Monthly Archives

December 2017

Drums Of Autumn Edenton Fraser's Ridge

Jamie’s Book “The Natural History of North Carolina”

December 28, 2017

Christmas is over! All the scurrying and preparations are over and I can now re-focus on all things Outlander! Yay! I hope those of you who celebrated Christmas had a wonderful holiday! I certainly did! I ate too much and now need my stretchy pants! The first of the year will bring many new things for the blog plus a diet for me.  Fun on the former; not so much fun on the latter!  However, I refuse to think about diet until the first of the year so, for now, let’s jump back to the subject of this post.

I get daily emails from “This Day in North Carolina History”. This morning’s email included an article about explorer John Lawson who on December 28, 1700, began his journey to the backcountry of North Carolina.  He started out from Charleston, South Carolina with five Englishmen and several Indian guides and crossed over into what is now North Carolina (near the present-day Charlotte area) in late January, 1701.  As he traveled through the Carolina backcountry, he journaled and recorded his observations in what became his book, “A New Voyage to Carolina“, which was published in 1709.  It is also known by the titles of “The History of Carolina” and “Lawson’s History of Carolina“.

The email made me think about the book Jamie had with him and referred to in Drums of Autumn but I couldn’t remember the specifics. Since inquiring minds have to know, I pulled out my trusty Kindle and searched “History of Carolina”, remembering vaguely that Jamie had told Claire the name of the book he was reading. Sure enough, the search garnered three results but it wasn’t at all what I expected – which sent me on another research expedition. Here are my findings.

The book mentioned in Drums of Autumn by Jamie is “The Natural History of North Carolina” and the author named in the book is Bricknell.

He held a book in his hand, thumb between the pages to hold his place, and now bent his head to consult the volume.

“I believe it is an alligator. They dine upon carrion, it says here, and willna eat fresh meat. When they take a man or a sheep, they pull the victim beneath the water to drown it, but then drag it to their den below ground and leave it there until it has rotted enough to suit their fancy. Of course,” he added, with a bleak glance at the bank, “they’re sometimes fortunate enough to find a meal prepared.”

The figure on the stake seemed to tremble briefly, as something bumped it from below, and Ian made a small choking noise beside me.

“Where did you get that book?” I asked, not taking my eyes off the stake. The top of the wooden pole was vibrating, as though something under the waves was worrying at it. Then the pole was still, and the V-shaped wake could be seen again, traveling back toward the riverbank. I turned away before it could emerge.

Jamie handed me the book, his eyes still fixed on the black mudflat and its cloud of screeching birds.

“The Governor gave it to me. He said he thought it might be of interest on our journey.”

I glanced down at the book. Bound in plain buckram, the title was stamped on the spine in gold leaf—The Natural History of North Carolina.

(Drums of Autumn, Chapter 8, Diana Gabaldon)


At the moment, he possessed one book—The Natural History of North Carolina, published 1733, brought along as guide and reference.

(Drums of Autumn, Chapter 19, Diana Gabaldon)


“Mmphm.” Jamie reached out a hand and patted absently around on the table, searching for the bread plate. His attention was wholly focused on the book he was reading, Bricknell’s Natural History of North Carolina. “Here it is,” he said. “I knew I’d seen a bit about rattlesnakes.” Locating the bread by feel, he took a piece and used it to scoop a healthy portion of egg into his mouth. Having engulfed this, he read aloud, holding the book in one hand while groping over the tabletop with the other.

“ ‘The Indians frequently pull out the snakes’ Teeth, so that they never afterwards can do any Mischief by biting; this may be easily done, by tying a bit of red Wollen Cloth to the upper end of a long hollow Cane, and so provoking the Rattle-Snake to bite, and suddenly pulling it away from him, by which means the Teeth stick fast in the Cloath, which are plainly to be seen by those present.’ ”

(Drums of Autumn, Chapter 25, Diana Gabaldon)

Well, that’s quite odd I said to myself.  Maybe there were two explorers who wrote two similar books. We all know Diana does her research! So, I googled Bricknell’s “The Natural History of North Carolina” and found a book by that title by one John Brickell, M.D. who was a native of Ireland. He explored and lived in North Carolina beginning in 1724 through at least 1731 and practiced medicine in Edenton, North Carolina (another Outlander location) from about 1730 to 1731. His book was published in Dublin in 1737 after his return to Ireland.

So, you say, what’s the big deal with John Brickell? Well, it is widely acknowledged by most history buffs that close to 85 percent of his book “The Natural History of North Carolina” was plagiarized from John Lawson’s “A New Voyage to Carolina”.  In fact, whole sections of Lawson’s book were lifted out and copied word for word by Brickell.  So, if Diana’s Bricknell is history’s own real-life Brickell, the words Jamie was reading and the information he was gleaning were actually from John Lawson who started his exploration of the North Carolina backcountry exactly 317 years ago today!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick lesson from Today in Outlander North Carolina history. What do you think? Could the real life Brickell be the inspiration for Diana’s Bricknell? I vote yes!

For more information on John Lawson and John Brickell, click on the links below and, as always, thank you for reading Outlander North Carolina!

Drums Of Autumn Fraser's Ridge

Yes, Virginia, There Is A Fraser’s Ridge

December 23, 2017

Dear Outlander North Carolina, 

I am 39 years old (and holding). Some of my friends and family say there is no Fraser’s Ridge.  I told them “If I see it on Outlander North Carolina, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Fraser’s Ridge? 

– Virginia B. Fashing
1767 Drums of Autumn Road

Fourth Season, North Carolina

Oh, dear Virginia! I am so glad you wrote to me before you slipped into disbelief. Dinna fash yourself! Your friends & family sound most pitiful and have most likely been affected by some sort of weird reality check disorder. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds – minds which have not been exposed to Outlander, then Droughtlander, then Outlander, then Drou…. pardon me, I digress. All minds, Virginia, are not like the minds of those of us who have read the Outlander books and have watched the TV series. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect – which suddenly reminds me of Arch & Murdina Bug for some unknown reason. Let’s see, what was I saying?  Oh yes!  I think I was saying man is a bug but I have no idea why? Please disregard all of that!

Yes, Virginia, there is a Fraser’s Ridge. It exists as certainly as Craig Na Dun, Castle Leoch and Lallybroch exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Fraser’s Ridge. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginia’s. As awful as if there were no Jamie and Claire. As dreadful as if there were no Young Ian, Rollo, Fergus and Marsali. As horrible as if there were no Roger or Brianna. As terrifying as if there were no Lizzie and the Beardsley twins, Stephen Bonnet or Tom & Malva Christie! No, there would be nothing to look forward to, nothing to re-read and re-watch! There would be no Facebook groups, no Twitter & Instagram feeds, no blog articles and no NSFW videos to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. And although the sight of Jamie in that kilt could get us by for quite a while, in the end and at last, the light with which the Outlander fandom fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Fraser’s Ridge! You might as well not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies or time travel! You might scout out the path to Fraser’s Ridge, but even if you don’t find the cabin, the Big House, Clarence, Adso and The White Sow, what would that prove? Nothing, Virginia dear! Nothing!!! Nobody sees Fraser’s Ridge, but that is no sign that there is no Fraser’s Ridge! (The Tooth Fairy & The Easter Bunny are other fine examples.) Geez, Virginia!! The most real things in the world are those we cannot see, you clotheid!!! Did you ever see druids dancing on a hill? Well, of course, you have and though others may not have seen them, that’s no proof that they are not there!!! How dare you even question such a thing?!?! Ahem. Please forgive me. I apologize, Virginia. I forgot my medication this morning and am somewhat irritable….in fact, where ARE my meds?!?!

You may tear apart Jem’s toy car to see what makes it roll, but then Roger would get really mad with you! Oh my, where did that come from? Look, Virginia, what I meant to say is that there is a veil covering the unseen world which neither Jamie, nor even the united strength of Jamie, Murtagh, Dougal, Rupert and Angus could tear apart. Only real delusion, hysteria, obsession,  and Jamie & Claire’s romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory that is Fraser’s Ridge. Is it real? Hello?! Earth to Virginia?!?! In all this world there is nothing else real and abiding!!! (Next time before I respond to a letter, I will not put so much Fireball in the eggnog.)

No Fraser’s Ridge! You are kidding me, right? Thank God! it exists and it exists forever! A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, it will continue to make glad the heart of Outlander fans!

So, there you have it, Virginia!  Now, go tell your daffy friends and family to get a grip because you saw it on Outlander North Carolina and, Virginia … Merry Christmas!

Sincerely,

Dr. I. Fash Yeken, Ph.D.
NC Delusional Disorders Clinic for Outlander Addicts

Outlander North Carolina

The North Carolina Fraser Fir & A Perfect Giveaway!

December 18, 2017

The Story of the Fraser Fir

On a mountain somewhere in western North Carolina stands a tree. This tree is surrounded by others and like humans, some are a little taller, some a bit shorter, some a litter fatter and others a bit slimmer – but all have the same fragrant, blue-green needles and natural pyramid shape.

This tree began it’s life about 12 years ago as a seedling and at the ripe age of 4 was transplanted along with its kindred on the side of the mountain.

During the eight years (more or less) there, it has enjoyed beautiful vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains, winter snows, spring rains, cool summer days and nights, and fall colors which would, if it were human, have taken its breath away.

Nearly 100 times each year, its owner has visited, inspected, and lovingly groomed it. And once a year, a swarm of ladybugs was released on it to eat the aphids which love to feast on it’s beauty and thus destroy it. Now, at approximately twelve years old, the tree stands 8 feet tall (it’s kindred at this age are anywhere from 6 to 10 feet tall).

The tree stands proud, sturdy and tall…and ready, at last, to fulfill its purpose for which it was planted 12 years ago. Yes, it is the year, that special year, when it will be chosen from among all the other trees by a family who will cut it and take it to its final home.  Some of it’s kindred will be cut by the farmer who owns them to be sent down the mountain to places near and far where their beauty will be displayed in a Christmas tree lot, there to wait patiently for a home. Once chosen, the tree will be adorned with glorious lights and decorations. Families and friends will gather ‘round it, beautifully wrapped gifts will be placed under it and there, in its final resting place, it will make glad the hearts of children and adults alike. This tree, America’s favorite Christmas tree and the state tree of North Carolina, is the Fraser Fir.

Choose & Cut – Ashe County. Poles are used to measure the trees which are sold by the foot.

 

Folks waiting in line to pick up their Frasers. Ashe County Choose & Cut.

 

Our grandson has picked out his own Fraser fir. He loves Frasers too!

 

My husband, grandson and me surrounded by Fraser firs.

 

Baled and stacked. Ready for the trip down the mountain!

Loading!

Loaded! Next stop is a Christmas tree lot near you! Usually no more than 600 to 800 trees can be loaded on a full-size tractor trailer.

Fraser firs headed down the mountain.

The History of The Fraser Fir

The Fraser fir is named for the Scottish botanist, John Fraser, who explored the North Carolina mountains in the late 18th century.  An excerpt from an article by Marcus B. Simpson in The American National Biography states the following,

“Fraser, John (1750 – 26 April 1811) was born in Tomnacross near Kiltarlity, Inverness-shire, Scotland, the son of Donald Fraser, a farmer and grounds officer of the Jacobite leader Simon Fraser, thirteenth* Lord Lovat. John Fraser’s mother was probably one Mary McLean of Cragganmore, Inverness-shire. Nothing is known of his childhood and education. In the 1770s, Fraser moved to London and established himself as a draper and hosier in Paradise Row, Chelsea, where he married Francis Shaw in 1778. The Frasers had two sons, John (baptized 1780), who accompanied his father on two collecting trips to North America, and James Thomas (baptized 1782), who helped manage the family’s botanical nursery in England in the 1800s….”.

John Fraser (1750 – 1811)

Abies frasieri (Fraser Fir), named for John Fraser, is native to the southeastern Appalachian Mountains.

John Fraser discovered the Fraser fir while on a foraging expedition in North Carolina with the French botanist, André Michaux, in 1787. The story has it that after being together for so long, Michaux tired of Fraser’s incessant talking. When Michaux’s horse wandered off one night, he encouraged Fraser to continue on without him while he looked for the horse – an excuse to get away from Fraser (or to get Fraser away from him). That was Michaux’s biggest mistake because it was while John Fraser was foraging on his own that he discovered the fir, Abies fraseri (or Fraser fir).

It makes sense to me that America’s favorite Christmas tree was discovered in North Carolina, the home of Fraser’s Ridge, by a Fraser. The tree that stands on the mountainside, proud, tall and strong, bringing beauty, love and joy to so many, could only be a Fraser!  So, this Christmas, as you stand around your own Fraser fir singing Christmas carols, sipping eggnog or wassail, opening gifts, telling stories of Christmases past or just simply enjoying the beauty of this most wondrous tree, remember the name it carries is the same name that holds a special place in the heart of all Outlander fans – Fraser!  Je Suis Prest!  It is ready!  Merry Christmas to you all!!!

(Keep reading for more Fraser fir facts plus a “Perfect” giveaway!)

My Fraser – Before Picture!

My Fraser – After Picture.  Our Elf, Max, is hanging out at the top! He likes Frasers too! Well, who doesn’t?!?!

Fraser Fir Facts:

  • The Fraser fir is native to North Carolina and only grows naturally in the Southern Appalachians.
  • The Fraser fir can be successfully grown on land elevations exceeding 3000 feet above sea level making the mountains of North Carolina a perfect location.
  • On average, it takes 7 to 10 years in the field to produce a 6-7 foot Fraser fir Christmas tree.
  • The Fraser fir can reach a maximum height of 80 feet.
  • Over 50 million Fraser firs are grown in North Carolina on 25,000 acres for use as Christmas trees, and the Fraser fir represents over 90% of all the trees grown in North Carolina as Christmas trees.
  • The North Carolina Fraser fir Christmas tree is the most popular Christmas tree in North America and is shipped into every state in the U.S. as well as the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, Japan and other points all over the world.
  • Ashe County, North Carolina, is the largest Christmas tree producing county in the United States, with over 12,000 acres in production resulting in over 25 million trees.
  • Christmas trees in Ashe County provide enough daily oxygen for 216,000 people.
  • Cut trees are harvested in 3-6 weeks starting the first week of November. Trees are cut, carried from the field, baled by machine, hauled to a loading yard or storage area, and sorted by size.
  • In 2017, the high demand for Choose and Cut Fraser firs exceeded the supply in Ashe County alone with many farms having to close earlier than anticipated.

A “Perfect” Giveaway!!!

In honor of the Fraser fir, I am giving away a new paperback edition of Gloria Houston’s “The Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story.” Gloria Houston was a teacher and a native of the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina and lived in Asheville, North Carolina.

The Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story.

1918: the Christmas Ruthie has longed for all her life and the Christmas she will never forget.

This is the year Ruthie’s family has the honor of giving Pine Grove its tree. Last spring before he left for the war, Papa chose the prefect balsam tree from high on a rocky crag. But now, as Christmas draws near, Ruthie and Mama wait impatiently for the Appalachian mountain train to bring Papa home. Even with news of the Armistice there’s no word from Papa. Soon it’s Christmas Eve, and Ruthie and Mama can think only of seeing Papa again. But despite that, Papa promised the townsfolk a tree, and now–with Papa or without him–Mama will see that his word is kept.

Gloria McLendon Houston’s story of the courage and power of a family is as joyful and timeless as Christmas itself. And exquisite, jewel-like paintings by two-time Caldecott Medal recipient Barbara Cooney capture all the story’s warmth and mountain flavor.

To enter for a chance to win, you must have or register for an Amazon account; however, NO PURCHASE IS REQUIRED. Open to individual legal residents of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia who are the older of 18 years of age or the legal age of majority in their state of residence. One entry per person. Giveaway ends Friday, December 22, 2017 at 11:59 PM. One winner from all entrants will be randomly selected by Amazon who will notify that person via email. Watch your inbox since the winner will have 48 hours to respond. For more, please see the Official Rules at https://amzn.to/GArules.

Ready to enter the Perfect Giveaway? Well, then, just click on this link:  The Perfect Giveaway.  May the Merriest Sassenach win!!!! And thank you for reading the blog!

***PLEASE NOTE:  This prize will arrive after Christmas!

*The reference to the 13th Lord of Lovat in the excerpt of the article by Marcus B. Simpson above appears to be a typographical error as it was the 11th Lord of Lovat (The Fox) who was the Jacobite leader. The 13th Lord of Lovat was not born until 1828 which would have been after the death of botanist, John Fraser.*  Read more about the botanist, John Fraser, who discovered the Fraser fir here.