A Teepee in Cullowhee

If you would like to totally immerse yourself in Native American culture, I have the spot for you. There are many places important to the Cherokee located short drives away from here.

While the Cherokee of the area lived in wattle and daub houses with thatched roofs, the nomadic tribes of the west lived in teepees that could be moved as the buffalo roamed.

This teepee in Cullowhee is twenty-four feet in diameter. The interior has furnishing that follow the native American theme. It is set on a lovely hill with a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

This dwelling is a product of Nomadics Tipi Makers which furnished the teepees in the movie Dances with Wolves. The teepees of medicine men were decorated to designate their location. This one is beautifully marked with life-sized, wildlife portrayals.

If your entire party does not care to use the charming, nearby outdoor, enclosed shower and outhouse; you can also rent a large, gorgeous cabin on the property.

(My entire family stayed in the cabin last weekend.)

The Judaculla Rock is a quick drive from the cabin and teepee. https://floweralley.org/2022/12/20/judacalla-rock/

The Cherokee Museum is a short trip away. Both of these sites are worth long contemplative visits.

https://wordpress.com/post/floweralley.org/20703 Link to my past post on the Cherokee Museum.

Both the cabin and teepee are listed on Airbnb and Vrbo.

Teepee on Airbnb is listed by the name ‘Tipi Tranquility- Glamping at its Best’ on Vrbo it is # 2980026.

The cabin is on Airbnb as Mountain Cabin Getaway or VRBO # 9094237ha.

Mark, the owner, was a wonderful host.

Happy Holidays friends.

FLOWER will be back in 2023.

(I have a Floozy Doozy in the works entitled ‘Needle Porn.’ You crafty folks watch for it.)

Judaculla Rock

My family has had a weekend full of fun and amazement. There will be several posts about our adventures at Cullowhee, NC.

My daughter graduated from Western Carolina University on Saturday.

This first post covers an historic site of the Cherokee Indians. These native Americans have my admiration. This carved soapstone relic is covered in petroglyphs dating back 300 to 1,500 years.

Judaculla Rock Cullowhee, NC

Soapstone was quarried by native Americans to make stone bowls. This form of stone is carvable. Over 1,500 petroglyphs have been mapped on the rock’s surface.

It is fortunate that the family of Milas Parker has guarded the rock from damage since discovering it in the 1930’s. The family has donated one acre to the Judaculla site and more of the surrounding land for conservation. We all should be grateful that this family has protected this national treasure from damage.

Judaculla is the name of the giant guarding the Balsam Mountains. The foot prints of Judaculla are on the lower right of the huge stone. Legend says Judaculla swooped down to defend the land around Caney Fork from disrespectful hunters and landed on the rock, forming the prints.

It is easy to travel back in time while silently admiring this treasure. I can envision Cherokee people thoughtfully and carefully leaving a message for others to find in the huge soapstone boulder. I am grateful for their vision.

I intend to do more research about Judaculla later.

Stay tuned for my next post ‘A Teepee in Cullowhee.’


Falling Ears

We have many old trees on our property. One of my chores is to pick up the fallen sticks. This isn’t as boring as it sounds. Sticks have many tenants on board as they die and fall back to earth.

Gravity alone does not purge trees of their dead branches. Other forces are also at work.

Dead wood is dead weight, but not usually heavy enough on its own to break off of the tree.

Fungal spores are airborne specks that land on everything. If there is enough moisture and nutrients, these spores sprout and grow to become mushrooms and bracket fungi.

The most abundant passengers I find on the downed sticks during the winter months are jelly ears/ Auricularia auricula-judae.

Jelly Ear / Auricularia auricula-judae

These brown, ear-shaped forms are cold and rubbery on the outside and slimy on the inside. The top side acts like a cup to hold rain until it can be absorbed.

The ears grow in clusters and get large and heavy by winter from the fall rains.

I try to remember to wear gloves as I pick up sticks, so as not to get the jelly from an ear on my hands.

Bigger ears and more ears mean more weight. That is what brings the dead branches down.

Do not blame the ears. The jelly ears and gravity are just doing their jobs to bring down the wood to be recycled back into the soil.

These are edible, but eating an ear does not appeal to me. How about you?


Tricky, Sticky Mistletoe

I found many large clumps of mistletoe in nearby trees today. The poor trees are being robbed by their lovely tenants.

Mistletoe is a tricky thief. It uses the tree for nutrients and to gain elevation without bothering to grow in height itself.

The genus name of Phorandendron flavescens means tree thief.

Mistletoe depends on birds to eat its berries. The sticky, berry-laden poop sticks to the feathers until the bird lands on a tree and picks them off. This increases the chance that the seed will end up on a branch.

The name mistletoe means dung on twig.

So, sticky is its second trick. Attracting a bird to eat its berries is the first.

Its third trick is to grow root-like haustoria that penetrate the tree bark and tap into the trees’ nutrient moving tissues. No need to get its own water or nutrients, it steals from its host. Mistletoe can successfully photosynthesize because its seed is high up in the branches nearer the sun without ever supporting itself.

Both the berries and leaves are poisonous to humans. Some of its compounds have been tried to treat diseases.

So why do we use this trickster in our holiday traditions? Why hang a poisonous thief over our doors and kiss under it?

There are many legends about the origins of this tradition. I have my own hypothesis.

During the cold winter months, we are lonely for anything green. Balls of green leaves and pearly berries seem almost magical among the stark browns and grays.

We admire the grit of anything high and green when everything else is dormant.

Phoradendron flavescens/ mistletoe

These admirable qualities are due to tricks and theft. The prices for its height were paid by birds with sticky bottoms. The support of the tree keeps it able to remain green while others must pull in their resources and save them for spring.

I won’t be hanging any mistletoe over my door. A parasite does not inspire any romantic thoughts from me.

The tricky, sticky mistletoe can remain on the poor tree.

Happy Holidays


Winter Roses

Camellias are my winter roses.

The large bloom is ‘White by the Gate.’ It will have a few blooms at a time all winter.

The smaller pink is ‘Jean May.’ She has been blooming for months and will continue until a hard freeze.

I love them both for blooms in the cold. Such a sweet winter treat!


Into the Woods

I have trouble staying inside, even in winter. A ceiling is stifling and walls are confining.

I have to get out just a bit to breathe and regain balance.

Of course, I take my camera. Here are some scenes from my latest foray into the forest.

There is a lot to find in a forest.