Monday, May 9, 2011

Colors in Spring

Spring unfolds magically in the mountains.  While most people think of mountain color in the fall, fewer people know there is plenty of color as the trees begin to leaf in the spring.  Not only do we have different shades of green, we have reds and yellows as well and the white dogwoods or mountain magnolia mixed in.  All of the photographs except for the last one were take in our neighborhood.

We are especially lucky here in the mountains.  If we drive downtown (about 900 foot change in elevation) we see spring unfolding a week or so earlier than it does in our neighborhood.  And if we drive up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, we gain several thousand feet where there is less evidence of changing seasons.  In a single day we can see a modest amount of green in our neighborhood,  much more green downtown, and very little green in the higher mountains.  It's almost as if we can follow spring.  And follow it we do...several times a month.

Cold Mountain

When we lived in WI, we saw short spring seasons.  Everything burst forth at once and we went from winter right straight into summer.

As a general rule (OK, as MY general observation) there truly is such a thing as southern hospitality and gentility.  Although I was born in the mountains of North Carolina and spent my youth here, I had forgotten how different the people are.  A prime example of this happened Saturday.

An elderly neighbor died some time ago and her niece and nephew had a  household sale.  I do not often go to such sales, but this one was very close so I walked down.  I wandered through the house, picking up a few things as I went.  The items I picked up were old kitchen items to add to our display over the cabinets.  I found a wire egg basket, a little teapot, a vintage Guardian pot (think non-electric slow cooker), and a small pitcher.  I carried them around with me from room to room.  I didn't find anything else I cared to buy, so I took my treasures to the nephew to pay for them.

Imagine my surprise when a woman yelled in a shrill and grating voice, "Wait a minute!  That's MY teapot.  You stole my teapot!"  I turned around and SHE WAS LOOKING AT ME.  I said, "I beg your pardon...I picked up this teapot from the table over there."  To that she responded, "Well, my pile was on that table and that is my teapot."  The nephew looked quite uncomfortable.  I gave the woman the teapot.  Smiling at her, I did not apologize.  There was a time when I would not have done that.  On principle I would have paid for the teapot and taken it home.  The woman took the teapot from me, scowling all the way.  I thought to myself how awful it must be to let such a small thing bother her so much.  And why she would choose to say I STOLE her teapot, rather than consider I picked it up not knowing she had chosen it.  In fact, I had the teapot in my hands when I had seen her in another room and she hadn't said a word.  And there was nothing about the table to suggest that some of the items were already selected by someone else.

The woman's behavior reminded me of the worst of the rude people in our Wisconsin community.  I had gotten used to more calm and better manners in the years since we returned to NC.  I told one of my friends about the incident.  She replied with a stone face, "She didn't have a southern accent did she?"  No...she did not.


Carolina Linthead said...

Well bless her heart! At its best, southern Appalachian culture has a strong sense of what is important and what is not. Keeping the peace with a neighbor is more important than a teapot, as you, my friend, demonstrated. On the other hand, within any given family, especially in times of grief over a departed loved one, all bets are off. I have seen people break fellowship with siblings over the equivalent of an old teapot, as the item held great sentimental value for them. We are a sentimental people, after all. From your description, however, this sounds like a person who lives in the mountains, but is not of the mountains. Thanks for sharing the story and the glorious pictures of spring marching up the mountainsides!

Rudee said...

I love your mountains in the spring. In my opinion, it is the best time to visit.

There is a distinct difference in behavior from north to south, and from east to west. I much prefer the behaviors and way of life of southerners. Perhaps this is why I feel home when I'm in Virginia.

Karin said...

Love the way you explained how you see spring progress. Fascinating! I had a garage sale once and some lady wanted a pickle container I had marked for 50 cents, for 25 cents. I told her she could have it for free and was there anything else she could use! I've never had another garage sale! Unbelievable rude behavior.
You handled yourself beautifully!

The Bug said...

I love your pictures - miss those mountains a lot. Sigh.

carolina nana said...

It would be awful to think that a teapot would make someone act like that. Glad you didn't stoop to her level !! Remember God loves us all !!!
Blessings to you

Anonymous said...

The arrival of spring here has been a most welcome thing. That light vibrant green and the angle of the sun make for an awe-inspiring moment at every turn. So beautiful.

I can't imagine someone acting so rudely like that. Sure glad she's not your neighbor.

Jill said...

I do love those spring colors! Beautiful photos!

Anonymous said...

Don't you hate it when they go off their meds like that?!

Lovely pictures! I love living in a place where dogwoods and redbuds grow WILD!

Cicero Sings said...

Beautiful spring colours ... and so varied! We don't get that kind of variation up where I live.

What a very unhappy woman!

Vicki Lane said...

Great story! And I'm so glad she didn't have a southern accent. You were amazingly gracious.

Jayne said...

That's just funny my friend! Nope, G.R.I.T.S. (girls raised in the South- and yes, Cracker Barrel sells shirts embroidered just so) would neva, neva behave that way!

Love seeing your "spring colors" and hope all is well in your world. Hugs!

troutbirder said...

Ouch! I always wondered about those Packer Backer Cheeseheads. On the other hand a little to the West you might have run across our cultural mileau now refereed to as "Minnesota Nice." :)

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Linthead - You make a very good point, as usual.

Melissa Weisbard said...

Some people were just not raised with proper manners. I was raised (mostly in Kentucky) to always respect my elders, respect authority figures (teachers, policemen, etc.), give my seat up for an older person or a pregnant woman, always accept a gift graciously (even if you hate it), say please and thank you, don't scream at people in public (and in general - don't make a scene in public), and treat everyone with courtesy and respect. It seems that these types of things weren't taught in certain parts of the country and aren't being taught to children at all. It's such a shame.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Could you imagine ever acting out like that? Me neither. She must be a miserable soul.
I love seeing all the beautiful mountain color. With all the heat we are already having here...I keep saying: I need a N.C mountain house for the summers!