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Diane Blanks, Blue Ridge Mountain Views, #15: Of New Settlers in the Mountains

Blue Ridge Mountain Views

“Of New Settlers in the Mountains”


I’m reasonably certain there were no mourning doves in this area when I was growing up. Their sad-sounding calls were only heard when you were down the mountain in the flatlands. Along with the lonesome train whistles heard in the nights, they were a sure sign that you were Somewhere Else.

Line drawing of Diane's home by Levi Walton.
Line drawing of Diane’s home by Levi Walton.

But now that I’m back home, the doves are surely here. Three of them have been around my house since I returned, and I’ve seen and heard them in all seasons, including winter. I keep a flat birdfeeder hanging on the porch for them (and it also feed the squirrels, of course) because they’re too wide to fit on the perches of the “squirrel-proof” feeder. Nothing will send me scurrying for new birdseed faster than the sight of three disconsolate mourning doves perched on, and on top of, the empty flat feeder.

Some still say that there’s no real proof of global warming, but I find it strongly indicated in the presence of the doves, migrated up here from hot country, along with the pack of coyotes that now roam somewhere on the mountainside behind me. Coyotes are native to America‚Äôs prairie states but have been in North Carolina for the past three decades, according to the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission. I just hope that the armadillos aren’t waddling slowly up the mountain behind them, intent on colonization.


Our most peculiarly warm winter has finally turned cold with a vengeance, and this time it looks like it’s going to set in for a while. It was seven degrees in the yard when I got up a couple of days ago. Not a bad thing–we need a bit of sustained cold to kill off the bugs. But the cold drafts winding in through the old window frames remind me that I forgot to seal them with rope caulking this fall. Tiny, fine snow is glittering in the sunlight outside.


In between snowstorms, we had a day of warming weather, and I went to the grocery store to get birdseed, cat food and milk–life’s necessities. I shopped at the big one where a lot of the country people do, not the one where the skiers and college people go. Up here, the grocery stores and the fast food joints have different clienteles, evidently by self-selection. The rich go to some, the senior citizens and the poor go to others and the college kids have their own bespoke establishments. The store I went to was crowded, but people were polite.

There didn’t seem to be any shortages except for one odd item–bags of cornbread mix. So evidently us locals are planning to hole up and eat some soup beans (maybe with chopped onions on the top?) and cornbread. Maybe with some boiled cabbage on the side. Good thing I went, because, overnight, about 8″ of snow fell, and it’s still pouring down. Good day to stay in, and looks like I’ll be in here till the warm-up next week, given the depth of the snow.

News at eleven,