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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Attacoa Autumn

Posted October 14, 2008 5:24 a.m. EDT

Name your favorite place to witness the splendor of autumn. Maybe it is simply in your backyard. Perhaps it was a trip to New England where you found the perfect combination of an azure sky and an explosion of reds, oranges and yellows in the woodlands. Many of you probably think of the North Carolina mountains in mid October as the epitome of autumn beauty. I know I do.

As your ponder the perfect place to observe autumn I would like to share with you another watercolor painting by  of my father. It is included in the book I authored called Blue Ridge Reunion. The painting originates from the rough and rugged terrain near Linville Gorge including Table Rock and Hawksbill Mountain. I hope many of you will join me Friday evening October 17th at Quail Ridge Books and Music in Raleigh when we officially release the book. I will be reading excerpts from the book, signing copies, unveiling a multi-media presentation and performing songs from my new CD which shares the name of the book.

Here is one of the autumn essays from Blue Ridge Reunion:

My father spoke of Table Rock with a sense of reverence just as the Cherokees did. The Native Americans called it “Attacoa.” Table Rock was their mystic altar for sacred ceremonies.

Senator Sam Ervin said Table Rock stood like a “sentinel standing guard over Morganton.” You could see the mountain outside our kitchen window. As a child I marveled at its unusual shape and dominance of the western skyline. My father painted Table Rock from every possible angle in every season. His favorite sketching spot was Wiseman’s View.

My father hailed this rock outcrop as “one of the great vistas in America.” He said it gives you “an eagle’s view of Linville Gorge,” one of the most rugged wilderness areas in America. Look to your right and you see Table Rock in all of its ancient glory. Look down and see the pristine Linville River carving its way through the granite gorge toward Morganton. Look to your left and see the unmistakable figure of Hawksbill Mountain. Wiseman’s View is also the best place to see the famous Brown Mountain Lights.

I recall pimento cheese picnics at Wiseman’s View. Sometimes the sandwiches were soggy. Sometimes the views were foggy. But no one seemed to care. We were in the mountains on sacred ground, and on a sunny day you could feast your eyes on a canyon of stunning beauty.

I recall a weekend scouting adventure beginning with a hike from Table Rock into the gorge. Morganton physician Dr. Bill Kirksey led a group of 20 scouts. Despite a close encounter with an ornery timber rattler and a few blisters we had a wonderful time. We camped along the Linville River and were awakened the next morning by the crisp autumn air and the smell of buttermilk pancakes bubbling up on campfire griddles.