We took a drive through the countryside of Jonesborough, looking for signs of Spring. What we found were baby lambs! Lots and lots of spring lambs guarded by their friends the donkeys and burros, and a few other farm critters munching on the early tender sprouts of grass. Spring is magical in the hills of East Tennessee!
Every Halloween, my little historic town of Jonesborough, Tenneessee celebrates with fabulous fall decorations. Cornstalks, pumpkins, scarecrows and ghosts adorn Main Street and welcome the crisp cold days and beginning of the holiday season. I never get tired of taking photos of the lovely town! And a few pics from my front porch because we LOVE Autumn!
You cannot sit on our front porch without a glass of red wine in hand!
Our cat "Shadow" loves the Fall too!
As July winds to its lazy end, I have been dwelling upon how summer offers up some of our most “American” experiences; baseball, church picnics, road trips, and of course, the 4th of July.
So before this typical Tennessee July; a hot, humid, month filled the flickering fairy-lights of fireflies when dark finally falls, I want to share a small iconic piece of home-town U.S.A……The 4th of July Parade.
Jonesborough, where I live nestled at the base of the Appalachian Mountains in North East Tennessee, is a microcosm of everything American. It is the oldest town in Tennessee, established in 1779 and was deeply involved in our Revolutionary War.
It was at one time or another during its early history home to many of America’s famous sons; Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, John Sevier, Andrew Jackson and many others, as well as many women though there is not a great deal of (and certainly not enough!) information about those brave ladies!
Every independence day, citizens of the town turn out to support their community, give thanks for their freedoms and the unique experiment in liberty that all Americans are living.
Of course they also show up to have fun! Eating Funnel Cakes, buying crafts, toys and jewelry at the booths, getting faces painted and just reveling in a beautiful day. Below is a photo essay of that parade day. You can see from the photos, what a special day it is for everyone in this historic part of Tennessee and the special place 4th of July parades hold in the hearts of Americans.
The end of March….. how does it go? “In like a Lion, out like a lamb”. Not so much this year! This March, the lions ruled all month long!
So on this last weekend in this wild month, we decided to search for the earliest tender signs of Spring, and the promise of warm lazy days to come.
We searched the gently sloping foothills of our part of North East Tennessee as they snuggled up to the ancient Appalachian Mountains, the undulating pastures transitioning hesitantly to green while the trees still slept in their stark bare forms.
Calves fresh from their mother’s warm cozy womb suckled and horses grazed, searching for each bright green burst of grass. Geese floated on chilly water, resting up on their great flight toward Canada, following the hint of warm air as it spread its whispers northward.
And we found them…… those bright brave early blooms waving the springtime flag and leading the way for the burst of color and scent that was on its way.
The end of the U.S. Civil War…… A time for healing and new beginnings for many.
This is the world that David and Louise Miller knew when they decided to settle in the heavily forested Appalachian mountain region. Mountains that were often misty and already laden with old stories of the Over-Mountain Men, Scottish Pioneers and Cherokee Indians, but also filled with new opportunity for a young couple to found their family farm.
David Miller built his original log cabin in the 1870’s in a hollow of Strawberry Mountain which is one of the ridge highlands that flank Roan Mountain. The hills hiding the hollow slope gently into the small valley where the 1904 white frame farmhouse, surrounded by a colorful garden, still stands like a bright beacon, among the older, silvery grey, hand-hewn working structures on the homestead.
We were there in late summer, so the air was heavy with the smell of grasses and flowers. In fact, wildflowers overflowed down the slopes and across the fields. The buzz of bees as they darted by us to the next flower filled our ears, and we watched with delight as dozens of butterflies floated around us looking for more sweet nectar.
As it turned out, this hollow is on the migration route for the Monarch butterfly and from our observations, all their cousins too.
An exploration of the homestead, leads you to the old Barn which looked well used and was surrounded by antique farming equipment. Among the other outbuildings were the Spring House, built over a cooling spring, the Smokehouse and the log Root Cellar, which was partially buried in the ground, they dotted the yard behind the farmhouse. There was also a chicken house. We were able to look inside all except the chicken house which was closed and locked.
Curious, Jim leaned forward and held up a finger to his lips. We waited silent for a second or two and were surprised by soft clucks. There were actually chickens inside!
The vegetable garden was heavy with ripening low lying squash and long stalks of rhubarb and a tall stack of hay sat just waiting for someone with a pitchfork to spread it in the barn.
Though we didn’t take the tour that day, you can go inside the farmhouse to learn more about the history of this family and their homestead. There is a lot to know about the determined Appalachian family who farmed the hollow for three generations from the 1800’s to the 1960’s.
The David Miller Farmstead has been preserved by the State of Tennessee to provide a look into what life was like in the mountains of Appalachia in those hard, early days. It’s a wonderful place to contemplate the remoteness of their life there and how self-reliant these settlers really had to be. A life so very different from, the plugged-in life we lead today.
Roan Mountain, 6,285 feet (1,915 meters) high, home to hardwood forests, thick pink and purple blossomed rhododendron bushes (in the spring) and the famous “Smokey Mountain” mists that lay low over the Appalachians.
Poised along the Blue Ridge on the Tennessee/North Carolina border, it is also one of the most beautiful hikes along the Appalachian Tail.
For me a couple weeks ago it was a place to find peace and clear my head. A place to hike quietly, breathing cool forest scents on a moist after-rain day when all the ferns glow with bright green light and the trees loom dark with wet bark. A place where you can stand silent awed at views of deep emerald pines giving way in the far distance to ancient purple and gray Carolina Mountains. These photos say it all.......
Flemming's Steakhouse is one of our favorite destinations when we make the 1 1/2 hour drive to Knoxville, Tennessee, for an overnight shopping/pub-hopping/dining experience. We do this only a few times a year since it usually means a pretty large hit to our wallets!
Flemming's has amazingly delicious, award winning food but it is a little on the expensive side, so our favorite position is sitting at the lovely dark wood, romantically lit bar, where we order a selection of appetizers. I have to say, my favorites are the plump fresh shrimp cocktail with its fabulous sauce, the amazing steak salad covered with juicy, perfectly grilled steak slices and my favorite, the most savory french onion soup I have ever eaten in my whole life. The depth of flavor is perfect. These are just a few of their wonderful offerings, but this wasn't the focus of our evening that night.
This time, I wanted to try some of their impressively large selection of wines. And the best part was the ipad style tablet located conveniently on the counter where I could browse through their sections and recommendations, try a few and send myself the online review of the varietal. How cool is that!
We ordered three different glasses of red to try, from the Flemming Top 100 list which offers really great highly rated wines by the glass, and after sharing each of them, (well Jim tasted, I actually drank most of the wine) we both decided that the Silver Palm, 2011/12 was our favorite.
The tasting notes from Flemming's tablet are:
North Coast, 2011/12
"“The beauty is in the details.” That's the mantra at Silver Palm, and it’s evident from the moment you sip this wine. After harvesting from the finest wine valleys in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino, Silver Palm winemakers craft a sumptuous wine that enhances food beautifully. Dark ruby in color, this Cab exudes aromas of cassis and Bing cherries. In the mouth you’ll experience flavors of spice and oak, with firm tannins that lead to a silky finish."
I have to agree with this!
My second favorite was actually a higher rated wine. (This one tied for first with Jim!)
Napa Valley, 2009/10
"Winemaker Tony Coltrin has married multiple Cabernet expressions into one outstanding wine that boasts a gorgeous, rounded mouthfeel and rich, complex flavors. How you ask? By layering fruits from Napa’s volcanic hillside soils with the deeper alluvial soils of the valley floors, producing an oak and Bordeaux-styled Cab. The wine’s candied blackberry, licorice and spice flavors complement a lingering toffee note on the finish. On the palate, a dash of black pepper and hints of cranberry that will rock your taste buds. This is one Cab that will keep you coming back for more."
So overall, I have to say, the tablets where we could access all these interesting wine notes was an absolute hit with us and made our evening at Flemming's Steakhouse even more fun than usual!