in northeast Alabama where their home sits. I should mention this “lot” covers several acres and is a little piece of heaven.

A few weeks ago Momma had this little path cleared of so she could take strolls down it and enjoy little nature walks. At any given time you just might be surprised (or maybe not) at what you might find back in those woods…including deer. Just this morning we saw a fawn disappear over the side of the ledge.

Last night it rained…no, I mean it really, really RAINED. We’re talking Noah’s flood kind of rain…like five inches where we were at. In some areas cars were floating off into ditches. Lightening was flashing everywhere and it sounded like giants were bowling on top of our heads. And, wouldn’t you know it…Tall & Handsome just happened to pick last night to grill boneless Chipotle chicken breast, sweet potatoes and grilled corn with Chili-Lime Butter. It was yummy but he looked like he’d been pulled off a life raft somewhere. Even a big golf umbrella didn’t save him from the drenching downpour, but trooper that he is…he served us up a gourmet dinner…the man can cook!

The rain left the woods with a decided “musty” odor and a lot of little…and big creations that looked just right for hobbits, toads and fairy tales. The woodlands are also beginning to take on a distinct harbinger of autumn.

So, welcome to my folks mountain top backyard, yall…

Tickseed

Tickseed

Sumac show signs of fall

The Sumac is starting to turn red…a sure sign of fall

Purple Rain

Purple Rain…

Mountain Backyard 1

Looking over the Ridge…

Mountain Backyard 2

…more ridge…

Mountain Backyard 3

…and even more ridge…

Little Umbrella

Little Umbrella

Toadstool

Toad Stool

Mountain Top Portabello

Mountain Top Portabella

Wow a lot of fungi 

No, Virginia, the aliens did NOT land…

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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I’m a Little Teapot…, by Beverly Hicks Burch

I’m a Little Teapot…

By Beverly Hicks Burch

I might have mentioned it before, but I have a shared “affliction” with my little Momma…one she actually passed on to me. That affliction is a love of dishes and a desire to “collect” dishes. As Daddy says we have a lot of plunder in that department, but boy can we lay a spread!

I have my everyday dishes and I have my everyday Christmas dishes we start using Thanksgiving. It’s a rule these dishes must be used every day until after my birthday which is shortly after the first of the New Year. Then there’s the good china…and the Christmas china.

And, then there are the teapots…another “affliction” acquired from Momma twofold and if I’m not mistaken shared with my middle sister. Twofold because it seems we all like hot tea…my favorite is a rooibos tea…yum yum…

Well, when Tall & Handsome and I married I added another “collection” to my burgeoning dish cupboard. Being the southwestern guy that he is, T & H had a few pieces of Fiestaware. The pieces in his collection were all white and being the lover of color, I couldn’t help but start adding a few colored pieces here and there. Of course the collection grew…and the surprising thing is the Fiestaware mixes and matches really well with my every day dishes.

A couple of weeks ago Momma called me after she and Daddy had taken a trip up to Boaz, AL. Now in its day Boaz was a thriving outlet town, but many of the outlets have moved out…a real shame especially for the local economy. In some of the empty retail spaces vendors have set up collectible businesses. One this particular trip Momma couldn’t resist browsing one such shop…and she came away with a goodie for me…a Fiestaware teapot in one of the colors I had been adding to our collection. I got to bring the little treasure home after a recent visit to my folks…and it’s a real cutie! I’d never seen one like it.

The other day when I was taking pictures of the Fiestaware T & H said, “Honey, you’ve done a good job a building up the Fiestaware.” Well, I’ll have to say…I had a little help…thanks, Momma…

Fiestaware teapot

Fiestaware Teapot from my little Momma

Teapot lid deatil

Detail – Teapot Lid…very cute…

Fiestaware pitcher & teapot

Fiestaware Water Pitcher and Teapot

Fiestaware salt & pepper

Fiestaware Large Salt & Pepper Shakers

Fiestaware rimmed soup bowl

Fiestaware Rimmed Soup Bowl

Fiestaware collection

The Fiestaware Collection

Teapots

My Teapots – The one of the far right is a reproduction of a Chinese hobnail (I’m not sure if they still make it in the black); the small blue teapot has a white version available currently

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Collections, Daddy, Dishes, Fiestaware, Mothers, Mountains, Photography, Tall & Handsome, Tea

Speeding Down a Country Road at 70 (sometimes) MPH, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Speeding Down a Country Road at 70 (sometimes) MPH

By Beverly Hicks Burch

Last week after spending some time with my folks we drove up to Asheville, NC. The portion of the drive between East Tennessee (where I was born) and Asheville is one of my favorite drives in the country.

I had been dozing in the front seat because Tall & Handsome and I have had a busy month and I hadn’t been home in over a month. When we reached this particular portion of the drive he roused me because he knows how much I enjoy it. He asked me if I’d like to try and grab a few pictures…of course at speeds of 70 mph…at times. So, take in mind these were taken at that speed…and through my windshield of life…also, scroll down to the end and see how Scoot…AKA Watson the Wonder dog travels in style…in the very back of the Jeep…on top of the heap…AND ON TOP OF HIS MOMMA AND DADDY’S QUILT PROJECT!!

Between Knoxville and Asheville 1

A Well Travel Road

Between Knoxville and Asheville 2

Into the Hills…

Between Knoxville and Asheville 3

Near Footshills Parkway & the Great Smoky Mountains

Between Knoxville and Asheville 4

Take Me Home Country Roads…

Between Knoxville and Asheville 5

Techno comes to the mountains, Pa

Between Knoxville and Asheville 8

One of the tunnels through the mountain passes

Between Knoxville and Asheville 7

The other side…

Between Knoxville and Asheville 9

Almost there…just “this” side of Asheville…

Scoot Travels in style

Scoot, AKA Watson the Wonder dog traveling in style…on Momma & Daddy’s quilt South by Southwest

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Asheville NC, dogs, East Tennessee, Mountains, Photography, Smoky Mountains, Tall & Handsome, Travel, Watson

Cool Water, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Cool Water

By Beverly Hicks Burch

During spring, my mind and heart always seem to yearn for “home”…the mountains. To me there’s just nothing a peaceful as wandering the back roads up in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains and sometimes even wandering up into the mountains. You just never know what wonderful natural marvel you might see.

It also brings back memories of when I was a little girl. We’d drive up to visit my grandparents and I can remember wading through the cool, clear water of the creeks and streams around Townsend and the surrounding foothills. There is nothing as refreshing as feeling that cool mountain water rushing past my feet and ankles.

A couple of years ago on a Memorial Day weekend, T & H and took a trip up into the mountains. It was one of his first trips up in the area. I took a ton of pictures, but when I look at these pictures taken between Townsend and Cades Cove, I can honestly still feel that cool clear water…and I’m back home again…

 

Peaceful too

Peaceful – between Townsend, TN & Cades Cove

Between Townsend and the Cove

It doesn’t get better than this…Can you feel the cool water?

 

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Cades Cove, East Tennessee, Mountains, Photography, Townsend, Travel

A New Week A Different Peak, by Beverly Hicks Burch

New Week, A Different Peak

By Beverly Hicks Burch

Well, we’re back from our weekend jaunt up to the Grand Canyon…I’ll have more on that for you later. I have a new formula for you:

Fatigue = One weekend + The Grand Canyon on a cane + a train ride + a 2-1/2 hour car trip (coming and going) + freezing weather + bone chilling wind + snow/ice pellets + any autoimmune disorder you can think of…

It also equal one of the memorable lifetime trips (one of those “bucket lists” or “do before you die” things for me). Would I do it over? Yep! Am I glad I did it? Yep! Will it take me a while to recover? You betcha! But, worth it…

When I found something to prop my eyes open with this morning afternoon, I peeped out my hotel window in Scottsdale and this is what my eyes beheld…

New Week, Different Peak 1 - Scottsdale

New Week, Different Peak 2 - Scottsdale

New Week, Different Peak 3 - Scottsdale 3

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Fatigue, Health, Mountains, Photography, Scottsdale AZ, Travel