Oconaluftee Visitor Center – It’s quiet…

OVC - passion flower

Oconaluftee Visitor Center was quiet today, except when it wasn’t.

A family from Eden, North Carolina, north of Greensboro, said that she had a “panther” on her property that growled at her and her daughter.

“What should I do about it?” She asked.

I guess we’re the information center for everything. This happened to the telephone company and that’s why in the 1970s (I think), they changed their service from “information” to “directory assistance”.

I suggested that she calls her county’s animal control department and that it was probably a bobcat. “There hasn’t been a bobcat in North Carolina since the 1800s.”

“OK, bobcat, but they won’t do nothing”.

“Then you need to go to the state level,” strongly hinting that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park couldn’t do anything. But she kept on and on. There weren’t too  many people around so I listened.

I must have listened too intently because I didn’t notice that a bee or wasp had landed on my shirt collar or neck. But the next visitor did and flicked it away. The wasp landed on a stack of newspapers on the floor and I promptly stomped on it.

When I told Maryann, a seasonal ranger, about the wasp, she said that she knew about it but “she didn’t like to kill things.” When it comes to bees in any variation, I don’t mind killing.

School is back in session for most of western North Carolina, including Asheville. I didn’t see too many visitors on Kephart Prong last week so I stayed close by on the Mountain Farm Museum and Oconaluftee River Trail.

Corn and sorghum are really tall by now at the farm. The rest of the garden is also doing well, being lovingly taken care by volunteers. They also tend the pigs and chickens. Not me! I barely take care of my own yard. And the only animals I feed are the birds at the bird feeder outside. So I rove and talk to people.

The  River Trail is one of only two trails that allows dogs on leashes, and bikes. Then the skies opened up and I heard thunder. I kept walking because I was already wet and so did visitors with dogs. Several people on rubber floats on the Oconaluftee River passed by. They didn’t care; they were already wet as well.

It is definitely autumn on the trail. Not much but cone flowers and you’ve seen plenty of pictures of those.  But I found passion flowers (passiflora incarnata) in the bushes on the way to the Mountain Farm Museum. Passion flowers are tropical but  Passiflora incarnata is an exception in that it is deciduous and can
survive winter freezes.


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