Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Finding Color in the Mountains

From a family of nine, my mother's sister is the sole surviving sibling.  This aunt and I had planned a mountain trip for last week.  Rain, wind and much cooler weather dictated otherwise so we chose to go this week on Monday.  We were happy enough to be out riding together in the mountains although we suspected the leaf color might well be past peak.  Fortunately, we found plenty of gorgeous color along the way.

The skies were clear with sunshine all day.

The color in many areas was still breath-taking.

This photograph was taken at an overlook on NC 181.  The Brown Mountain ridge is in the distance.  Mysterious lights shine at various intervals on this ridge.  Not surprisingly, the lights are called The Brown Mountain Lights.

Cherokee lore suggests the Brown Mountain Lights have been seen since the 1200s.  The first white man to explore this area wrote in his diary about "nitrous vapors" carried by the wind.  A reporter for the Charlotte, NC newspaper documented the lights in 1913.

The lights appear as bright orbs, moving in varying directions along the ridge.  No one has been able to explain the lights although they have been studied by the US Weather Service, The US Geological Survey, and the Smithsonian Institution among others.  The unpredictable lights appear and disappear in no specific pattern but are more commonly seen in the late summer and fall.

The source of the lights remains unexplained.  What is known is that the lights are definitely visible and they have been videotaped often.  You can find more information about them here or here.

My aunt was delighted by the awesome color.  Around each curve, with every mountain or gorge, we saw the splendor of the autumn color in the mountains.

I was thrilled to see my aunt take such joy in the outing.  As I left her at her apartment, she said it was the best day she had had in such a long time.  Both of us had a very nice day.

When I got home, my husband told me my neighbor wanted me to call her when it was convenient.  He said he had told her I was visiting my aunt and she asked him, "Oh, is that her elderly aunt?"  My very clever husband told her, "Charlotte, when you get to be our age any aunt you have is elderly."


Ms. A said...

How very clever of your husband! The photos are beautiful and I've heard and read about the lights.

Dawn Fine said...

What a nice outing. Weird about those lights!

Carolina Linthead said...

Just beautiful! I love the shifting color of the mountains. We drove up 181 in June, taking the long way home from my mother's funeral back to Ohio. We stopped at Roan Mountain, where the Catawba Rhododendron were blooming. It was a journey of memories, for sure. Thank you for this gift! Thank you, also, for your words of encouragement on my blog. The word verification is "bless," believe it or not. Very appropriate :-)

Andrea said...

How so very beautiful. I wish you post it in XL. thanks.

Karin said...

What lovely scenery! Thanks for taking me along for the ride! I enjoyed it!

Arkansas Patti said...

Had to laugh. I am now the elderly aunt.
How nice of you to take her for that lovely ride.
I would have to find a way to see those lights. Spooky.

Cheryl said...

Ha! Fantastic reply.....and so very true :)

The lights are fascinating. Don't you just love a mystery....I do.

Images are wonderful....this time of year cannot be beaten.

Taradharma said...

Beautiful photos. I drove around hills near Mt Airy yesterday &saw some great color. Will likely be in Asheville Fri & Sat. If u fancy a short visit, email me tpcrowley57@yahoo. Well see if it works out

My Mind's Eye said...

Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures...we missed not being up there last week.
Your husband is a funny funny man...I'll have to remember that one.
Hugs C

The Bug said...

Gorgeousness! Sometimes I really do miss the mountains...

Jill said...

Beautiful photos!!! I have actually seen the Brown Mountain lights. Very neat.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

What a nice outing for you and your aunt. The Brown Mountain ridge may be another place we will have to include on a future road trip. We are considering a southern journey in Jan or Feb so it's possible. The leaf color still seemed quite vibrant and we're hoping to find some on the VA eastern shore when we get back Monday.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

As I saw the northern lights here in Virginia, I see you also have a show from Mother Nature too that is just as captivating and so mysterious!

I'm glad you had an enjoyable afternoon with your Aunt. My Mother's sister is still living and while she lives in Mississippi I enjoy talking to her, but have to admit that hearing her voice reminds me of my Mom--She's truly my connection to her!

Busy Bee Suz said...

You mean you don't have a young Aunt hiding away somewhere. :)
Very sweet. I love that you made her day with something as simple as a nice drive.
These 'lights'....I've not heard of them, but I am intrigued.
Again, you make me miss NC something fierce.

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Linthead - And bless you as well. How wonderful that in the midst of such grief you saw Nature's beauty.

Jill - I've never seen the lights myself although I have sat for hours at the overlook.

Beatrice - Here's hoping you dodge the inclement weather that seems to be coming.

Kim - I thing the Northern Lights are Nature's greatest show. I'm glad you got to see them in your area.