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Drums Of Autumn Fraser's Ridge Outlander North Carolina The Homecoming Uncategorized

Memories of Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming, Part 3: The Homecoming Quilt

November 10, 2019
Dawn Woo tells us of her weekend at the Homecoming, and likens the event to the color blocks on a quilt. Be warned: you might get the warm fuzzies after reading this!

While driving back into the foothills of western North Carolina towards Ferguson, I noticed nature acknowledging the changing seasons with trees of red and gold, much like a patchwork quilt. I can almost imagine this would be much like the picture Jamie and Claire would have seen as they and others made their way to Mount Helicon in October of 1770 for The Gathering seen in The Fiery Cross. The “family” that accompanied Jamie and Claire to Mount Helicon was also much like a patchwork quilt. Some were blood family. Some were adopted family. Some were old friends, and some were simply new friends brought into their clan on the ridge by faith and trust.

As I got nearer my destination, I began to feel a great sense of coming home–a connection to these mountains as I passed the Brushy Mountains that were once home to my ancestors in the mid-to-late 1700s. You see, much like Jamie and Claire and their patchwork quilt family at Mount Helicon, I have anxiously awaited the patchwork quilt family of Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming that Beth Pittman and her team have brought together since October 2018. I’d like to share with you just a few of the patches in the quilt of Homecoming 2019 that have been faithfully and lovingly sewn together.

Kerry Masarik would be an earthy, natural, and warm multi-colored piece of fabric in our quilt. This gifted woman taught several classes: medicinal plants, basket weaving and drop-spinning. Once again, I had to take a walk to look at plants under her tutelage since I have not been able to stop looking at the ground since last year! She opened a whole new world to the wonders of plants and their benefits. I also chose to try to learn to spin wool with a drop spindle under Kerry’s careful eye and engaging personality. We were taught a method called “between the knees” drop spinning that allowed us to get a feel for drafting out the fibers of the wool. By the end of the class, we all had a sizeable amount of yard wound around our spindle.

Now that I had learned to spin my yarn, I needed to learn how to “clickit like Jamie.” Wanda Noble, the fresh and harmonious-colored patch in our quilt, armed a class of beginning knitters with circular knitting needles and yarn. Much to our amazement and Wanda’s gentle encouragement, she had us casting on in the first few minutes of class!

Imagine the colors of the trees, the sky, rocks stained with burning reds and blues, and you will find the next patch in our quilt: Joe Candillo, our Native American educator and craftsman. After a short ride in the cool, misty weather conditions up the mountain in a hay-filled trailer, we met our majestically clad educator. Joe took us on an exploratory hike and showed us the way he was taught to respect and appreciate what nature had to offer. Joe gave us another reason to pay attention when we wander outside.

By this time, we needed some very practical and sensible patches in our quilt, and Jane Pyatt, aka The Backcountry Peddler, was the one who taught us how to dress “sensibly” for 18th-century backcountry living. Layer by layer, Jane explained why and how each article of clothing was worn. By the end of the hour, a volunteer from the class was dressed and ready for work on their North Carolina mountain settlement.

Chris Grimes’ presentation of an 18th-century physician was the patch in our quilt that is majestic and full-toned. The hour was tightly woven with all sorts of 18th-century medical practices, medicines and tinctures, and surgical/medical instruments and their uses. Healthcare in the 18th century was not for the faint of heart!

What colors do you think of when you think of music? Our quilt would have quite a few of these patches-some soothing and some quite animated. With mountains as a backdrop, the sounds of bagpipes, banjos, guitars, mandolins, fiddles, and even a harp filled our souls. While music filled our souls, the loving hands of the Thankful Goat and Snowbird Mountain Coffee filled our hungry bellies. Food is a language that brings people together. I can only imagine that this patch in the quilt would look unified and complement the patches around it.

Oh, friends, our quilt is far from being finished here! This is only a small section, for it takes many hands and many patches to lovingly complete a patchwork quilt. Many more wonderful patches fit into this quilt because there are many more wonderful people sewn into the fabric of Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming–our quilt would cover the mountain! Most importantly, this quilt is framed by the patches that are each of you. It’s the friendships that have been brought together by Beth and her team that bind this quilt–memories stitched with love.

Thank you so very much, Dawn, for capturing the warmth that most of us left the mountain with–we can’t say enough how happy we are you spent the weekend with us! A special thank you goes to our many attendees who have allowed us to use their photos for blog posts and other social media, as well as our photographer, Brooke Horn. That’s the best thing about the Homecoming—working together to make it great!

If you find yourself wanting to be a part of one of our quilt blocks, stay tuned! Tentative dates for ticket sales for Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming 2020 are set for February 2020, and their price will be announced in upcoming weeks. Until then, fill your Droughtlander days with re-reading the Outlander book series, stream the show, or check out our blog archives for more reading!

Drums Of Autumn Fraser's Ridge Outlander North Carolina Season 4 The Homecoming Uncategorized

Fauna at Leatherwood Mountains & WWCD?

July 24, 2019

from Mary Helen Ellis

If you are reading this, you are one of “those” that are sucked into the world of Outlander, and glad of it! The Outlander Vortex–I find I measure a good portion of my everyday life by WWCD, What Would Claire Do? It’s twenty degrees outside my mountain cabin, snow is a foot deep, and I must walk out to the car and clear off the windshield. WWCD–it just makes my “git up and go” a little easier! For Pete’s sake, if I must run out to the mailbox when it is 95 degrees, I stop and think, at least I don’t have to chop wood to cook dinner.

Our lives are a cakewalk compared to the 18th century. Every once in awhile, though, there is a reminder of Fraser’s Ridge time that sneaks up on you. These peeks into their world are very close by in Leatherwood Mountains. The flora and fauna of the North Carolina wilderness assault your senses as soon as you arrive. Owning a cabin in Leatherwood, I will share some of the fauna that I have encountered over the last twenty years. I am from eastern North Carolina, my town literally has 5 streets and 1 blinking light, so I am a rural gal, but it is quite different than being a mountain wilderness lassie…WWCD!

Fauna always makes me think of fairies. My 25-year-old niece has a favorite Leatherwood fairy story: at the bottom of Flag Branch Road is a mountain creek and waterfall. Years ago, when she was 6, Mara saw a fairy at the waterfall. About 6” across with white wings, it fluttered by her and spoke to her–I’m guessing a luna moth, lovely in its own right, but more so as a mountain stream fairy. A not so pleasant recent story involves my blind Yorkie, her daily constitutions, and the redbugs (chiggers) she brought back to my lap! I can’t watch Jamie and Claire rolling around the beautiful green grass without thinking of chiggers and their itchy bites that last for days! WWCD in the NC mountains?

Yep, red bugs, millipedes, ladybugs, oh my! Our ladybugs are of the Asian variety, said to have been sprayed from aircraft by the Wildlife Commission on the mountain ridges to rid the mountains of some other kind of tree damaging insect. These are not the cute red and black variety they named a vehicle after; these orange ladybugs swarm into log cabins and have an odor. Claire would have never seen these. But she probably had plenty of millipedes, cluster flies, and other insects to contend with. I see some different species every time I stay at Leatherwood. I believe there are many more varieties of insects in the mountains than back east.

Leatherwood Mountains is a wildlife sanctuary, no hunting, no ATV’s, no fireworks; just peace and the natural quiet only found in nature. Large game animals such as deer and turkey live happily in the natural environment of the gated 5000-acre resort. Populous game animals also attract the “top of the food chain” critters. I have had a cabin for 20 years and have yet to actually see a bear, a wolf, a panther, but have seen a bobcat. There is clear evidence of scat and tracks to show that they are living with us in the wilderness. The first renters of our cabin in 1999 woke to find a bear on top of their minivan, hoping for the left-over french fries inside. On a January trip to Leatherwood, we arrived at midnight. The next morning, we found wolf tracks by the horse trough. We have seen tracks of coyotes, wolves, panthers, bears, and elk tracks as large as a man’s boot! My husband swears he and his parents saw an actual elk, (not out of the realm of possibility as they have been reintroduced in the southern NC mountains). Remember, I have yet to see any of these animals, only their tracks. I have seen skunks, raccoons, groundhogs, eagles, hawks, owls, turkeys, and more.

WWCD? In the movie “The Songcatcher” the old mountain woman told the Yankee lady…if you hear a “painter’s*” cry (sounds just like a woman’s cry) and he is after you, run as fast as you can while stripping off your clothes. The panther will attack your clothes and shred them giving you precious time to flee. *The Eastern Cougar, panther, or “painter,” as they are called by mountain folk, is said to be extinct in this part of the US by biologists. Many people claim to have seen and heard their bone-chilling cries, especially in the vast swampy places in the coastal areas of North Carolina. Do they or don’t they? Depends on who you ask.

Copperhead with a nearby mothball, said to keep snakes away. The bite of a copperhead usually happens when they are stepped on. It’s easy to see how well their colors and pattern
camouflage them on the ground.

Who remembers the three storylines regarding snakes in Outlander? In 20 years, I have seen snakes three times (four, if you count the dead one on the road). The first time there were two in a pallet of rock with a wire fence around it. I wanted to use the left-over rock to edge a flower bed. It was me or the snakes. Had I known what kind at the time, I may have let them be. I tied a rope around the pallet, attached it to my trailer hitch and yanked the fence and rocks to smithereens. The snakes turned out to be king snakes–the good guys. The second snake encounter was also a good guy. However at 6’-7’, I did not bother the black snake as it scaled a steep embankment! I hope he is still around, guarding against snake number three, a beautifully marked but poisonous copperhead. WWCD with a very large Copper Head?

We sort of chased him off with mothballs and have not seen him for a year. I have learned though, that this fauna is one to watch for; know what is beneath your feet! Thankfully, we don’t have outhouses to contend with (except for one of our cabins, Hemlock Point, that has an outhouse ½ bath in the basement!).

Today’s cabins with AC, WiFi, Netflix, refrigerators, dishwashers, laundry appliances, computers, central heat, etc. are modern and comfortable, just like your home. But, step out the door and you can enter Jamie and Claire’s time. Leatherwood’s motto is “The stars are our streetlights.” It is true in every sense of the word; I encourage rental guests to arrive in daylight hours. At night, however, you can see more stars than you knew existed, because of very little light pollution. On a moonless night, at the right time of year, you can make out the Milky Way! We saw Claire make the startling realization when she first rode behind Jamie and saw the town of Inverness off in the distance, and no incandescent lights anywhere. It is like this at Leatherwood when you look out over the mountains. You are in the Outlander moment.

So, I believe what Claire would do is relish and stand in awe of the fauna she encountered in her life at Fraser’s Ridge in the 18th-century mountains of North Carolina. She had no choice but to fall in love with the area, but we do. We can turn off the television, shut off our phones and computers, and step out the door at Leatherwood Mountains….aka Fraser’s Ridge!

Thank you, Mary Helen, for the preview of what animals we may encounter while we’re at Leatherwood Mountains in October at A Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming!
Why not plan a visit to the NC mountains, and consider the Leatherwood Resort for a cabin rental? Their lovely homes range from one bedroom to five, so you can go alone for a breather, or meet the whole family for a wonderful vacation! The resort also features camping sites if that’s more your speed! Amenities include a swimming pool, horses available for trail riding, tennis, fishing, hiking, and tubing down the creek! Take some time to just be, enjoy the natural surroundings and all of the flora and fauna, and experience the back county much like it was in the 18th century! Your stress hormones will thank you!