Spring in the Appalachian Mountains is a time of renewal and transformation. The Blue Ridge landscape turns into a colorful canvas; the air is filled with the sweet melodies of birds, and the meadows come alive with the gentle hum of bees. This transition, unique to our beloved mountains, is a season that holds a special place in my heart. The days are pleasantly warm, perfect for leisurely hikes, and the nights, cool enough to warrant a cozy sweater, invite us to sit on the porch, savor a warm beverage, and bask in the comforting glow of a fire.

Spring in the mountains is a season that fills me with anticipation. It is a delicate dance with nature that beckons me to plant many possibilities, yet I must restrain my eager hands. I patiently await May’s flowers as their arrival signals the start of my garden. However, it’s a dance with an unpredictable partner. Nature holds the reins, and a late frost can swiftly dispel any illusions of control, reminding us of her power and our humility.

Spring is when our community comes alive, and we encounter the largest crowds: our feathered friends. The feeders in the yard may be complete, but parking spots downtown and open seating in restaurants are available. Danny and I have fully immersed ourselves in this abundance this year, unencumbered by our usual restaurant operations. It’s a rare opportunity to rediscover the area we are fortunate to call home, to reconnect with our neighbors and friends, and to appreciate the beauty of our shared surroundings.

Ferguson, our Great Pyrenees, is thrilled with both transitions. Although he loves the cold, dark winters, he’s excited to tag along with us to the springtime celebrations at Blue Ridge’s breweries and festivals. Without a farm full of animals to work, Fergus is also adapting to his respite from responsibilities. Like us, he’s learning new social skills, and I would say he is adapting much better than we are.

We welcomed the opportunity to tour the Blue Ridge Trout Festival in April and gather with friends at Tipping Point Brewery and Angry Hops on several occasions. (Thanks to Tipping Point for having housemade Seltzer and Crafted Root Beer for some no-octane choices.)  The Trout Festival was more extensive than ever this year—or at least it felt that way to us. We hadn’t walked the rows and rows of vendors since the days the festival began just outside the doors of Harvest on Main when we catered the Trout Train.

Getting some new shooting skills!

Honestly, April and May were pretty fabulous here. We took a quick trip to Florida for our daughter Sophie’s wedding. Then, we were back to work on a new concept for Blue Ridge and some significant improvements at The Cook’s Farm as we prepare to bring back our farm dinners (fewer farm animals and a much mo

re intimate setting with a great view of the horses). We’ve been dining out a bit more since we have no actual kitchen at the farm at the moment – some highlights include a trip up to 7M Family Farms in Blairsville for Chef Hayden’s newly introduced dinner menu.

I am looking forward to some lobster and prime rib later this month! Each week’s special menu is available on Facebook, and some mouth-watering features are available only from 4 to 7 p.m.

We stopped by Sue’s Burgers with the kids, one of their favorite places to eat whenever they’re home. They have many new options on their menu, from chef salads to chicken salad. When Cathy whips up some chicken salad, it’s always a crowd-pleaser. Speaking of crowd pleasers, I snuck in a couple of pieces of pecan pie on our order, and DANG! It’s the best pecan pie I have had in a long time. They say Daniel’s pecan pie is no ordinary pie; they got that right! Sue’s has been family-owned and operated for over 50 years, putting all of us newbie restaurateurs in Blue Ridge to shame with their longevity. But as they say, all good things must come to an end – anyone who may be interested in purchasing the property, it’s for sale. You can contact the owners directly, no Realtors, please.

Perhaps one of my favorite things this month was a chance meeting at the Trout Festival when the Owenby family told us there were two open spots for Glow in the Dark Clay shooting. Do tell? What exactly is this crazy-sounding activity? It’s a blast. The fun begins once the sun sets and the targets start flying from left to right. Noontootla Creek Farm is having fun these days, adding a lot of activities and attracting new business on our Newport Road. Adding the night-time stations to the sporting clay range is something any clay enthusiast should give a shot (pun intended). NCF is another business with longevity in the mountains, celebrating its 70th year. The next generation is getting in on the game, adding experiences like the glowing clays. While Danny and I certainly tried our hand at it, we didn’t stick around for our final scores (way past our bedtime). I know I got two clear shots, and I will lie and say I clipped the other 48. We were the first round of shooters, and we got home around 11 pm. As the days grow longer with summer and the popularity of the experience increases, this event will surely be well into the wee hours. Still, I can’t wait to return; I may have to nap first.

Check out Noontootla’s 70th Anniversary Celebration, which offers new experiences monthly, from kids’ fly fishing day camp to yoga by the creek.

Noontootla Creek Farms Glow in the Dark Clay Shooting makes for a great night out.

Next up? We are really excited about the addition of the new Fannin County Recreation Department with the May opening of the new pool and splash pad. Michelle’s been expanding her skills by playing pickleball. But you’re sure to see Danny jumping around in the splash pad. It’s been years since we took advantage of the recreation facilities, back when the kids were getting dropped off for the Summer Recreation program. My, how time flies.

We’ll also celebrate Fannin County at the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association Arts in the Park on May 25 & 26, 2024. Our Appalachian days will be significantly warmer, attracting more two-legged visitors to the train, shopping, and downtown dining scene. While the crowds will increase, we look forward to blending in with the masses and playing tourists for the weekend before the heat and rush of summer is upon us all.


Michelle’s getting her game on with Blue Ridge Pickleball. Excited for all the new things happening at Fannin Recreation Center! You may even recognize another downtown business owner popping in for a workout!