Mourning Cloak Sighting and Two Musical Events Coming Up

We had a few little thunderstorms last night and about a half inch of rain. This morning was warm and beautiful, about 56°, with clear air, shifting mists, and a very pretty sunrise. We were able to have coffee on the porch, which was a nice foretaste of our warm weather routine. The early spring is continuing, with Chattanooga already reporting extremely high pollen counts.

On Saturday (the 18th), I saw the first Mourning Cloak (butterfly), which is one of my personal signs of spring. This is the largest butterfly in the angle wing family, colored mostly a subtle brown with a yellow fringe on the wings. (It is known as the Camberwell Beauty in England, where it is an accidental visitor from the continent.) I looked back to see when I saw the first one last year, and was surprised to see that it was only a day later, despite the fact that we had a much colder winter. The ducks and geese are continuing to come through, and a lot of the trees are beginning to bud out nicely.

The Fire & Ice Festival seemed to be a success, with the predicted rain holding off long enough to bring a good many people out. I think there would have been a lot more people there if it had been a bluebird day, but it might be just as well that it wasn’t, as the space allocated for the booths and beer tents was awfully cramped. People were having a little trouble getting around between the parked train, the booths, and the backs of the businesses on East Main. I’m sure that there were good reasons for setting up the festival where it was, but I think we need a better solution in the future, as this is not the most attractive ritual space. The problem is apparently related to locating the beer tent somewhere far enough from a church to satisfy the distance requirement. It seems to me that there has to be some better solution, even if it is the difficult one of exempting properly licensed festivals from this requirement. If we can’t find something that works, I’m afraid that every single festival that is held downtown will be flawed and fail to reach its full potential.

There are two upcoming musical events worth mentioning.

The Blue Ridge Community Theater is presenting a concert series called “Live Music is Better,” and they are having Michelle Malone this Friday, February 24, at 7:30. Tickets are $20 plus taxes and fees. The theater is at 2591 East 1st Street (the old highway), near the Swan Drive In and not far from the high school. Michelle Malone is a Grammy nominee who plays guitar in the folk, blues, and Americana traditions. For more information, 706.632.9223.

The Craddock Center is presenting “Songs & Stories Appalachian Style” with John McCutcheon at 7:30 Friday, March 9, at the Bonnie Higdon Reeves Auditorium on the campus in Epworth (125 Schoolhouse Road). McCutcheon is a master musician in the folk style, and he plays many traditional instruments, most notably the hammered dulcimer. This is a free concert. From Blue Ridge, go north on Hwy 5 to a left just past Abernathy’s Furniture. Turn at the second right, Madola Road. At the four way stop in Epworth, turn left into the campus. It can be cold in that auditorium, so being a sweater if it is a chilly night. (The Helen Lewis lecture, also presented by the Craddock Center, will be something of a tribute to Helen this year, and will be held at the same venue on March 31.)

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