First Friday

The bluegrass band Fireside Collective performs on the First Bank Stage at Sunrise Square to benefit the Sunrise Theater, 250 N.W. Broad St., Southern Pines, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 3. There will be food trucks, refreshments and beer from Southern Pines Brewery. No furry friends or rolling, walking or crawling coolers, please. For more information call (910) 692-3611 or go to

Flutterby Festival

Celebrate butterflies and all God’s pollinators at the Flutterby Festival at the Village Arboretum in Pinehurst on Sept. 25 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Educational activities include presentations on the lifecycle, migration and plight of the monarch butterfly. Feed and befriend hundreds of monarchs in the Magical Monarch Butterfly Tent. You can even tag and release a monarch for its flight to Mexico. For more info go to

Sweet on Songs

The Sandhills Repertory Theatre presents America’s Sweethearts, the intricate harmony and dance moves of a dazzling trio of women, in three performances at the Bradshaw Performing Arts Center, Owens Auditorium, 3395 Airport Road, Pinehurst. The musical selections include ’50s pop, jazz and Broadway hits. Opening night is Friday, Sept. 3, at 7:30 p.m., followed by a performance on Saturday, Sept. 4, at 7:30 p.m., and a final matinee on Sunday, Sept. 5, at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at

100 Years and Counting

The Sandhills Woman’s Exchange opens for the fall season — and the beginning of its 100th year celebration — with its traditional lunch offerings on Wednesday, Sept. 8, at 15 Azalea Road, Pinehurst. The gift shop opens at 10 a.m. and lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For information call (910) 295-4677 or visit

Outdoor Flicks

It’s like the drive-in, except you’re on foot. The Sunrise Theater will show The Princess Bride outdoors on Sunrise Square at 8 p.m. on Sept. 10 and again on Sept. 11 at the same time. Tickets are $10. In the event of inclement weather, the movie will be shown inside the theater, 250 N.W. Broad St. Bring lawn chairs or blankets, but leave the food and pets at home, please. For additional info call (910) 692-3611 or go to As an encore, Southern Pines Recreation & Parks will show Frozen 2 at the Downtown Park, Southern Pines, on Friday, Sept. 17. For additional information call (910) 692-7376. 

Fall’s in the Air

Enjoy a late September evening on the grounds of the Weymouth Center with music by Stone Dolls, supper catered by Scott’s Table and beers from the Southern Pines Brewing Company, on Wednesday, Sept. 29, from 5 – 7 p.m. at the Weymouth Center for Arts & Humanities, 555 E. Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines. For additional information go to or

Pig o’ My Heart

The Pinehurst Barbecue Festival, presented by Pinehurst Resort, US Foods and Business North Carolina, will spice up the village of Pinehurst on Labor Day weekend from Sept. 3 through Sept. 5. There are four main events: Music on Magnolia; “Q” School Grilling Classes; Bourbon & Bites; and the Ed Mitchell Pitmaster Invitational. Individual tickets are available or you can go “Whole Hog” and swallow the lot. For more information visit or go to Get saucy.

Doin’ the Charleston

Experience the art, architecture and cuisine of the low country in a four-day celebration of Southern elegance presented by the Arts Council of Moore County. The week’s events open with an exploration of the unique architecture of Charleston, South Carolina, featuring Charleston architects Christopher Liberatos and Jenny Bevan, along with artists Jill Hooper and Patrick Webb, at the Sunrise Theater at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 28. That’s followed by a low country cooking presentation by acclaimed author Nathalie Dupree and Sandhills Community College’s Angela Webb at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 29, at SCC’s Little Hall. There will be a low country luncheon at 195 on Thursday, Sept. 30. The cost is $55 per person, and all proceeds benefit the Arts Council’s children’s arts program. The week wraps up with a presentation and book signing by Dupree at 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 1, in the Moore Montessori Community School auditorium and, at 6 p.m. that evening, the Campbell House will host a gallery opening featuring the artworks of Evelyn Dempsey, Mark Horton, Carol Ezell-Gilson and Ron Rocz. In addition to the above events, all free with the exception of the luncheon, acclaimed children’s author Kelly Starling Lyons will be visiting Moore County schools on Thursday, Sept. 30. For more information call (910) 692-2787.

Simple Life

Golf and Marriage

True love and harmless fun on the links

By Jim Dodson

Not long ago, my wife, Wendy, and I were discussing our 20th wedding anniversary.

“So, Old Baggage,” I said, affecting the accent of a toffee-nosed English aristocrat. “Where exactly would you like to go? SkyMiles and hotel points are the limit!”

“Oh, no,” she came back with feigned horror. “I thought we’d seen the last of that old boy!”

Needless to say, I was pleased when madam suggested motoring down to a lovely old hotel and sporty golf course in South Carolina where we celebrated our 15th anniversary.

But first, friends, a word of caution.

Referring to your dearly beloved as “Old Baggage” does not come without certain risks to domestic harmony, though in this instance it was one of those affectionate inside jokes that long-married couples share to remind themselves of their matrimonial journey through the fairways and thickets of life.

At any rate, while participating in a mixed foursomes tournament during the annual Royal & Ancient Golf Club autumn meetings some years ago, we got paired with an elderly English couple straight from the pages of P.G. Wodehouse — a crusty old RAF Colonel and his long-suffering wife, Edyth, who spent an entire trip around the Duke’s Course in St. Andrews tossing colorful insults at each other.

“Alright, Old Baggage, put your considerable rump into this shot!” he urged his bride. “No half-way measures, girly! Give the old wedge a solid knock!”

“Sod off,” she muttered as she settled over the ball. “How about I give you a solid knock instead?”

Round they went, hole after hole. He grumbled about everything from “elephants buried in the green” to his wife’s choice of exotic leopard-print golf trousers, giving unsolicited advice on almost every shot.

“Try and roll this one close to the hole for a change. Remember, never up, never in!”

“You would know about that,” she snipped. “Perhaps you’d enjoy a nice nap in the bunker?”

Over drinks afterwards, we were surprised to learn they’d been married for 40 years, and that their entertaining Tracy-Hepburn routine was designed to amuse themselves and startle unsuspecting playing partners.

“Lovely way to relieve the marital tensions,” Edyth advised matter-of-factly over her raspberry gimlet.

“Just a bit of harmless fun to keep mixed opponents off balance,” Lionel chortled. “Never fails to put them off their game.”

“It keeps both golf and marriage interesting,” she added coyly.   

“True, Baggage,” he rumbled. “Damned shame, though, about that easy 10-footer for the win you missed on 17.”

“Ah, well.” She gave us an unconcerned smile. “Maybe next time you should hit the ball where you were instructed.”

To paraphrase our late friend John Derr, the CBS Sports broadcaster who worked with the inimitable Henry Longhurst for years (and quoted him frequently), the institution of marriage is only slightly older than the game of golf and not quite as fun. Golf has probably saved at least as many marriages as it’s ruined — and vice versa.

“Blessed be the man or woman who enjoys their spouse’s company on the golf course,” the ageless “One Derr” — as Wendy and I called him — declared at our supper table one evening after we told him about our encounter with the English aristos. “For theirs is a shared adventure of fond memories and pleasant disasters, an unbreakable bond of friendship forged by generous mulligans and preferred lies in a game that cannot be beaten — only endured.”

With his next breath, Derr glanced at me, smiled and added, “You’re a fortunate man to have a beautiful golfing wife, James. But I am placing you on notice that if you pre-decease me, I’m moving in on Wendy.”

He’d recently turned 96.

But John’s point was well-taken. Like many couples who share a love of the game and each other, golf has been a feature of our romance almost since our first hours together.

The day after meeting Wendy at a dinner party thrown in honor of my first golf book, we took a casual Sunday drive that took us to one of Robert Trent Jones’ early golf course designs in upstate New York.  It was there — upon the discovery that she once played in an after-work golf league and had a germ of interest in the game — that I stole my first kiss and Wendy Ann Buynak stole my heart.

The last two decades have indeed been a shared adventure of bogeys and birdies, colorful characters and memorable places, beginning with our first trip out West after we got engaged at The Lodge at Sea Island, where I threw her into the breach at Pebble Beach with a new set of Callaway golf clubs. It was her first full 18 holes of golf, as she later pointed out.

Her caddie that morning had eyes like a roadmap from hell due to an all-night bachelor party. He and half a dozen Japanese gentlemen with video cameras bore witness as Dame Wendy teed up her ball and made a fierce swing. The ball trickled a few feet off the tee.

Without hesitation, she fetched her ball and tried again. This time the ball rolled 10 feet.

“Listen, ma’am,” groaned her suffering caddie, massaging his pink eyes. “Let’s just pick it up and go.”

She blissfully ignored him, teed up again, took dead aim, and calmly swatted her drive to the heart of the fairway. The Japanese gentlemen broke into applause, and I realized this was true love on the links.

The first time my bride broke 100 was on a work trip to France. It happened at the elite Golf Club de Chantilly, a famous old Tom Simpson layout. Nary a soul was visible that drowsy summer afternoon following a leisurely lunch of crusty bread, foie gras and considerable sparkling wine.

The girl in the golf shop — buffing her nails with exquisite boredom — waved us out to an utterly empty course, cuckoos calling dreamily from the surrounding forest.

Somewhere on the back side of the masterpiece, after all that wine and no relief station in sight, nature summoned me into the forest, after which I joked that the lone advantage God gave man over woman at the dawn of creation was the ability to make water on an empty golf course, if need be.

A few holes later, I heard someone call my name and turned to see my new wife squatting behind a clump of bushes, grinning like a schoolgirl. “What was that about man’s advantage on the golf course, monsieur?” she teased.

I had to laugh. “Monsieur is certainly enjoying the view,” I pointed out.

Through a gap in the foliage directly behind her, an elderly gentleman in a blue beret was raking out his veggie garden. He was grinning like a teenager, too.

“Bon soir!” he called out, waving.

“Wee wee,” I replied in the American vernacular.

We’ve had many memorable golf journeys since that incredible week of our early married days, but that time in France ranks atop both our lists of favorite moments.

  Which is why it was no surprise that our anniversary interlude in South Carolina was such a quiet success, a reflective moment that scored well under par as both a golf getaway and a marriage milestone.

The only “baggage” we brought with us was a dozen new golf balls, 20 years of great memories — and a hope for 20 years more of the same.   PS

Jim Dodson can be reached at

In the Spirit

Online Amaro

Tax write-offs never tasted so good

By Tony Cross

I recently received my online, bi-yearly shipment of spirits. Just under one grand and a week or so later, a big box with lots of stickers sits on my front doorstep like one of those old-fashioned steamer trunks in black and white movies. My latest treasures included a bunch of amari that I cannot get at any local ABC.

Amaro (amari is the plural) is Italian for “bitter” and has been extremely popular over the last decade or so. While lots of cocktail bars use these in mixed drinks, amaro was first intended as a digestif to be taken after a meal. Lots of countries have their own version of digestifs: cognac in France or underberg in Germany, for example. In Italy, it’s amaro. I’ll be using author Brad Thomas Parsons’ book Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs as a reference in the quick summary below.

I’m not going to pretend I’m a bitter liqueur scholar. I’m not. I’m neither bitter nor scholarly. I’m listing these in order from lowest to highest ABV (alcohol by volume). The differences are minute, 21-35 percent, but I’m tasting them this way because, well, why not?

Amaro Bráulio

First up is Amaro Bráulio. Created in the Italian Alps in 1875 by pharmacist Dr. Francesco Peloni, this amaro hit me with heavy gentian on the nose right off the bat. Now, I’m not the best taste-tester, but I have a large nose and I work with gentian root quite a lot (it’s one of the ingredients in my business’s tonic syrup). On the palate, I taste some sort of mint, spices and a touch of bitterness. Not too bitter at all, and I’d even say that if you’re a beginner with amaro, this is a good place to start. As far as cocktails go, I would mix this with a cola-tasting rum, like Zaya.

Amaro Lucano

Per the back label: “Created in 1894, Amaro Lucano today still uses the same secret ancient recipe. A skillful blend of more than 30 herbs that the Vena family has handed down from generation to generation.” This amaro doesn’t have that gentian kick like the Bráulio; instead, I’m smelling something sweeter — if I made a Coke from scratch and let it go flat, that’s what it would smell like. Amaro purists are probably wincing right now. There is a lot going on palate-wise. Front palate has me wowed. What the hell am I tasting? Help me out, Brad. “Medium sweetness with herbal bitterness and notes of cinnamon, licorice, and caramel.” OK, I get the licorice and caramel for sure. Cinnamon is pretty faint, but it doesn’t matter — this amaro is delicious. “Headquartered in Pisticci Scalo, a small southern Italian town in the Matera province in the region of Basilicata, the Lucano brand was founded in 1894 by Cavalier Pasquale Vena, and his descendants, now representing the fourth generation, run the family business to this day.” As Parsons also notes, the fifth generation is helping their brand reach cocktail enthusiasts by ramping up production. It’s very impressive how balanced this amaro is with over 30 ingredients. Talk about talent.


While I’m trying the other three amari on their own for the first time, I poured this one over a big rock with an orange peel last weekend and it was so good I just did it again. Phenomenal after-dinner drink. I’ve had this (and the next amaro on the list) mixed in cocktails, but never have I owned a bottle and savored it on its own. This is an easy sipper for me. Parsons’ book says that the known ingredients are lemon and orange essential oils, and pomegranate. Orange is definitely a standout, which is why adding a peel from the fruit makes its flavors pop. There’s not a lot of bitterness due to the sweetness from a cola flavor. As far back as 1859, the spirit was used by monks who passed the recipe on to Salvatore Averna, a benefactor to San Spirito Abbey in Caltanissetta, Sicily. Soon after, Averna “was the official supplier to the royal house of King Vittorio Emanuele III and the royal coat of arms was permitted to be displayed on the label of the bottle.” Parsons notes that in 2014, Averna was sold to Gruppo Campari for $143 million dollars.

Amaro Nonino Quintessentia

We finish with Amaro Nonino Quintessentia, the most beautiful of the four bottles, and the amaro with the highest ABV. I smell chocolate on the nose. Sue me. I do. On the palate, caramel and orange right off the bat. The flavors (also a nuanced bitterness) linger quite a bit longer than the other amari. I’m guessing this has to do with the higher proof. Parsons calls the bottle and finished product “elegant,” and I couldn’t agree more. Parsons writes that the Nonino family’s “amaro story begins in 1933, when (owner) Benito’s father, Antonio Nonino, made a grappa-based amaro he called Amaro Carnia, named after the nearby mountains. In 1984, Benito and (wife) Giannola developed their proprietary ÙE Grape Distillate, a unique distillation of the whole grape-skins, pulp, and juice — that captures the production elements of a wine distillate with the craft of grappa.” The recipe was reformulated in 1987. The grappa distillate and ÙE were aged for five years in barriques (wine barrels, especially small ones from France that are made from oak) and sherry barrels. Parsons writes about his tastings in New York and Friuli, Italy with one of Benito’s daughters, Elisabetta. She taught him the way she enjoys her family’s spirit, which he refers to as “Elisabetta style.” It’s Nonino in a small glass with two ice cubes and an orange slice. And that’s exactly how I’ll imbibe mine tonight.  PS

Tony Cross is a bartender (well, ex-bartender) who runs cocktail catering company Reverie Cocktails in Southern Pines.


The Kitchen Garden

Of Monarchs and Milkweed

Can you give a butterfly a hand?

By Jan Leitschuh

The iconic, orange and black monarch butterflies are in shocking decline and could use a little help.

Luckily, our kitchen gardens — or any sunny patch of ground — can do more than grow a tomato. Since the life of the monarch butterfly is intimately entwined with that of the milkweed species, what if we were able to lend a little hand on our home turf?

Right now, the monarch butterflies are migrating southward through North Carolina on their awe-inspiring journey to their winter grounds in southern Mexico. But what will they eat? The only food a monarch caterpillar can consume is milkweed. Monarchs have lost an estimated 165 million acres of critical breeding habitat in the United States to herbicide spraying, deforestation and development in recent decades.

Sharp declines in milkweed populations in the agricultural Midwest have been reported. In the early ’90s, the increased spraying of glyphosate, or Roundup, following the introduction of crops genetically modified to withstand the herbicide, wiped out large tracts of perennial milkweed on farmland.

Do you have milkweed in your garden or yard? You could. Right now, and for the next couple of months, milkweed pods will be ripening and releasing their seeds. I gathered some fat pods from a Virginia mountain meadow six years ago and have had milkweed — and monarch caterpillars — ever since.

Throughout the United States, concerned gardeners are creating monarch-safe havens, little habitat “steppingstones” similar in intent to pollinator gardens, to recreate habitat for declining insect populations.

Though the migration is on now, you’ll be hard-pressed to spot the familiar monarch. In fact, seeing one is an Instagram-worthy moment these days. Staggering declines in these showy butterflies were reported in the 2000s. In Mexico, where the bulk of the migratory overwintering population returns to a specific area, the monarchs once occupied 45 acres at their peak in the mid-1990s. Recently, that population plunged to cover a mere 1.65 acres, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

The many troubles of the beautiful monarch butterfly are well documented. Severe and changing weather has damaged eggs and reduced hatch numbers. But most scientists concur that the monarch’s number one threat to survival is the dwindling number of wild milkweed plants available on which to lay their eggs.

This is where gardeners and landowners can fill in some of the gaps.

The story of today’s butterfly began with its great-grandparent leaving the forests of Mexico and heading for the milkweed of Texas. Adult monarchs consume plant nectar, but they lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed. The eggs hatch into the notable green-white-black caterpillars.

After feeding on milkweed leaves for two weeks (if they survive bird and insect predators, that is), they form a chrysalis on the underside of the milkweed leaf, eventually hatching into a bright orange butterfly — their numbers fanning out across the United States as far north as Canada. Given milkweed, another summer hatch ensues.

Finally, on the return trip — happening now — a third generation can hatch. This “super generation” mysteriously returns to the same Mexican forest its great-grandparents left from, though it had never been there. No one knows how this happens. The monarch is the only butterfly known to make this two-way migratory journey as birds do. There are much smaller populations that overwinter in Hawaii, Florida and California, too.

Back to your garden. There are several kinds of milkweed you could add that might suit. The entire milkweed family is catnip to butterflies of all sorts, and other native pollinators. Milkweeds establish large, deep root systems and prefer not to be transplanted. Some species are small and neat, some are large and coarse and are better suited to meadows, back of the border, under power lines and sunny edges of the property.

If you have a very neat, formal urban garden, seek out Asclepias tuberosa, or butterfly weed. Butterfly weed is a small, neat plant that does well in droughts, heat and Sandhills soil. The compact perennial displays flaming orange or cheerful, yellow blossoms. Establish several plants together to ensure sufficient food for hungry young caterpillars. Your local nursery can likely hook you up with a potted plant or three.

A little larger is whorled milkweed, (Asclepias verticillata), about 12-24-inches tall and wide. This white-flowered variety also does well in our dry summer conditions. You may have to order this from a specialty company such as the online retailer American Meadows, which ships potted plants. This unique company also has plenty of informative how-to information on its website.

Buying local? Sorrell’s Nursery in Dunn has a wide selection of native milkweeds that are organically grown — check out their Facebook page. MonarchWatch.Org is another excellent resource with leads on milkweed plants and seed.

Use care with the non-native, pretty, tropical milkweed, (Asclepias curassavica), say experts, as its long season of nectar could cause the monarchs to linger too long up north and get caught out by colder temps in fall. Some feel this is not an issue for Zone 7 and below. If used, experts suggest cutting this variety back in fall and winter.

Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) prefers moist areas, so if you have a nearby swamp, pond, lake or bog, check it out. Again, unless you have access to wild milkweed seed, you may have to order this.

The best-known milkweed is the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). Children enjoy tossing the fluff that carries each seed from this variety’s pod. In World War II, this fluff was used as a kapok substitute in life preservers — two bags of pods would fill one life jacket. This is the one I gathered as ripe seed pods from a sunny, unmown meadow and brought home to the Sandhills.

If you have a little space, or a “back of the border” that you could dedicate to a 36- 48-inch-tall plant, common milkweed produces tremendous lavender-pink blooms in June and is absolutely beloved by many pollinators. During the spring and fall monarch migrations, the abundant milkweed leaves of this plant provide food for a new generation of caterpillars.

One caution, though; your deeply rooted milkweed plot will grow slowly, so be sure to place it in a spot where it can quietly expand. If, after a few years, you want to contain its spread, common milkweed is easy to control by pulling, mowing or cutting.

You can even share with a neighbor who has more monarch caterpillars than available food — just stick a few cut milkweed stalks in a vase or bottle and pass it along. The caterpillars prefer the younger, more tender leaves rather than the leaves of podded stalks.

Besides the host plant milkweed, nectar plants that bloom at different times are needed for the monarch. The caterpillars eat the milkweed, but the parent butterflies need nectar.

Check out the North Carolina Wildlife Federation’s “Butterfly Highway.” Consider putting your butterfly/pollinator garden on the highway at:

There are useful Facebook pages and groups dedicated to assisting monarchs and helping milkweed growers. Monarchs & Milkweed of Wake Forest is a good one, with a friendly community that reports sightings of monarchs, eggs, and caterpillars.

Monarchs, Milkweed and More is another Facebook group. Raleigh Area Monarchs and Milkweed is a third.

If gathering milkweed, select only a few pods, leaving the rest to spread from the mother plants. Look for a pod that has split, showing ripe, brown seeds. Pale seeds are not yet ripe. Or ask around among friends with farms and wilder spaces.

To start milkweed from seed, the easiest way is to emulate Mother Nature and plant them in the fall. I scattered seed across lightly disturbed soil and raked it in. Some separate the milkweed “fluff” from the seed, but I did not. Come spring, I had milkweed.

If you really want to start your seeds in the spring, American Meadows advises that you first break their dormancy with cold stratification. In the wild, says the online wildflower retailer, milkweed plants scatter their seeds quite late in the season. The coming cold would normally kill any seedlings that germinated right away. However, the seeds of milkweed (and other late-season flower plants) “are cleverly programmed to delay germination until after they’ve been exposed to winter’s cold, followed by gradually rising temperatures in springtime.” This adaptation is known as stratification.

So, if you have a little bit of space to offer a safe haven, you may become a critical stop-off for the struggling monarch species.  PS

Jan Leitschuh is a local gardener, avid eater of fresh produce and co-founder of Sandhills Farm to Table.



By Ashley Wahl

September is deliciously subtle. Like a sly smile in a moment of silent recognition.

The last wave of swallowtails graces the garden. Dinner plate dahlias resemble colorful mandalas and sun-dappled muscadines spill from the vine.

Life hums along. Hummingbirds drink from red spider lilies. The air, too, is like nectar — sweet as it’s been all summer — but something is different. Something not yet palpable.

The trees know, leaves whispering ancient incantations to merge with root and earth. The first to surrender glow with radiant splendor. They cling to nothing, unattached to their green summer glory or the luminous journey to come.

Weeks from now, tree swallows will gather by the hundreds at dusk, swirling across the sky like cryptic, flickering apparitions. But today, sunlight kisses goldenrod. Robins dip and shimmy in warm, shallow water. Plump bees float in endless circles.

By evening, the air is slightly cooler, or so it seems. And at twilight, when shadows dance in the periphery, a mourning dove cries out.


Beyond a wild tangle of late summer flowers and grasses, a red fox flashes past, here and gone with the last whisper of golden light.

As darkness falls, all at once it’s clear: Elusive autumn has returned, creeping into consciousness like an impish melody — a dark, playful secret on the tip of your tongue.

The goldenrod is yellow;

The corn is turning brown;

The trees in apple orchards

With fruit are bending down.

— Helen Hunt Jackson, “September”

Harvest Season

The Autumnal Equinox occurs on Wednesday, September 22. The days are growing shorter. As for the glorious bounty of summer? It’s harvest time.

Praise for the apples, pears and figs. Cucumbers, peppers and eggplant.

As the garden gives and gives, offer thanks for the tender young salad greens; the last plump tomatoes; the earliest pumpkins and winter squashes.

And don’t forget the edible flowers.

Like lavender (sweet and minty), marigold (transform your stir fries) and snapdragons (bitter, perhaps, but they sure are gorgeous).\

The Meadow Queen

If you’re wondering where that faint yet lingering vanilla fragrance is coming from, stop and smell the purple joe-pye weed — unless you’re allergic.

As the story goes, Eupatorium purpureum received its common name — joe-pye — after a gentleman of the same name presumably used the wild plant to cure typhoid fever. An herbaceous perennial of the sunflower family, joe-pye is a native species that blooms in later summer and attracts a host of bees, butterflies and moths.

Also known as kidney-root, feverweed and Queen of the Meadow, when this towering beauty begins to bloom — clusters of pinkish-purple flowers exploding from 7-foot stalks — watch and listen closely: Summer’s swan song is nigh.

Sporting Life

A Hunt to Remember

One of life’s seasons

“To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” — Ecclesiastes 3, King James Version

By Tom Bryant

The first time I ran across this quote from the Bible, I thought some guy had stolen the words from my mother. It was one of her favorites.

A good example: When I was able to squeak by, grade-wise, and graduate from high school and was complaining one night at the supper table about not being able to play baseball or football for good old AHS, Mom said, “Son, there is a season for all things, and that season at Aberdeen High School has ended. But a completely new season is beginning for you at Brevard College. Remember what the dean said? If you make the grades and survive probation, maybe you can play baseball for them.”

The favorite quote from Mom came back to me the other evening as I was up in the Roost, a small apartment over our garage. I usually hang out there when I need to write a column or work on my novel. On this particular evening, I was sorting through some dove hunting equipment. I mean, after all, the season is upon us, and that’s the kind of season I like. Dove hunting season is never over or at least will never be over in my lifetime. What’s beyond that is anyone’s guess.

I ran across a small box in the corner of the closet where I store most of my hunting clothes. It was full of a bunch of Ducks Unlimited paraphernalia. At one time I was into that conservation club in a big way because, in the early days, if you were a duck hunter and worth your salt, you were a member of DU. For years I was a sponsor, not particularly because I was such a conservationist, although in reality I am, but primarily because of all the perks that went with the title.

In the beginning years of DU, the cost to be a sponsor in the Alamance County Chapter was two or three hundred dollars, not a trivial amount in those days. My partner and I had just started a small weekly newspaper and were working hard to make ends meet, but we had enough money to sponsor what we considered a noble cause. Also, we figured we would find some good stories by being part of the local chapter. And we surely did.

There was a huge competition between chapters across the state to raise the most money supporting habitat for waterfowl. Jim, my business partner, and I got caught in the middle. But we weren’t alone. Numerous hunters in our area spent countless hours, and some of the members spent big bucks, to make the Alamance Chapter fly.

They were a varied group. Richard Cockman, a furniture company representative, headed the local chapter DU board, along with Dick Coleman, a haberdasher and specialty clothing store owner. Other board members included Ronald and Jim Copland, owners and executive officers of Copland fabrics; Don and Steve Scott, owners and officers of their long-standing family textile company; and Nat Harris, an insurance executive with clients from all over the country. Nat still serves on the board of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. Also on the board was Bennett Sapp, a clothing broker with one of the first outlets in the Burlington area; and last but not least, Ernie Koury, whose family was into a little of everything, from textiles to real estate holdings. The Ducks Unlimited leaders during those early days carried financial weight as well as a ton of business influence.

The banquets put together for the area sponsors were top of the line. Held at the Alamance Country Club, the event would begin with a cocktail hour. Koury, whose family members were big supporters of UNC-Chapel Hill, would recruit cheerleaders from the university to sell raffle tickets during the libation hour. And they sold a bunch. Items raffled during the banquet were acquired throughout the year from local merchants and were first class. Auction items were even better. Prizes included an oceanfront cottage for a week at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina; a goose hunt in Easton, Maryland; the DU gun of the year; and numerous quality art objects from paintings to sculptures to decoys. The top prize, though, was a puppy, either a bird dog or a Labrador retriever with champion lineage. These pups brought a lot of attention and dollars to the event.

Auction items generated “big bucks for the ducks,” but Jim and I usually stood back and watched. We did buy several raffle tickets and won items too numerous for me to remember.

Sponsors looked forward to the Ducks Unlimited banquet every year, but the greatest perk for me was the opening day dove hunt. I went on several DU dove hunts in those early years, but there is one that was an almost perfect weekend of sport shooting and camaraderie. All hunters have a particular hunt or experience that deserves a gold star in the hunting journal, and this weekend was one of those.

This was before the Weather Channel made a living by reporting one disaster after another and blaming it all on global warming. Growing up in the South, we expected hot weather at the beginning of dove season and looked forward to more of the same on this specific hunt. The Friday before opening day dawned with a hint of coolness in the air. I was up early that morning letting my puppy, Paddle, out of her kennel. The air was still and dry, with low humidity and only a smidgen of a breeze from the northwest. Dogwood leaves in the backyard, already turning a burnt orange color, also added to the false image of an early fall.

Paddle romped around the backyard, did her business and came charging back to me as if to say, “Come on, boss. Let’s go do something, like hunt birds.”

She was a small, young, yellow Lab and had added so much to my hunting experiences that every time I looked at her, I couldn’t help but smile. “No, girl,” I said to her, “we’ve got some doings to take care of before we can head to the fields.”

The doings I referred to was a cocktail party and pig picking that evening at the pool area of the country club. The pig picking had become a tradition for the DU folks the evening before the opening day shoot. It was put on by none other than the famous and popular Junior Teague, a farmer and county commissioner from the southern end of the county.

The next morning, though, all that was just a pleasant memory as I loaded up the old Bronco with guns, my 10-year-old son, Tommy, Paddle, and a cooler filled with plenty of water. We were ready to roll.

Our weather luck was still holding, low humidity with the same soft breeze from the northwest. The jumping off point was a local bank at the shopping center. We would meet the group there, then caravan to the cut cornfield where we would spend the afternoon dove hunting.

In those days, we were hunting the fields of then-Gov. Bob Scott, and what a hunt it was. Suffice it to say, the gold star in the hunting journal had another added to it. As I read the entry I made so many years ago, I recalled Mother and her seasons reflection. I added a thought of my own as a postscript to the note in the journal:

“Mom was right when she emphasized the quote from the Bible, ‘There is a season for all things.’ It’s been my fantastic luck during my lifetime that when one season ended for me, another began.” PS

Tom Bryant, a Southern Pines resident, is a lifelong outdoorsman and PineStraw’s Sporting Life columnist.



Behold the flaming yellow glory of this native flowering plant

A native plant I love to see this time of year is Solidago, from the Latin solidare — “to make whole” — which suggests the medicinal powers sometimes attributed to the genus.

Commonly called “goldenrod,” it’s a perennial that bursts into magnificent yellow fireworks across the mountains, piedmont, sandhills and coastal plains of our Old North State. At least a dozen varieties are found regionally in the wild, according to the North Carolina Native Plant Society.

I’m not alone in my admiration for a goldenrod. My neighbor, Steve Windham, native plant specialist, tells me why he enjoys hiking the Appalachian Trail as summer turns toward fall.

“If you’ve ever walked out into a mountain meadow under a blue autumn sky with goldenrod in bloom,” Windham says, “you’ll know how truly spectacular it is.”

I remember just such a sight on the farm where I grew up, a fallow field resplendent with goldenrod, joe-pye weed, milkweed and ironweed. On that brilliant palette danced flights of butterflies — monarch, red admiral and tiger swallowtail — plus a host of skippers, cobalts and other beetles, bumblebees and metallic green flies. It was a sight wonderful to behold.

So why not replicate it in your home landscape?

Enterprising growers and nurseries have expanded the number of goldenrod varieties available for your yard or garden to more than 200.

“I use goldenrod in my garden and in my landscape designs because it’s so tough, so easy to grow and attracts so many pollinators,” Windham says. He tells me that, in his own backyard, he has a perennial border featuring a goldenrod cultivar called “Skyrocket,” which stands about three feet tall. Lower-growing dwarf cultivars can also be planted.

Windham, who helped install the ornamental grasses and pollinator meadow at the Greensboro Arboretum, recommends adding to your goldenrod native grasses such as little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) or big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium fistulosum), ironweed (Vernonia glauca), phlox (Phlox carolina), asters (Aster paten) and bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana). Even after the flowers’ colors have faded, you’ll have a garden or border featuring interesting foliage that lasts into the winter months.

Those of you who suffer from fall allergies may think that Steve and I have lost our minds when we recommend goldenrod for your home garden.

Well, the goldenrod is not likely responsible for your runny nose and itchy eyeballs.

The culprit is another N.C. native perennial in the genus Ambrosia, from the Latin “food of the gods.”

Maybe the botanist responsible for giving this plant a name had a wicked sense of humor, but poor Ambrosia artemisiifolia is commonly called “ragweed.” It also bursts into bloom across the mountains, piedmont, sandhills and coastal plain of our Old North State in about the same habitats and at the same time of year as goldenrod.

Ragweed produces green, unremarkable blooms that release vast numbers of small, lightweight granules of airborne pollen that can be spread for miles by the wind. By contrast, goldenrod draws pollinators to its brilliant yellow flowers with nectar, relying on the pollinators to spread the relatively heavy pollen granules that glom onto their bodies and legs.

So plant beautiful Solidago. And forgive pesky Ambrosia.

If you were a plant and somebody called you “ragweed,” you’d probably have a vengeful attitude, too.  OH

Ross Howell Jr. is a freelance writer in Greensboro.

Home by Design

The Knife at Rest

It’s the little things — and sometimes the finer things

By Cynthia Adams

We were lunching in rare style. Good food, good company, a splendid table before us — and everyone was in excellent spirits. The table? It looked like a page torn from Architectural Digest: heirloom china, delicate crystal and antique French silverware on creamy linens. 

An artist and her close friend paused mid-sentence, suddenly noticing a set of what turned out to be silver knife rests.

The artist’s mouth opened, then closed.

What are those? She pointed to the elegant silver rectangles positioned above the antique table knife. 

Our host, an enthusiastic collector, explained: they were, quite simply, a resting place for a used knife, which kept linens safe from the greasy slurry on the plate.

The artist began to speculate about tired knives requiring rest. 

“Too weary to cut it!” 

“Lying down on the job!” 

“Stop me before I cut in again.”

She held a handsome knife up for inspection. “After they rest, then what?”

“They obviously move in for the kill,” she quipped.

We laughed ourselves silly, enjoying the word play.

The fun added to a good meal at a great table. As the conversation evolved, someone mentioned how we, after all, eat with our eyes. True, yet times have changed. 

There’s always fashion and history at work in our kitchens and dining rooms, as good ideas come and go from favor. A knife rest is straight out of an Edith Wharton setting: a classic remnant of fine dining.

What other objects are from tables past, things once used and now idling in the drawer? 

Those who love Wharton will reel from the pronouncements of Bob Vila, a former Sears’ pitchman who rose to fame with This Old House.

Despite This Old House, Vila has very modern opinions.

Here’s a short list on his outmoded and, therefore, verboten picks: fancy forks — including oyster forks, fish forks, salad forks, pickle forks and dessert forks. All out.

Other things deemed pointless by Vila: butter picks. (The butter pick is used for choosing/skewering single pats of butter.)

Napkin rings are also a thing of the past, Vila insists. I am glad my mother did not live to read this. If she were not dead already, this news would doubtless kill her.

Dedicated stemware is also outmoded, he claims. He says that it is completely modern to use a stemless glass for all wines. In fact, one multipurpose glass twill suffice. Even, dear God, a Mason jar.

To all my friends and family, I am sorry to convey this, not only because we are all stemware-struck, but because I personally own tons of outmoded glassware by Vila’s standards, including champagne coupes. 

I shudder to imagine the Queen being served her beloved Bollinger in a pickle jar. The mind reels.

Also, Vila says egg cups are déclassé. 

If you followed The Crown, you already know the Queen takes a morning egg in an egg cup and toast in a proper toast rack.

Jelly spoons are another fatality of Vila’s list, and so he would banish little Lilibet from taking her marmalade with a proper jelly spoon. (BTW, did you know that the British call congealed salads and gelatins like Jell-O “jelly”?)

Table runners, something many of us have clung to long after parting with other life niceties, are vile to Vila. Try telling that to Williams-Sonoma.

The shocker on Vila’s list may require sitting down (in the event you prefer to read standing):  wedding china. He deems it outmoded. Dated. Unnecessary. He asserts that we are a nation of casual diners who no longer eat off of fancy plates.

But any Southerner with a thimble full of sense knows there is no separating a Southern gal from her wedding china. His claim is a step too far.

Like our grandmother’s Blue Willow, we know and love it from the mists of time. We eat off our ancestral plates, even if chipped.

We stand in line to admire the White House china patterns.

When the late Julia Reed was promoting the entertaining guide, Julia Reed’s South, she talked about using antique wine rinsers for flowers and old silver ashtrays for salt cellars. “Use everything,” she said.  If it chips, it chips

And the unpretentious Reed added something worth noting:

“What I love about the South in general is that there is nothing too small to celebrate, and if you’re really lucky you learn about grace and small joys, which are, after all, what make up big lives.”

The clincher? “Keep the beautiful things alive.”

Long live the knife rest.  PS

Cynthia Adams, a contributing editor of O.Henry, is looking for a set of antique knife rests.

Georgia O’Keeffe and Friends

A new exhibit welcomes a modernist master

By Jim Moriarty

Beginning on the 10th of September the Reynolda House Museum of American Art will be throwing a welcoming party for a particularly interesting work by Georgia O’Keeffe, the renowned 20th century American modernist. The celebration, housed in two rooms, continues until March 6. As if to make the iconic painter of flowers and skulls feel at home in her new home, she’ll be accompanied by old friends, the artists she appeared alongside in famed photographer Alfred Stieglitz’s series of Manhattan galleries — 291, An Intimate Gallery and An American Place — and the ones she chose to surround herself with during the rest of her life in an exhibition titled “The O’Keeffe Circle: Artist as Gallerist and Collector.”

“We wanted to welcome the painting to Reynolda with a splash,” says Phil Archer, the museum’s deputy director.

The work, a promised gift from Barbara Babcock Millhouse, the founding president of the museum and its primary donor, is Cedar Tree with Lavender Hills, one of O’Keeffe’s works depicting her beloved New Mexico landscape, first exhibited at An American Place in 1937 and purchased by Millhouse 40 years later. “I have O’Keeffe’s letter to her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, about doing that painting,” says Archer. “She says, ‘I can set it by the window and when I look at the painting and I look out the window, I have actually captured the way my world looks.’”

The painting will appear alongside another O’Keeffe work already in the museum’s collection, Pond in the Woods, Lake George. “It’s great for Reynolda because we’ll now have a painting from each of O’Keeffe’s main loci of inspiration,” says Archer.

Georgia O’Keeffe, Cedar Tree with Lavender Hills (1937), promised gift of Barbara B. Millhouse. © 2021 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Joining O’Keeffe will be a brace of her contemporaries, including John Marin, Arthur Dove, Alfred Maurer, Marsden Hartley, Max Weber, Abraham Walkowitz and Charles Demuth, a flock of artists more often described as the Stieglitz Circle but who are recognized here for their effect on, friendships with and passion for O’Keeffe. “Stieglitz was always declaiming who was the next artist and why people should appreciate them,” says Archer. “The exhibit is kind of a pocket-sized pantheon of the great, early moderns. They’ve all drunk from the well of French modernism. They’ve all read Kandinsky about the spiritual potential of art and abstraction. There’s this kind of reckoning. What will Americans make of the new artistic world in the teens and twenties? That’s what Stieglitz was calling for — what will modernism mean for us?” And, in Stieglitz’s mind, the abstract movement went hand-in-glove with the elevation of photography as an art form all its own.

Demuth was not originally in the Stieglitz stable, but in 1921, when he became “one of us,” as O’Keeffe described him, she enjoyed his company immensely. A friend of the poet William Carlos Williams, he was elegant and urbane, a gay artist with a lively sense of humor but frail health. Though he turned to oils later in his life, he was best known as a lively watercolorist. As a mark of his friendship with O’Keeffe, when he passed away in 1935, he left all his oil paintings to her.

Marin was introduced to Stieglitz by his friend and fellow photographer Edward Steichen and became enough of a commercial success to buy his own small island in Maine, where he lived during the summer. O’Keeffe admired his work, including a blue crayon abstract drawing. In Georgia O’Keeffe: A Life, Roxana Robinson writes, “Its intimate scale and its clear aesthetic independence made it suddenly accessible to O’Keeffe: conceptually, this was very close to her own work. It occurred to her that if Marin could make a living selling this eccentric expression of a private aesthetic vision, then she might be able to do the same.” He was close enough to both Stieglitz and O’Keeffe to be a witness at their 1924 wedding.

Abraham Walkowitz, Isadora Duncan (1916), colored crayon, watercolor, ink and graphite on paper, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Hirshhorn in honor of Nancy Susan Reynolds

O’Keeffe’s first exposure to Dove at 291 was his painting Leaf Forms. After returning from Europe in 1909, Dove spent weeks camping alone in the woods. His abstract paintings “found a strong echo in Georgia’s developing aesthetic philosophy,” writes Robinson. “Dove’s work validated her own inclinations . . . she sensed the deep affinity between them.”

Dove was equally enamored. “That girl is doing without effort what all we moderns have been trying to do,” he said to the poet Jean Toomer.

Walkowitz worked so closely with Stieglitz at 291 that in 1912 and again in 1914 Stieglitz exhibited the work of the children Walkowitz was teaching in a Lower East Side settlement house. In this exhibit, Walkowitz is represented by one of his 5000-plus drawings of Isadora Duncan. “She had no laws. She did not dance according to the rules. She created,” Walkowitz said — words that he could have applied to O’Keeffe just as readily.

Paintings by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Paul Cézanne, and Auguste Rodin’s drawings were first shown in America at 291. Marin and Maurer appeared on their heels. Maurer, like O’Keeffe, had studied with William Merritt Chase. Maurer’s father created Currier and Ives lithographs and never approved of his son’s modernist leanings. Shortly after his father passed away at the age of 100, Maurer committed suicide. The mercurial Weber was responsible for Henri Rousseau’s first U.S. exhibit, and he helped introduce cubism to America, a thankless task in 1911. According to the art historian Milton Brown, he was rewarded with “one of the most merciless critical whippings that any artist has received in America.” And it was an exhibition of Hartley’s work that first brought O’Keeffe to the 291 gallery where she met Stieglitz. Soon they would be lovers.

John Marin, Downtown, New York, c. 1925, watercolor and graphite on paper mounted to board, Gift of Betsy Main Babcock, 1966.2.1 © 2021 Estate of John Marin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Max Weber, The Dancers (1948), oil on canvas, Gift of Dorothy F. and Maynard J. Weber, Reynolda House Museum of American Art

Though the works linked to O’Keeffe as a collector, or perhaps appreciator, in the exhibit are not the precise pieces she held in her collection, they are representative of those that were and of the relationships she enjoyed. Among the latter is her abiding friendship with Ansel Adams, who is represented by one of his prints of Yosemite Valley, a place O’Keeffe and Adams visited together. In a letter to Stieglitz, Adams wrote, “O’Keeffe is supremely happy and painting, as usual, supremely swell things. When she goes out riding with a blue shirt, black vest and black hat, she scampers around against the thunder clouds — I tell you, it’s something.”

The exhibit includes a photograph of Adams and O’Keeffe taken by Adams’ assistant, Alan Ross. “Ansel Adams was the first professional photographer to capture her on camera and then in 1981, close to both of their deaths, she went back to Carmel, California, and, as she’s setting up, she’s sort of smiling, his assistant took a quick snapshot,” says Archer.

Also included in this section of the exhibit is an Akari paper lantern by Isamu Noguchi similar to the one O’Keeffe alternately hung over her dining room table or her bed in her house in Abiquiu, New Mexico. There is a mobile by Alexander Calder — who designed the OK pin O’Keeffe wears in countless photos — that is analogous to the one O’Keeffe hung in her New Mexico home. A triptych of snow scenes done in the 1850s by Utagawa Hiroshige is also included as an homage to a similar threesome of Hiroshige woodblock prints from the same period that lived on the wall in O’Keeffe’s New Mexico home and are now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And, naturally, there is a Stieglitz print, one of his most famous, also a snow scene. “I suddenly saw the Flat-Iron Building as I had never seen it before,” Stieglitz said. “It looked, from where I stood, as if it were moving toward me like the bow of a monster ocean steamer, a picture of the new America which was in the making.”

Alfred Henry Maurer, Landscape: Provence (circa 1916), oil on paper, mounted on board, Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Gift of Emily and Milton Rose

This intimate exhibition does not pretend to be, nor was it intended to be, an O’Keeffe retrospective. It does not deal with her complicated relationship with Stieglitz — who never ceased to promote O’Keeffe’s work — their lengthy affair before his divorce, their subsequent marriage and, later, his affair with his gallery director, Dorothy Norman. It doesn’t delve into her mental and physical breakdowns in the ’30s nor does it touch on the sexuality, male and female, that is often ascribed to O’Keeffe’s work and which she steadfastly refused to acknowledge.

Like Stieglitz’s photo of the Flat Iron Building, O’Keeffe saw grandeur in her subjects. “She wanted the small things in nature that she loved to be just as impressive as the new trains and new planes,” says Archer, “to stop you in your tracks like you were looking at a skyscraper.”

The tightly knit exhibit, like the Ross photo, is a snapshot of the artist. “I hope people will leave with a fuller image of O’Keeffe’s engagement with the art of her time,” says Archer. “She developed a persona — helped by Stieglitz — of the remote, contemplative, detached doyenne of the desert. But she was keenly interested in her contemporaries’ work and unstinting with both praise and criticism.”  PS

Jim Moriarty is the Editor of PineStraw and can be reached at

Alfred Steglitz, The Flatiron (1903), photogravure on tissue, courtesy of a private collection