FRED FIRST: Family Time – Black Mountain North Carolina

We recently spent a few days away, a few hours from home, with both our children (and one spouse) and two grand-children in Black Mountain, NC—near Asheville.

Black Mountain 20 years ago was compared by some to Floyd (where we have lived since 1997) for its artisan-and-farmer quirkiness. But the small town in the mountains of western NC has been discovered, and is being loved, if not to death, at least to a mild indigestion.

Floyd is not far behind, and gaining fast, but fortunately, the town of 500 is not adjacent to a busy interstate like Black Mt.

Any place worth living for monied boomers seeking retirement continuum of care is subject to being “developed” as we say in our making the disappearance of forests and quietude sound positive.

But we can’t throw stones. One of those continuums, some where, some when, has our name on it.


I’ll share a few pix, though I’m disappointed in the color of the first two.

It seems converting from tiff format (the one below was a pano that consumed 100mb) to the lower-res jpg results in a shift in color balance that I am not able to correct to my satisfaction. But the show must go on.

Tomahawk Lake, Black Mountain, NC

We stayed at an AirBnB a quarter mile north of Tomahawk Lake and a one mile walk to town.

We walked 8 miles in the two days we were there, while our cars stayed parked. Ann and I kept up with the younger legs in the group, I’m pleased to say. No blisters, sore muscles or joint problems. Go, boomers!

There is a wide, level walking path around the lake, which is used by both plodders and joggers on a nice Fall day.

Not surprisingly, I botanized my way around the loop and was frequently left behind, smitten by one thing or another. I am easily distracted and often amused, and last in line.

About this image

Our daughter and I noticed at the same time a bit of this “rainbow” reflected in the water, but due to the brightness of the sky, it was not visible to the eye—but was to the camera lens.

And I can add this to my life list of atmospheric features of the planet I have now seen and photographed—here, a circumhorizontal arc. Kinda cool.

A circumhorizontal arc is an optical phenomenon that belongs to the family of ice halos formed by the refraction of sunlight or moonlight in plate-shaped ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere, typically in cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. – Wikipedia

And if you have to have a lawn…

The NoMow Lawn

We walked past this “yard” every time we walked to downtown Black Mountain. I wonder how long it took, and with what effort, to pull this off: not a blade of grass to be found. Only a year-round green carpet of moss. Congratulations!

This can only be created where there is the right mix of shade, sun, humidity and a favorable soil. Do you suppose they set out many individual “plugs” of moss that eventually merged?

Keep Floyd (and Black Mt) Funky

Black Mountain yard art

I first visited BMT when I was on a clinical rotation at Memorial Mission Hospital when I was a physical therapy student in 1989. It felt RIGHT somehow.

Like Floyd, the Black Mountain VIBE is “one of a kind” and on the hippie side.

The issue is how to perpetuate the uniqueness of small-volume artists and crafts-people and small-farmers. The population coming in could tend to homogenize and franchise to oblivion the spirit and soul of the place.

The part of the shaded outskirts of town where we stayed was a blend of variously-maintained older “legacy” homes in long-term ownership and those that had been bought and converted to rental properties.

But funky seems to be alive and well.

And finally, painting with light.

First shot with the Light Trails feature of NightCap Camera | iPhone 14 Pro

I recently mentioned here a few posts ago the phone app called NightCap Camera.

For giggles, I pulled NightCap out of my pocket on one of our walks. I set it to “light trails” and pressed the shutter as I walked behind our son, DIL and grandson. (The latter is the red blur, in more motion than his parents.)

This mode basically creates a video that will become an additive compilation of motion and color. The individual dots and scribbles represent separate images superimposed on the base image, creating an interesting abstract pattern.

…and while the leaves are falling 📸

I plan to plant myself underneath the maples in the yard in the next couple of days, while the red leaves are falling and before the ground is frozen.

I should have the camera steady (on a tripod) so the unmoving tree trunk will appear in sharp focus, while moving branches and falling leaves will appear as light trails, depending on how long I leave the shutter open.

Each leaf will leave a brilliant swirling trace against a fixed background.

Should be fun, and an excuse to plant myself under the sky for one of these final days of flannel shirt weather.

The long woolies come OUT and the shorts and sandals go UP.

Tis the season. Meh. I used to look forward to winter. What changed?

– Fred First is an author, naturalist, photographer watching Nature under siege since the first Earth Day. Cautiously hopeful. Writing to think it through. Thanks for joining me. Subscribe to My Substack HERE

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