Catching up with Charles Kuralt's America for Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina in May:
There are many good reasons to spend the month of May in the Blue Ridge, and listening to the good talk is one of the best.
The southern Appalachian chain used to serve as a barrier to flatlanders from elsewhere, leaving the mountaineers isolated to talk their own language, brew their own whiskey, and live their own lives. They were fiercely independent lives. In colonial times, mountain people ignored the British laws, including the one that forbade settlement west of the mountain ridges; a historian wrote that the Scots-Irish settlers "were determined to keep the Sabbath and everything else they could lay their hands on," including the land of the much lied-to and mistreated Cherokees.
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Hugh and Julia Morton's daughter, Catherine, who lives near Grandfather Mountain and pays close attention to the subtleties of the solstice and equinox, calculates that spring comes up the mountains at two hundred feet per day. So now, in the middle of May, I began to see some of the same blooms I saw in Charleston at the beginning of March. A dogwood behind my cabin transformed itself from pale yellow to brilliant white in the space of a week. I took the chill from the nights with crackling fires in my fireplace, and welcomed the refreshing mornings. As one who has always been willing to go to any latitude or altitude to escape hot weather, I could be secure in the knowledge that real summertime never quite makes it to the high country; the warmest temperature ever recorded on Grandfather Mountain was 82 degrees in a still-remembered long-ago heat wave.
Tags: Charles Kuralt, America, Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina