blue ridge mountains


Blue Ridge Relay 2017, a brief account

Part I: Friday, 5:41 p.m. Run 8.4 miles along a quiet country road, then run up a large mountain, eat a lot of dust, and run downhill. Worry about your knee, but don’t feel it. Pass lots of empty homes. Definitely haunted. Get chased by a terrier. Average 7:48 pace.

Part II: Saturday, 3:55 a.m. Run 4.8 miles in an abandonded neighborhood and then highway. All alone. Pure. fear. Make a plan to catch whoever the person is in front of you just so you can have a buddy. No matter the cost. When you catch up to them, your panic is too great and they are too slow. You leave them. Wish the sun could magically appear. Your last mile is a 5:55. Average 7:26 pace.

Part III: Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Run 4.1 miles, with the first 2.5 miles up a steep climb. And then cruise the last bit along the Blue Ridge Parkway trying not to get hit by cars. Constantly pick at your reflective vest, deemed necessary by officials when running on the parkway. Still thankful the sun is up. Average 8:32 pace.

Blue Ridge Relay • Sept. 8 & 9, 2017
12 runners • 2 drivers
208 miles • 29:24:50 • 8:30 pace

There are skies and then there are Blue Ridge Parkway skies. The southern end of the parkway in North Carolina winds through the highest elevations, offering dramatic mountain top views. When photographer Robert Stephens chanced upon this scene at Bear Trap Gap, he said “It almost felt like an out of body experience. You can’t believe what you’re seeing, but it’s there! I was so in awe of the light filtering over the ridges I had to remember to snap my shutter!” Photo courtesy of Robert Stephens.

Things my Granny taught me.

Sometimes I will say or do something and my husband will give me the strangest looks. Over the years I think he’s come to accept my quirks without question, but I wonder if any of y'all have any traditions/superstitions that were passed down through your family. Here are some of mine:

Never sweep after the moon has risen.
If your nose is itching, you’ll soon have good company.
If a broom falls over on its own, you’ll have unwanted company.
Never say thank you for plants given or they will die.
If you drop a pair of scissors and they stick into the floor, don’t pick them up until they fall over. (I don’t know what would happen if you did.)
Never lend a needle or salt… charge a penny each.
Keep an amethyst by your bed to ward off bad dreams.
If you tell your dreams before breakfast, they won’t come true.
If the stuffing of your pillow forms a ring, a death is near.
Put a piece of wedding cake under your pillow and you’ll dream of your future spouse.
A mirror laying flat under a full moon will show you what you need to see.
Prick the corners of your bread dough to “let the fairies out” so that the bread will rise high.
Bad luck comes in threes.
Paint your window sills blue to keep bad spirits away. They can’t cross water, so the color tricks them. Alternately, you can keep a bottle tree in your yard to capture them. When the sun rises, they’ll be banished.
Copper by your door will keep insects away.
Rain on a wedding day is good luck.
If it rains while the sun is shining, the devil is beating his wife.
Red sunrise means rain is on the way.
Cows lying down means bad weather is coming.
You can find clean water by looking for crawdads.
Carved wooden spoons given to a new bride ensures a happy marriage.
Bread, candles, and salt are traditional housewarming gifts.
Hang a horseshoe over the door with the open side up to catch good luck.
Rainwater caught during a full moon will cure warts. (among other things)
Keep rosemary in the garden to ensure a thrifty home.

The rational part of me knows that most of these are just superstitions. Still, that doesn’t stop me from grabbing an umbrella when the cows are laying down, and making sure my floors are clean before dark. I know I’m not alone, either, because my aunt gives me clippings from her garden all the time and always says “you know what not to say” and I always assure her that I do! :)

You can never see too many sunsets on the Blue Ridge Parkway. After the first snow in Virginia this winter, photographer Brandon Dewey drove out to capture the sights. “The sky normally lights up once the sun dips behind the mountain ridges, but this night, there wasn’t that much color. About 20 minutes after sunset, I was just about to pack up my gear when the sky finally caught on fire for less than two minutes.” Photo courtesy of Brandon Dewey.