Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lakemont Village

The welcome sign made me curious. What’s so ”historic” about Lakemont? Well, apparently, it’s the Mathis Dam, built on the Tallulah River by the Georgia Power Company almost 100 years ago. It created Lake Rabun and Lakemont sprung up as a settlement on its northeastern shore.

Lakemont Village is the town’s arts district – 4 or 5 buildings, including the “Old Old Post Office” (now a nail salon), Annie’s at Alley’s (market and deli), a building that houses Libby Matthews’s studio and gallery, and the Lakemont Gallery (the reconstructed Lakemont Lodge).

Who visits Lakemont Village? Primarily, it seems, lake property owners. With one-acre lots on the market for more than a million dollars, and houses listed for two to four+ million dollars, it’s no wonder that a simple sandwich at Annie’s costs seven dollars. The owners of the Mercedeses and Landrovers in the parking lot can afford it.

I doubt the locals can. So, it’s tourists that one presumes must keep the economy going. How many of them arrive at the Atlanta airport with Lakemont Village as their destination? And as for Georgians? To soak up the arts atmosphere, tiny Lakemont Village competes with better-known and much larger Dahlonega, kitschy but still popular Helen is much easier to reach, and Atlanta is full of splendid galleries.

Should that deter a visit? Hardly!

Having heard of the arts community, a friend and I made Lakemont Village our destination on an unusually cool July day and it was a pleasant experience. The place exudes charm, which is especially a good thing for photographers like Nada Powers Bunnell, a known nature and animal photographer.

We had a very pleasant visit with Carol Van Sant at the Lakemont Gallery, briefly stepped into Libby Matthews’s studio (she was not there, but her “sitter” was hospitable), ate our sandwiches on Annie’s porch, picked up a real estate brochure from the (closed) Harry Norman office, and roamed from building to building to take photographs (she the professional, I the amateur).

All in all, it’s small wonder Annie’s is up for sale. It’s hard to imagine than anyone can make money from art or food in this tiny community. If you’ve got the requested half million+, I’ll be happy to connect you with the broker.

Lakemont Village will be on the Northeast Georgia Arts Tour November 11-13 and I, for one, would not mind making a return visit.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Soque River

I suppose it’s almost sacrilegious to say that the best reason to visit “Mark of the Potter” is to go and feed the trout. Without question, the art inside is beautiful and people from around the world covet it. And the trout in the river below do not seem to have missed a meal ever. Fat and playful, they are an abundant presence below the shop’s deck, which has conveniently been furnished with a food dispenser that is happy to accept your quarters.

Art and fish aside, it’s the sight and sound of the Soque that draw me to the area. Today, an equally besotted North Georgia Mountains fan and I made a brief stop and I am happy to share with you the photographs I took.

Note: my friend is the REAL photographer. I am the writer who takes pictures . . .

Flanked by riparian zones, the Sogue comes around the bend. 

The rapids come into view.

A gentler waterflow approaches the feeding pool . . .

. . . immediately below the foreground's foliage.

And then the Sogue passes, going south toward the Chattahoochee.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dahlonega, Georgia

Dahlonega does not need this (still) obscure blog to promote it. The Chamber of Commerce already does a more than adequate job of that.

~ Historic Court House / Gold Museum ~

I came here today because I had been invited to attend a lecture about Cherokee trail mapping and “Trail Trees” at North Georgia College and State University, and it was amazing. On hikes throughout North Georgia, friends and I have from time to time encountered an odd tree that looked like it might have been struck by lightning a hundred years ago and refused to die – or some other such natural disaster. It never occurred to us that someone – Indians, of course – had created such a weirdly-shaped tree on purpose. Much less that these trees tell a story, now lost, and had a long forgotten purpose in their misshapen trunks.

“Trail Trees,” Mountain Stewards, the organization that identifies, documents and wishes to preserve these trees, advises, “have been reported and documented in 39 US States and Canada.” More than 1,700 of them identified so far, the oldest known is in North Carolina, estimated at about 800 years. The ones we see in Georgia date back to before 1838: the Trail of Tears (forced removal of the Cherokee from lands taken from them and given to European settlers by the State of Georgia, endorsed by the government of President Andrew Jackson).

So is NGCSU’s Georgia Appalachian Studies Center, housed in the historic Vickery House, which I have visited before and only returned to briefly today to take a few photographs if its heirloom garden.

~ I know you've seen the front. Thought you might like to see the rear. ~

~ Squash, bean, corn, tall sunflowers - all very heirloom! ~

By all means, visit Dahlonega, tour the Gold Museum, in summer stop at the Farmers’ & Art Market in Hancock Park, just off the square, stop and have a meal somewhere, shop for a trinket or a serious piece of art, but above all, learn about this region’s history and do something to help preserve it. If nothing else, just send the organizations a donation. Oh, and buy a copy of the book “Mystery of the Trees” when it comes out later this year.

~ Vegetables and flowers at today's market in Hancock Park. ~

~ Artist: Bill Lawson ~

~ Artist: Margret von Keiser ~