Hello, World

I was out and about earlier today and stopped by one of my favorite places—Fearrington Village.

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The grounds at Fearrington Village (NC) are a nod to English gardens.

Situated on pasture land between Pittsboro and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Fearrington is designed to look and feel like an English village. Single family residences surround a “village center” that is comprised of a world-class Inn, two highly acclaimed restaurants (Fearrington House and The Granary), a coffee and wine shop (The Belted Goat), as well as a beauty salon, spa, bookstore, boutique, post office …and the list goes on.

Despite the numerous and, in some cases, luxurious amenities that Fearrington Village offers, there’s a down-to-earth, natural quality about the place, accomplished largely (in my humble opinion) by the various gardens, small ponds and walking paths.

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On the “square,” poppies (a personal favorite) make this wildflower garden “pop”. — Fearrington Village, NC

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One more poppy picture…I just can’t resist! –Fearrington Village, NC

Also resident to the village are Belted Galloway cows, Tennessee fainting goats, and donkeys. Today, when I entered the tranquil and slow-paced world of Fearrington Village, one of the donkeys was standing docilely in the pasture adjacent to The Granary. This is where I normally see the fainting goats (who were there today, also); but this was the first time I had ever seen a donkey there—in the past, I had only spotted a stout one standing under some trees along the edge of the pasture that runs alongside Route 15-501.

So, as you might imagine, I wanted to get a picture.

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I got my donkey picture, but it was hardly a “one and done” scene. Notice the fluffy mound at this jenny’s front hooves.

I went around the bend of the fencerow to get a better angle, and behold!

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It appears that the rather rotund donkey I had spotted several times standing there in the shade by 15-501 was now the proud mother of a new baby!

Round about the time of my discovery, a lady pulled up, jumped out of her SUV, and came hoofing it to the fence. Excitedly, she reported that the foal was only one day old! (Apparently, she lived around Fearrington, had checked in on the mother the night before, and had found her still pregnant.) The woman jumped back in to her vehicle, then off she went…perhaps to spread the good news that the world consisted of one more dear little donkey. (UPDATE: Since writing this post, I have learned that the baby—a girl—was born at 5:30AM, making her a mere six hours old in these photos!)

The colt began to stir, and I witnessed one of its first lessons in standing and walking.
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The mother gently nudged her new offspring to keep it on its feet and get it moving. — Fearrington Village, NC

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With each nudge, the foal became more sure on its feet. By the time I left, it was doing quite well! — Fearrington Village, NC

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Fearrington Village’s newest colt gets a nuzzle from its mama. – Pittsboro, NC

As I watched this interaction between mother and newborn, I pondered God’s great design. It was a creation moment—a commonplace scene of everyday life—that was fascinating and beautiful.

Fearrington House, Finally!

If you follow my blog with any regularity, you know that (1) I really enjoy spending time at Fearrington Village, and (2) calamity has struck three times, causing me to cancel reservations for the Fearrington House Restaurant—one of the crown jewels of the Village.

Sometimes when you build something up, it doesn’t live up to the hype. This was not the case with the Fearrington House Restaurant, where I had the joy of dining recently. The experience was as I imagined it—flawless and then some.

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Fearrington House Restaurant on a September evening. –Pittsboro/Chapel Hill, NC

During my four-course meal, I ate things (or combinations) that I had never eaten before: Tomato Salad with Lemon Pickled Watermelon & Parsley Financier; Chicken & Sweet Corn Ravioli with Chanterelles, Lemon & Tarragon; Quail with Seared Scallop, Pickled Peaches & Candied Sweet Potatoes; Valrhona Cœur de Guanaja Chocolate Soufflé.

The atmosphere was “a cut above,” and yet down to earth at the same time. Upon reflection, it wasn’t just a meal. It was a leisurely, culinary exhibition of satisfying proportions. I left with a pleasantly-full belly and a grandly-bestowed box of chocolates.

A couple from New York, sitting at a nearby table, put the experience this way: “You could dine at restaurants like this every night in New York City—if you had the money and wanted to. It’s wonderful that there’s a place like this down here in the country.”

I’ll drink some sweet tea to that.

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A view of the pasture at sunset from the walkway at Fearrington House Restaurant. — Pittsboro/Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Farewell Summer?

It’s September 1st already. Here in the United States, most people are talking as though summer is over. I think what they really mean is that summer break is over. I can assure you that here in the South, we have plenty more ninety degree days ahead of us. And several more longer days than nights as well. In fact, the fall equinox is not until September 22nd—at 10:29 PM EDT to be exact, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. The fall (autumnal) equinox, as you may know, is when both night and day are each about 12 hours long, and it’s when the fall season officially begins.

But nobody likes a stick in the mud, so I’ll get on the bandwagon and look back whimsically at the summer of 2014. It was a busy one, at times a challenging one, and most definitely a fun one. As I was organizing my photos yesterday—a never-ending chore for a shutter bug—I came across a few gems that brought back memories of places and people and summer adventures.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens
I only visited Duke Gardens a handful of times over the past few months—I used to go there nearly every day! It’s been a real culture shock, but a reality of my circumstances. Whether one goes there 100 times or 1 time, however, there’s always something to photograph!

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A cabbage white butterfly with its wings tucked. When the butterfly spread its wings, I could see one black spot, signifying that it was a male (females have two spots on each wing). — Duke Gardens; Durham, NC

Lake Johnson
I started taking photography classes, but I am sorry to say that I’ve fizzled out a bit. Let me back up: I took an introductory class, where I learned how to take pictures in manual mode. I graduated to intermediate photography; but unfortunately, I showed up to the first class on the wrong day. The studio was locked up tighter than a drum. The class was the night before. It was kind of downhill from there. I’m more of a “see-what-I-like-and-take-50-pictures-of-the-same-thing-and-hope-at-least-one-of-them-turns-out” kind of gal. Turns out, tinkering with aperture, etc. stresses me out—and then photography is no longer fun. Maybe I’ll get better with practice. …I went to Lake Johnson in Raleigh, NC, back in early summer to practice:

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Here’s a shot that I took where I changed the aperture, ISO, and shutter speed as part of a homework assignment. — Lake Johnson pedestrian bridge; Raleigh, NC

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By the boathouse, I encountered a greylag goose sitting on her nest. — Lake Johnson; Raleigh, NC

North Carolina Botanical Garden
My young nephew spent a couple of days with me in early July—and he made it back home in one piece! In between his Lego construction projects, we visited the North Carolina Botanical Garden, where he was an eager explorer and birdwatcher.

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My nephew was blown away by the height and size of this beautiful sunflower at the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill NC.

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My nephew and I spent most of our time in the bird shelter, consulting the poster of North Carolina birds and identifying them as they stopped by the feeders. Pictured here is a male cardinal, our state bird. — North Carolina Botanical Garden; Chapel Hill, NC

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My favorite visitor was the white-breasted nuthatch. I like the way nuthatches hang sideways or upside down, a posture which plays an important role in their foraging. Nuthatches probe into bark with their straight, pointed bills in search of insects. They stuff nuts into crevices and pound them open with their strong bills, thus giving them the name nuthatch. — North Carolina Botanical Garden; Chapel Hill, NC

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My nephew didn’t quite know what to make of some of the aquatic plants at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. (Chapel Hill, NC)

Weycroft Tobacco Barn
The tobacco industry is but a shadow of its former self. North Carolina was once a significant contributor to tobacco—from the field to the carton to the consumer. At one time, there were over half a million tobacco barns—simple, wooden structures used for curing the tobacco—that dotted the North Carolina countryside. Now, only about 50,000 tobacco barns remain and most of those are in gross disrepair. Life goes on, as they say, but it’s always delightful when I spot a tobacco barn, particularly a restored or reclaimed one.

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On a visit in late June, my nephew and I explored this restored, circa 1870 tobacco barn in Weycroft Preserve. A recalling of days gone by, tools associated with tobacco farming are affixed to the other side of the structure.  — Chatham County, NC

Fearrington Village
I heart Fearrington. In fact, I’ve blogged about it before, both here and here. It’s such a local treasure; and its crown jewel is the Fearrington House Restaurant. Ranked as one of American’s top restaurants, Fearrington House puts the fine into dining and does so in a farmhouse setting. I’ve had reservations three times, and all three times I’ve had to cancel—each reason increasingly more calamitous than the previous. The closest I’ve gotten so far is sitting in the white adirondack chairs out front. They provide a relaxing view of the Belties (Belted Galloway cows) in the pasture. My sister and I do have reservations for September. …Lord willing. Lord willing.

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The Fearrington House Restaurant in Pittsboro, NC. Photo credit: L. Morrison

As I eagerly await the true arrival of fall, I’ll resist the urge to put away my sandals and sleeveless tops. And although a sense of fall is in our thoughts and conversations even now, most likely summer will fade into autumn in much the same way as the late British poet, Philip Larkin, describes:

Autumn has caught us in our summer wear.

Fearrington Village Revisited

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Fearrington Village, North Carolina

Fearrington Village, a mixed-use community consisting of houses, shops, restaurants, an Inn, farm, gardens, and spa located between Chapel Hill and Pittsboro, North Carolina, is quickly becoming my favorite local destination.

Reminiscent of a small English village, Fearrington, (pronounced FAIR-ington), is home to such national notables as The Fearrington House Inn and The Fearrington House Restaurant.

Since my first visit to Fearrington back in December of last year, I’ve become a veritable Village evangelist, singing its praises and seeking to bring others into its fold. Whether it’s Sunday brunch at The Fearrington Granary, coffee or light fare at The Goat, a stroll through Jenny’s garden, or a stop by Dovecote boutique to greet presiding doves Myles and Buster, the time spent at Fearrington is always charming, relaxing, and memorable.

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The Fearrington Granary Restaurant is, as you may have guessed by the name, a former granary turned restaurant. Try their down-to-earth-yet-subtly-gourmet fried chicken, baked macaroni, broccolini and homemade buttermilk ranch dip. It’s my favorite!

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Here, I’m with my nephew in what is referred to as Jenny’s Garden, which is located adjacent to The Fearrington House Inn. The garden is named after the late Jenny Fitch, who with her husband R.B Fitch, purchased Fearrington Farm in 1973 and began to develop it into the community that it is today. (Fearrington Village, NC; photo credit: L. Morrison)

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Want an out-of-this-world-beautiful wedding reception? Consider the Fearrington Village barn. Original to the property, this barn has been converted into a spectacular social gathering place. (Fearrington Village, North Carolina)

During a visit to Fearrington on a drizzly afternoon, (yesterday, in fact, as I write this post), I stepped into The Goat for some Maple View ice cream. Two scoops in a waffle cone later, I was perched upstairs tapping my feet to some live bluegrass music and downing some Butter Pecan.

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Live music can be heard regularly at The Roost–an outdoor meeting place beside The Goat–(or in this case, inside The Goat when it’s raining). — Pictured here are The Boys from North Carolina Bluegrass and Country Band. 8/2/14

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Stop by The Goat and purchase a fluffy version of Fearrington’s signature breed, the Beltie cow,–or, if you have an aversion to owning stuffed animals as I do–(sorry Beltie!)–just smile and talk nicely to one before continuing ’round the Village.

The barnyard is a big hit with the children. The Fearrington Village farm is a working farm that is home to both Belted Galloway cows (Belties for short, because of the white band around the middle of their otherwise dark bodies), and Tenessee Fainting goats, which I think look like Beltie goats. They have white bands around their middles, too!  …I’ve even seen a donkey once in the pasture.

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A Beltie cow seeks shade under a tree while a Tennessee Fainting goat waits expectantly for a carrot. (Fearrington Village, North Carolina)

During one Saturday morning visit, a Fearrington Village farmer asked my nephew if he wanted to help him feed the Tennessee Fainting goats.  Boy, did he!

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Feeding the Tennessee Fainting goats at Fearrington Village, North Carolina

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Oh, yes! I fed the goats at Fearrington Village, too! (photo credit: B. Sullivan)

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Here, a Fearrington Village farmer points to why these goats are called Fainting goats–they have a hereditary genetic disorder called myotonia congenita which causes the younger goats to stiffen up and fall over. The older goats learn to spread their legs and stay upright when the stiffness sets in. –Fearrington Village, NC

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After my nephew fed the goats, the Fearrington Village farmer taught him how to crank the hand pump and wash his hands farm style. (photo credit: L. Morrison)

On yet another visit to the Village–this time for Sunday brunch–a lady enlisted my nephew’s help to feed the goats a bag of carrots and sweet peppers.

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My nephew reaches carefully through the electric fence to feed a hungry Tennessee Fainting goat at Fearrington Village in North Carolina.

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A funny face-to-face at The Fearrington Village farm in North Carolina

Come rain or come shine, it’s not hard to love Fearrington Village.