Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 9

white-faced hornets had constructed
over and around a branch 12 feet off
the ground. The nest was footballshaped, though many sizes larger, a
veritable Biltmore Estate, with two
entrance holes, one above the other,
and an ornate, frothy roof that rose to
a peak like a sundae with a swirl of
whipped cream on the top. Both
entrance holes were alive with activity: a constant flow of hornets
emerged and zoomed off into the
woods; a constant flow returned.
Frost was predicted, then a freeze, a
few days hence. They didn't know it.
Or perhaps they did.
I turned for home. Curled brown
sycamore leaves swooshed drily in the
wake of a passing car and crunched
underfoot. In a sunny stretch, gold
coins from an almost spent autumn
rained down, coins minted in a currency I didn't recognize, sweet birch,
perhaps. Amid the leaves, nearly colorless somethings pinwheeled onto a
new stretch of asphalt the highway
department laid down in summer. The
whirligigs were poplar seeds. Beached
on the pavement, they were overturned boats, keels casting tiny shadows that looked like sails.
Near home I came through what's
known as "the cut," where many
decades ago a new stretch of road,
blasted out of a section of slope,
replaced one that followed the contour. The road was already in shadow
- it was hurry sundown by then - but
the hillside to the east was still bathed
in light. Partway up the slope, a slender hickory that had survived a savage
harvest a decade earlier tossed its
golden mane against an intensely
blue sky. I stood and stared, then
reached for the point-and-shoot camera I'd pocketed before setting out. By
the time I aimed it at the tree, the luster was leaching; by the second shot,

it was dull as brass. My view to the
west was blocked, so I couldn't tell
whether the sun had disappeared
behind a cloud or dropped below the
hills. Had I come through the cut two
minutes later, I'd have missed that
tree's flare and drain.
Warmth enfolded me the minute I
opened my front door. That morning
I'd built the first fire of the season in
the soapstone stove. The fire had long
since consumed its fuel, but heat lingered in the stone. I smelled the cider
I'd left to mull, the rich complexity of
apple, cinnamon, allspice and cloves.
It was time to make supper, to get
ready to head to my neighbor Helen's
to watch game six of the American
League playoffs, a series my beloved
Red Sox led three games to two.
Growing up in New England, we
cheered for the Sox, who were never
in contention then; beneath our flaming maples, we squeezed cider from
misshapen apples that fell from our
unsprayed trees. Now, I poured warm
cider into the only remaining cup in a
set of china my grandmother used all
her life and drank it down.
As I drove over to Helen's, a full
moon was rising above the hills. It
hung in a section of already black sky
between lines of clouds that curved
above and below it, the cloud fringe
illuminated by its reflected light. The
moon was pale gold, and huge, the
way new-risen moons are. The skyhole it was centered in was the
almond shape of Sox slugger David
Ortiz' eyes. The sun, hidden from me
now by the bulge of earth, was out
there somewhere in all that space,
casting the light it had withdrawn
from the hickory a few hours earlier.
Oh, sun. Oh, moon. Oh, Sox.
My team won the game on a grand
slam in the seventh that held through
the final Tiger out. The homer was hit

by a player who'd gone two for 23
until that point, who Detroit's good
pitching had tied in knots. He
rounded the bases, one hand pointing
roughly in the direction his ball had
gone, the other pumping his chest.
His face was twisted in a joy that
looked like pain. A wave of teammates swelled to the top of the dugout steps and broke onto the field.
The fans, including this one, went
wild. St. Louis would probably cream
us in the World Series, but right then
who cared?
I left Helen's after midnight. The
moon was tangled by then in the tops
of her towering oaks, trees whose
leaves she and I would soon be raking, bagging and bringing to my
house to feed my garden for the next
growing year.
Before daybreak, still in Sox delirium, the moon almost down, I built
my second fire in the soapstone stove.
As the sun rose it slanted through a
side window to catch, for about 90
seconds, the objects on a table that
fronts a bank of windows opening
onto my back yard. It filtered through
pale yellow daisy-like chrysanthemums my friend Mary Patrick had
invited me to cut from her yard, since
she was Texas-bound for the winter.
"Someone should enjoy them," she'd
said, and I was. The sun picked out a
little wooden music box, a gift from a
friend; it shone across beeswax candles and miniature pumpkins I'd
bought at farmer's market, through a
blue glass bowl from our homestead
in Vermont. We speak of "a trick of
the light," but it isn't a trick. Light
does what it does without guile or
intent. It does it whether we're paying
attention or not. For a minute, an
afternoon, a lifetime, it illuminates
what we need to see, to acknowledge, to love. Then it disappears. 
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014 | 9



Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014

Cover
Table of Contents
Letters/Worth a Click
From the Editor
Creature Feature
From the Farm
Great Home Buys
Digital Help Guide
Mountain Report
The Hike
Festivals & Events
Mountain Curios: Racing Lawn Mowers
Mountain Curios: Stamping Out Squirrel Sex!
Mountain Curios: A Library as Big as a Breadbox?
Mountain Curios: Mill from 1794 Still Turns!
Mountain Curios: Indian Mounds in Downtown!
Travel Guide 2014: A Year of Great Festivals!
The Blue Ridge Parkway Photoessay
Travel Guide 2014: A Foodie's Dream Journey
Travel Guide 2014: The Retro Pilgrimage
Wilderness Institute in the Smokies
Mountain Garden
Cabin in the Woods: Royal Oaks Retreat
Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Cover
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Table of Contents
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Letters/Worth a Click
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - From the Editor
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - From the Farm
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Great Home Buys
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 12
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Digital Help Guide
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Mountain Report
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - The Hike
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Festivals & Events
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 20
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 22
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Mountain Curios: Racing Lawn Mowers
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Mountain Curios: Stamping Out Squirrel Sex!
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Mountain Curios: A Library as Big as a Breadbox?
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Mountain Curios: Mill from 1794 Still Turns!
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Mountain Curios: Indian Mounds in Downtown!
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Travel Guide 2014: A Year of Great Festivals!
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - The Blue Ridge Parkway Photoessay
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Travel Guide 2014: A Foodie's Dream Journey
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 42
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 44
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 45
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 46
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Travel Guide 2014: The Retro Pilgrimage
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 52
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Wilderness Institute in the Smokies
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 58
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Mountain Garden
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Cabin in the Woods: Royal Oaks Retreat
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2014 - Cover4
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