Summer’s Here!

Memorial Day has come and gone, which signals to my body and brain that the warmth of the earth is now circling around my little homestead in the mountains. The rain stopped (for awhile anyway) and as the sun shines down, the humidity has decreased and it is so comfortable outside I may pitch a tent in the backyard and live outdoors for a while. Until the mosquitos also decide it is indeed summer time! I’ve restarted one of my favorite summer activities–visiting rooftop bars. You thought I was going to say hiking, and that would be true too.

It seems many parts of the country have been beleagered by horrendous weather events. We’ve had rain. I love rain, but I wish I could just work out a way to make it rain for a couple of hours during the night. Then every green thing gets watered without cancelling any parades I have planned. My Meetup group has had to cancel two trips to the local mini golf establishment. Once because it was raining and a second time because the weather gurus predicted a high percentage of precipitation in the general area of the mini golf place. Despite the cancellation of attempt number two, a few of us, bummed by the forecast, met at the local wine bar where we were beseiged by bucketsfull of dry air if not full-on sunshine. How could those weather people have gotten it so wrong?

June, as they sing, is bustin’ out all over. All that rain in May forced the mountain flora to explode with beauty. I am greeted by color up and down the block. Except for the foliage I so mainstakingly planted in my front yard. My friend and neighbor suggested I plant some caladiums. She found a bargain at Sam’s Club garden section. I eagerly plopped a dozen bulbs into the ground and waited for their triumphant heads to appear. Weeks on, not one has come to call. The dirt still looks bare and barren. There’s approximately no caladiums, with their gorgeous varigated leaves, adorning the Hobbit House front yard. I confess, I know nothing about caladiums and concede that the bargain bonanza might have been the product of a store having too many caladiums too far past their proper time of planting. My knowledge of landscaping, being close to nil, did not serve me well in this particular instance, or perhaps saved me from endless pruning and fussing.

The vegetable garden is in. The Master Gardener carefully tended baby plants in the basement with the help of some grow lights during the early spring months. We finally returned our porch plants to their rightful spots after wintering in our basement. Since there are only two of us, it can be difficult to keep up with the bounty of our garden gifts. The greens sprouted so quickly that the bugs feasted before we could. Nevertheless, I have been selecting the choicest sprigs for our soups and salads. Our radishes taste like munching on spongy wood, not the flavor we were going for. The bok choy, along with the cilantro has started to bolt already. I’ve been snipping away at anything that thinks it wants to flower before I can put it into my stir fry!

With all the rain, other green things have exploded skyward, though are not yet bearing fruit. Tomatoes, tomatillos, okra, squash and pole beans are all being carefully tended and protected from grounhogs by our trusty garden sentry Mindy–the horticultural hound. No self-respecting overgrown rodent would dare step foot in our yard for fear of her. If we got, say, a bear back there, inside the fence, I’m not entirely sure who would be the victor but the barking frenzy would have us out there in seconds to save the bear. We love our local wildlife.

Baseball is here. Well, it’s been here for a couple of months, but I’ve been too busy to attend a game. The wonderful thing about baseball in Asheville is that it’s relatively cheap to attend a game and they sell locally brewed beer for a reduced price on Thursdays. If you don’t mistakenly buy tickets for an afternoon game, the stands are blissfully in the shade and the sun is out of your eyes and an evening breeze makes this outdoor activity quite comfortable all through the summer. Our team, the Tourists, are a farm team for the Houston Astros. I am a steadfast fan and hootin’ hollerin’ advocate for our home team even though they have lost every game I’ve ever been to in the last six years. Perhaps this year will result in some form of winning. Except for a rainout. I won’t abide by a contest of rain versus baseball. Mostly because I would have to walk back to our car in the drizzle of the polite Carolina rain if we can remember where we parked in the maze that’s comprised of the streets of Asheville. Walking around in circles might be considered a form of urban hiking.

Real hiking is much more fun. Those mountain trails are so easy to get to. We usually hit the Blue Ridge Parkway for the scenic drive as well as the availability of hiking trails. This month we plan to make a pilgrimage back to Catawba Falls, which has, until recently, been closed for maintenance. It is an area with a few of the many scenic waterfalls in western North Carolina. And, we can hit up Black Mountain, a cute little town just east of Asheville where we can have lunch outside with our dog. That’s an Asheville area thing–dining with the dog. Waiters often bring us a bowl of water which our dog promptly ignores. There’s just too many new sights and tasty smells that grab her attention. Mostly it’s all those other dogs doing the dining out thing.

I hate to be a nag, but I seem to continually remind my husband of all the places we have not been hiking. DuPont State Recreational Forest is one of them. Recreation is in the name and that’s what I want to experience. I want to recreate in a gorgeous area formerly owned by a chemical company. It’s mine now and I want to explore it’s many trails and attractions. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, home of Smokey the Bear (IDK if that’s true), is also within striking distance. This one is tricky, since it is one of the most heavily visited parks in the country. If I wanted to be surrounded by millions of people, I would go to Atlanta and enjoy I 85 on a Friday at 5 pm. I think we need to plan a trip to our popular park for the early fall when the kiddies are back in school and the leaf color is not so fantastic as to draw every retiree on the east coast. We will need to do more research before we take that trip.

We have no plans for a vacation this summer. One might say we are already on vacation since our little village is the vacation target for millions of visitors each year. With good reason. But, we do need to venture further afield once in a while, so we have a couple ideas in mind. Open a map of western North Carolina, close eyes and stab a finger downward. We’ll go there. We might even go totally wild and cross the border into Tennessee–bypassing all the amusement parky places like Pidgeon Forge and Gatlinburg. We have made actual reservations for a trip to Brevard for a concert at the Music Center. Can Boone be far behind? This may be the year I finally make it there. Boone in June. That just sounds right.

In the meantime, there are numerous rooftop bars to explore on Wednesday evenings. We recently hit up a magnificent specimen atop the brand new Embassy Suites. There is a pizza restaurant perched on the 7th floor, which boasts a grand view of the Appalacian peaks to the west of town. One is obliged to order a fancy drink and roam about the outdoor patio saying “ooh” and “ah” and waving the waiter over to order a second cocktail as the pizza bakes. I could give tours of Asheville’s many fun rooftops featuring food and drink, but I prefer just to call up friends and ask if they want to meet us there. Or, you could call me up to say you are coming to visit and I will book a table…as long as you’ll be here on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. I don’t want to be crunched in between all those other out-of-town patrons who arrive without a local person to guide them through the maze.

It’s summer in Asheville! Outdoor concerts, farmers markets, festivals, hiking and pleasant evenings perfect for having a cocktail with a view. I’m ready to rock and roll…at a steady, age-appropriate pace, of course. The only thing missing is you!

Let’s go,



  1. Nice word picture of summer in Asheville!! Miss you!!

  2. What fun it must be to be “living with Ethel.” I genuinely enjoy all of your blog posts, but this one gets my Cream of the Crop award.

  3. I love this one, Cheryl. We live in such a beautiful place!

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