Enjoying a Visit With My Parents!

A Fun Week With My Parents!”

By Rachelle Siegrist

fall homcoming at the museum of appalachia

Dad, me and Mom at the Museum of Appalachia

After almost 3 weeks of blue skies and sunshine, it started raining 2 days before my parents arrived from Florida last Sunday, and rained daily until what was supposed to be their last day here, when amazingly the rain stopped, the clouds parted and the sun shone down, showcasing brilliant blue skies above! With squinted eyes, one couldn’t help admiring and looking at the great ball of fire in the sky! However, the juicy weather didn’t hinder us from having fun together. Last Monday morning, we headed to the Museum of Appalachia, where we spent much of the day. Firstly we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the restaurant located inside the museum, featuring yummy Southern style food. With a tantalizing list of things to choose from, one couldn’t go wrong! We enjoyed everything we ate, especially the sweet potato casserole and shared piece of carrot cake, which was scrumptious, and the best I’ve ever eaten at a restaurant! Moreover, we enjoyed the group of people gathered and seated in a circle inside an adjacent area, playing lap and hammer dulcimers, creating a truly memorable experience!

larry davis at museum of appalachiaDad makes a new friend

rachelle siegrist by Tom Cassies cabin

Mom and me by Tom Cassie’s one room cabin

With happy tummies, we started our journey back in time, when Appalachia was void of paved roads, cell towers, and many of the other modern conveniences, which tend to ruin and clutter the natural world, and many times, our personal lives! We visited the two large, indoor museums and were delighted to enjoy bluegrass music, played by a talented family of six, while exploring the largest museum, the Appalachian Hall of Fame. Leaving the indoor museum, we walked along a curved path while stopping to visit an assortment of historical cabins, barns and small outbuildings rescued from a 200-mile radius around the museum. Walking into the old cabins, filled with the scent of old wood, offered a glimpse back to a time and place, when much of a family’s life was spent just trying to survive. I must say a highlight of our visit to the museum for me, was of course petting the resident horse and mules, as well as watching the sheep and goats, especially the adorable babies!

rachelle siegrist huggin a horseI was delighted to get several hugs from my new furry friend!

larry davis in museum of appalachia jail cellDad “serves time” in a historic, moveable  jail cell at the museum

With a morning free of rain on Wednesday, we decided to take advantage of it, with a picnic at nearby Metcalf Bottoms, where we ate accompanied by the sounds of the adjacent, rushing river! We spent the afternoon driving the narrow, winding, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. The narrow paved trail, snaking its way through dense woods, invites you to slow down and take time to enjoy the forest and historic cabins located along the drive. After visiting almost every cabin along the way, we were treated to a splendid finale along our journey, that being a “Wet weather waterfall” called the Place of a Thousand Drips! We then enjoyed a relaxing drive to Cosby, TN, where we went to Carver’s Orchard. As we walked into the large, old building, the deliciously intoxicating aroma of fresh apples filled the air! Several bags of apples and squash later, we headed back to Townsend, where we feasted on a yummy pizza at Pizza Hut!

ephraim bales cabin at roaring fork

Me, Dad and Mom beside Ephraim Bale’s historic cabin located inside Roaring Fork

tub mill inside roaring fork motor trail

Dad and me beside a tub mill

rachelle siegrist with cabin in roaring fork motor trail

Mom and me beside a house for little people

stream inside roaring fork motor trail

I decided that this large rock looked like a big turtle trying to swim upstream . . . and the turbulent water made it appear as if it were blowing bubbles out of its nose!

Thursday we visited the Cades Cove Museum located inside the Thompson-Brown House in nearby Maryville. The historical cabin is filled with interesting relics and stories from people who lived inside Cades Cove, before leaving their homes, so it could become a National Park. The volunteer was most informative, and we left with a greater appreciation of the history of the beautiful cove! Thankfully, the seemingly never-ending rains, stopped Thursday night, and we awoke to a gorgeous sunshine-filled day Friday morning! With a picnic lunch packed, we headed into Cades Cove, to spend the glorious fall day! After a picnic lunch, we walked up to Gregory’s cave, where we listened to several turkeys nearby clucking to each other. When they stopped I would make clucking noise, which they would immediately answer!

rachelle siegrist by gregory's caveDad and me at the mouth of Gregory’s Cave

The remainder of the afternoon was spent enjoying visiting a few of the cabins and walking through the open sun drenched fields to a couple of small cemeteries. Of course no trip to Cades Cove is complete, unless we stop to watch and pet the resident horses and mules! Upon returning home, my poor mom decided that what we thought was a sprained muscle, was most likely a broken foot, which happened when she twisted it on a rock buried under the leaves, while hiking to the cave earlier that day. So after a memorable trip to the ER, our worst fear was confirmed, and it was indeed a broken bone in her foot, ending in a soft cast being put onto her foot! Thankfully the ER staff was extremely friendly, helpful and most entertaining as well!

picnicing at metcalf bottomsEnjoying a picnic at Metcalf Bottoms inside the Smokies

Needless to say, they had to postpone their return trip home by a day. So while my mom took a much needed nap yesterday, my dad and I hiked to Spruce Flats Falls, to enjoy both the beautiful fall foliage and the raging falls, thanks to the recent rain! It was as splendid as always, water crashing down, completely surrounded by bright yellow and orange foliage! Dad and I stayed there awhile, completely mesmerized while watching the multi-colored leaves floating along and plummeting over the smaller cascades. Then all of a sudden a strong wind came, and within seconds, the air was full of swirling, descending, bright yellow leaves, creating a stunning 3-dimensional effect to the gorgeous setting! After several stops along the hike back, to admire the view and for me to pet the moss, we found ourselves back at the trailhead once more. While eating our supper last evening, we decided that we had indeed made many memories during their visit. Thankfully all but one, were wonderful ones!

fall in cades coveDad, a barefooted me, and Kit enjoying a walk through a grassy fiend in Cades Cove

rachelle siegrist with mule in cades cove

Dad takes photos while I pet and talk to the mule

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~ The latest paintings off of the Siegrists’ Easels ~

Wes recently finished a miniature painting of a Mule Deer near our friends’ home in Colorado.  His other recently completed paintings from last week can be seen on the mammals page on our website

mule deer painting by Wes_SiegristLil’ Mulie ” by Wes

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Until next time . . .
~ Rachelle

Objects of Beauty

By Rachelle Siegrist

Miniature Paintings As Objects of Beauty

waterfall painting spruce flats falls

Objects of beauty . . . what may be beautiful to one person, appears totally ugly to another. It’s definitely a matter of personal taste, uniquely fitted to each individual. Wes and I consider many paintings objects of beauty, obviously being partial towards miniatures! I personally cannot imagine a home void of paintings. Special places created by paint, where one’s mind is allowed to wonder and imagine being there. Perhaps it’s a beautiful landscape where you can walk through fields of flowers or sit under a large shade tree, while looking out over a herd of cattle or flock of sheep. A painting of an old barn, that lets your mind imagine what stories it would tell. A beautiful bird or animal or a precious pet that you share or did share your life with, that holds a special place in your heart. Somehow miniature paintings seem to intensify this experience of imaginative travel, as you are drawn into their tiny intimate worlds, their own universe of sorts.

Birds As Objects of Beauty

bluejay gathering spanish mossB.J. gathers moss for his nest

male cardinal with birdhouseA male Cradinal near the Tufted Titmice nest box

mourning doves with azelea flowersThree Mourning Doves amongst Azelea blooms

Birds . . . what kind of world would this be without them? I personally cannot imagine that! Such an array of colors and sizes, each equipped with it’s own unique song. Filling the trees with a splash of red, yellow or blue, and the skies with assorted shaped silhouettes as they soar above. Watching a parent patiently trying to catch a bug to feed hungry babies, or tenderly share with its mate. Seeing the gorgeous red iridescent feathers of a Ruby-throated hummingbird, or listening to the melodious song of the Wood Thrush lingering in the heavy early morning or late evening air. Beauty, plain and simple, and free to those who’ll take time to enjoy them!

Flowers As Objects of Beauty

bearded iris bloomA Bearded Iris

dianthus flowersDianthus blossoms by our split rail fence

wild geranium bloomAn iridescent fly works a Wild Geranium blossom

Flowers . . . they fill our world with so much color! From the cool purplish blues of Virginia Bluebells to the warm yellows of happy-faced Pansies, each one unique in its own way, filling our gardens and our world with such vibrant life! From a field of large-headed, golden-petaled sunflowers to the single, vibrant red of a miniature rose, each serving its unique purpose while creating beauty for us to enjoy! What a delightful treat it is, to take the time to walk through one’s flower gardens, admiring the vast array of colors represented in assorted shaped and sized blossoms, while listening to natures symphony composed of birdsong, crickets and the occasional bee or hummingbird buzzing by . . . this is truly an experience of beauty!

The Latest Painting From the Siegrist’s Easel

Wes finished his painting of an adorable otter playfully floating on it’s back, while I’m still painting on a Longhorn Steer.

Otter painting by Wes Siegrist“The Backstroke Made Easy”

Amazing Encounters, Adventures and New Miniature Paintings!

still life

Occasionally in life you experience amazing encounters, and I was privileged to enjoy a couple recently. While sitting on the backporch eating breakfast and reading my devotions one morning, I heard the “Honks” of the Canada Geese far off in the distance. The honks quickly grew louder, and mere seconds after I had jumped up and ran to the uncovered side of the porch, seven of them, in perfect V formation, flew directly overhead, so close that I could hear the “Swish . . . swish . . . swish” sound of their wings as they flew over, and then I watched as they quickly disappeared above the woods on the other side of our house! Wow . . . I thought . . . that was amazing! Then a couple of hours later, while taking a break during our bike ride to enjoy a refreshing drink of water and looking for fish in the river down below an old one lane bridge, Wes suddenly said “Look . . . a Bald Eagle!” I looked and there flying toward us was a gorgeous Bald Eagle! He flew directly above us, so close in fact, that I almost felt as if I could reach up and touch it! Wow . . . I thought, another amazing encounter! Moreover, just the day before while sitting in my rocking chair on the back porch and watching my Titmouse, Stubbs, eating his peanut crunchies from his bowl, I heard the checking sounds of Warblers nearby. There right beside me in the Wisteria Vine was a beautiful female American Redstart, fanning out her tail feathers showing off the brilliant yellow patches on it, with a pair of Pine Warblers right beside it. They were all looking at me curiously, while making checking calls, and coming ever closer! They cautiously worked their way around and through the vine to where they were directly behind me and I thought for a minute they may jump on me! Then later that afternoon, while standing nearby Stubbs as he ate, my Carolina Wren, Peedeepeeps walked over to my feet and sat looking up at me, while Tinymouse, a Tufted Titmouse was sitting on my head, trying to do it’s best to fix my hair. Standing there in complete amazement at it all, I thought “Wow . . . it just doesn’t get any better than this!”

birds of the smokies
My precious Stubb’s looking like a “Got peanuts?” Ad

We have been blessed with a few “Storybook” days weather-wise this past week. So this past Monday, Wes and I decided to go on a lunch date to our favorite lunching spot. With lunches packed into our waist packs and walking sticks in hand, we started our ascent up the narrow, steep trial leading to Spruce Flats Falls. After rounding the first hairpin curve in the trail, we left the busyness of the world behind as we continued climbing. A few minutes later we came to a spot along the trail offering the first stunning view of the mountains off in the distance. There was a Sourwood Tree nearby, already displaying the first hint of autumn color creating a beautiful scene, with the mountains behind and the azure blue skies above! Onward we went, stopping occasionally to take photos of interesting flowers, or mushrooms, and the occasional lizard or two. Of course with this being a spectacular year for moss, I had to stop and pet several lovely, amazingly thick, soft clumps of it.

autumn in the great smoky mountains
The first awesome view awaiting you along the trail

auntumn in the great smoky mountains
The first hint of autumn appears!

Cauliflower Mushroom image
A stunning Cauliflower Mushroom

hiking the smokies
A handsome Fence Lizard blends with his surroundings

hiking the smokies
A brightly colored Slippery Jack Mushroom

In no time we found ourselves reaching the falls, and Wes quickly found us a new picnic spot, which proved to be a great one! Taking turns, we carefully climbed over a couple of large rocks until we were perched on a big rock sitting right in the middle of the lower falls. What a perfect location it was, as we were actually sitting in the middle of the falls, enjoying not only the spectacular view, but also the sound of the cascading water in complete surround sound! There simply isn’t a better “restaurant” anywhere, than one located near a waterfall! There we enjoyed our lime and cilantro, smoked black bean Hummus sandwiches I had made earlier that morning, and finished off our yummy lunch with dark chocolate . . . of course! Feeling completely relaxed and refreshed, we started the hike back. It was a glorious day, and the gentle early fall breeze kept us nice and cool as we walked along.

wildflowers of the smokies
One of my favorite wildflowers . . . a Hearts-a-Bustin!

wildflowers of the smokies
A pretty Maryland Golden Aster blossom

spruce flats falls in tremont
The perfect lunch spot!

We’ve also gotten a lot of painting time in this past week, as well as enjoying several evenings with friends. Thursday evening, neighbor friends, Richard and Melodie, joined us at our house for dessert and a game of dominoes. Friday evening, we met neighbor friends, Paul, Norma, Fran and Doug at our local Pizza Hut, where we enjoyed a delicious jalapeno smothered pizza. Afterwards, we had a game of Mexican Train at Fran and Doug’s house, while enjoying Fran’s homemade “Million Dollar Chocolate Chip Cookies”. Yesterday we rode bikes to “downtown” Townsend where we stopped at the Old Timer’s Festival to check out the old tractors being displayed there.  I found my dream tractor, a beautiful cotton candy pink Farmall, and was immediately smitten!  From there we rode down to our local Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, where we spent a couple of hours enjoying the Country Fair.  We admired the numerous beautiful chickens being shown, petted a couple of freshly sheared sheep, which felt like velour, and saw a mama hog with her adorable pile of piggies.  We watched a blacksmith at work and people weaving baskets, and thoroughly enjoyed watching the little kids chase the greased pig. Then last evening artist friend Kit, joined us for a spaghetti dinner, with homemade carrot cake for dessert. Afterwards the three of us walked down to our local bluegrass festival called the Old Timer’s Festival. It was a festive mood as the band cranked one fast tempo song after another, while the stage full of talented cloggers all danced the night away! Legs and feet were flying everywhere, as the taps of the numerous pairs of tap shoes all kept perfect time, many times sounding like one clogger. It was the first time Kit had ever seen the dance form of clogging, and heard live bluegrass music, so Wes and I were happy to introduce him to both!

pink farmall tractor image
Ah … My dream tractor!

Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center country fair
Run little pig . . . Run!!!

Fresh off the easel ~ We have finished several paintings this past week, including my surprise commission that I unfortunately cannot share with you yet. I finished my miniature painting of an adorable little Spotted Skunk, which we photographed at MacArthur Beach State Park and Wes finished his miniature painting of an Osprey. I am currently painting a dog and Wes hard at work doing some framing and show paperwork.

miniature painting skunk painting image

“Lil’ Stinker” by Rachelle

miniature painting osprey painting
“Highrise Construction” by Wes

To view all our upcoming exhibits: http://www.artofwildlife.com/exhibitschedule.html

Immortalize your loved one or a beloved pet in miniature!
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Until next time ~ Rachelle