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March 2016


Tracy McCoy Publisher/Editor

Cindi Freeman Office Manager Marketing Executive


e invite you to say goodbye to winter and join us as we welcome spring in the mountains. Close your eyes for just a moment and imagine the song of a Carolina Wren, feel the warmth of the morning sun on your face and breathe deep the fragrance of spring’s first bloomers. Spring in the North Georgia Mountains... is there anything more beautiful? This is our Arts issue and we celebrate the bold and abstract, the softness of watercolors, the glory of pen to paper and the plentiful rich talent that calls this place home. We do not lack artists, eclectic galleries and opportunities to create. If you haven’t found your talent it may be because you haven’t looked for it. Art comes in many forms and varieties. I talk to artists often who tell me at 60 they didn’t know they could paint until life slowed down and they picked up a brush. My advice? Don’t wait; make time now to try your hand at painting or pottery or basket making or sewing or sculpting or the list goes on and on. It is good for the mind and soul to create, it is in us! Easter is almost here, a great time for families to gather to celebrate Jesus and His resurrection. Oh eggs will be hidden and candy will fill baskets, dresses will be bought but worshippers will gather at sunrise services across the world to remember that He is Risen and in Him is our hope and peace. All of us encourage all of you to make the world a better place by showing kindness and treating others the way you’d like to be treated. Let’s make our world a better place by having been here.

Dianne VanderHorst Art Director/ Designer

Melissa Williams-Thomas Marketing Executive Writer

Also on board... Copy Editor/Writer - Jan Timms Photographer/Writer - Peter McIntosh Marketing Executives (Advertising) Melissa Williams - 706.982.4777 - Cindi Freeman - 706.782.1608 - Contributing Writers: Jean Hyatt, Melissa Williams-Thomas, Carla Fackler Mark Holloway, Bob Justus, Jo Mitchell, Steve Jarrard, MD, Lisa Harris, Kitty Stratton, John Shivers

Check out our all new website! A great source for information, event info, additional content and our digital issue and our business directory! Great advertising possibilities! The Georgia Mountain Laurel is a publication of Rabun’s Laurel, Inc. Mailing: PO Box 2218, Clayton, Georgia 30525 Office: 633 Highway 441 South, Clayton, Georgia Phone: 706.782.1600 Website: • E-mail:

Happy almost spring!


March 2016 • Volume Thirteen • Issue Three • Copyright 2016

Copyright 2016 by Rabun’s Laurel Inc. All rights reserved. The Georgia Mountain Laurel Magazine is published twelve times per year. Reproduction without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. The publishers and editors are not responsible for unsolicited material and it will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication subject to GML magazine’s right to edit. Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, photographs and drawings. Every effort has been made to assure that all information presented in this issue is accurate, and neither Laurel magazine or any of its staff is responsible for omissions or information that has been misrepresented to the magazine. The Georgia Mountain Laurel maintains a Christian focus throughout their magazine. Rabun’s Laurel, Inc. reserves the right to refuse content or advertising for any reason without explanation.


March 2016

Julie Barnett

Leigh Barnett

Cell 404-697-3860

Cell 404-931-3636



141 S. Main St. Clayton, GA


The Meeting House on Lake Burton $5,900,000

The Adirondack Camp on Lake Burton $4,350,000

Journey's End on Lake Burton $4,200,000

Between the Hedges on Lake Burton $3,995,000

Treetop Retreat on Lake Burton $3,950,000

Mountain Reflections on Lake Burton $2,495,000 Tucked Away Cove on Lake Burton $1,795,000

Lake Burton Bliss $1,695,000

Romancing the Stone on Lake Rabun $3,975,000

3+ ac. Lumbermen's Retreat on Lake Burton $1,675,000 The above information is believed to be accurate, but is not warranted.

Serendipity on Lake Burton $1,475,000

Sunset Skies on Lake Burton $1,275,000

Laurel Falls on Lake Burton $1,395,000

Charming Cabin on Lake Burton $1,400,000

Quarter Moon Place on Lake Burton $1,095,000 Private 2.5 Ac. Lot on Lake Burton $1,100,000

Belle Vue on Lake Burton $1,150,000

Charlie Mountain View on Lake Burton $925,000

Fee Simple Lake Burton Cabin $995,000

Cute Cabin on Level Lake Burton Lot $1,050,000

5+ Acres on the Soque River $699,000

29+ Acres on the Soque River $715,000

The Shady Nook on Lake Burton $895,000

Fee Simple Waterfront Lot on Lake Burton $209,000 3+ Ac. w/ pond, 1mi. from Lake Burton $225,000 Fee Simple Lot with Dock on Lake Burton $375,000

for a complete listing of properties and VIRTUAL TOURS Office - 706-212-0228 • Julie - 404-697-3860 • Leigh - 404-931-3636 The above information is believed to be accurate, but is not warranted.

141 S. Main St. • Clayton, GA • 706-212-0228


From the Publisher

Arts & Entertainment 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 24

Cover Artist - Rennie Marie Neese Art is Therapy North Georgia Arts Guild Let Me Introduce You Mountain Made Art Good Work Rainy Day Workshop On Stage

Affairs to Remember 28 32

Event Calendar Celebrate Clayton

A Taste 34 38 42

Bon Appetit Uncorked The Family Table

Faith in Christ 44 46 48 46

The Struggle of Prayer Bless Your Heart River Garden Life is a Blessing

Health & Wellness 52 56

Therapy Dogs Live Healthy & Be Well

The Great Outdoors 60 64

Adventure Out Mountain Nature

Life & Leisure 68 70

Lovin’ the Journey WoodmenLife



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72 74 76

Exploring NE Georgia Foxfire Echoes from the Hills


A Parting Shot

March 2016


Cover Artist – Rennie Marie Nease


Inspire & Encourage

eeting and talking with our cover artists is one of the best parts of my job. Marie Nease is a very gifted artist. She is a fine art photographer and has some outstanding images in her Rennie Marie Photography portfolio but her passion is artistic photography. The name of this aspect of her photography is called Wingdreamer and I am going to let her tell you more about that in the article that follows this one. Let me tell you a little bit about Marie and I am going to be brief because I want you to enjoy her art and leave plenty of room for it. Marie was born in Atlanta and grew up near there. She fell in love with photography through the lens of her father’s camera; a Yashica that sits on a shelf in her home office. Her dad had a dark room in the basement and she remembers the magic that happened there. Her mom and dad lived in Lakemont Georgia on Laurel Ridge from 1995 to 2003. When Marie found herself laid off in 2009 it was a turning point for her and she decided to make the mountains her home. She settled in Cornelia and she lives in a very nice community there. She mentioned Psalm 72:3 “Let the mountains bring peace to the people, and the hills, in righteousness.” Marie is a peace-seeker. As we sat together in her office, I noticed many items around the room that are apparent reminders of special moments and are a reflection of the woman that she is. Thoughtful, spiritual, peaceful and kind are words that come to mind. There are many quotes and words of wisdom here and there. One that caught my eye read, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” Marie’s life has not always been easy but it is evident that each bump along the journey has shaped her to be a lady who is courageous, passionate and ready to fly. Speaking of flying... she loves it. Marie was blessed with four bright and handsome sons and she is the proverbial proud mother. All of her children are successful having an entrepreneurial mindset. Jeremy lives in Costa Rica and Marie visits yearly. Nathan lives in Marietta and is the father to her six grandchildren. Josh lives in Montana where he works from home and Michael makes his home near Canton and is involved in the family business with his father. Marie is also a writer and often incorporates both talents. Her mission statement is to inspire and encourage in all of her efforts, a goal that is easy for her. She finds ways to accomplish this whether she is photographing families, brides (she prefers small destination weddings), children, homes or businesses (commercial photography). It is most evident in her Wingdreamer work. Her “Layers of Life” and fine art are available for purchase on her website Commercial photography and other photography services can be found at You may meet Marie and purchase her work at Stonewall Creek Vineyards during the Wine Highway Weekends March 19th & 20th and March 26th & 27th. The future is bright for this gifted artist. A quote from Curly Girl Design that summarizes her life...”After all that, she was surprised to find that she still knew the words to the song in her heart and she began to sing along.” Now, I will allow Marie to share her story in her own words... (continued to page 10)

March 2016


Art Is Therapy


by Rennie Marie Neese

reativity flows through me naturally. It’s God given. I’m an artist! I’m a writer! I live outside the box. I color outside the lines. Sometimes honestly, I don’t even see the lines. Abraham Maslow, an American Psychologist said, “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.” I love to fly upside down in bi-planes and do stall spins in airplanes for fun! I’m not the pilot, I’m the passenger! Last year I experienced para-gliding in Costa Rica! Nothing like being in the air, with the birds and just the sound of the breeze. Life brims over with moments to savor and celebrate. It is during these moments that I feel fully awake and alive! Life also hits us with storms and winds that batter us and leave us weary, drifting in high waves with tattered sails. I’m in the midst of a stormy season. I am trying to see my way through the angry clouds that hover heavy, then let loose in downpours that threaten to drown hopes, dreams and my faith. Somehow, I dig deep into the spring of life within me that will allow creativity to flow, and not dry up, liked a cracked riverbed. The allowing of creative expression, even as stress threatens to evaporate the artistic flow, is therapy for me. I know it. When I am creative, I am fully alive, fully awake. As a child, dipping my fingers in paint and spreading colors all over the smooth paper, was amazing fun! At festivals I smiled as I watched the paint swirled in colors and patterns. Spin art, they called it. Finger painting was my favorite though. I could feel the paint on my fingers. It was my creation! Recently I’ve wanted, perhaps I need, to dip my fingers in paint and swirl it around, creating crazy loveliness on paper! I will! In finger painting, there is a focus on the process, not on the end result or the finished product. How freeing! Could


we perhaps live our lives like that? To revel in the joys of each moment, the colors in sunrises and sunsets, a sudden refreshing breeze on a stifling hot summer day, a twinkle in a strangers eye, a couple walking hand in hand, laughter through tears, sounds of rain on a tin roof, music that stirs our soul, a piece of artwork that moves us to tears, a gentle touch to soothe our pain, a word of encouragement to buoy our spirits... One of the aspects of creativity that I love so much is that it gives the child in me, permission to come out and play again. The girl who loves to giggle, to spin, to fly upside down in planes. The girl who loves to fly in her dreams! The girl who is stretched beyond her imagination by the struggles life brings, needs to play! Pablo Picasso said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Artists need to create art. It washes our soul. Our art then touches humanity... it soothes, buoys, instills joy, brings smiles and hope and washes the dust off of souls. As the struggles in my world have lingered longer than I feel I can handle at times, I’ve been creating a series called “Layers of Life.” A popular quote speaks of layers. I find Carl Sandburg’s quote simply profound. “Life is like an onion; you peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.” As I’ve been creating these images, so many examples of the layers in life have come to mind. Our atmosphere. The earth... the Sun...the ocean... a rainforest...even our skin, hair, cells and even our heart has layers. My desire is that these “Layers of Life” images will encourage and inspire you. That they cause joy, happiness and hope to spring up within. My hope and aim is for these images to be happily hanging on the walls of homes, offices, hotels, spas and resorts, hospice facilities and hospitals.

March 2016

March 2016


North Georgia Arts Guild Steve Kelley: lost and found by Jo Mitchell


ow many times have you gone to your garage, barn or attic and despaired of ever straightening out the tangle of things long past use or recognition? Hired someone to (please!) come and haul it away, or did you shut the door and forget


However, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Steve Kelley is a guy who would have a field day with your stuff. He would see an old drill or eggbeater, wheels from a rusted wagon, a box of unused clothespins, pieces of wood or metal from large, once useful machines and turn it all into a magic act. Mentally toss the bunch in the air at random and have them come together in the most unusual, imaginative and fun creations. Attractive, complicated things you are invited to examine. Your smile of anticipation is rewarded: It’s two-way art! Steve finds inspiration in the environment, the “space in life I’m occupying at the time, from junk yard items that scream for another life,” from messages he wants to pass along and from his wife Chevin. He’s not a trained artist, has no technical or mechanical background, hasn’t been building these “contraptions” for all that long and is “bewildered by it.” But he also has a plan: Steve says of his line of Good Made Things: “I attempt to intrigue, entertain and engage.” He hopes folks will touch his creations, but also hopes there’s something that “touches them”. He helps by attaching an “inspirational thought or scripture verse to it”.


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It may all go back to the third-grader whose dad put him together with a bar of ivory soap and a paring knife, brought home boxes of old car parts that Steve took apart and put together in an entertaining and Rube Goldberg fashion. As you might deduct, Steve never begins a piece with a specific idea, or “direction or finished result in mind”. For him, it’s ‘simple’: He views a bunch of parts and starts selecting one after another. Never knows where it’s going until it’s done. It’s also a creative release, allowing him to “let go of life’s tensions, knowing I’m using a skill I can take no credit for”, and which he finds quite “humbling”. What he hopes to accomplish? To put something in the hands of someone who will enjoy it as much as he enjoyed creating it. “I want them to touch it every time they walk by it.” He alludes to the owner of one of his pieces whom he says “starts every day with a cup of coffee and a spin of the wheel on “All Around the Lake”. This “delights” Steve. If people tell him they wish they could do that, he would be “delighted” to tell them: “you can do all things through God—you just have to put your hands and heart to the task.” You may contact Steve via email: pop@thegoodwoodleys. com or by phone: 615.336.9940.

March 2016


Let Me Introduce...


LeeAnn English

eeAnn Chapman English was raised the daughter of a craftsman and home builder. Her father Mike and real estate mom Myra raised a very capable daughter. It is easy to see that there isn’t much that LeeAnn can’t accomplish. Whether it is building a piece of furniture or helping build her own home, she can do it. She is a horse-trainer and attended college in Ohio before coming home to Georgia and moving to the mountains. The mountains where she met and married her husband Brent English. Before becoming pregnant with her first child LeeAnn English had never threaded a needle much less operated a sewing machine. Her husband’s grandmother Bessie Barnes, a very talented quilter, inspired LeeAnn and she began with cross-stitch and found it to be a great way to pass the time. When her brother announced he was getting married she decided to would try her hand at quilting and made a handmade quilt for her brother’s wedding gift. She chose one of the most difficult patterns to be her first project... the double wedding band. She tells me that she educated herself through YouTube videos about quilting and while it took almost a year to complete. The gift was completely handsewn and is still cherished today. When Bessie decided to hand down her wooden quilting frame due to her failing eyesight, she gave it to LeeAnn who wouldn’t take a million for it. She actually built her own quilting frames based on Bessie’s which are now being preserved. She secured her frames to the two story ceiling in her living room and devised a lowering mechanism so


March 2016

that in the daytime when she had time to quilt she could lower the quilt and work on it and then raise it when she was done. Pretty ingenious! Today she works up in the loft above the kitchen and it works out great. Another treasure from Grandma Bessie was a box of antique fabrics which LeeAnn has added to her quilts. LeeAnn’s quilts are either all hand sewn or pieced on a machine and then quilted by hand. Some of Bessie’s quilt tops have been finished by LeeAnn. She tends to stick with traditional patterns mostly, but has created her own patterns and made quilts from some more abstract patterns. LeeAnn credits Linda and Melanie at The Fabric Station in Mountain City, Georgia for helping her learn how to put colors together and for helping her along the way. She also enjoys shopping at JoAnn’s Fabrics in Gainesville, but first always tries to find what she needs locally. LeeAnn has created some specialty quilts; for instance she took her children’s artwork and printed it on fabric and made a quilt. She tried her hand at a t-shirt quilt and she is known for her baby puff quilt. Custom quilts are something LeeAnn enjoys. People usually tell her the colors they want and a style and size and she is given free range to complete the task. She likes to keep them in the loop as she selects fabric and so forth but enjoys the freedom to create something special for them. She is careful not to let this art become a business for she knows when that happens it will rob her of the pleasure she gets from making these family treasures. Fifteen years since making her first quilt, LeeAnn has sold many and it’s as easy as getting the word out that she has one done and it is sold! She works full time at Angel Medical Center’s ER these days. She loves her time at home with her husband and two boys Cody and Collin. She, Brent and the boys enjoy riding dirt bikes either in the woods or on the track. She also enjoys deer hunting and the meat always ends up on the table. This is an active family who enjoys life to the fullest. If you’ve always wanted an old-fashioned handmade quilt this is your chance. LeeAnne can be reached by calling 706.782.0150 or e-mailing Remember there are only 308 days till Christmas! Publisher’s note: Be sure to watch for LeeAnn’s handiwork to appear on our cover and a recount of our upcoming visit with Grandma Bessie Barnes in our September Foxfire issue.

March 2016


marketing in south Florida although Rabun is home to Ken. Most artists are not effective marketers and find it quite challenging to make a decent income from this work they love, that is where Ken comes in and where he has found his niche.


Mountain Made Arts offers a Home to the Art Community

ntroducing Mountain Made Arts to the community is a pleasure. This online art community will be up and running the first of April offering art for every budget from fine art and pottery to fiber art and fine crafts. The sites owner and manager, Kendall Rumsey brings a lifetime of art appreciation and an extensive marketing background to the art community. He has spent the past 30 years working in advertising and


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For the art enthusiast who is looking for the perfect painting to go above their mantle or piece of handblown glass to display or the side table to put it on shopping Mountain Made Arts from the comfort of their living room will be an exceptional alternative to spending hours on the road. It also offers the perfect opportunity to support local artists and the art community as a whole. For the artist, Mountain Made Arts offers an online gallery that is marketing for you 24/7. It is an artist community where your work is “on display� around the world. The consignment rates are competitive and fashioned to benefit you, the artist. Kendall realizes the work that goes into handcrafted art and looks forward to getting to know each artist and working to put local art into the homes across Northeast Georgia and beyond! To reach Kendall or to gain more information please e-mail or call 706.982.4891

March 2016



Arts Guild Has Storied Past, Imaginative Future by John Shivers


he hills and lakes and for miles around, artistic talent abounds in this enchanted corner of Georgia. Everywhere you look, artists of every description, background and medium can be found. This melting pot of creativity and originality is one of the major draws for the area. For both the creator of art as well as the art lover, this is definitely where it is! Just ask the one hundred or so regional artists and art enthusiasts who make up the North Georgia Arts Guild. All manner of art media, both decorative and functional, is reflected in the group’s membership. Aside from painting and drawing, NGAG artists excel in photography, etching, printmaking, fiber arts, jewelry, metalwork, leatherwork, pottery, folk art, glass, mosaics, basketry, wood work, musical instrument design, writing and sculpture. Whew! “Quite an impressive menu of talents.” It was in 1994 when the Clayton Woman’s Club utilized a Grassroots Grant to establish a non-profit arts organization with 20 charter members. The rest, as the old saying goes, is history. More than 20 years later, the Guild continues to celebrate the rich artistic heritage of the region and promote the arts in North Georgia. Their goal? To bring together new and experienced artists and people interested in art, while providing exhibition, educational and social opportunities. When asked why there is such a great art presence in Rabun County, Guild members cite the beauty of the region, which in turn begets beauty. Which in turn attracts those with creative DNA to settle and practice their various crafts. And practice those crafts they have. Members’ artwork can be seen and purchased locally. Come April 30th, the Guild will coordinate this year’s two-day “Celebrate Clayton” street festival, where many members will exhibit their work. Last year, the Guild’s signature summer art show moved from the Lake Rabun Pavilion to the Civic Center, where they will host the second annual “Painted Fern Festival of Art” on July 9th and 10th. NGAG’s “Art at the Diner” exhibit is on permanent loan to the Rabun County Civic Center. The Guild and its members care about the community they call home. Member artists routinely donate work for fundraisers such


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as “Rhapsody in Rabun”, “Paws 4 Life”, “Celebrate Clayton” and the “Foxfire Mountaineer Festival” and other special events. Each Christmas, members draw on their talent and creativity to decorate an art-themed tree for the “Festival of Trees” fundraiser at the Rabun County Civic Center, always considered to be the “most unique” tree. Guild membership is open to anyone interested in art; new artists, experienced artists and art enthusiasts. Dues are nominal – especially for all that you get. Simply log on to www., download the membership form, complete and return it to NGAG, P.O. Box 2014, Clayton, GA 30525. Or, you can simply show up on the third Thursday of every month for the group’s meeting, application in hand, and you’ll immediately be involved. Meetings are held in community room of the UGA Cooperative Extension Service at 184 South Main Street in Clayton. Meetings begin at 9:30 AM. Members are offered exhibition opportunities at local art festivals; may have a personal gallery on the Guild web site complete with biography, photos of their artwork and links to personal websites and have the opportunity to be selected for a “Featured Artist of the Month” article in Georgia Mountain Laurel magazine. In addition to the 10 monthly programs, which include informative, educational speakers and programs, Guild members also enjoy a members-only annual picnic and Christmas party. Despite an illustrious heritage, the North Georgia Arts Guild isn’t resting on past accomplishments. Beginning in 2015, a longtime goal was realized when the group established their art scholarship program. Through it, they will provide educational financial assistance to artistically-talented Rabun County high school seniors. Another dream the group is still working to achieve is a permanent physical presence in Clayton, where they can exhibit and sell members’ artwork, conduct workshops and hold their monthly meetings. All they need is an affordable, in-town location. In the meantime, art is happening in Northeast Georgia, because beauty gives rise to beauty and talent follows. It’s where it is!

March 2016


Rainy Day Workshop by Melissa Williams-Thomas


o much of my life is consumed with the same day to day routine. Wake up, get the kids ready for school, go to work, come home and cook dinner, help the kids with their homework, baths, and get ready for bed. The kids occupy most of their free time with electronics: video games, computers, cell phones etc. Recently, in my house, things have changed. I limit the amount of time on electronics and offer more time as a reward for good behavior (Such as doing chores without being told or going above and beyond on a task.). But that was not enough. I like having a clean house, but spending time with the kids is more important to me. One day, every week, is dedicated to family fun time. We play board games, paint, do crafts, watch movies, go geocaching or hiking. This week, while we painted, I asked the girls what is art. Emma (8 years old) said, “Art is something where you can create anything”. She went on to explain that there is no right or wrong way to do art, “you just do whatever and it is ok”. She went on to say, “Mona Lisa is very beautiful, even though she isn’t really smiling, she is using her fake smile, but it is ok.” You do not have to be artistically talented to paint with the kids, just have fun. The funding for art programs in schools is limited. The core subjects; like math, English and science are taught daily; where art is seen more as a secondary item and is rotated with physical education, music and technology. I am in no way an expert on this subject, but there are so many developmental benefits to art. At a young age, children develop fine motor skills by holding a crayon or a paintbrush. Safety scissors help young children develop the dexterity that will be needed later on for handwriting. Stringing beads helps with hand-eye coordination. I love asking a child to describe what is going on in a drawing or painting. Most often, they will tell you the most imaginative tale, which helps with their verbal skills. Art opens the doors of imagination. Children need to be exposed to the endless opportunities available. The creativity of artwork expressed at a young age leads children to think outside the box which promotes problem-solving skills for later in life. Taking children to an art museum is an unbelievable experience. To see the mystery and wonder in their eye is priceless. One of my favorite childhood memories was when my dad surprised me with tickets to see Claude Monet’s Water Lilies exhibition in San Francisco. I had always adored his work prior to this, but once I actually saw these oil paintings in person, it was life


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changing. The sheer size of these paintings dwarfed me; some are 6’ 6 3/4” X 13’ 11 1/4”. When standing face to face with these magnificent works of art, I can remember getting lost in the brush strokes. I felt a flood of emotions; from sorrow and despair, to joy and elation. Art has a way of consuming you. Theater is another great way to get children involved in the arts. Learning the lines improves reading and memorization skills. Being on the stage builds confidence and imagination. As a child, I was very shy and picked on through most of my elementary school years. The theater was my safe haven. I could get on the stage and be whatever I wanted. I sang, danced and felt like a star. Even attending theatrical productions great for kids. Seeing “Into the Woods” on Broadway when I was around 12 was AMAZING! There is something so special and magical watching a live performance. I do not claim to be an authority on the arts or parenting for that matter. I just know that the time we have with our children is limited. They grow up too fast. Put down the cell phone and get involved. Interact with your children. Find out who they are and give them the hand of encouragement. Expose them to new and different things and ideas. Take the time to embrace their needs. I promise you, they will become much more productive and stable adults. Would you rather your kids have memories of a spotless home or the time you spent together? As for me, I would like to think our time was better spent in each other’s company.

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CLAYTON Shop • Dine • Explore 22

March 2016

On Stage Our Community Theaters


sn’t it nice to go to a theater and enjoy a live performance full of local talent? Everything becomes quiet as we await the natural actors to take the stage and begin their enactment. When did community theater first begin to evolve? There isn’t an exact date as to when “community theater” became a hit. We do know there were similar theatrics during the Revolutionary War times. The first shows weren’t exactly called “community theater”. It graduated over time; before it got its name it was called other things such as “Amateur Theatre” or “Art Theatre”. One thing is certain; lots of souls way back in the 1800s were seeking this form of gifted entertainment. It’s amazing to look back on the culture of this art and find our ancestors were appreciative of various talents. When was the last time you visited a local community theater? If it’s been awhile or if you haven’t gone you should fix that. You could make a point to see a show that suits your heart. Maybe

you could catch a performance that makes an impact on an important topic that you are familiar with. There are many engaging themes out there just waiting for you. If you are looking for quality entertainment, then community theater is for you! What do you know about them? Most community theaters include volunteers that dedicate their own valuable time to help produce quality family entertainment. These volunteers are invaluable because of their dedication. The donated time put into these theaters contribute to the cultural enhancement of the public. Most volunteers find it especially rewarding to participate in getting involved in their community. Do you have an appreciation for the arts? Do you enjoy seeing creative talents come together to expand into something beautiful? From comedy to drama or even musicals, community theater is all about live entertainment that develops skills such as strengthening the community’s essence or applying creativity to explore artistic freedom. Feel like you got some undiscovered talent? Many of these theaters post auditions on their websites which are open to the public. Check it out! Don’t feel like engaging via participation? Just come see a show! The audience is always


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appreciated! I strongly encourage you to go see a show if you haven’t already - you don’t know what you’re missing! Most community theaters are nonprofit so there are also various ways to contribute. Below is a list of some local community theaters, including websites and phone numbers to call if you would like to inquire about productions, tickets or times. We have prepared a list of some suggested shows, but you can always call to find out about other scheduling or productions that are coming soon. Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts Overlook Theatre Company See “Treasure Island” March 18th. Suitable for all ages. 1028 Georgia Road, Franklin, NC 28734 886.273.4615 Blue Ridge Community Theater 2591 East First St, Blue Ridge, GA 30513 706.632.9223 - The Peacock Playhouse If you love listening to the blues, then check out Mac Arnold a nd Plate Full O’ Blues on March 12th Doesn’t everyone love Annie? To see Annie mark your calendar for June 3rd! 301 Church St, Hayesville, NC 28904 828.389.2787 - Habersham Community Theater Bring the kids to see Shrek, the Musical; July 21st 1370 Washington St, Clarkesville, GA 30523 70.-839.1315 - The North Georgia Community Players Enjoy a fabulous dinner at the Dillard House then make room for “The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde” this begins Friday March 11th 892 Franklin St, Dillard GA 30537 706.212.2500 -

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Mountain Happenings - March and April, 2016 March 19th - 20th, 26th - 27th Spring Wine Highway Weekend Various Northeast Georgia Counties Info: 706.878.9463 STEPHENS COUNTY March 12th and the second Saturday of the month Second Saturday Historic Downtown Toccoa Info: 706.886.2132 March 21st and the third Monday of the month Career Coach Stephens County Library, Toccoa Info: Development.htm April 28th Taste of Toccoa Downtown Toccoa Info: 706.282.3309 The Schafer Center Toccoa Info: March 12th; April 9th Southern Gospel Jubilee Concert March 18th The Young Irelanders April 29th Rhapsody in Bluegrass Annie Moses Band HABERSHAM COUNTY March 10th; April 11th Free Gardening Seminar Clarkesville Public Library Community Room, Clarkesville Info: 706.839.7469; 706.754.4278 March 10th - 13th; 17th - 20th “Always....Patsy Cline” Habersham Community Theatre Clarkesville Info: March 19th Dancing with the Stars for Hope Habersham Central High School Auditorium, Mt Airy Info: 706.776.3406


March 19th BE PREPARED 5K Lake Russell Recreation Area Mt. Airy Info: 706.499.9438 March 19th Bethlehem Baptist Church’s Spring Fling 5k Pitts Park, Clarkesville Info: 706.754.6570

April 11th - 12th White County Celebrity Golf Tournament Innsbruck Golf Course Helen Info: 706.878.2111 April 16th Spring Bierfest Helen Festhalle, Helen Info: 706.878.1908

April 14th - 16th Cornelia Apple Blossom BBQ Festival Downtown Cornelia Info: 706.778.8585

April 22nd - 23rd Corvair Club Annual Meeting Helendorf River Inn Helen Info: 229.291.0567


Smithgall Woods Cleveland Info: 706.878.3087

March 1st and each Tuesday and Friday through August Bingo Helen Festhalle, Helen Info: 706.878.1908 March 4th 18th Annual Taste of the Town 2016 Diamonds & Denim Masters Hall at Unicoi Lodge Helen Info: 706.865.5356 March 10th 2016 White County Career Expo The Bridge Church Cleveland Info: 404.272.4470 March 10th “Shades of the Mountains” Art Exhibit Opening & Reception Helen Arts & Heritage Center Helen Info: 706.878.3933 March 12th Cultural Landscape Study Hardman Farm, Sautee Info: 706.878.1077 March 13th and the second Sunday of the month Reserve Wine Tasting Yonah Mountain Vineyards Cleveland Info: 706.878.5522 March 26th 27th Annual Trout Tournament Chattahoochee River, Helen Info: 706.878.1908

March 2016

March 5th and the First Saturday of the Month First Visit Tours March 19th Flies and Fly Water April 16th Wilderness First Aid April 23rd Canines for a Cure April 23rd Habersham Relay for Life Info: 706.754.4113 April 30th GPS Basics Sautee Nacoochee Center Sautee Info: March 1st; 8th; 15th Appalachian Dance & Rhythm Class March 12th - 13th “The Secret Garden” North Georgia Zoo & Farm Cleveland Info: 706.348.7279 March 5th - 6th Bouncing Babies March 12th; April 12th Mommy and Me at the Zoo

March 20th and the third Sunday of the Month Behind the Scenes Tour March 24th - 27th Easter Festival March 28th - April 3rd April 5th - 10th Springtime Festival April 29th - May 1st Fiber, Farm & Art Festival BabyLand General Hospital Cleveland Info: 706.865.2171 March 12th St. Patrick’s Celebration March 19th Magical Easter Extravaganza April 16th Cabbage Patch Tea Party RABUN COUNTY March 5th and the First Saturday of the Month Grist Mill Visits Hambidge Center, Rabun Gap Info: 706.746.5718 March 11th - 13th; 18th - 20th “The Importance of Being Earnest” North Georgia Community Players Dillard Playhouse, Dillard Info: March 17th North Georgia Arts Guild Program Kimberly Adams - Glass Artist UGA Extension Rabun County Conference Room, Clayton Info: March 24th 12th Annual Easter Egg Hunt Rabun County Recreation Department Tiger Info: 706.782.4600 March 25th - 27th Easter Weekend Celebration River Vista RV Park Dillard Info: 706.746.2722 March 26th 2016 Easter Egg Hunt Fun at the Farm Day Hillside Orchard Farms Lakemont Info: 1.800.262.9429; 706.782.2776

April 30th and each Saturday Simply Homegrown Farmers’ Market Clayton City Hall Complex Clayton Info: April 30th - May 1st Celebrate Clayton Downtown Clayton Info:

March 5th; April 16th US Coast Guard Auxiliary Safe Boating Classes Old 911 Center on Jack Dayton Circle Young Harris Info: 706.896.3167; 404.304.7068 Vino and Vibes Hightower Creek Vineyards Hiawassee Info: 706.896.8963

Rabun Arena Tiger Info: 706.212.0452

March 19th Raven and Red March 26th Monica Spears and Derek Worth

March 12th - 13th; April 16th Junior Rodeo

April 2nd Hope Griffin Duo

March 18th - 20th Ranch Roping

April 9th Rob Alwine

April 9th March of Dimes Barrel Race

April 16th Teddy Baker

April 17th Barrel Racing & Roping

April 23rd Mike Brookshire

April 23rd - 24th Wateree Cutting Horse Show April 29th - 30th Carolina Youth Rodeo

Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds Hiawassee Info: 706.896.4191

Tallulah Gorge State Park Tallulah Falls Info: 706.754.7981

March 5th Josh Turner Concert

March 6th; April 17th Sunrise Hike

March 12th Casting Crowns in Concert

March 12th; April 16th Hidden Gem Hiking Series

April 9th Zerbini Family Circus

March 23rd; April 21st; 23rd Full Moon Suspension Bridge Hike March 24th Sunset Easter Egg Hunt April 2nd - 3rd; 9th - 10th Whitewater Watching Hike April 22nd Full Moon Paddle TOWNS COUNTY March 5th and each Saturday Winery Tour Crane Creek Vineyards Young Harris Info: 706.379.1235

April 22nd - 23rd Airstream & Tin Can Tourist April 29th - 30th BMW Motorcycle Rally ArtWorks Artisan Centre Hiawassee Info: 706.896.0932 March 5th Wine, Women & Watercolor March 12th; 26th Transparent Watercolor for Beginners March 14th Rubber Stamping and Beyond - Cards March 15th Painting with Paula March 19th Glass Painting Basics

March 2016

Young Harris College Young Harris Info: 706.379.5114, March 3rd Five Grands Fantasia March 18th The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet March 29th Concert Band March 31st 9 String Theory April 1st - 2nd Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival April 5th Guitar Ensemble April 8th - 9th Acapalooza April 9th - 10th The Aliens April 12th Percussion Ensemble Concert Rollins Planetarium Young Harris College Young Harris Info: 706.379.5195 March 18th “Stars: The Powerhouses of the Universe” April 1st “Magic Tree House: Space Mission” April 1st “Skies Over Georgia” April 22nd, 29th “Led Zeppelin Cosmic Concert” CLAY COUNTY, NC March 4th and each Friday Music Night Eagle Fork Vineyards Hayesville Info: 828.389.8466 March 26th Easter Egg Hunt Clay County Recreation Park Hayesville Info: 877.389.3704 continued


Mountain Happenings - March and April, 2016 Peacock Performing Arts Center Hayesville Info: 828.389.2787

March 12th Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’ Blues April 8th - 10th; 15th - 17th The Odd Couple April 23rd Songwriters Showcase 14 John C. Campbell Folk School Brasstown Info: 828.837.2775; 800.FOLKSCH March 4th Red Haired Mary Concert March 11th Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble March 12th; 26th April 9th, 23rd Contra & Square Dance

April 10th Horse Show Macon County Fairgrounds Franklin Info: Smoky Mountain Center for Performing Arts Franklin Info: 866.273.4615; 828.524.1598

March 19th Go Tell It On The Mountain 5K Otto Community Building, Otto Info: 828.342.5047

Martin Lipscomb Performing Arts Center Highlands Info: 828.526.9047 March 4th - 5th Paul Taylor Dancers March 5th MET Opera: Puccini’s Manon Lescaut - New Production

March 12th Natural Bodybuilding Physique Second Annual Championship

March 27th Bolshoi Ballet: Spartacus

April 8th A Tribute to the King starring Travis LeDoyt


April 30th James Rogers

March 11th - 13th; 18th - 20th Highlands Cashiers Players Mystery Dinner Theater

April 6th The North Carolina Symphony

March 25th David Kaynor Concert

April 23rd Emmylou Harris

March 5th Hotel California: A Salute to the Eagles

March 18th - 19th Treasure Island, The Classic Adventure

March 12th Empty Bowls 2016


April 2nd Car Show for Operation Christmas Child Franklin High School Franklin Info: 828.371.7503

April 10th Compassion International presents: The Time of My Life Tour

March 2016

April 2nd MET Opera: Puccini’s Madame Butterfly April 10th Bolshoi Ballet: DON QUIXOTE (Live) April 16th MET Opera: Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux April 30th MET Opera: Elektra

Discover Towns County & Lake Chatuge

March 2016


“Celebrate Clayton” Is Coming to Town! By John Shivers


ou know it’s spring in Rabun County, when bright blooms inspired by warmer weather adorn the landscape, and a new crop of tents and people sprout up from the asphalt on Clayton’s Main Street. Nothing proclaims the return of kinder, gentler temperatures more loudly than the annual “Celebrate Clayton” festival. This year’s edition on April 30th and May 1st is the seventeenth annual congregation of art and food and visitors galore. Saturday’s hours are 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday hours from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM There is no admission charge. The street festival, set amid the spectacular backdrop of mountains, is avidly anticipated by vacationers, visitors and locals alike. Many plan their last weekend in April around this event. It’s a chance to enjoy and purchase unique art and crafts, and have a great time in the process. This year, for the first time, coordination of the entire event is under the solo auspices of the North Georgia Arts Guild. Originally conceived by the Clayton Downtown Merchants, last year the mantle passed to the Clayton Rotary Club and the Arts Guild. This year the Guild will assume total responsibility, intent that this phenomenal weekend will continue to provide the entire community with a family-friendly, fun and exciting art experience. Preparations are being made to accommodate some 100 exhibitors in the Artist Market on Main Street. Within the tents lining Main Street, you will meet lots of new artists and fine crafters from near and far, as well as old favorites who have participated through the years. While shopping, treat yourself to breakfast or lunch - there will be a great variety of food offerings throughout the festival. And when you need a break, pull up a chair on the shady Rock House lawn and enjoy local musicians, both new and old favorites, who will entertain both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Feedback is always solicited from exhibitors at the end of each festival and scrutinized by organizers, who strive to make each year’s show better than the last. Exhibitors have consistently cited the professionalism and organization of the show, recognizing the Boy Scouts who assist with set-up and break-down as well as a plethora of other tasks and assignments.


March 2016

One suggestion being adopted this year is spreading food booths throughout the area, instead of limiting them to a single location in the “food court”. Also, more varied menu items will be available including breakfast, vegetarian options, BBQ, kettle corn, ice cream and more. New this year is the high school art exhibit and competition, open to all Rabun County art students, in Veteran’s Park on Saturday. Awards will be presented for “Best in Show” and “Judges’ Choice”. The art students will also staff the Kid’s Art Corner, offering a fun art experience. A birds-eye view of the “Celebrate Clayton” landscape during past events reveals a downtown teeming with young and old, couples, families and singles. Overheard conversations wafting throughout the downtown, from Georgia Power on the south end to the post office on the north, provide a glimpse into which exhibitors are most popular with festival-goers, and where to grab the best eats. Over all, the thousands of people who come through the festival at some point throughout the two days, are testimony to the caliber and quality that has consistently been “Celebrate Clayton”. It also hints at the difficult task festival judges face as they determine which artist will be declared “Best in Show”, and which five will received “Judges’ Choice” awards for a single outstanding piece within their booths. This annual showing is made possible by a wide range of sponsors besides the North Georgia Arts Guild, including (but not limited to) the Clayton Downtown Development Authority, Clayton Merchants and Business Association, Nancy and Vince Skilling, City of Clayton, The Clayton Tribune, SKY 96.3, Georgia Mountain Laurel Magazine, Happy Jack Graphics, Harry Norman Realtors, Reeves Hardware, Rocky and Kathy Ford, WarWoman Ventures, Rabun County Civic Center, Duvall Automotive, Mountain Trophies, Tugalo Gas Company, Rabun County Bank, Clayton Printing and Rabun Flooring. For additional information on specifics of this year’s “Celebrate Clayton” log on to

March 2016


Bon Appétit by Scarlett Cook

s we eagerly await spring – I know I am ready for some warm, dry weather – Easter comes early this year. Although it may still be cold outside, inside everyone is ready for at least somewhat warmer weather. This menu has several dishes that can be made in advance so that you can make sunrise and / or regular church services. Some are old favorites and some will be new to you. Hope you enjoy and don’t forget to hide the eggs in easy and hard to find places so that the children are entertained long enough for you to sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee with your dessert.


Raisin Sauce 3/4 Cup firmly packed brown sugar 3/4 Cup plain flour 1/4 Cup plus 2 tablespoons vinegar 2 1/2 Cups water 3 Tablespoons yellow mustard 3/4 Cup raisins Combine sugar and flour in saucepan. Add other ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer at least 30 minutes or until mixture thickens.

Tomato Aspic Serves 4 1 Envelope unflavored gelatin 1/4 Cup cold water 2 Cups tomato juice* 1 Medium onion, sliced 1/2 Cup sliced celery 1 Teaspoon vinegar 1/2 Teaspoon tarragon 3 Whole black peppercorns 2 Whole bay leaves 1/4 Teaspoon salt Leaf lettuce Mayonnaise

Baked Ham with Raisin Sauce Serves 10 – 12 Ham 1 (6 1/2 – 7 pound) uncooked ham Whole cloves 2 12-Ounce cans Coke 2 – 3 Teaspoons ground cloves 1 – 2 Teaspoons black pepper Preheat oven to 325˚. Score fat on ham in a diamond shaped design. Stud with whole cloves. Place ham fat side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Pour Coke over ham and sprinkle with ground cloves and pepper. Bake ham uncovered for 3 – 3 1/2; basting frequently. Remove ham from pan and let cool completely. Slice to serve with raisin sauce.

Soften gelatin in water and set aside. Combine tomato juice, onion, celery, vinegar, tarragon, peppercorns, bay leaves and salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Strain mixture and add gelatin. Pour into greased 8” x 8” dish and chill until firm. Cut into squares and serve on lettuce with a dollop of mayonnaise. * For a spicier aspic use 2 cups of V8 or bloody Mary mix.


March 2016

Baked Stuffed Squash Serves 8 8 Medium sized squash 8 Slices of cooked bacon, crumbled 1/2 Cup toasted finely chopped pecans 1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley or 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley 1/3 Cup margarine 1/4 Cup half-and-half 1 Small onion, minced 1/4 Teaspoon salt 1/4 Teaspoon pepper 2/3 Cup bread crumbs Parmesan cheese Preheat oven to 350˚. Wash squash and cook in boiling salted water to cover 10 – 12 minutes or until squash is tender, but still firm. Drain and let cool slightly. Trim stems from squash and cut in half lengthwise. Remove pulp and reserve. Be sure to leave a shell to stuff. Combine bacon, pecans, parsley, margarine, half-andhalf, onion, salt, and bread crumbs. Place shells in 13” x 9” greased baking dish. Fill shells with stuffing mix; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 25 minutes. Baked Potato Puffs Serves 4 – 6 Cheese Biscuits Makes 1 1/2 dozen

4 Cups cooked, mashed potatoes ¼ Cup melted margarine 2 Egg yolks 1/2 Teaspoon salt 1/8 Teaspoon dried mustard 1/4 Teaspoon pepper 1 Egg, beaten

1 Cup plain flour 1 1/2 Teaspoons baking powder 1/4 Teaspoon salt 1/4 Cup solid shortening 1/2 Cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese 1/3 Cup milk

Preheat oven to 400˚. Combine potatoes, margarine, egg yolks, salt, mustard and pepper in mixing bowl and beat at medium speed with mixer until mixture is smooth. Shape into 2” balls. Flatten balls to 1/2” thickness and place on greased baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg and bake for 12 minutes or until browned. For a pretty presentation, the potatoes can be put into a pastry bag with a large star tip and piped onto the baking sheet and brushed with beaten egg. Bake for 12 minutes or until browned.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening and cheese until mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Add milk and stir until moistened. Turn dough out on floured surface and knead 3 or 4 times. Roll dough to 1” thickness and cut into 2” rounds. Place biscuits on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake 10 – 12 minutes.

March 2016



Bon Appétit continued from page 35 Coconut Pie 2 Tablespoons margarine, softened 1 1/4 Cups sugar 2 Eggs 1/4 Cup half-and-half 1 Teaspoon vanilla 1 1/2 Cups coconut 9” Pie shell, baked for 5 minutes Whipped topping 1 Kiwi cut into rounds Preheat oven to 300˚. Cream butter and gradually add sugar beating well. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Stir in half-and-half, vanilla and coconut. Pour into pie shell. Bake for 55 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean. Cool before chilling. To serve cut into wedges and top with whipped topping and slices of kiwi.


Pineapple Pound Cake Cake 1 Cup vegetable oil 3 Cups sugar 6 Eggs 3 Cups plain flour

March 2016

1 Teaspoon baking powder 1/8 Teaspoon salt 3/4 Cup of crushed pineapple, NOT drained 1 Teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350˚. Combine oil and sugar. Add eggs on at a time; beating well after each addition. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to oil mixture beating well. Stir in pineapple and vanilla. Pour into a well greased and floured 10” tube pan. Bake for 1 hour and 25 minutes. Invert pan and let cool 10 – 15 minutes and then remove from pan and let cool completely. Pour glaze over cake. Pineapple Glaze 2 Tablespoons sugar 1 1/2 Teaspoons cornstarch 1/2 Cup pineapple juice Combine sugar and cornstarch in saucepan. Stir well and add juice. Stir to combine. Cook over medium heat until thickened and mixture is translucent. Cool.

March 2016


Uncorked – From Vine to Wine 11th Annual Wine Highway Weekend


by Carla Fackler of Stonewall Creek Vineyards

he Winegrowers Association of Georgia (WAG) will present their 11th Annual Wine Highway Weekend on two weekends—Saturday, March 19th / Sunday, March 20th and Saturday, March 26th / Sunday, March 27th. The event will feature a record 21 farm wineries with tasting rooms across North Georgia. Wine Highway Passports, which include a souvenir tasting glass, will be for sale ($40) both weekends at all participating farm wineries. The Passport will include a farm winery map with tasting room locations and a list of WAG affiliate members who support the North Georgia wine industry. Look for WAG affiliate tasting rooms that will also be open for the event. Plan your wine adventure The 21 farm wineries stretch across eight counties in North Georgia Wine Country, so decide on your first stop, buy your passport, pick out your souvenir tasting glass and hit the road. It’s time to find out what makes Georgia Wine so special! As you travel our winding mountain roads, be safe and take your time. Some tasters invite a non-drinking friend as designated driver or hire a limousine or van. Most of the tasting rooms will offer food samplings and some will feature music. So, sit back and stay a while. You might take a stroll through a vineyard or two. March is a quiet time in our North Georgia vineyards. Pruning is over for the most part and the vines are awakening from their winter sleep and beginning their march to harvest with Bud Break. (Bring your passport and tasting glass each day you plan to taste.) See (affiliate members), or county Chamber of Commerce websites for local dining, hotel or bed and breakfast accommodations and activities. In Rabun County, see also North Georgia Grape Varieties Most North Georgia vineyards grow European Vitis vinifera and French-American hybrid grape varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Chardonnay, Viognier, Petit Manseng, Tannat, Tourgia Nacional, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Sangiovese, Traminette, Seyval Blanc and Vidal Blanc. Some also grow the Norton grape, long considered an American variety but recent DNA testing “suggests” a French-American hybrid. Most of these grapes are destined for dry wines. Some wineries also offer sweet wines, with the majority made from the Muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia), native to the Southeast. In fact, Georgia (South Georgia that is!) leads the world in the production of Muscadine grapes. Winegrowers Association of Georgia All of the participating farm wineries are members of WAG, a non-profit corporation that was formed in 2002 to promote and


market Georgia wine and to facilitate research in Georgia on viticulture (growing of grapes) and oenology (making of wine). WAG membership requires either a minimum planting in Georgia of one acre of vinifera or French-American hybrid grapes or a minimum of 500 cases of wine produced annually from Georgiagrown vinifera or French-American hybrids. Mike Brown, who assumed the WAG presidency in February, has seen the wine industry experience “tremendous growth over the last four years, especially in North Georgia. To our organization alone, we have added eight new wineries during that time,” he said. Mike recalls that the “Wine Highway Weekend started as a way for visitors to tour the member properties and have the opportunity to fully enjoy not only the great wines, but the different experience each property offers.” At the first event 11 years ago, seven farm wineries participated from three counties, Lumpkin, Rabun and White, with an average of 350 visitors. He notes, “As WAG membership increased, event visitation increased to an average high of 1,500. This success caused WAG to hold the event over two weekends and allow visitors to comfortably visit all of our member properties while having a more enjoyable and relaxed experience.” He points out, “During the weekdays in between the highway weekends, many WAG properties are open and will gladly accept your passport. Please check the hours and days of operation of the farm wineries at “We look forward to seeing you during the event and know you will enjoy a great experience! Please remember to use a designated driver to insure a great and most importantly safe time!” Mike Brown, WAG President Although WAG is the largest winegrowers’ organization based in North Georgia, there are other farm wineries located in the area with sponsored events and activities during the year. Time to Discover Georgia Wine!

March 2016

Visit North Georgia Wine Country! Fannin County Serenberry Vineyards 450 Tipton Trail, Morganton Gilmer County Cartecay Vineyards 5704 Clear Creek Road, Ellijay Chateau Meichtry Vineyards 1862 Orchard Lane, Talking Rock

Pickens County Fainting Goat Vineyards & Winery 201 Vineyard Way, Jasper Sharp Mountain Vineyards 110 Rathgeb Trail, Jasper Rabun County 12 Spies Vineyards & Farm 550 Black Branch Road, Rabun Gap

Union County Odom Springs Vineyards 637 Odom Road, Blairsville Paradise Hills Resort & Spa 366 Paradise Road, Blairsville White County CeNita Vineyards 591 Dock Dorsey Road, Cleveland

Ellijay River Vineyards 111 River Birch Lane, Ellijay

Stonewall Creek Vineyards 323 Standing Deer Lane, Tiger

Habersham Vineyards & Winery 7025 South Main Street, Helen

Engelheim Vineyards 127 Lakeview Road, Ellijay

Tiger Mountain Vineyards 2592 Old Hwy 441 South, Tiger

Serenity Cellars 265 Laurel Ridge Road, Cleveland

Lumpkin County Cavender Creek Vineyards 3610 Cavender Creek Road, Dahlonega Montaluce Winery 946 Via Montaluce, Dahlonega (GPS – 501 Hightower Church Road)

Towns County Crane Creek Vineyards 916 Crane Creek Road, Young Harris Hightower Creek Vineyards 7150 Canaan Drive, Hiawassee

March 2016

The Cottage Vineyard & Winery 5050 US-129 North, Cleveland Yonah Mountain Vineyards 1717 GA-255 South, Cleveland


The Family Table I by Lorie Thompson

love to cook! It provides me with great satisfaction to provide healthy and nutritious meals to my family. I take pride in serving them food that they enjoy. Meal-time is family time. No phones are allowed at the table. Calls and text are unanswered while we enjoy conversation with each other. Supper time is the one time of the day when I have the undivided attention of my family. Cooking an evening meal for your family can be low stress and enjoyable. Understanding basic cooking techniques and using ingredients that are on-hand make the difference in the time required and the stress level of preparing a meal. Two of my favorite quick and easy cooking techniques are oven-roasting and pan-frying. Oven roasting vegetables is my favorite winter-time cooking method. Once the weather warms  up, I will take the same basic technique to the BBQ grill, but for cold weather the oven works great. Asparagus is a perfect vegetable for oven roasting. Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. If your oven has a convection or a roast setting, use it. If not, use a regular bake setting.  I wash the asparagus, trim the tough ends and dry it off with a paper towel. This step is important! 


March 2016

Any vegetable you are going to roast NEEDS TO BE DRY! Place the asparagus in a bowl or on a plate and give it a drizzle of olive oil. Place asparagus in an oven-proof pan and sprinkle with salt. I like crushed red pepper, too. Place your pan in the oven and let it cook until the asparagus is starting to look wilted. In my oven it takes about 20 – 25 minutes. Pull it out and toss it. Place it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Pull it out and give it a good sprinkle of cheese. I use parmesan. I have also used goat cheese, Cheddar or whatever cheese I had on hand. Place it back in the oven for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Ta-da! Roasted asparagus!  Guess what? Now you know how to cook oven roasted tomatoes, oven roasted broccoli, oven roasted zucchini, etc… Once you know the technique the list of items to be cooked is endless! There are tips and tricks that I can share with you on seasonings of different vegetable dishes, but the concept is the same.  As you can see in the photo, I had two tomatoes that needed to be eaten so I threw them in to the pan, too.  Cooking is more about great technique and using what you have on hand rather than living with a recipe book. Recipes are great and have their place. I love cook books. I read them as though I am reading a novel, but I cook my nightly meals out of what is on sale at the grocery store that week and what is in season in the garden.  Pan-frying a steak is easy and delicious. Lay your steak out while you are preparing your asparagus and allow it to come to room temperature. Sprinkle with garlic salt or use plain salt if you do not like garlic. NO other seasoning at this point. I have a carbon steel pan that I use for cooking steak on the range top. You can use a cast iron skillet just as well. Turn your vent fan on high. Get that pan HOT!  Put the steak on  when the asparagus is in the oven for the last round.  Do not use any oil or butter on the cast iron. When you see smoke starting to come off of your pan, put your steak on.  DO NOT MOVE IT!. Once it hits the pan, let it be.  Wait at least two minutes. When your steak is ready to turn it will lift up very easily. If it appears to be stuck, leave it alone until it will release with little or no effort. I work toward two minutes on each side. Depending on the heat of your burner, it could take longer. Lift very gently. When it is coming free easily, flip your steak.  Cook two minutes on the other side. I add seasoning at this time along with butter. I use Montreal Steak Seasoning and 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter to each steak. I  like small steaks and cook them medium rare, so about two minutes per side plus one more turn to melt the butter will cook them to that temperature. If your steak is thicker, it may take two flips or four minutes per side to bring your steak to medium. If you want a rare steak you can add it after the first two minutes or take if off sooner.  You may have to experiment to get it just right for your stove top, your pan and the temperature you enjoy, but the basic technique is the same: Salt / garlic salt your meat. Bring to

room temperature. HOT cast iron or steel pan. Add steak and DO NOT MOVE until the steak will easily release from the pan. Add butter and seasonings after you have turned the steak and have both sides really brown. Remove steak from pan and allow to rest for a few minutes before serving. Add the melted butter from the pan to the steak. Enjoy! 

Lorie Thompson is a native of Rabun County and has spent many years in the Real Estate business in Northeast Georgia. She presently works at RE/MAX of Rabun in Clayton, Georgia. Lorie is well known for her expertise in the kitchen and we are pleased that she agreed to share some of her knowledge with us.

March 2016


The Struggle Of Prayer 501 prayer article

by John Hutcheson, Jr.


hy is prayer such a struggle for many, perhaps most, Christians? Why does it so easily slip our minds? How is it that we can go several days without even thinking about the fact that we haven’t taken time to spend quality time with God in prayer? I’m not talking about praying at meal time or a quick one-liner when we are in the middle of something challenging and need God’s help. I am talking about quality time alone with God. Some years ago, I came up with this definition of prayer: Prayer is an act of worship whereby fallen man communicates with a Holy God, acknowledging his dependence upon Him. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing”. That gives us an idea of just how important and how big a role prayer ought to play in our everyday lives. Why then does it so often fall by the wayside? There are many reasons, but for our purposes here, I would like to highlight six specific reasons many Christians struggle to pray as we should.

Too Self-Dependent I am convinced the primary reason people fail to pray as they should is they fail to recognize how much they need God. They fail to recognize they are dependent on Him. And by default, they are depending upon themselves, trying to accomplish things – which may be good – in their own strength. Jesus said in John 15:5, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” That means anything we do in our own wisdom and strength will not have any lasting value. I don’t think


March 2016

any of us would admit verbally, “I am seeking to live life without God’s help.” But every day you don’t spend time in prayer with God, you are living life in your own strength. It’s as though you are saying, “Lord I don’t need you.” The reality is we desperately need God’s help to navigate life in a way that reflects His glory!

Too Busy This is likely the most cited excuse for not having a regular prayer time. However, if I knew and lived in light of how much I needed God, time wouldn’t be an issue. We are instructed in Ephesians 5:16 to “[make] the best use of the time” – time that would otherwise be thrown away or wasted. Instead, we are to turn that potentially wasted time into time that is spiritually useful to us and others. Wouldn’t we all agree that prayer is spiritually useful to us and others? Busyness is often one of the greatest enemies of the spiritual discipline of prayer. We can get so caught up with ideas, goals and plans that we neglect time with God. Remember, none of us has any more or any less time than anyone else. We all have twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Those who pray, do so because they prioritize it.

No Answer Let’s face it. We all hate putting forth the effort, spending time, energy and money toward something and not seeing any results in light of all we did. We tend to think of it as a waste, and frustration often easily creeps in. Sometimes we fail to pray because we prayed for something specifically and we didn’t see an answer. “What’s the use?” we conclude. But it’s at these times we must remember several things. First, remember the promise in Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” God may be testing our resolve, our faithfulness, our level of commitment. Second, remember just because we don’t see our answer doesn’t mean God hasn’t answered. His answer may be different than what we were praying. Third, remember God may simply be saying “wait.” The timing may not be right. A pastor said it this way: If the request is wrong, God says, “No.” If the timing is wrong, God says, “Slow.” If you are wrong, God says, “Grow.” But if the request is right, the timing is right and you are right, God says, “Go.” And finally, remember God knows what is best. “His way is perfect,” says Psalm 18:30. Our praying must always be submitted to His perfect and good will.

righteousness and majesty and an exercise to conform your desires and purposes to His will and glory.” Ask yourself these questions: Why am I asking God to do this? Is it for my selfexaltation or for His glory? Is it for my own self-interest (what is best for me) or am I thinking of how this can help others? Will this help me grow spiritually? What is my motivation in taking this time to pray? Is it to check it off my list of things to do today or is it because I need God’s help and grace?

Easily Distracted We could probably fill several pages, almost without thinking too hard, with things that are a distraction to praying. How many times have you been well-meaning and began to pray to God in the quietness of the moment and the next thing you know, your mind is a thousand miles away focusing on the things you have to do? And all of a sudden, you remember, “I was praying a little while ago. How did I get to thinking about this?” Our minds naturally wander. It takes great discipline to keep our minds focused. Drowsiness can also certainly be a distraction as Matthew 26:41 reminds us when Jesus confronted his disciples for sleeping instead of praying. One advantage to praying in a quiet and private place is it helps minimize distractions. Another way to help with this is to pray aloud. Why pray aloud when no one else is around? It goes a long way to helping you stay focused. Having a prayer list can help keep you focused as well.

Insufficient Faith

Wrong Motives

When Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, James and John, He was met by a distraught dad with his son who was demon-possessed. He had come to the disciples to have the demon cast out. Try as they might, the disciples couldn’t do it. Jesus cast the demon out and told the disciples that it was their insufficient faith that prevented them from doing it (Matthew 17:19-20). When they saw the severity of the situation and the grip this demon had on this son, they apparently doubted that he could be healed. Whether they were trusting in their own ability or simply doubting Christ’s power is not certain. The point Jesus made was that it is not the amount of faith – He said faith the size of a mustard seed – but the object of faith that is the key. How many times do we think, “my situation is beyond hope? Nothing can be done. It won’t do any good to pray.” God is able. Nothing is beyond His capability! We need to pray as this father did, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Our prayer should be, “Lord, if my faith is defective, supply what is lacking. Don’t allow insufficient faith to keep me from this blessing.”

God tells us upfront that many times our prayers are not answered because we are asking with the wrong motives (James 4:3). John MacArthur put it this way, “Prayer is not an attempt to get God to agree with you or provide for your selfish desires, but that it is both an affirmation of His sovereignty,

Why pray? Because God commands us to. Because He delights in hearing from us and working on our behalf. Because we desperately need His divine wisdom and power. Pray as though your life depends on it. It truly does!

March 2016


Bless Your Heart

Life is Messy, Broken, & Wonderful - Part Two By Lisa Harris

Last month we met Gatlin and Lizzie and saw their friendship blossom. This month we follow them as their relationship grows and they realize that Life is Messy and Broken, but Wonderful.


atlin arrived at 7:00 AM in the morning at the bakery and looked over the counter for Lizzie. She was bent over looking for containers.

Gatlin smiled as he handed her a bouquet of beautiful coral roses encased in white baby’s breath.

“Hey Lizzie,” Gatlin spoke quietly.

“You are spoiling me Gatlin, but I must admit I am enjoying it.”

Lizzie jumped up and gave him a dazzlingly smile, “I was hoping I would see you. I loved the invitation to dinner and I accept.”

Gatlin winked and offered her his arm to the car. “I hope you don’t mind a surprise Lizzie?”

“It was kind of corny but with a touch of cleverness wasn’t it?” “It was perfect for me,” Lizzie replied. Gatlin took her hand into his and said, “You know I have feelings for you, I just wanted to protect your heart from asking too soon.”’ In the middle of the bakery, in front of God and all the customers, Lizzie’s eyes filled with unexpected tears. Gatlin couldn’t stand it as he cupped her face and kissed her lightly on the lips.  The customers cheered, and Lizzie blushed.  Gatlin however, strutted just a bit as he told her bye and left for school.  It was a banner day.  Yes indeed. Lizzie left a bit early so she could find the perfect dress. She did find it.   The dress was blue and shimmery with an off the shoulder neckline.  It showed her curves without being too revealing.  It came just above the knee and with silver-heeled sandals and silver clutch, she was set.  That weekend was so much fun getting ready for.  Lizzie decided to wear her hair cascading down in loose curls.  She was extra careful with her makeup and added just a touch of shimmer on her brown eyes.  Blue was definitely her color and Gatlin didn’t disappoint when he appeared in his black suit with a beautiful blue tie.  They made a stunning couple that evening. Ringing the door bell, Gatlin was surprised he was a bit nervous. It had been a long time since he had feelings for a woman.  Besides, he had withheld a huge unexpected portion of his life in all the discussions they’d had.  Would she understand?  He had to protect that part of his life until he was absolutely sure that this relationship was serious.  He just prayed Lizzie would understand and that God would nudge him with the time was right. Lizzie took one last look and was pleased.  She loved her dress and hoped he would to.  As she opened the door, Gatlin gave a very appreciate look before he said, “Lizzie you look gorgeous.”  Lizzie blushed and smiled real big. “Thank you Gatlin, you look pretty amazing yourself.”


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“No, I love surprises!” she exclaimed. Gatlin pulled up to a mountain resort called “Silver Star” known for their incredible food and atmosphere. As they walked in Lizzie gasped at the woodsy beauty.  It was so inviting and cozy with small tables and candles lit. They were taken to a table for two in the corner next to the roaring fireplace where the heat warmed her back.  Lizzie was happy. “Oh Gatlin this is perfect.” “You’re perfect,” he complimented. The night was a complete success and Lizzie could feel herself falling head over heels, but she needed to stay cautious.  Or did she? The next few weeks were a blur.  Lizzie and Gatlin saw each other several times a week, with each time becoming more familiar and more at ease with each other.  She would go to the football games and support him and Gatlin would help her at the bakery on his time off.  They were definitely in love. Gatlin left the school feeling it was time to tell her. He called Lizzie and asked to see her that night he had something to share with her. Lizzie put down the phone and wondered.  “Was he going to propose? What would she say?  Lizzie hurried through her day and finally shut the bakery down early.  She had to look her very best as she carefully chose her outfit.  When Gatlin got there he looked concerned.  “What’s wrong Gatlin?” she asked.  Gatlin said he was fine and went to sit on the sofa.  He clasped and unclasped his hands.  “Gatlin, please tell me what’s going on.”  Lizzie was getting quite concerned. “Remember when I told you my wife and I divorced 10 years ago.” Lizzie nodded yes. Her nails penetrating the chair almost to the degree of the stump a few years back.

“Well, I found out a month ago that I have an 8 year old daughter. My wife Carol was pregnant at the time and chose not to tell me.  I found out when she contacted me last month asking me to take custody of her because she is ill and can’t take care of her.” Lizzie was dumbstruck, that would have been the same age of her Grace now.  Gatlin waited for a response and when he didn’t get one he said gently, “Lizzie, I have to take custody, she’s my daughter.” Lizzie snapped back to reality, “Of course you do Gatlin, that is your daughter and you can’t turn your back.  I would expect nothing less from you.” Gatlin started to breathe a little easier but still there was one more hurdle.  “Lizzie there is one more thing I need to share.” Lizzie waited looking right into Gatlin’s eyes. “Her name is Grace.” Lizzie rolled those words over in her mind.  The same age and the same name of her own daughter.  “God what are you doing?” she whispered. “Have faith Lizzie,” God whispered back.  “I have a plan for you and Gatlin.” Gatlin got up and embraced Lizzie saying, “You know I love you Lizzie, and I want us to eventually be a family.  Is that something you want?”

“What’s that?” “We are to bring Carol here and take care of her until God decides if her healing is on this side of Heaven or on His side. We cannot bring Grace here without her mother.  I know she should have told you about Grace, but you have to forgive and do what is best for both of them.  I will take care of Carol while you get to know your daughter.” Gatlin’s face went through many emotions as he absorbed those words. He knew in his heart she was right.  The main reason he knew was because God had laid the same on his heart but he rejected it.  Lizzie leaned over close and whispered, “Gatlin, how do you feel?” Gatlin smiled down at his Lizzie amazed at how God was weaving such broken lives back together again. “I feel like getting married today so I can whisk you away for our honeymoon.  Then we need to find a home that will be comfortable for all four of us, but are you ready for all of this Lizzie?” Lizzie smiled, “I’m ready for all that God has…the messy, the wonderful, the upsetting and the exciting life set before us.” Finally, Lizzie was feeling that spring was sprouting back into her soul. Gatlin leaned in and kissed his bride, he was ready too.

Lizzie looked up and nodded yes. Oh how she loved him, and she would love his Grace too. Plans were made to bring Grace to Gatlin before the summer was over so that she would have time to adjust before school.  Lizzie and Gatlin planned to be married before that.  A small church wedding with just their best friends attending. The morning of their wedding Lizzie had been in deep conversation with the Lord.  She now knew without a doubt what He was calling her to do. It was so wild that she knew it was God and not her.  Lizzie picked up her cell and called Gatlin. “Gatlin, I need to talk to you in person,” she said. “But, I’m not supposed to see the Bride,” he teased. “No matter about that, it’s important.” She emphasized. Gatlin put his cell back in his pocket and jumped in his car.  Lizzie was sitting on her front porch waiting for him. Gatlin pulled up and walked up the steps as he looked at Lizzie.  She seemed happy and peaceful.  He sat down and grabbed her hands kissing them.  “What has you troubled Honey?” “Not troubled anymore, I am at peace but God and I have had several conversations about this and I know without a doubt this is what He is calling us to do.”

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Life is a Blessing – You Were Represented

“And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.” Luke 43:38-47


have been thinking about the thief who believed while facing death, who asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His Kingdom. He was saved by faith right there on the cross. Christ extended grace to this man who had lived a horrible life, robbing and stealing from others. A sinner, not fit to hang beside Jesus Christ. Instantly saved by grace. Bound for paradise that very day! Then I looked at the other guy, how vile and disgusting to blaspheme my Lord. Ignorance exposed through hateful words spewed from his filthy mouth. Been there? A sinner, not fit to hang beside Jesus Christ. Choosing unbelief. Hell bound that very day! You’ve seen the picture, three crosses on a hill. We usually focus on the Man in the middle, in any depiction of that day the middle cross is most prominent because it is most important. That middle cross is life saving, life giving, blood soaked, sin saturated and it means that somebody as insignificant as an old dirty thief and a sinner such as myself can live forever. But..... Look to the left, then to the right. You and I were represented at Calvary that day. Either on the left or on the right. Both men sinners, so are we. One chose to believe, one chose to blaspheme.


The sin of unbelief is the one sin that will send you to hell. Oh, I know no one wants to talk about hell these days; well I love you enough to talk about hell. Those two thieves were not there by coincidence, they are symbolic of you and me. Which one represents you? The thief who chose to burn in hell was above the need or the desire for a God. Like so many people today, the need for a God seemed foolish and any who would follow after such an idea was foolish. He wanted Jesus to prove to him who He was. The second thief who chose Jesus that day realized the need for a savior, he was repentant for his sin. I don’t believe he thought that to cry out to Jesus would do one thing in his favor. He most likely thought it was too late for him. He had sinned too much. Been there? No one is too far gone for God unless the last breath leaves your body and you choose unbelief. This sinner saved by grace wasn’t baptized, he didn’t “work in the church”, he didn’t dress right, not cuss, wear a tie, carry a Bible, he didn’t wear a cross or have a fish sticker on his camel. I know that is a stretch but you get my point. All of the things we think are required or help our cause can add nothing to our Salvation and if done for show is useless. I think our salvation is so gloriously simple and it is a finished work that we cannot add one thing to. To know Christ you recognize your need for a Savior, you admit your sin and you express a desire to know him. “Remember me Lord, I am sorry”. You know that He died for you that day on Calvary and you know He would do it again because He loves you that much! We also see that this new Christian tried to get the guy on the other side to see who he was hanging beside. He would have told others about Jesus if he had lived long enough because of the love of Christ that filled his heart. To know Jesus and to live for Him is better than anything you’ll ever know on this earth. When I share Christ with you it is not to try to change you it is to share with you a love purer than pure, deeper than any other love you’ve known. It is a glimpse of the eternal joy that is promised to believers. To accept Jesus is the single greatest decision you could make. To turn your heart from Him and to deny Him is the single act that will send your soul to hell for eternity. He is right there in the middle, waiting for you. You have nothing to lose yet eternity to gain. Eternal life is a blessing.

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Happy Easter, by Tracy McCoy

March 2016


Therapy Dogs International: Love on four Paws


by Jo Mitchell

hat do you think when someone tells you they have a relative confined to a hospital or nursing home suffering an illness, serious injury, accident—or worse? Or a child held captive within an emotional cocoon? You’re sympathetic, concerned. You enjoy your health; freedom to come and go at will and the comfort of being with people you love every day. Communication is not a problem; it’s just a matter of when you have time in your busy schedule. Can you put yourself in the place of a person who’s been pretty much confined to a bed or wheel chair for weeks, or months? A child fearful of human interaction? Whose most frequent human contacts are nurses, attendants, physicians or other health care professionals? Kind and caring as they may be; they’re not family-- not your life-long friend-- and they have a job to do. Imagine the loneliness, the anxiety or depression, not being able to just tell someone your fears or worries. Suppose you felt you had to put on a good face and not upset anyone? Or you were invited to talk, but didn’t even know what those words would be? You long for some reassurance, comfort, peace of mind, a bit of joy. And then one long, tedious day, you hear voices new to you, the soft padding of feet. They come closer. So close you can reach and touch the silky black ears, the strong, smooth head of a wonderful big dog. His big brown eyes know you and all he wants to do is be close to you. He wants to be touched,


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wants to be your friend. He offers immediate comfort, strength and support. Imagine, in a few moments a bond is formed that needs no voice, which holds no judgment and asks only to be treated with kindness and respect. Which is fine, as that is your need also. On one particular afternoon at the Mountain View Nursing Center this past January two dogs have lent grace and renewed friendships with their resident friends whom they visit often. They know them by name and some call out as one or the other becomes visible in the doorway. A cuddle on several laps, accompanied by doggie kisses is a prescription no physician can fill. A rigorous petting of the larger canine is satisfying to other residents from their wheelchairs or beds. One woman remarks, joking (but not really): “Are you sure you don’t want to leave her here with me?” From another: “I could get by like this.” These folks are just a sampling of the many, and lasting friends of Michael, a gentle yet strong Belgian sheep dog and Suzy, a sweet-natured Shih-Poo. (Shih-Tzu poodle mix). Both are proud members of Therapy Dogs International, Rabun County Chapter. Michael lives with Christopher and Nannette Curran who have gone through the rigorous training with him required for certification and are ten years into the program. Suzy is just as happy to kiss a face as to sit in a lap and is also a great favorite when visiting health care facilities with her certified trainers Sally and Larry Anderson.

Coincidentally (or not?), Sally and Suzy found each other around the same time. Sally recalls her sadness after having lost her cherished Boston Terrier after twelve years of companionship. Glancing through Facebook on the Internet, she learned that the little dog (yet to be named) needed a home. Becky Roper, an Atlanta TDI member, convinced Sally to take the training and six months later, they were both certified and ready to go into action. After one and a half years ‘on the job’, therapy visits to Mountain Lakes Medical Center (local hospital), Traces of Tiger, Cannonwood (assisted living), Mountain View and even hospice facilities are taken in stride.

through the training, take the test and quite another to go and do it!” He would like to eventually work with children who have to testify in court and to train new TDI prospective teams. Christopher notes that some clients initially want nothing to do with the dog therapy process; then when it’s least expected, “They’ll want to get close to Michael and pet him.” He feels good about the job they do, but is “usually worried about protecting” the dogs in the event of over-enthusiasm or unintended rough handling. Nannette finds it “very gratifying” to be able to furnish “the brightest spot in someone’s day. I like to think we make a difference to be there on a regular basis.” Sally is sure that “Suzy and I are a team. The places we’ve been to, we know people and have created friendships. It’s more than just a dog sitting in a person’s lap,” she asserts, and explains that it’s about making connections and becoming attached. Larry jokes (but we know there’s more to it) when he quips, “I have friends tell me that when they die they want to come back as my dog!” The Andersons, Currans and Dave didn’t need to see the scientific research to confirm what they’ve known for ages: contact between humans and dogs benefits both species in very special ways.

Another TDI team, Dave Jensen and his mixed Lab, Andy, have visited Traces of Tiger, the Rabun County Library and the Rabun elementary school. It was this last location where Andy was able to motivate a child to go from not liking to read and being two grades behind her grade level, to moving up an entire grade and reading more than 20 books in about three months. Dave recalls: “When she met Andy and we started to leave after a visit, the third grader asked if Andy could come back to see her again. I replied that Andy could come but he likes to be read to, so she went straight to the principal and asked if she could go to the library and pick out some books.  The principal told me later that was the first interest in reading she had shown.” Reading out loud to Andy was the trick. Andy probably knows something about listening the rest of us may have missed. How do the other certified owners/trainers feel about the interactive visits that are at the core of this volunteer organization? Christopher learned early on that, “It was one thing to go

The Rabun County Chapter of TDI was officially chartered in 2014, with the first meeting held at the Curran’s home with Michael (whom we’ve met) and his more vocal canine mom Grace. This chapter was formed subsequent to Becky Roper and Brenda Nash training dogs and their owners for the TDI qualifying test. It serves Northeast Georgia and Southwest North Carolina. TDI is a volunteer, non-profit organization, founded in New Jersey in 1976, open to all breeds of dogs and dedicated to “regulating, testing and registering” therapy dogs and their handlers. The human/canine teams are required to be tested and evaluated by a Certified TDI Evaluator. The dogs must be at least one year of age and have a “sound, calm temperament”. Additionally the TDI dogs must have an ongoing updated health record verified by a licensed veterinarian. Training the dogs is not too different from obedience school, Nannette and Christopher explain. The dogs need to be able “to interact with different people in different kinds of settings and under different circumstances; to see how they behave or react.” They have to walk alongside you without being distracted by other activity or by, for instance, a person putting down food that could tempt them.” Sally adds, “They can’t be too shy or too aggressive.” Beyond those mentioned, typical TDI sites may include: home visits, hospice, children’s’ hospitals, shelters, libraries and “wherever else therapy dogs are needed”.

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Live Healthy and Be Well!

“End of life issues and care – make a wish, or five”


by Stephen Jarrard, MD, FACS

his issue will publish at the beginning of springtime, and I know how beautiful it is around here this time of the year with new life springing up all around. Let’s all get out and enjoy it – plenty to do here to enjoy our area and stay healthy and fit. Try to be active as much as you can, take a walk, garden, mow the lawn and jog if you can, or work out at a local gym or fitness studio. Do this every day, and it will help you in many ways – reduce stress, lower blood pressure and even for diabetics - help with sugar control. So, given all that, I don’t mean to be a “downer”, but recently I had an experience I want to share with our readers. This topic concerns end of life issues and care that needs to be thought about and planned for ahead of time. While not the most pleasant of topics, this is a conversation you should have with your family and your doctor at some point, and, even involve an attorney or notary, if need be, to ensure your wishes are properly documented and able to be followed when the time comes. We recently helped take care of a patient who had an unfortunate but terminal diagnosis. Working with a team of different doctors, we were set to provide the best possible care for the best possible outcome, all the while believing in the power of faith. The patient became ill and was hospitalized; we hoped for just a short time for a “tune up”, and then to get back home to have some good quality time. We were working with several groups and agencies to insure that could happen smoothly, and the patient indicated that is what they wanted to do. We thought we had plenty of time to do all this and get everything


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arranged for care at home to enjoy time there with family and friends. But, while still in the hospital, the patient took a turn for the worse and God called them home. At the end, the patient was not really “with it” enough to help us with planning for how to take care of things, and what to do with the estate. It turns out the patient had a good amount of financial resources, but no one had the authority to write a check or use these funds. Also, this person had not designated anyone to be able to act and make healthcare decisions in the case of debilitating illness. In the United States, a “living will” is a document that you make while living that lays out your plan for healthcare should you become unable to participate. To be most effective, it needs to be paired with a “Healthcare Power of Attorney” to designate who will be able to make decisions for you if you cannot do so yourself. In addition, you should have a “will” which describes what to do with your finances and property. If there is no will to guide the disposition of your estate, the government may have more influence in this decision than you want them to, even though you may have had intentions for your family to inherit. We are fortunate that Georgia is one of 42 states that recognizes “The Five Wishes”. This single document actually combines a living will with a healthcare power of attorney. It has been called “the advance directive with heart and soul”. In brief, it covers the topics of 1) Who do I want to make decisions for me when I cannot?; 2) What medical treatments

do I want or not want?; 3) How comfortable do I want to be?; 4) How do I want people to treat me? and 5) What do I want my loved ones to know? This document can be filled out by you in your own handwriting and notarized to become an official document in the State of Georgia. For more info, and to get started making your wishes, check out this website: to order a copy, or ask your provider if they might have access to this document to give you a copy.

I also cannot say enough good things about hospice care for yourself or a loved one who may be nearing the end of life, and wants to do so with dignity and stay in their own home. Many people seem to think that hospice means “pulling the plug”, or “throwing in the towel”, but this is not the case at all. A hospice team can provide compassionate care and acts as a support system not just for the patient, but for the whole family. And, one good thing to know is that if the patient improves, hospice can always be revoked. Or, if you change your mind at any time – hospice can adjust and revoke, or even provide inpatient care at a local hospital, should that be what is best for you, your loved one under care or the family situation. So, good things to do now are to get “The Five Wishes” book, fill it out, have it notarized and put it with your important documents. Have a good, frank discussion with your provider and your family about what is in your “Five Wishes” book, and make sure they understand. If you get in a situation where you think hospice might help – get a referral and, at least, talk to them – you will not be sorry. Don’t be like many I have heard,

who when they finally got hospice on board, later said “I wish we’d done that sooner!” Plan now for what happens later – that is not the time to be having these serious talks – it is time to be with family and to be getting ready to go Home. We really do enjoy hearing from you with any questions, concerns, or ideas for future columns and/or health and wellness related issues for the Georgia Mountain Laurel. Please send an email to, or call us at 706.782.3572, and we will be sure to consider your input. This and previous articles can be now be found on the web at in an archived format. If you use Twitter, then follow us for health tips and wellness advice @ rabundoctor. Until next time, live healthy and be well!

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Adventure Out

Black Rock Mountain State Park by Peter McIntosh


n two weeks, March 16th to be exact, Blackrock Mountain State Park opens up for the season. So I want to encourage everyone to visit, or revisit as the case may be, this wonderful natural resource. If you’ve never been to Blackrock Mountain State Park, you’re in for a real treat. This is the highest of all Georgia’s state parks, an altitude of 3,640 feet to be exact and features six overlooks, a waterfall, a beautiful lake and miles and miles of hiking trails. Some of the overlooks are handicapped accessible, offering some spectacular scenery for those less ambulatory. Life is too short to miss a good overlook so I suggest you check them all out. The short trek to Ada-Hi Falls is a nice trail as well. Of the many hiking trails in the park, the Tennessee Rock Trail is one of my favorites. I rate the trail as moderate, with one reasonably steep ascent along the way. This is an interpretive trail, ( a 2.2 mile loop ) with numbered markers that correspond with an illustrated trail guide available for one dollar at the visitors’ center. I strongly recommend you purchase this booklet so you can learn about the flora, the fauna and the geology you’re walking through. From the trailhead at the junction with the James Edmonds Backcountry Trial, the footpath follows along the northern side of


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the mountain. Along this section, you can see the many, many blowdowns that have been cut through after a tornado came through in the spring of 2011. (It was a lot of hard work getting this trail reopened.) A bit further along, the trails begins turning to the left and ascending. This is the steep part of the hike but it’s not too bad and the rewards are well worth it. There’s a stone marker marking the high point of the mountain, a good place to rest and catch your breath. Now we continue on as the best is yet to come. I’m referring to the Tennessee Rock Overlook, the most spectacular viewing spot in the park; there are now several spots right around the overlook where the snapped trees have opened up new windows from which you can enjoy the layers of mountains in the distance. To the north, you’re looking across Wolffork Valley into the mountains of North Carolina. Looking in a more westerly direction, you’re looking across the Germany Valley and into the mountains of Tennessee. From this overlook it’s a quick downhill hike back to the parking area. There are picnic tables here and better ones up near the visitors’ center if you want to have a picnic. Happy Hiking!

And to herald the spring, my March poem I bring: Let’s give our springtime a nice healthy spark, With an energetic hike in a high mountain park. A place with so many beautiful vistas, Blackrock Mountain State Park is hard to resista! Getting there: From US 441 in Mountain City, follow the Blackrock Mountain Parkway into the park entrance. There is a $5.00 fee but I encourage everyone to purchase an annual pass, good at all of Georgia’s state parks, for $50.00. This gives the park much needed funding. On the web: Phone: 706.746.2141 To see more of Peter’s photos or if you have a question or comment:

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Mountain Nature March Migration by Jean Hyatt


ot many of us think about our summer birds migrating in February and March, but there they are down there in South America beginning their eight to twelve week journey north.

Purple martins are usually the first common migrants to arrive in this area from South and Central America. The adult males (or scouts) get here between Feb 15 and March 1; they arrive early to claim their spot from the previous year. As of this writing, the scouts are already being reported as far north as Tennessee and Arkansas. About a month after the first arrival, the subadult males and females arrive to take up residence in the community the adult male has chosen. If there is no room left after that, the late-arriving subadult males will search for another home, then attract a mate and raise a new family. If you would like to try to attract martins to your property, March is good time to put up some gourds or an apartment house. If you would like to track their migration online, go to www., click on Research, then Scout-Arrival Study. Wood thrushes also migrate from Central America, and some fly across the Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan Peninsula in just one single night. Most come up through Central America then spread throughout the eastern US during April. I have seen a wood thrush digging about in leaf litter in my yard as early as late February. Males arrive before the females. You will begin to hear their songs in April or May. And of course the Ruby-Throated hummingbirds show up in this area around the end of March from their wintering grounds in Central America and south Florida. They generally stop off at the feeder for a few days before heading further north. They are here in force by tax day, April 15.



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The black-and-white warbler is one of the earliest warblers to arrive in this area. They, too, over-winter in South & Central America and a few in south Florida. They usually get here in early to mid-April. As do that bright blue indigo bunting, who winters in Central America. I can’t wait to hear their song! Some of you might be interested in a migration-by-timeline map which Cornell University has posted on their website. I believe ebird is the originator of the map, but you can find it on Cornell’s site Or you can find it on Mountain Nature & Wild Bird Supply’s Facebook page. If you put the map in motion, you can see when the majority of migrating birds leave the far south of South America to fly north, and follow their progress. The time line goes through a whole year, so you can see when they begin going back south as well. While it does not separate the species, it does give you an idea of when most migratory species arrive at any one location. And it’s pretty amazing to me to see how many of the 118 species tracked actually do fly across the Gulf of Mexico. So although you might think spring will arrive no time soon, take heart that your birds are on their way, and will arrive as soon as they can. Jean and her husband Richard own and operate Mountain Nature in downtown Clayton. They can be reached at 706 782-0838.

** Don’t forget to turn off your outside lights at night. Use motion detector lighting, shields, and IDA-approved lighting so you don’t impose your light on those who want to see the stars. I believe God made night dark for a reason. Please help keep it that way.

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Service Professionals


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Lovin’ the Journey A Short Trek by Mark Holloway

17 mile leg from Damascus to Whitetop offers you pastoral scenes, dozens of trestle crossings, peaceful passage through orchards, farmland and forests. Gravity is your friend on this two-wheeled journey. Your descent begins at Whitetop Mountain’s trailhead at 3,500 feet elevation. You’ll eventually drift downward, a total of 1600 feet, as you arrive back into Damascus.


f you don’t think you could ever ride a bike 17 miles, think again. I’m about to take you on a trip.

And you don’t even need a bike. Time travel with us to the 1800s and hear a train’s steam whistle echoing off the mountainsides as the engineer guides the mighty machine slowly up into the hills. The Virginia Creeper Trail is a short drive away. It’s a thrilling bike path today, inspired from the locomotive’s slow uphill chug from Damascus to Whitetop, Virginia. The thrill comes from riding your bike downhill the 17 gentle miles. You can pedal if you like but doing so only shortens the fun. In 1887, the Abingdon Coal and Iron Railway built a path leading to adventure for us today. In the late 1970s, the rails were removed and an enchanting trail was gifted to the public. The 35-mile Virginia Creeper Trail meanders from Abingdon, through Damascus, and ascends to Whitetop. The popular


Our most recent Creeper trip was mind-blowing. The fall leaves were resplendent eye candy. Our close Athens friends Jeremy and Leah Hobbs and their three children Rhama, Judah and Willow joined us. We’re honored to be Uncle Mark and Aunt Carol. Baby Willow was something else. The six year old beauty mastered the entire trail without complaint. Carol made a keen observation: parents can enjoy the ride as much as the kids. The mountain frolic is about as low maintenance as eating a country picnic. Speaking of picnics, Carol and Leah filled the backpacks with yumminess and around noon we parked the bikes under a tree’s leaves so bright, the colors almost overshadowed the picnic. Our lunch location lured us deep into the past. Just feet away stands an old depot store and it is open to the public. Some forward thinking folks decided to preserve every retail item in the general store as it was displayed in late 1970 when the depot and railroad shut down. Walking back into my childhood is a highlight of this trip for me, seeing common items no longer sold. Hearing 11 year old Judah ask, “Uncle Mark, what is Brylcreem and why are those Coke cans

March 2016

This particular trip was extended well beyond our usual jaunt because every mile it seemed, we were getting off our bikes to capture the scenery on our smart phones. made out of steel?” Some of the railroad trestles are set far above the river below. Crossing them is exhilarating and yet comforting to know they’ve all been replaced or repaired. I’d caution you to not make the destination the goal. You’ll certainly get passed by youngsters, whizzing by under a misguided notion; the Virginia Creeper Trail is a race. It’s not. If you drink in the outdoors like we do, you’ll wanna coast and enjoy the Creeper’s beauty. You might see a deer dash across the trail as you intersect the Appalachian Trail. You’ll roll through a private farm, with permission, maybe catching a glimpse of the owner bailing hay.

I hope you’ll enjoy some of the images I harvested from that fascinating autumn day under azure skies. We’d booked this nature thriller months earlier. We’d not really anticipated the precise and exact peak performance of God’s color show. I promise, it is as if a thousand impressionist artists had invaded the scenery at sunrise and colored the landscape in near-neon hues. Jeremy still talks about his firstever Virginia Creeper Trail ride with boyish wonder. He wants it to become an annual pilgrimage. My mom and dad first introduced us to this nearby outdoor experience. Our daughter had mastered her biking skills and first took on the Virginia Creeper Trail when she was six. Continued...

March 2016


Lovin’ the Journey - A Short Trek Garrett was two years old and rode along with me in his bike seat. Mom and dad pedaled their Raleighs and that first trip still holds a great memories. My parents are gone now but our children’s memories of that trip linger still. Thanks, Papa and Grammie. The folks at Blue Blaze Bike Rental and provide you a quality bicycle and comfortable van ride to the top for a reasonable price. You’ll be smart to make a reservation at one of the shuttle companies. We usually go with friends, taking our own bikes and setting our vehicles as shuttles. You can easily make a day trip from here in the Northeast Georgia Mountains to the Virginia Creeper Trail. But we turn the event into a weekend camping adventure. You’ll enjoy Grindstone and Bear Tree campgrounds. The word locomotive means to move an object from one place to another. The trains of the past delivered food, supplies, candy, medicine, mail and tin cans of Coke into the hands of grateful mountain folk of Whitetop Mountain and beyond. When the rails were replaced by asphalt and semi trucks, the train’s steam whistle fell silent. But the route lives on in the hearts of the riders. Come ride the Virginia Creeper Trail. It’s free and closer than you know. See you on the trail.


Rhonda Williams joins WoodmenLife

oodmenLife is pleased to welcome Rabun native Rhonda Ramey Williams to their esteemed list of agents. With a tagline of standing strong for generations, Woodmen is a name known for insurance, annuities, investments and retirement options. Rhonda’s knowledge in the banking and investment industry and her genuine honesty make her an agent you know you can trust. She has a reputation for service and volunteerism, spending the past several years working with students and youth in Farm Bureau’s agriculture program and with 4-H. This passion that drives Rhonda is simply another example of her dedication to community minded programs that teach our young people sustainable practices essential for living. Rhonda is married to Neal Williams and has two children Vanessa and Isaac. She enjoys gardening and is active in her church. Rhonda and her family attend the Flats of Middle Creek Baptist Church in Scaly Mountain, North Carolina. Eager to help her friends and neighbors with their insurance and investment needs, Rhonda looks forward to talking with you and helping you plan for your family’s future. Stop in at 172 Dover Building Suite 4, Clayton, GA 30525 to meet Rhonda or call her at 706.490.3265 or 706.782.1304.


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walkway to the property and rooms off to the side of the original fort. While walking through the dog trot I was fascinated to see the original logs with axe marks still visible and the white chinking between the logs was the original white clay used from the creek across the road. Fort Hollingsworth White House With Dog Trot to the left and original fort to the right. Jacob Hollingsworth was the original builder of the fort in 1793. He was a pioneer from North Carolina, who was granted land in North Georgia after the Revolutionary War. Unfortunately after they settled into the fort they found out they were across the line, agreed upon in a treaty with the Cherokees. The Cherokee people in the area did not appreciate this disregard to the terms of the treaty and Hollingsworth and other families found themselves in a position of having to defend themselves.


Fort Hollingsworth White House by Kitty Statton


o describe Fort Hollingsworth White House as anything but a Georgia state treasure and national treasure would be wrong. This building has stood the test of time since 1793 and Willette White Mote who was my guide for part of an afternoon certainly agrees that this property should be cared for and protected for many generations to come. Not only was Willette my guide but she is also one of many generations of the White family who still own and lived most of their lives on this beautiful North Banks County property. Wilette’s great grandfather Joshua White was the first member of her family to purchase the property and create additions in the 1860’s. One of my first questions was to ask her why the property was named Fort Hollingsworth White House. She explained that Joshua White had added a dog trot or covered


The original fort had no windows downstairs except for a small one next to the chimney built from local field stone. Families in the area would seek protection in the fort during troubling times. By about 1796, conflicts with local Indian tribes were no longer a concern and the string of frontier forts were no longer necessary. The forts soon became log farmhouses. The “Four Mile Purchase” of 1804 was created when the Cherokees ceded a strip of land four miles wide (from the Habersham – Banks County line on Baldwin Mountain, to Line Baptist Church on old Hwy. 441) and 23 miles long extending from Currahee Mountain to the head waters of the South Oconee River. A line of felled trees twenty-feet wide marked the line, which became a “no man’s land”. The United States agreed to

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pay the Cherokees $5,000 and $1,000 per annum for the property rights. Fort Hollingsworth original fireplace. In the time period between Hollingsworth and the White family John Lane was an early owner of the fort. He was killed in the Civil War not long after purchasing the property. The property was divided between John Lane’s sisters and so the story comes round to Joshua White, whose wife was a sister of John Lane. Although John Lane was killed and buried in Tennessee there is a memorial to him on the grounds of the property. Fort Hollingsworth White House is located off of Highway 441 between Baldwin and Homer. The address is 2307 Wynn Lake Road, Alto, Georgia 30510. For more information you can visit the website at www. Although the property is not open on specific days you can email to fort@forthollingsworth-whitehouse. com or call either 706.244.1239 or 706.499.8579 for more information or to arrange a tour. Fort HollingsworthWhite House looks very much today as it did in the 1860’s. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

March 2016


Foxfire -

Hunting ‘Coons With Dogs


horty Hooper told us, “What matters to me is whether or not another man has got as good a dog as I’ve got. That is the sport in it with me. I’ve had some awful good dogs. I’ve had dogs that would just get out there and coon for me all night long, and I’ve had some that I would give away because they never would make it. They might tree a coon, but I wouldn’t call ‘em a coon dog. I’ve had some that really made it, and then I always hold on to unless something bad happens that I have to get rid of ‘em. “Yes, sir, a good dog is the answer to good coon huntin’. You can get out here with just any kind of a dog, and you’ll be running these wildcats and deer and everything else besides a coon. But when you one time get you one trained up for a good coon dog, why, every time you hear that ol’ dog bark, you can bet he’s after that ol’ ringtail. And we get after some tough ones that’s hard to do anything with. “The best coon dog I ever had was one I called Little Red. He was half redbone, a quarter cur, and a quarter walker. He was just a straight-out coon dog. That’s just all you could make


out of him. Take him hunting anywhere, and he’d find you a coon. He didn’t come back ‘til he had a coon. A lotta times I could turn him up a branch [creek] and wouldn’t even have to go with him. If he didn’t come, I’d start up the branch ‘til I heard him tree or found him somewhere treeing, and many a time with a gang [of coons] up a tree or one big ol’ barren sow—that’s a coon that never raises up no kittens. I guess, to my notion, Little Red is the best dog I’ve ever had in my life. “A man likes his dogs, and he don’t want to part with them. That’s the reason they cost so much. Everybody likes a goodtrained dog. A good-blooded pup at three months old would cost you anywhere from seventy-five to one hundred dollars. A good trained dog now would cost you—well, from the prices things is today, and by coon huntin’ being such a good sport that people really loves and enjoys [that brings the price of a dog up]—from five to seven hundred dollars to a thousand, twelve, fourteen hundred dollars. And there have been a few coon dogs sold for more money than that. If you take and train him up, why, you have worn enough shoe leather off to get whatever you can out of him, and it wouldn’t be too much. So

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that’s the reason why coon dogs are so high. It’s just a good sport that people likes, and always has been—from our old grandparents’ days back to now—and always will be, I guess. “Now, I have had my dog to run a coon a couple or three hours before he ever treed. And I have had it to just cold-trail one from say about nine or ten that night when I first hit the woods until about four that morning before he ever dragged him down. It would take all night to track him down and tree him. A lot of times, maybe nine times out of ten, one like that will be up an oak tree, and you can get him. “I’d say just on a straight run and race on a coon, he wouldn’t last but fifteen or twenty minutes ‘til a dog would tree him. But the old coon tricks the old dog. What takes a long time is getting a beatened-up track where he’s been or a track that’s been rained on, and where he’s been feeding around. “If a dog strikes a good track and gets the coon to going, I’d say fifteen to thirty minutes, why, your dog will have him treed. It’s just according to how young or old the coon is and how much he’s been dogged and the kind of rough country you’re hunting in and how quick the old coon will tree. And an old sow, she’ll take care of her kittens. She’ll stick her neck out taking care of them. She’ll put her kittens up a tree and maybe try to fool a dog and go on a pretty good piece. “You take a fellow that loves his coon dogs, and he loves to coon hunt for a sport, why, he ain’t going to shoot ever’ coon he sees no way. He’s gonna want to go back and get some more fun out of ‘em later.” Adapted by Foxfire Student Jessica Phillips, from Foxfire 11, pages 238-250.

March 2016


Echoes from the Hills “Recalling winters of long ago” by Bob N. Justus


inter’s cold reminds me of my youth growing up in Germany Valley and what a life it was for a kid who loved the outdoors and grew up in hard times but in a valley full of productive farms. I treasure memories and some events stand out above others. I’ll try to cover a few scenes still fresh in my mind of the winters of an era now gone. The winter of a great snowstorm is foremost in mind. I was about 12 years of age and we were living in our first house by the spring that lay under big poplar and oak trees just below the road before the road passes the white church midway up the valley. Grandpa Isaac Monroe (Dock) Dickerson and my dad Neal Justus built the house. As a three or four year old kid I recall helping Grandpa stack the oak shingles to dry as he split them with a froe. The great blizzard I recall began to form looming clouds out of the southwest. We had enough warning to fill the wood boxes and stack more wood near the kitchen door. While the storm raged a day and night we kids slept warmly under thick quilts with a heated iron wrapped in a towel at our feet. Although the high wind blew against the plank walls and fine snow sifted through cracks to cover the foot of my bed I slept warm as toast, although I woke at times due to the noise of the wind. The storm dumped perhaps two to three feet of snow on level ground, but the wind piled drifts high against the buildings and fences. Dad had to shovel and stomp paths to the chicken house, hog pen and barn. There was no school for a few days. Pine and fir trees bent low under the weight of snow. We kids fed many snowbirds and sparrows that huddled under the hedge beside the house. We also cracked walnuts and


roasted potatoes at the fireplace where we spent most of our time in the next few days. Another winter came and I was older. I decided to go rabbit hunting after a fresh snow. I crossed the fields and hunted the edge of the forest where Big Face Mountain stood guard to the south. A rare event occurred in hunting. Two extra large rabbits leaped up in front of me and with speed and luck I shot both of them with my shotgun. Years later I looked them up and they were rare Appalachian rabbits that normally were found in North Carolina and other states in the higher mountains. I tied the heavy rabbits to my belt and walked proudly homeward with a mix of snow and sleet stinging my face. While in high school the last two years in winter I trapped the creek for muskrats, which were plentiful due to the corn and other vegetable crops farmers then grew. It was rugged work to run lines before good daylight, which I did to catch a school bus to Clayton. In rubber boots I slogged through snow and the cold creek to run my trap line before the school bus came. Sometimes my hands hurt so I almost cried! When I caught muskrats on weekdays I hung them under the smokehouse eaves and skinned the pelts after school. Pelts brought a good price while WW II was still raging and I earned money to buy clothes and shoes for school, which was a big help to my parents. The big difference in the valley in those days were that farmers grew vegetables and fruit, with corn as the main crop, for human and cattle consumption, as well as muskrats, with no doubt some going to moonshine stills somewhere in the coves round about. When I visit the valley of my youth I remember these events and way of life that shaped me for the rapidly changing and varied life I would lead far from home.

March 2016

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see,� Edgar Degas

March 2016


A Parting Shot

photo by Terry Barnes -

By The Way...

I’m Hanging Up My Cell Phone by Emory Jones

Not being one to strike up a conversation with the fellow in the next stall, I sort of mumbled nondescriptly, “Well, not too bad...”


ontributor Mark Holloway’s recent column (January, 2016) in this magazine about his appreciation of dead cell phone spots inspired me. In fact, it inspired me to the point that I’ve decided to divorce my own cell phone. It’s okay—we’ve never been happy. My wife, Judy, is against the divorce. She says if I don’t have a cell phone with me at all times, it will cause her mental anguish But we were married for 25 years before I ever heard of a cell phone—and just between you and me, her level of mental anguish is roughly the same now as it was then. She argues that I might run out of gas or have a flat tire and need to call someone to let them know. But the truth is, I don’t know all that many people who would give a rat’s pa-toot that I ran out of gas or have a flat tire. Anyway, Jimmy Carter was President the last time I had a flat tire. The last time I ran out of gas was on a date in high school, and I planned that for two weeks. If I have an accident, it will likely be up to the people in the car behind me to call for help. They designed cell phone service for the flatlands, not our mountains. On the five miles between my house and the nearest town, Cleveland, there are roughly 100 yards where my phone functions. I’m tired of yelling, “Hold on, I’m going to lose you till I get past that big barn on Blue Creek Road!” Judy assured me that I would love having a cell phone on business trips, which I do take sporadically. The first time I used it was on a jaunt down to Ocilla to interview a cotton farmer for one of the farm magazines. Outside Fitzgerald, I stopped to “freshen up” as the ladies say. Someone had taken the first stall, so I went into the second one. That’s when I heard a voice from the next stall say, “Hello there. How’s everything going?”


Then the voice said: “So, what are you up to?” I thought a bit and then answered honestly, “I’m headed over to Ocilla to interview a cotton farmer.” At that point, I heard the other man say: “Look, I’ll have to call you back. Every time I ask you a question, some idiot in the next stall keeps answering me.” The truth is, nothing is going on in my life that I can’t wait to hear about untill I get home. Think of all the great men in history who didn’t have cell phones—Jefferson, Lincoln and Andy Griffith to name a few. In fact, the only person on the Andy Griffith show I can imagine even wanting a cell phone is Barney. I hear that some people have panic attacks when their cell phone goes down. Well, I have one when my cell phone rings. I read about one person who entered rehab for excessive text messaging. I thank the Good Lord every day that I never activated that feature. The final straw was a call I got last week. What the fellow actually said was, “The car your wife dropped off is ready to be picked up. There is an eight hundred dollar bill, but the car’s running fine. “ Thanks to the stupid cell phone, all I heard was, “Your wife … picked up… eight hundred dollar fine…” It upset me so much I had an accident. Thankfully the people in the car behind me called for help. Okay, I’m not actually canceling my service. My wife would never allow that. I’m just going to leave my cell phone in that little space between the car seat and the console it loves so much. So if you need me, call me on my landline. If you don’t get, I’ll call you back when I get home.

March 2016

Profile for Georgia Mountain Laurel

Georgia Mountain Laurel - March 16  

Georgia Mountain Laurel - March 16