I had an exceptional birthday this year. First of all, the date was easy to remember (1-11-11). Second, we got a heavy snowstorm in Asheville two days before the big day; so there was lots of fun white stuff to play in. And third, many good things happened that I didn’t plan on, the best being a pair of house-visits in the morning from friends baring presents.
Here is a brief photo essay to remember the day and to thank my friends who made it such a fine and memorable time:
“[A garden’s glory] lies in the fact that it needs constant weeding and pruning . . . It teems with life. It glows with colour and smells like heaven and puts forward at every hour of a summer day beauties which man could never have created and could not even, on his own resources, have imagined. If you want to see the difference between its contribution and the gardener’s, put the commonest weed it grows side by side with his hoes, rakes, shears, and packet of weed killer; you have put beauty, energy, fecundity beside dead, sterile things . . . And when the garden is in its full glory the gardener’s contributions to that glory will still have been in a sense paltry compared with those of nature. Without life springing from the earth, without rain, light and heat descending from the sky, he could do nothing. When he has done all, he has merely encouraged here and discouraged there, powers and beauties that have a different source.”
Around mid-summer, My family came up from Birmingham for a week-long visit, and we took the opportunity to host a harvest party. Dad prepared his famous smoked ribs, Mom and I used garden produce to prepare squash casserole, pico de gallo salsa, cold tomato salad, regular salad, smashed potatoes, and a handful of good friends new and old joined us for a truly joyful evening of sharing food and fellowship. Jeb made his mother’s recipe for baked beans. Ruth came and entertained my parents with her stories and humor (had my Mom in stitches a few times). Chad and Sunshine were there and continued to build on the foundation of friendship that we’d begun laying together that summer–Chad provided the evening’s desserts (cookies and brownies) from the bakery he runs with his mother.
One of the funniest moments of the evening came when everyone was already deeply absorbed in various conversations. I had a music mix playing in the background, and as luck would have it, Miley Cirus’s “Party in the U.S.A.” came on (I don’t know how that got on there). Leave it to my younger brother Zach, who is acutely attuned to all things musical, to notice this fact and loudly point it out to the room. I was caught, and I sheepishly apologized for my trespass, walked over to the iPod, promising to change the track, and then jacked up the volume and started “movin’ my hips like Yeah'”. Zach was mortified–that was a good time.
Various other highlights of my family’s visit include: traveling the Parkway in search of mountain mist shrouding the blue ridge, a scene my father became enamored with on his last visit and wanted to paint. Taking a waterfall day with James Michael and Jeb along for the ride–showing off on the 40-foot jump at Courthouse Falls and then watching everyone get wet on the rope-swing at the teacups swimming hole (including Abbie, our dear pup). Riding Kitsuma Ridge on mountain bikes with Zach, getting mad at him and acting like a jerk when he got tired on the up-hill trek, and immediately receiving his forgiveness afterward (that’s a long story in itself). Anyway, here is a short photo essay showing some of the things we did together: