Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Are the Cherokee Still There?

We find their beautiful spear heads and points as well as fragments of stone tools in our fields, just as we find remnants of those who supplanted them.

There is no record of permanent Cherokee settlements in our county but we were certainly a part of their hunting ground. The big bottom field at the lower part of our farm is where most of these artifacts came from and the presence in one small area of numerous half-finished points and flakes of flint leads us to believe that this field between two streams must have been a summer encampment and this one area must have been where a flint knapper worked.

When I mentioned the Cherokees in my Saturday post, Reader Wil (who is in the Netherlands) asked if they were still around and I promised to blog about the Indian Removal, also called The Long Walk or, more poetically still, The Trail of Tears. It's a shameful story, which I've already talked about in my book OLD WOUNDS and which I use again in the forthcoming THE DAY OF SMALL THINGS.

Briefly, the story is this. White settlers wanted Native American land and in 1838 the Indian Removal Act meant that all Native Americans in the southeastern US were driven from their land, houses and orchards destroyed. They were rounded up, impounded in stockades, and forcibly marched west to Oklahoma. 1,200 miles they traveled -- a six month journey. Men, women, and children, the very old and the very young were forced along the Trail of Tears--most walking -- in the bitter winter weather. One in four of the some 17,000 Native Americans died on the march.

There were some Cherokees who avoided the removal by hiding and some who came back later. Eventually, the Cherokees were 'given' land here in the North Carolina mountains -- a tiny fraction of what had been theirs. This is the Qualla Boundary -- Cherokee, NC, a few hours drive from our farm.

The Trail of Tears is our country's shame. I've put a link below to a much fuller account.

Go here to read about some modern day Cherokees --a Cherokee flute player and a woman who is trying to keep the Cherokee language alive. And here for a visit to the Qualla Boundary -- the home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee. And here for the story of the Trail of Tears.

This is such an iconic event -- it's hard to be a writer in western North Carolina and not feel compelled to write about it. Many have and many will. I'm sure I will again.
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Monday, June 29, 2009

Hot Daze

Some strategies for staying cool -- POM pomegranate juice with soda (lots of soda) over ice . . .

Salad for lunch with last night's cold eggplant/shrimp/red pepper pasta tossed in . . .

Bathe two large, reluctant dogs. Don't change wet clothes when done. Sit in front of fan. Ah . . . .

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Mountain Park Hotel

Hot Springs, NC -- a real place, unlike the fictional Ransom and Gudger's Stand in my Elizabeth Goodweather books -- has long been known for the healing waters that emerge from the earth at temperatures up to 104 degrees. The native Cherokees used the springs till they were driven out by white settlers who named their growing village Warm Springs.

Inns were built to accommodate travelers on the Drovers' Road and as the trail was improved into a stagecoach road, known as the Buncombe Turnpike, the springs began to attract tourists.

The first resort was built in the 1830s --The Warm Springs Hotel, often called The White House, was made of white brick, three stories high with thirteen columns on the long porch facing the river. Partially destroyed by fire in 1838, it was rebuilt.

A gentleman by the name of Charles Lanman wrote of his visit to the hotel in 1948: The Warm Springs are annually visited by a large number of fashionable and sickly people from all the Southern States. The principal building is of brick and the ballroom is two hundred feet long. The hotel has accommodations for two hundred fifty people. There is music and dancing, bowling , bathing, riding, and fishing.

The hotel changed hands several times, survived the Civil War, and was operating under the name of The Patton Hotel when it burned in 1884. The property was sold once more to a group of Northern businessmen -- The Southern Improvement Company -- and in 1886, the Mountain Park Hotel was built. A new hotter spring was discovered and the town's name was changed to Hot Springs.
In 1887 -- at the time of the subplot of my work in progress -- The Mountain Park Hotel was an elegant resort, offering a rich social life as well as the healing powers of the baths. The railroad had at last come to Hot Springs and travelers could make the journey in comfort, rather than enduring the bone-jolting stagecoach ride of previous years.

Built in the Swiss/ Gothic (!) style and set in a hundred acre park, the hotel had 200 gas-lit, steam-heated bedrooms, some with the ultimate luxury of a private bath. There were over a thousand feet of verandas, a dining room that could seat 300, and gloved waiters in tuxedos.

A bathing house boasted 16 private marble-lined baths with adjacent dressing rooms. There were tennis courts, horseshoes, bowling, riding, target shooting, croquet, to name only a few of the entertainments. And there was an orchestra that played every night!

Oh, it was something grand! Till it burned down in 1920. But I'm enjoying spending imagined time there as I work on my historical subplot.

If you want to know more, there's a useful little book Hot Springs, NC, by Della Hazel Moore. And you can, of course, Google Hot Springs, NC.

I'll be heading over there soon for a little real time research -- stay tuned!

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Around and About

. . . odds and ends from the past few days . . .

I'm still trying to get a picture of all four banty chicks but Mama hustles them indoors as soon as I point the camera their way.

They are feathering out and are beginning to need more space -- in the next few days, I believe, John plans to move the little family to Justin's chicken tractor, currently occupied by two banty hens.

When I was on my way to the grocery store a few days ago, I was stopped by an outbreak of two naughty calves. They had slipped under the fence and were out for an explore. The mother in the lower left corner is saying something like, "You better get back in here this minute!"

Fortunately, Justin and Claui were taking their dogs for a morning stroll (click on the picture to see what's happening) and quickly turned the bad babies back in with their mamas.
You can see that the calfies aren't a lick repentant and will probably get out again as soon as we move on.

The garden is coming along well -- squash plants are bigging up; tomatoes look good -- thanks to John who mulched them heavily. The broccoli, however, was so full of worms ( I know how well the bt stuff works -- but with all the rain we had, there wasn't a chance for the spray to get a foothold. When I plant more, I'll use row cover to protect them.) So yesterday I yanked out the wormy, buggy plants and gave them to the chickens -- who were delighted.

I'm trying to get out in the garden in the cool of the morning -- then spend my afternoon and evenings writing. Just now I'm back in 1887, with the DeVine sisters at the Mountain Park Hotel in Hot Springs, NC (formerly Warm Springs). I'll tell you more about the hotel (which unlike the DeVine sisters really existed) tomorrow.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

With Flowers and Thanks

. . . to all of my friends out there in the invisible blog community.

Your words meant a lot . . .

. . . but all I can say is thank you. . . and enjoy the flowers.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009


Our sweet Bear died yesterday evening -- John found her under the willow tree where she so often slept.

She was still breathing but limp and completely unresponsive. And very soon, she took her last breath.

We haven't a clue -- sunstroke, heart attack, snakebite . . .

On Monday she took a long walk with John, swam in the creek, and seemed in fine spirits. Yesterday she acted tired. But that wasn't unusual for Bear.

And now she's gone.

I'm pretty sure she didn't suffer . . . and I'm glad I was there.

She was a fine dog.
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pub Dates

Not the kind where you slope off to the local tavern for a cider and a Scotch egg -- but the dates of publication. I've just found out for sure that Birdie's book -- The Day of Small Things -- is set for a May 25, 2010 release -- quite a bit later than I'd originally been led to believe. Probably it was that second rewrite and getting rid of Myrna Lou that slowed things down.

But at least I won't be out trying to promote the book during the unpredictable winter months when there can be so much ice on our road that I can't go anywhere.

Why so long? I hear some of you asking. I thought the book had been copy edited already.

And so it has but they like to get out the advance copies to reviewers and allow plenty of time for those reviews to get published by the time the book hits the shelves.

There is a tentative pub date for Under the Skin --the one I'm working on now -- and it is March of 2011. But I've said I'll have it in by December 1 of this year -- if I do this and the rewrites don't take too long, it's possible that date could change. We'll see.

Meanwhile, I'm going to be hard at it to meet that deadline.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Another Day in Paradise

Garden work Monday -- mainly pulling weeds out of a day lily bed that looked so awful I couldn't bring myself to take its picture -- so instead here's a look at the part of the garden John hoed while I tied up and suckered the tomatoes a few days ago.

The wild raspberries are beginning to ripen -- one of the prettiest of fruits, I think.

I lurked by the mama hen's apartment hoping for a picture of the babies -- her four chicks are doing well but she mistrusted the lady with the camera and sent them back inside whenever they dared to look out.

Heading back to the house I poked my head into the greenhouse -- the resident Northern Water Snake was sunning him/herself as usual. This snake is so used to me that it ignores me even as I move plant pots around on the lattice right by it. I was fascinated by its cozy pose -- when you're a snake, you can keep yourself warm!

A big rain (an inch) cooled things off in the late afternoon . . .

. . . and the skies cleared once more. We're loving all this rain after several years of drought -- the pastures and the woods are happy and content -- and so are we.
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Monday, June 22, 2009

A Random Life

" . . . and then my life flashed before my eyes . . ."

It happens all the time. Up in my work room, where I sit with my laptop adding to the Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mysteries, I have only to glance up to see my backup computer -- a desktop model -- entertaining itself by randomly flashing pictures from my files on its screen.

They're just up for a few seconds -- barely long enough for me to identify time and place . . . Old Fort? last December?

. . .there are lots of flowers, of course . . .

. . . and some pictures that make me smile . . .

Many are of the view to the east -- like this snowy day in winter . . .

Lots of sunrises . . .

And some pictures that never got properly edited . . .

There are pictures that make me look twice -- where in the world . . .? Oh, I remember -- Baltimore,the Inner Harbor, Bouchercon last year . . .

Familiar places -- like the old brick building at the bridge -- the inspiration for the Troll's home in DARK SEASON . . .

Idyllic places like this lovely old house in the Cotswolds . . .

Sometimes I'm startled by an unfamiliar face . . .

. . . and sometimes I look up to see my grandmother and her sisters, smiling at me from a hundred years ago . . .

I am in love with this random slideshow and it is my sincerest wish that should I be comatose, moribund, senile, or otherwise unable to communicate, that my caregivers would provide this for me to watch, rather than television.

(Note to self -- add provision to Living Will.)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Solstice

The wheel of the year turns again. (This morning's sunrise was hidden in fog and cloud so last year's solstice sunrise will have to do.)

The wildflowers of summer time adorn the fields -- Queen Anne's Lace . . .

. . . the tiny two-petaled Day Flower -- the blue of a summer sky . . . and many-flowered mullein. The Brits grow a tame version called Verbascum but we are fortunate to have these stately (almost six foot) volunteers popping up everywhere.

Onward into summer -- which looks to be a hot one.

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