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  • We made snow cream sundaes and hot chocolate and watchedhellip
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What I Want To Tell You

Here’s what I want to tell you. The other day, I felt a bird’s wings. Not because the bird was in my hands, or because I was standing close to it. I felt a bird’s wings beating, those of a Ruffed Grouse to be specific, in my chest. It wasn’t even near me when I felt its wings beating. I very acutely experienced these wings beating, in a strange moment of confusion, as a heartbeat, in my chest, but not of my own heart.

I’ll back up. I was up at Black Balsam, my favorite place on the Blue Ridge Parkway. That space is full of vitality and mystery and beauty and I can’t get enough of it. On this particular day, I was with my forest class. As our instructor Luke was holding up a mushroom we’d just found growing in a forested embankment, the beating began. I looked to Luke, confused. I knew I’d just felt something very akin to a heartbeat, in my own body, and that that beating wasn’t emanating from my own chest. Luke felt it too, and caught my glance. Other students in the group had felt it as well. Turns out, this beating, that you feel in your own body first, and then gently begin to hear, is the Ruffed Grouse beating his wings in a mating call. The sound waves produced by this beating travel far, provoking both a physical and auditory response in recipients. The forest moved, and I felt it. Magical moment, to be sure.

Otherwise, I’ve been out and about. This time of year, I’m at my peak. I’m jamming. I’m happy. I’m kinetic, friends, and I want to be out. in. it. Since Friday, in photographic order, here’s what I’ve been living and digging on:

*Cedric’s Tavern at the Biltmore Estate. We purchased annual passes last December, and have really enjoyed our regular stops to the Estate grounds. Cedric’s has a wonderful menu that changes seasonally, with fresh, creative pub fare, all of it expertly made, a good deal of it locally sourced. Go. There.

*Pretzel rolls with Lusty Monk mustard butter, from Cedric’s. I think about them a lot. A whole lot.

*Salad with Scotch egg, and blue cheese dressing, from Cedric’s.

*Autumn-spiced hushpuppies with pumpkin ale butter, also from Cedric’s (see how amazing it is?!).

*Little buddies on tractors (at Biltmore).

*Fine feathered friends (at Biltmore).

*Black Balsam, in its autumn splendor.

*Unexpected llamas on the trail, always a plus (far superior to, say, expected llamas!).

*Joy Wilson (aka Joy the Baker) is visiting Asheville, and came out for hot cardamom coffee, chicken and toddler shenanigans, and lunch!

*Glenn’s stellar kimchee frittata and sorghum-glazed apples topped with julienned country ham and feta cheese, served to Miss Joy, myself, and Huxley. AMAZING!

*Sunday evening’s Ethiopian potluck bonanza, at the home of our friend’s Faryn & Eli. Our contribution to the meal was a dish of pastured lamb & beef in Ethiopian spices, dressed with fresh herbs, pickled peppers, and crushed peanuts.

*Huxley experienced sparklers for the first time, and approved mightily (that intense grimace belies the bliss the tiny Englishman was truly feeling).

*Farm Burger, and its fantastic eats, which I shared with my little guy and Glenn on Monday. Such gustatory delights experienced therein included: a sweet potato and chevre fritter served with apple butter, my burger with house made pickles, smokey paprika mayo & apple slaw, and a pumpkin milkshake. Last meal worthy, truly.

*This little guy, who weighted slightly more than a bag of sugar at his birth (5 pounds, 14 ounces) will be 3 on the 21st! We’ve been super busy prepping for his “Superhero”-themed birthday party that we’ll be hosting here on Saturday. I adore being a parent, despite its to-be-expected challenges. Honestly, with no hyperbolic slant, Huxley, and his Papa, are the best thing that’ve ever happened to me.

May the week ahead bring you nothing short of abundant health and happiness, from our home to yours!


16 Responses to What I Want To Tell You

  • I’ve gotta get back up to Black Balsam soon~ we took Claire there in August for her first backpacking trip, traveling the same trails as you, going by the pictures. I love it, and believe it should definitely be visited at least once a season, at the very very least. We have passes to Biltmore, but I’m sad to say we don’t use them as often as we should. I need to change that. Thinking I’ll start bringing her to practice on her little bike along that nice long farm path. Maybe on the way to try out Cedric’s 😉 The food in this post is making my me drool. Happy almost birthday to your little man!

  • Dana says:

    Absolutely amazing. I love hearing your stories.

  • Melanie J. says:

    We SO share your love of Farm Burger! Thanks for the update :)

  • I love it when nature gets all magic-y. My mouth is watering just thinking about Farm Burger. Those pickles! Excited to celebrate super Huxley on Saturday!

  • Eliza Twist says:

    My goodness you are living large! Such a bounty of wonders and flavors. I’m sure that I’m not the only one living vicariously through you. Thanks for sharing. I’m so glad to hear that the upcoming birthday celebration has a superhero theme. Absolutely perfect!

  • Sacha Joy says:

    Sometimes I read your blog posts about the food coming and going in your house, and I think to myself, her grocery list must read like a poem.

  • That is amazing about the Ruffed Grouse! I had no idea! Would be a wonderful thing to experience! Oh- and the food photos have made me very hungry! yumm! take care, Sarah

  • Annie says:

    I was just thinking, Where should we take a lovely autumnal hike soon? Black Balsam it is (because then I can see the kiddo darting way ahead of me and not worry about him getting eaten by a bear).

  • Robin says:

    Your graditude is inspiring. So glad you are enjoying this beautiful time of year!

  • mollie says:

    A few things, Ashley…
    I thought that was Joy in the pictures! That’s awesome that you got to hang out with her! And, her leather jacket is great.
    My son just turned 4 and seriously rocked a superhero party to celebrate the day. I’m sure you have it covered, but I have some fun stuff I found for it online that I can share if you like. (My son weighed just a few ounces less than Huxley. I have such a strong memory of holding that unbelievable small and warm little person.)
    The Ruffed Grouse….nature is fascinating!

  • felicia says:

    This freaks me out, just a little, and in a good way! But of course you’re friends with Faryn…you seem to be friends with all of the inspiring folk whose blogs I read (soulemama, joythebaker, etc.) and whose lovely handmade treasures I cherish (aka Faryn of fernworks). One of my very favorite necklaces is from fernworks, purchased at the Renegade Craft Fair in SF in 2008 or 2009. How do you do it lady? 😉