A Sight to Behold

Posted by on Aug 26, 2013 in Hilton Head Island, My Blog | 2 comments

A Sight to Behold

One of my favorite past times is birding in wetlands.  Waterfowl are especially interesting to me.  I enjoy their beauty and the way God programmed them to live, raise families and survive in nature. Early in my birding years, the first Anhinga I encountered literally brought me to tears.  I was walking around a lake on Hilton Head Head Island, SC, in the Sea Pines Forest Preserve.  Chasing after a rather elusive Pileated Woodpecker, I was patient hoping for the perfect photography opportunity.  I captured numerous “less than perfect” shots of the woodpecker and decided to walk to the shell ring area left nearly 4,000 years ago by Native Indians who traveled to our east coast.  This shell ring is amazing, but that’s another entire post for later. As I walked down the trail beside a lake, I glanced over at the water and the view literally took my breath away.  There sitting on a piece of an old tree sticking out of the water was a majestic looking Anhinga with its wings spread all the way out showing a gorgeous pattern of white stripes on it’s wings…very Native American looking design to me.  Once I cleared my eyes of tears, I began focusing in on the bird praising God as I zoomed and focused.  Such beauty, I thought.  Thank you, Lord!  The bird remained in that perfect position as I was amazed at the time he was giving me to photograph.  His reflection in the water was just lovely!  I had no idea what kind of bird this was but I DID know that I felt blessed to be viewing it.  Once I identified and researched the bird’s identity, I learned that they have no oil glands in their feathers so following  diving and feeding in the water, they stand fanning out their wings to allow their feather to dry.  Just a little nugget of information but such detail that our Creator went to in their life design.   Fast forward a few years and I see these interesting birds all the time now in low-country SC, Georgia and Florida.  I remember this first experience every single time I photograph these birds years later. Joy...

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Seabird Far from Home

Posted by on Jan 24, 2013 in My Blog, NC Outer Banks | 0 comments

Seabird Far from Home

Walking along the beach in Kill Devil Hills, NC, and enjoying the myriad of shells, skate egg cases, and seabirds, I came upon one that had met its demise so I got closer to see what I might learn.  The bird, lying on it’s side in the sand obviously died with its eyes wide open…and, though, dead, it was beautiful.  I noticed quickly the point of a fish hook coming out the top of its head so somehow a fisherman’s hook had traveled through its mouth and pierced his skull and brain along with it.  This took me back to the days of “pithing a frog’s brain” in biology class. In studying the bird, I was somewhat perplexed in identifying it.  I realized I had not seen this bird before.  It was large, white with black edged wings,  short black legs with a thin green line down the front of the legs and black webbed feet.   The unusual thing was the pretty blue ring around its eye and the colorful light blue bill.  The bird is a Northern Gannet which breed up along the New England and Canadian coasts and migrate along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts for winter.  The pretty blue bill is a sturdy one for they feed by diving straight into the ocean achieving speeds of 60 miles per hour.  The bill can grab a fish under water and swallow it before the gannet resurfaces. I do hope my next sighting of a Northern Gannet ( a cousin to the Blue-footed  Booby) is one I can view in flight and very much alive, but for this sighting, I at least added another bird to my life...

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Like A Vertebral Column

Posted by on Jan 23, 2013 in My Blog, NC Outer Banks | 2 comments

Like A Vertebral Column

After the New Year, I spent a week along the NC Outer Banks with college friends, enjoying God’s great gifts of nature.  The shore…any shore, for that matter, is a favorite place for me to commune with our Creator.  The southern end of the Outer Banks had been ravaged from Superstorm Sandy so we spent most of our time north of Mirlo Beach.  We stayed in Kill Devil Hills and took day-trips to other areas like Pea Island, Manteo, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, etc. The beaches on the Outer Banks are different from the ones in SC with much higher dunes and a coarser sand composition.  We enjoyed walking along the beach with the shore birds, looking at shells and debris.  I saw my first whelk egg case.  It looked a lot like a vertebral column of some sort and seemed appropriate as the beginning of life by the sea.  Interesting to study.  My friend who grew up along the beach showed me what was inside by breaking the casing open which revealed teeny, tiny little “baby” whelks.  Each of the cases has a little hole up on the top edge which is where the “babies” hatch out to begin their long journey of life in the sea.  She dumped the little whelks out in the palm of her hand to my amazement having never seen them before. I quickly recalled these words from William Blake…  To see a world in a grain of sand And a heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palm of your hand And eternity in an hour. Ah…the lessons of our...

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Thanksgiving Work of Another Kind

Posted by on Jan 15, 2013 in My Blog, NC Outer Banks | 0 comments

Thanksgiving Work of Another Kind

Hurricane Sandy (aka Superstorm Sandy) was one of the most devastating natural disasters on American soil.  For many in the northeastern USA, it took their homes, their businesses and life-long belongings.  Even more tragic, Sandy also took over 100 lives.  Seeing the news coverage of the storm’s ferocious devastation, the NYC subway flooding made us realize, I guess, with new respect, just how powerful Mother Nature is.  Our prayers continue for the victims and their losses. The NC Outer Banks got hit a lot harder than most realize.  There hasn’t been the media coverage as there has been for the northeast.  Homes were swallowed by the sea, businesses were lost and the single Hwy.12, which transports people to their homes, work, school, churches and vacationers to their little peaceful respite, was itself swallowed by that ferocious ocean.  Hwy, 12 has been reworked numerous times after other storms, but I think what was so devastating about Sandy’s damaged is that the Outer Banks got hit by the ocean AND on the sound side.   The NC Outer Banks are barrier islands, but are not anchored to offshore coral reefs as many barrier islands are.  This make the OBX susceptible to significant beach erosion during heavy storms.  The OBX are recognized as the part of the Atlantic coast north of Florida most prone to hurricane damage. The Halloween storm Sandy has the NC DOT working along with the Army Corps of Engineers non-stop and here we are nearly three months later.  Much progress has been made, but some folks are still unable to get to or leave their homes.  The ferry from Hatteras to Ocracoke Island is barely an on and off again schedule due to so much sand being dumped in the sound and inlet waters. The picture above is an awesome shot from the Virginian-Pilot: A North Carolina Department of Transportation worker, Pablo Hernandez, resident Engineer,  jumps over ocean water as he moves cones on the damaged section of N.C. 12 north of the Mirlo Beach area of Rodanthe on Hatteras Island on Monday, Nov. 19, 2012.  What a way for Pablo to spend his Thanksgiving Day…a gift to all of...

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A Place of Prayer

Posted by on Aug 28, 2012 in Hilton Head Island, My Blog, Think About This | 0 comments

A Place of Prayer

Sometimes I step into a place, my soul quiets and prayers seem to lift up with just a simple breath.  These are places of reverence, of peacefulness offering veneration to our Creator with their existence.  For me these special yet simple environs often are where I am especially awed by God’s hand in Creation…the beauty of nature.  It could be an unexpected field of sunflowers framed by green trees and the bluest of skies or it might be a lovely old church in a quiet marshland setting. Last week as I was driving back to NC from FL, stopping along the way to experience some of the roads less traveled, I ventured off I-95 to Bluffton, SC.  Bluffton is a quiet Lowcountry town near Hilton Head, SC.  It is rich with history and one of the town’s churches, the Episcopal Church of the Cross, is on the National Registry of  Historic Places.  The church was consecrated in 1857 and sits on a bluff of the May River.  Bluffton was a Confederate headquarters in the Civil War and when Federal troops invaded the town, most of the structures were burned down.  Two churches were spared with Church of the Cross being one.  The Federal troops took the church bell but it was found later and rings today during services. Church of the Cross is a Gothic cypress building with lovely arched windows with pink glass from England.  Sitting right on the bluff of the river with the rich green marshland’s wildlife and sub-tropical vegetation as its neighbors, one quickly feels the ambiance  squelching any stress or hurried lifestyle.  Hence, I...

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Kahuna the Rehabilitated Sea Turtle

Posted by on Jul 6, 2012 in Jupiter, FL, My Blog | 0 comments

Kahuna the Rehabilitated Sea Turtle

Kahuna is a large sea turtle that experienced a shark attack rendering her defenseless in her normal habitat, the Atlantic Ocean.  60% of her left front flipper was lost with deep lacerations on her right flipper. She was rescued by the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, FL.  The Center is a pretty amazing rehabilitations center wequipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment and medical professionals.  Kahuna has been at the center in treatment since rescued and the Center partnered with the Equine Hyperbaric Center of South Florida at Reid and Associates in Loxahatchee, Florida to provide 18 hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments for Kahuna’s benefit.  These were very successful and now Kahuna is healthy enough to reutrn to her home in the Atlantic Ocean. Release is scheduled for 10:00 a.m., Saturday, July 7th on Juno Beach right across the road from the Center.  A crowd is sure to be there cheering Kahuna and Loggerhead Marinelife Center as Kahuna is freed and disappears into the great blue waters!!...

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Gopher Tortoise of Florida

Posted by on Jul 5, 2012 in Jupiter, FL, My Blog | 0 comments

Gopher Tortoise of Florida

The Gopher Tortoise is a member of a group of land tortoises that originated in North America over 60 million years ago.  It is, therefore, one of the oldest living species.  Gopher tortoises can live to be 100 years of age.As I am spending my summer in Florida, I have many opportunities to observe the ancient looking creatures.  I was taking an evening walk after dinner one night and decided to walk through a preserve right beside our apartment complex.  Florida is full of preserves to protect the wildlife and flora that might otherwise fall by the wayside due to expansion of our commercial and residential contruction. This particular preserve has a handicap-accessible sand trail that was easy to traverse.  Keeping my eyes sharply focused on the trail ahead and beside me, I took care to watch for snakes, etc.  Happily, I saw NO snakes.  They most likely were there, but I didn’t see any.  The trail is pretty along a lagoon.  I loved the sounds of the birds, crickets, etc.  The trees and shrubs were lovely sub-tropical which was easy to enjoy. I turned a corner on the trail and was face-to-face with a large Gopher Tortoise.  We both froze in time checking the other out and he could have been a sculpture he was so very still.  I decided to inch my way to the edge of the trail opposite from his edge.  That worked well without a move from him.  Then, I decided one of us had to move, so I very slowly took a couple of steps crossing by him and he remained still.  A couple more steps forward and I looked back and he was on his way to wherever! Gopher Tortoises dig big and deep burrows in the land for their home.  Some burrows can be as large as 50 ft. long. When they leave their home, other wildlife will move in and make it their own.  In Florida, the Gopher Tortoise is on the Endangered Species list due to habitat loss.  My son-in-law is a land developer and has come upon gopher tortoises in the development process and the entire development process is halted to re-draw plans to protect the tortoise’s habitat.  Hence, one finds many preserves alongside residential and commercial developments.  After all, they were there first!   ...

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Rehabilitated Sea Turtle Released into Ocean

Posted by on Jul 2, 2012 in Jupiter, FL, My Blog | 0 comments

Rehabilitated Sea Turtle Released into Ocean

I have enjoyed a fondness of sea turtles for years and each time I visit my daughter in Florida, we go to visit the Loggerhead Marinelife Center or the “turtle hospital” as we call it.  It is a rather amazing not-for-profit organization that rescues injured and sick sea turtles and with their state-of-the-art medical techonolgies, they help to heal and strengthen sea turtles that were facing death.  It’s a fun place for kids and adults alike to visit and learn about these ancient species.  On a visit, one can see sea turtles in swimming tanks as they are being treated for their ailments…or, one might see hatchlings that did not make it out to sea after being born for one reason or another.  Now, those are really a precious sight to behold!! While on my extended stay in Florida this summer, on June 29, 2012,  my grandchildren and I were able to observe Tilly, who the center had nurtured back to good health, be released on Juno Beach and to see her instinctively and immediately make her journey back to her home, the Atlantic Ocean.  There must have been 200-250 people gathered to witness this great escape back into the wild and all cheered as she disappeared into the blue-green waves of the South Florida sea. So, after Tilly made her way into and under the ocean, the ropes were removed and my grandchildren returned to the waves for play.  This time, I liked the thought of them swimming with Tilly in the nearby waves…now what kid wouldn’t want to do that!  Jared thought he might have seen her when a big wave came and he saw something brown…or maybe it was seaweed…who knows.  But, one thing for certain is this…they all, including Tilly, were swimming in a wonderfully, majestically created expanse of the beautiful ocean created so, so many thousands of years ago.  That thought just puts a big, big smile on my face! Visit www.marinelife.org  ...

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Handsome Green Heron

Posted by on Jun 19, 2012 in Jupiter, FL, My Blog | 0 comments

Handsome Green Heron

On my drive from NC to FL, I stopped in at Merritt Island, near Titusville, FL to see what birds I might see in the Wildlife Reserve.  I was fortunate to come upon a handsome Green Heron resting in a short tree in the marsh.  Another bird tried to enter his territory, but with the loud hissing and clacking, that wasn’t going to happen.  He settled down quickly and allowed me to quietly get within about 8 ft. of him.  I imagine he was protecting a nest in that tree for ’tis the season! The Green Herons are quite stately looking to me with the greenish grey upper feathers, a darker green-black top of the head, and the chocolate brown chest area.  Their beak is long and stout and they are one of just a few large water birds that actually use their beak as a tool.  The Green Heron will gather a “bait” of some sort in it’s beak and drop it onto the surface of the water…lake or pond, and wait for his “catch” to come up to eat it.  His catch may, indeed, eat the bait, but the heron will eat IT!! Herons are smart, intuitive birds and live quietly among a variety of species…unless threatend.  At that time, they take control and make it known they claim their spot!  Fun and amusing to...

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American Bald Eagle

Posted by on Apr 6, 2012 in Hilton Head Island, My Blog | 0 comments

American Bald Eagle

The American Bald Eagle is, indeed, a symbol of strength and power .  This large bird with a wingspan of 7 ft. is a protected bird in America and one that is revered by many as our national bird.  To watch one fly, soaring seemingly effortless is a real treat birders but also for just about any nature enthusiast.  They mate for life and generally produce a nest of 2 to 4 eggs each year.  In recent years, many have been able to view live streaming videos of nesting bald eagles which is a joy to observe. I was on a birding trip on Hilton Head Island and had a private boat tour of the backwaters of Gilbert Creek.  My guide really wanted me to see an eagle so he led me right to one’s nest.  High up in pine trees, the nest was huge even looking from a distance.  I learned that the nests can weigh up to 2 tons.  The need for such a large & significant nest is that the juvenile eagles remain with the parents in the nest until about 4 years of age.  That’s a  lot of bird in a bunch of twiggy branches! Watching an eagle swoop down on its prey, grab it and carry it back to where it will be eaten, impresses me for a variety of reasons.  First, their eyesight is amazingly strong enabling the eagle to watch its prey from the sky and select just the right moment to go for it.  They can see forward and to the side without turning its head or even moving the eyes.  You might have seen videos of an eagle swooping down and grabbing a large, heavy fish for dining.  Another impressive characteristic of the eagles are the talons on their feet.  These are heavy, sharply curved hooks which are said to be able to apply 1,000 pounds of pressure per square inch in each foot.  The eagle can easily grab and kill its prey. The Bald Eagle can fly up to 100 miles per hour in pursuit of it’s prey.  Just look at those massive feet and imagine the power in the talons.  Talk about “grab &...

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Uniquely Beautiful Sea Shells

Posted by on Mar 14, 2012 in My Blog, NC Outer Banks, Portfolio | 0 comments

Uniquely Beautiful Sea Shells

Many of us enjoy shelling when we spend time in coastal areas.  Since I was a child, I have enjoyed just meandering down the beach, often getting a crick in my neck from long, long searches for the perfect and unique shell.  The truth is each one is unique just as we are.  The leisure pastime allows everything else in my life to drift away from my mind as if it is carried out with the last wave as it retreats with the tide. Do you like shelling?  Do you find it relaxing as I do?  What about it do you enjoy most? I find that I really enjoy the discovery of the tiniest of shells, perfectly formed in its own color without any visible chips, with all the detail of the larger ones but just miniature. Then, the wondering begins.  How old is this tiny, tiny shell?  Where did it first greet life and just how far has it traveled?  I find great relaxation in this fond leisure.  I recall, as a child riding back home from a vacation at the beach in the backseat of the family car, windows open wide without air conditioning, a shoe box collection of  my treasures from the sea and the odorous decaying of some that had their dying inhabitants still intact.  Maybe THAT’S why the windows were open and not the heat! And so we wait until the next...

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Looking Up

Posted by on Jan 6, 2012 in My Blog, Statesville, NC, Think About This | 0 comments

Looking Up

Yesterday, I decided to make some pumpkin bread and as it was baking I washed up a few dishes.  Looking out the kitchen window, I noticed condensation trails that two airplanes had left in the beautiful Carolina blue sky intersecting at one point.  I found myself wishing I had seen the planes as they messaged our sky.  Just a few minutes later, again I cast my eyes upward and there was a plane climbing high leaving another contrail.  I watched as it climbed and climbed, intersecting the previous two and saw a beautiful SNOWFLAKE formed!  I quickly dried my hands as I jogged to retrieve my camera.  Upon my return to the window, I captured a photo of this little phenomenon of sorts.   Viewing the photo, it made me think about how I probably should turn my eyes upward much more often thinking that it’s a huge sky up there and I am most likely missing a lot. After all, it was created by our great God.  When I am flying, I must admit, I feel some sense of greater closeness with God, though I know He is always right with me and that His spirit dwells within me where ever I might be.  And gazing upward toward the contrails left by these planes I think about the Glory of the Heavens that some of our astronauts express. This brings to mind Psalm 121: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.”...

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Blowing Rock Preserve

Posted by on Jan 2, 2012 in Jupiter, FL, My Blog, Shore Birds | 2 comments

Blowing Rock Preserve

Discover the resiliency of nature in a visit to the Blowing Rock Preserve on Jupiter Island in Hobe Sound, FL.  The area lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon.  Winding trails are under a canopy of native growth rich in vegetation, palms, insects, birds, sea turtles, lizards and snakes.  It is a protected area allowing sea turtles to continue to safely nest there.  A feature from which it derived its name is the spectacular Anastasia limestone rock formations.  At high tide, the cystal blue green ocean waves pound the coast lined with these rocks, blowing high shoots of water up through the holes in the rock formations…enough excitement alone to make the visit worthwhile! Visitors can search for treasures of shells and other sea life along the ocean beach as well as the river lagoon.  The Hawley Education Center on the lagoon side offers various FREE programs and exhibits such as Blowing Rocks: From Lagoon to Ocean & Beyond; Reef Revival: Underwater Coral Nurseries and more. Sponsored by The Nature Conservancy, the Preserve and Education Center appreciate donations. For more information, visit their website at www.nature.org/blowing...

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White Ibis

Posted by on Jan 1, 2012 in Birds, Jupiter, FL, My Blog, Shore Birds | 0 comments

White Ibis

One of the things I enjoy about spending time in nature preserves or wildlife sanctuaries is the pure joy I feel as I am studying one of God’s creatures in the wild gaining an awareness of His omniscience in the needs and behaviors of each species.  It is, indeed, amazing to me to think that our Creator of the great Universe, focuses on each creature individually and all of us collectively, providing us and programming us for survival. King James Bible Psalm 84:3 says “Yea, the sparrow hath found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.”   The gift of nature is an opportunity to learn, value and experience God’s handiwork bringing peace and enjoyment to me.  On this first day of the New Year 2012, I claim for myself more intentional study of God’s handiwork and His Word which always reveals new perspectives for my journey.  How about...

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Solving World Problems

Posted by on Dec 13, 2011 in My Blog, Ocracoke Island, Shore Birds | 0 comments

Solving World Problems

Ocracoke Island, one of the barrier islands along the NC coast, is such a quaint village.    The ferry ride is about a 45 minute experience in itself.  I like getting out of my car and taking in the abundance of nature and meeting other folks going over.  I’ve seen dolphins escorting the ferry across the water, sea gulls, pelicans, etc.  Stepping onto the island soil, one immediately feels the relaxing, laid back lifestyle of the residents as well as the visitors.  Even if you take your car over, there is much to do just walking or biking. One day a friend and I were navigating the island and turned down a road we had not visited before.  Small, quaint homes adorned the dirt road and we came upon a pond.  Thankful to have had my camera with me, I grabbed it and got this wonderful little scene of ducks facing the water, appearing to be solving the problems of our world.  Oh, were it that easy!  ...

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Historic Carson House Barn Quilt

Posted by on Dec 8, 2011 in My Blog, NC Barn Quilt Trails | 1 comment

Historic Carson House Barn Quilt

Col. John Carson was an Irishman who immigrated  to America in 1773 to start a new life and a new way of life.  What is now McDowell County was considered part of the American frontier.  Carson built Mc Dowell County’s most historic home which has been completely restored, filled with period furnishing and is open to the public.  The home is a certified destination on the NC Civil War Trail.  This property was a stagecoach stop for significant visitors such as Davy Crockett and Andrew Jackson. On the property rests the Carson House Barn which hosts a beautiful barn quilt....

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Sentimental Value

Posted by on Dec 8, 2011 in My Blog, NC Barn Quilt Trails | 0 comments

Sentimental Value

This barn quilt design goes back generations and is hanging on the barn on the family property.  I need to locate my notes to do justice to their story, but the gentleman we met works for the community college there and was so interesting in his sharing.  I loved the design and its place on the old barn.

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“Pickin’ and Grinnin’ “

Posted by on Dec 8, 2011 in My Blog, NC Barn Quilt Trails | 0 comments

“Pickin’ and Grinnin’ “

When Killough”s Music in downtown Marion, NC decided to host an authentic Barn Quilt block on their building, they knew exactly what it had to be…something to honor their passion for music.  They selected “Pickin” and Grinnin’ ” for their block.  The Killough family are natives of McDowell County and their roots there go back to the 1700s.  “Pickin’ and Grinnin’ ” display four guitars and four banjos in the design.  Walking through downtown Marion is a fun day trip from Statesville,...

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“Glory Be”

Posted by on Dec 8, 2011 in Favorite Places, NC Barn Quilt Trails | 0 comments

“Glory Be”

Sue Gibbs, whose home is on East Main Street in Old Fort, chose the “Glory Be” Barn Quilt to host on her home because in her own words, “You can’t be patriotic enough.”  If you’re driving by on East Main Street, be careful not to blink or you might miss it.  It really is lovely and her home and yard is beautifully maintained.  This is the 36th Barn Quilt to be placed on the Trail.

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Moon Over the Mountain

Posted by on Dec 8, 2011 in My Blog, NC Barn Quilt Trails | 0 comments

Moon Over the Mountain

Dr. John and Jennifer Owens are the proud hosts of the barn quilt “Moon Over the Mountain” which is displayed on their Lake Tahoma Boathouse.  The vibrant colors are a real eye-catcher as one drives through this very scenic part of western NC.  The quilt block itself is split down the middle vertically, for ease of opening the double doors of the boathouse.  Just beautiful!

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