Saturday, August 21, 2021

September - October 2021

Open House at the Gerton Volunteer Fire Department

The Gerton Volunteer Fire Department invites you to an Open House on Saturday, August 28 from 10 am till 4 pmSmokey and the Pig will serve lunch from 11 am until 3 pm.  
The Fire Department wants you to meet the women and men who serve our community.
Donations will be accepted and go toward the purchase of a Lucas Emergency Medical device used to treat heart failure.  

President's Note

As our community prepares to move into fall season, I wanted to say “Thank you for your continued support of the UHNGCC and the few projects we have focused on during this year.” We have done a great job supporting our neighbors at the Hickory Nut Gorge Outreach, kept up with our Highway Pick-up commitments and tackled some long-needed projects to maintain our Building.

The Hickory Nut Gorge Outreach continues to need our help with food donations, school supplies and funds for assistance with utilities for our local families in need. We are collecting donations at the Gerton Post Office and delivering supplies to the HNG Outreach on a regular basis – Thank You for your continued support!

We will be sponsoring our next Highway pickup on Friday, November 5. Please join us at 10 a.m. to support a litter-free community and meet some new neighbors.

After a successful 4th of July event at the Community Center, the Board has made the decision to put a hold on our reopening because of the sharp increase in Covid cases in our area. We are working hard to balance the needs of our community, financial needs of our center, and the safety of our membership and Gerton residents. Several members of our Board of Directors along with a great team of volunteers have been busy at work converting the old Library space into a Community Room that will be previewed in the coming months.

During the storm this past week, we saw what I believe was a record rainfall in our area, which caused several of our creeks to flood. This unprecedented flooding caused damage to Community Center property where we lost several feet of the sloping creek bank behind the building. We are working to assess the damage and formulate a plan to secure the foundation of our structure but also a plan to avoid future issues. I am submitting a damage report to the WNC Community Foundation in hopes that we may qualify for some type of financial assistance for this project.

In closing, I want to thank the individuals who made donations for the purchase of additional American flags. Our older flags have taken a beating in the storms and will be retired at the end of this season. I will be purchasing new flags, poles and brackets with the donations--hopeful that with the retirement of the older flags and the addition of our newer ones, we will have a bigger showing next year. The maintenance of our Center requires a lot of funds and your donations are always appreciated.

Have a Safe and Happy Fall,

Stan Mobley

UHNGCC President

Rains Result in Flooding Waters in Gerton

Rain began in the early pre-dawn hours of Tuesday, August 17, and continued throughout the day. Mac McAdams, who has been measuring our rainfall for many years, reports that this is the most he has ever recorded--over 8.5 inches in 24 hours. The toll was significant to the white bridge that crosses the river in front of Bearwallow Baptist. In the picture below you can see the bridge knocked off its foundation and bobbing in the water.

The rain also did damage to the back side of the UHNGCC. Rock and some retaining support will be added to the far NorthWest side of the building. Already work has begun--clearing the path to get the rip rap to its destination. A big thanks to Stan Mobley and his vigilance in watching out and acting quickly to get on top of our newest challenge. (see below)

And it appears the water also eroded the wall behind the picnic shelter on the far side of Kelly Road. Rip rap will be added here as well. (see below)

Monarch Butterfly Release on July 1

 40 Gathered to Participate

Sara Fletcher greeted Gerton neighbors on the Commons area of Chestnut Hills at 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 1, for the release of about 100 Monarch butterflies. The butterflies we released on this day will live only two weeks! She had prepared small blue construction paper temporary "houses" as she handed them out to the children assembled. She explained what the Monarch butterfly contributes to our eco-cycle and the butterflies were released. They were in such a hurry that it was difficult indeed to get a clear picture of one zooming through the air. 

Just to Sarah's right as you look at the picture, you can see a butterfly taking wing.
It was a beautiful July morning as about 40 neighbors gathered under a chestnut tree to watch the moment. 

Getting Passionate About Monarchs

by Linda Reandeau

Maybe some of you gathered in the Chestnut Hills commons area on July 1 for a monarch butterfly release. It was an informative and fun experience, and we were all excited as we released about 100 butterflies. As Native Americans have done for many generations, many of us made wishes as we released our monarchs.

Last year I purchased a swamp milkweed plant and was delighted to find a tiny caterpillar on it. After a few days, however, the little caterpillar was not to be found and I assumed a predator had found it. This summer I added several common milkweed plants to my garden. Imagine how excited I was to find some monarch eggs on a couple leaves just days after the release.

Wow, I have monarch eggs, now what? Knowing that only one percent of eggs result in a live butterfly in the wild, I decided to give my four caterpillars a little better chance. Monarch caterpillars live about 10-14 days and after a couple of days living in a Mason jar, I knew they needed a bigger home, so I promptly ordered a mesh butterfly enclosure. Our front porch became the home of the enclosure, providing shelter from wind and rain and protection from predators. Caterpillars eat milkweed almost nonstop, go through several molts and grow 2,700 times larger before turning into a chrysalis. It is important to provide fresh milkweed leaves daily and clean the enclosure often because not only do they eat a lot, they also poop a lot!

About 3-5 days after the final molt and when the caterpillar has eaten enough, it searches for a place to form its chrysalis. It spins a web of silk and then hangs in the shape of a “J.” It may hang in this shape for up to a day before going into its chrysalis, a process that takes only a few minutes. In chrysalis, the adult butterfly develops for approximately 10-14 days.

The new chrysalis is a bright green, but toward the end of its metamorphosis, it turns black and then clear, and you can clearly see the black and orange of the butterfly at this time. Once hatched, the new butterfly pumps fluids into its wings and stays in a hanging position as its wings unfurl and dry. After a few hours, it began fluttering around the enclosure, announcing it was ready to enter the world. Bidding her safe travels, we released her where she promptly found a begonia flower and sampled the nectar. Next, the butterfly searches for a mate, reproduces, and the process begins again!

It can take 4-6 generations of monarchs to make their way to their northernmost breeding grounds in southern Canada before the final generation, called the super generation, migrates back to their winter home in Central Mexico or the California coast. They follow a pattern that leads them into the unknown, flying forward not knowing where they are going and fully trusting that when their journey ends another generation will pick up where they left off.

Butterflies have been around for close to 200 million years, and the monarch is a very ancient creature that has been revered and symbolized by cultures across history. In their winter home, monarch butterflies are believed to be spirits of people who have passed on. Most migrate to Mexico, and they arrive at the same time each year, coinciding with Mexico’s most celebrated festival, the Day of the Dead, around the same time as we celebrate Halloween. Mexican folklore tells us these butterflies come to visit relatives on these holy days to provide comfort to the families of the deceased.

It is said that up to 100 million monarchs migrate each fall. But did you know that this migration is seriously threatened by human activities (pesticide use and habitat loss) in both their summer and winter sites? Many resources are available online regarding these threats as well as ongoing conservation efforts.

If you are interested in helping the monarchs that come through our area, one of the easiest things you can do is to plant milkweed. There are more than 100 species of milkweed native to the United States and Canada, with about 15 species here in North Carolina. Milkweed is a perennial plant and depending on the variety, the flower colors range from brilliant pinks to oranges, a sure delight in any garden! They produce large seed pods from which you can collect seeds to share or keep and plant the next spring. Milkweed is the only food source for monarch butterflies as it contains the nutrients to support their genetic requirements for survival.

Get passionate about Monarchs and milkweed. If you plant it, they will come!

Forming its chrysalis--a process that only takes a few minutes.
Almost ready to enclose (hatch)

Butterfly enjoying the flowers of swamp milkweed

July 4th Community Cook-Out: WE'RE BACK!

(or we thought we were until Delta Variant raised its ugly head)

Jim Earnhardt and Steve Jones grill the burgers and dogs while neighbors visit.

We were not sure how many to prepare for, so we bought food for 100 and thought--well, we can save what we don't use for GertonFest. BUT, our neighbors came. At least 80 of them---and they came inside and they sat and they spoke with one another. Thanks to Jim Earnhardt, Steve Jones, and Chuck Mallory for being the grill-tenders. Thanks to Karen Owensby, Sylvia Sane, and Sheila Padgett for setting up on Saturday and then preparing the trimmings on Sunday afternoon. Thanks to Mary Ann Adoryan and Lana Roberts and Sylvia Sane for cleaning up afterwards. It takes a entertain a village. Thanks to neighbors for a great fireworks display afterwards. Gerton continues to lead the way in fireworks celebrations. So Happy Birthday, America....and welcome back, Gerton neighbors and visiting friends and families.

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Wild sweet peas have been growing in Gerton for at least the past 75 years!

Why Composition Books Matter in Prison

 Carol Dalton, Chaplain, Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women

[Ed. Note: Recently our community donated three cases of composition notebooks to the women's prison. The chaplain explains here why such a gift matters. The Chaplain position is a community-funded, 501c3, supported by Ministry of Hope. Donations kindly accepted at Ministry of Hope, PO Box 998, Black Mountain, NC  28711]

Providing composition books has long been part of our ministry at Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women. During the past 18 months, it has been more important than ever. It’s probably not difficult for anyone reading this to relate to “lockdown.” But imagine it without control over the television remote or without internet access. Imagine it with limited phone time and maybe with 31 other people listening to your end of the conversation!

Finding ways to process the pandemic in prison sometimes includes a composition book. For some women, it has been a way to write out goals and transition plans. Others used them to write poetry or even their memoirs. With no volunteers coming into the prison during COVID times, and especially when no groups larger than FOUR were allowed to meet at the chapel, the chaplains sent out inspirational writings with reflection questions. Journal prompts helped women to push back against the brain fog. Here’s an example:

You exist TODAY. Let go of the past and the future for a few minutes, and think about how you can make meaning out of the life you have right now. If that’s difficult for you, look around at people who live with you. Who is making the most of each day? How are they doing it? Which people are making the world a little brighter and lighter right now? How do they do that? Maybe you could have a conversation with them. Tell them what a difference they are making. Sometimes the people with the brightest outlook need a little lift, also, and when you validate them, you become part of the light this world desperately needs!

In your journal, write your thoughts, your prayers, your concerns, and especially your gratitude list!

The chaplains and residents of Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women are grateful for the many individuals, organizations and churches who support us by providing tangible resources like journals and greeting cards, and for the monetary contributions that provide community-funded chaplains who insure the spiritual needs of women are met, no matter their faith affiliation.

Mission Statement for the Ministry of Hope

As the sole source of funding for the interfaith chaplaincy program at Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women, Ministry of Hope nurtures a safe space for residents to foster personal transformation, inspire future growth, and uncover the potential for new beginnings.

Vision Statement for the Ministry of Hope

Having benefited from Ministry of Hope’s gifts of authentic connection, genuine belonging and deep healing, participants are empowered to create a better life for themselves and contribute positively to their communities. 

Work Ongoing to Clean up Library

 and Convert to Community Room

Some of the members of the new Community Room Committee: Lee Strickland, Ellen Boyle, and Joann D'Ambra
What the old library room looked like after the first day of clean-up. Rickety shelves in the center of the room have been dismantled and taken away. Books have been sorted and those saturated with mold and mildew have been taken to the dump. (This picture is so you might compare with the new look!)

After the books have been removed and the first coat of paint has been put on the shelves--a work in progress. Stay tuned for a NEW LOOK and a full report on how you might sign up for a small group to use the Community Room.

Last Summer 2021 Litter Sweep

                                                                    from Mike Hamlin

Pictured in photo:
Front row: Stan Mobley, Karen Gamble
                            Back Row:  Jim Earnhardt, Sarah Gayle, Charles Gamble, Chuck Mallory, Mike Reandeau, Karen Owensby

Friday, August 6, the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge Community Center had its third quarterly highway trash pick-up.  We had an enthusiastic group of nine community members show up and support Gerton's goal to keep our community clean.  All in all we collected nine bags of trash and two full bags of recycling.  Thank you everyone for your continued support.  

Our next and final quarterly for 2021 pick-up will be Friday, November 5, at 10 a.m.

Neighborhood News

John Hathaway removes a Timber Rattler from Travis Waldron's front step. John Solomon and Sam check out the snake -- once it is safe to do so.

A Report from Travis Waldron:
It was a typical summer afternoon in Gerton -- sunny, 10 degrees cooler and 25 percent less humid than the surrounding areas, peaceful, perfect. I had dashed off to town to run a few quick errands and returned, happy to be away from the heat and chaos of Asheville. I pulled into my drive and there, bold as could be, was a huge Timber Rattlesnake coiled up on my porch enjoying the sunshine! I am not generally alarmed by snakes, but then again, they don't generally prevent me from getting into my home. And the size of this one even prevented me from getting out of my truck. After thinking for a couple minutes, I decided to drive up as close as possible to the porch in an attempt to scare it off. This, of course, had no effect except to cause the snake to raise its head in a "don't mess with me" gesture. It also occurred to me that, charming as this snake was, I didn't want it roaming about my property. After all, I have a vivacious, oblivious-to-her-surroundings standard poodle, Harper Simone, to protect!

So I quickly called a friend to say "what should I do" and she said "go get John." I was aware that John and his family had been away, but I drove to the Hathaways' home and found they had, within the last hour, returned from their week-long camping trip. I explained the situation and John got his guns as the entire family jumped in their car and followed me up to the house. Upon seeing the size of the snake, John declared "he's a monster -- biggest one I've ever seen"  and then set about to create a plan of action. After moving some of my patio furniture out of the way, he aimed his .22 and fired two shots. Though hit, the snake responded by moving up to the edge of the house and began to slither away. He fired two more times with direct hits, but the snake continued on its way. John called to his wife Becca to grab the 9mm. After two hits with the 9mm, the snake succumbed to its injuries. John, who clearly had experience with these creatures, grabbed a shovel and removed the frighteningly large head. His sons then approached and, as kids do, parroted John's exclamations, "he's a monster, he's a monster." John picked up the snake and held it for all of us to examine and said, "rattlesnake for dinner." Calm was restored and my gratitude was abounding!  I couldn't thank John enough for coming to the rescue.

In the subsequent days, as my adrenaline level returned to normal, the presence of the snake remained. I kept thinking I saw it out of the corner of my eye.  Harper Simone even approached the porch area with trepidation -- and she never saw the creature! I have wondered if it encountered the black snake that lives between my house and the house next door. I am quite reluctant to harm the critters we share our woods with, as I feel that it is truly their land more than ours, so I've had moments of guilt about the snake's demise. And yet, that feeling is overshadowed by the gratitude I have for John's intervention. And I am, once again, reminded of another beautiful thing about living in Gerton --  our sense of community, the ability to call on each other in moments of need and our willingness to answer that call. 
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ECHO of the Gorge is published bi-monthly by the UHNGCC. News and photos may be sent to Margaret Whitt at Photos for this issue provided by Margaret Whitt, Mike Hamlin, Stan Mobley, Travis Waldron, Linda Reandeau, Sylvia Sane, Chuck Mallory

Officers of UHNGCC for 2021: President - Stan Mobley; Vice-President - Jim Earnhardt; Secretary - Karen Owensby; Treasurer - Sylvia Sane; Board Members - Jean Bradley, Chuck Mallory, Margaret Whitt