Eclipse Madness (and Other Natural Phenomena)!

As locals know, Tennessee is no stranger to awe-inspiring natural events and features.

The total eclipse of the sun, visible at totality in many locations here in East Tennessee, is just three days away!

People from around the country are flocking to our area to view this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. We’re hoping for good weather to view the eclipse. If you’re planning to get a glimpse of the eclipse, please keep in mind that not all eclipse glasses are equal. Get NASA-approved lenses if you’re going to stare up into the sky on August 21!

Also, be aware that interstates and highways are going to be choked with traffic. Between out-of-town eclipse-chasers and locals trying to get the best view, there is an extremely high volume of vehicles expected to be out and about over the next several days. You don’t want to be stuck in a wreck instead of witnessing one of the most noteworthy scientific events of our time!

As locals know, Tennessee is no stranger to awe-inspiring natural events and features. To prove it, we’ve listed a few below.

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Synchronized Fireflies

Every summer, in a specific location in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a breed of fireflies get together for a unique light show. These little guys glow frenetically for several seconds before total darkness descends in the woods, almost like a firefly switch getting flicked off. Then they start back up again! You can witness the synchronized fireflies yourself, but you have to get on a waiting list. After all, if everybody went tramping around in the woods after these little glowy guys, they’d probably be crushed into extinction. Check out the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website to find out more.

Wildlife

Black bears, white-tailed deer, owls, skunks, coyote, turkey, bobcats and painters (mountain lions) … even though the great herds of buffalo and elk were moved on when people moved in generations ago, Tennessee is still home to an amazingly diverse roster of wildlife. Even in neighborhoods closer to urban areas, turkey, deer and even bear sightings aren’t at all unusual!

New Madrid Earthquakes

Reelfoot Lake, which stretches into Arkansas, Missouri and about as far into western Tennessee as you can get, is relatively young for a natural lake: only about 206 years old. The New Madrid quakes (named for a town on the Mississippi River that took the brunt of the damage) were the strongest quakes in recorded history east of the Rockies. Although it’s pretty to see now, the site of Reelfoot Lake was terrifying on the night of December 16, 1811, when the Reelfoot Rift gave a mighty heave!

Haints

With natural wonders like blinking fireflies, glowing foxfire, bobcat cries that sound like distressed women, and drifting, eerie fog, it’s no wonder our lovely valleys and ridges are fertile ground for ghost stories and superstitions. You can’t learn Tennessee history without hearing a ghost story or two! Click here to read more haint recollections.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading a little bit about the wonder of our lovely state! If you’re looking to settle here, check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com for current listings.

Pickin’ in East Tennessee

People around here buy and sell anything from lamps to antique mason jars…

Rural East Tennesseans are no strangers to the “gettin’ it done” mentality. Only a few short generations ago, it took hours—even days, for those living way up in the hills—of arduous travel just to get to the nearest town of any size. So, if you needed farm implements, kitchen staples or even clothes, you made very certain you loaded up on all you could in that semi-annual trip to town.

As a result of living so remotely, people in East Tennessee made do with what they had. They learned to make just about everything with what was available: barrels, boats, furniture, homes, clothes, preserves … you name it, it could pretty much be conjured with some hard work and creativity. And, people didn’t throw away anything that had some kind of use left in it!

These days, of course, just about anything a body could need is a short drive into town or a decisive click of the computer mouse away. But that creative philosophy of life never quite left folks in this part of the world. One of the best results of this is a thriving flea market economy. People around here buy and sell anything from lamps to antique mason jars, and if you’re willing to spend the time hunting, you can find what you need. (Or what you didn’t even know you needed!) And, of course, the hunt is most of the fun!

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Some flea markets, like the Porter Flea in Nashville, are an annual event, worth the pilgrimage if you want to combine a vacation with a pickin’ trip. Others are closer to our neck of the woods, like the Centre Brick Indoor Flea Market in New Tazewell or the Green Acres Flea Market in Louisville (near the airport, just outside of Knoxville.)

If yard sales get your creative gears cranking, there are plenty of events in Tennessee for you. Every weekend in the summer, sometimes starting as early as Thursday morning, you can find yard sales. If it’s a big event you’re looking for, Tennessee has annual yard sale events that stretch for miles along our highways! A little bit west of here, in Fentress County, there is the annual 127 Corridor yard sale. This one’s coming up: August 3-6, 2017. It actually stretches from Addison, Michigan, to Chattanooga, Tennessee! Next spring, plan for the U.S. 11 Antique Alley and Yard Sale, which runs from Meridian, Missouri to Bristol, Virginia.

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Need a little inspiration for what to do with your newfound trash-to-treasure? Check out this article from Good Housekeeping. You can turn out-of-date end tables into a Lego brick paradise, colanders into planters, and jars and cans into anything from candle holders to terrariums. If something has “good bones,” you can find a fantastic use for it! And, really, nothing makes a house into a home more than the hand-made touch.

So, get pickin’! And, if you see a property you like while you’re out searching for antiques and up-cycle projects, visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com. We’ll be happy to help you find your East Tennessee home!

Campfire Ghost Tales

Check out a few local “haunted” places!

Every year there comes a season for telling tales to make your short hairs stand up, for giving you the shivers, for making the friendly light of a bonfire turn trees and shadows into dancing ghosts … if you think I’m talking about Halloween, think again!

It’s camping season, and the weather has been great for it! Aside from all this rain from Tropical Storm Cindy, we’ve had days and nights of mild weather and even relatively low humidity here in pleasant East Tennessee. All this sweet summer weather makes it just right to pitch a tent in the backyard, roast hot dogs over a camp fire and chase fireflies in the twilight.

But, when the moon is out and the fire gets low, the time for telling tales is just right. Locals know that East Tennessee is famous for storytelling! With misty apparitions, magical fireflies and mysterious late-night animal noises, the background is perfect for some old-fashioned yarn-spinning! And, something about a good campfire brings out the best ghost stories.

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Here are a few infamously haunted places in our area to get your campfire tales started:

Bethesda Church and Cemetery in Morristown, Tennessee

Reportedly, Confederate soldiers buried here at the cemetery don’t take kindly to visitors with *ahem* Yankee accents coming around. Stories of women weeping, misty, foggy shapes and general creepy feelings surround this historic site when the sun goes down and the moon comes out. If you find yourself wandering outside the cemetery at night, you’d best starting whistling Dixie!

Greeneville, Tennessee: General Morgan Inn

HauntedPlaces.org lists historic General Morgan Inn as one of its haunted places. Green Room Grace, a waitress in times of yore, is supposedly playful and fun. Her favorite prank is snatching spoons from the hotel restaurant! Maybe they’ll renovate the hotel someday and find a whole stash of tarnished spoons behind a wall!

Jonesboro, Tennessee

The oldest official town of Tennessee, this place has two reportedly haunted hotels! The Hawley House Bed and Breakfast and the Historic Eureka Inn have given guests the heebie-jeebies with late-night whispers, unexplained footsteps and shadowy figures,  thought to be the spirits of women who once worked in the hotels.

Glenmore Mansion in Jefferson City, Tennessee

It’s rare that a ghost announces he’ll be a ghost before he passes, but that’s what witnesses say happened at the famous Glenmore Mansion! This Victorian gem, restored and maintained by diligent locals, is reportedly a favorite spot for now-deceased historian Thomas Roach. Witnesses have seen a friendly, misty figure roaming the property. There have also been sightings of an apparition of a woman in white in the upper windows at night.

Looking for more ghost stories? Check out these haunted tours by Appalachian Ghost Walks!

If you like to hear a masterful tale spinner, then Jonesboro, Tennessee is the place for you. The International Storytelling Center there has events year-round for audiences and participants alike! You have plenty of time to plan to attend this year’s National Storytelling Festival, October 6-8, 2017.

Interested in looking for the perfect backyard to tell your own campfire tales? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com!

Two of the Coolest Bugs in East Tennessee

Plants, animals and bugs (and people!) of many varieties thrive in East Tennessee.

East Tennessee is a vibrant, lush place to live. Plants, animals and bugs (and people!) of many varieties thrive here. If you’re drawn to the outdoors, like many Tennessee residents are, you’ve probably noticed a few interesting species. On this week’s blog we’re featuring two species of bugs you’re sure to encounter soon, if you haven’t seen them already!

Fireflies

Fireflies, or lightning bugs, are not an unusual sight for anyone living in the southeast part of the United States. But, for those moving in from western states like Montana or Colorado, fireflies seem truly magical! We have lots of these glowy creatures. We have a great climate for them, as well as plenty of places for them to live, since they like the damp, rotting wood that’s found on the floors of our forests.

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This is a great firefly habitat!

Here are a few fun facts about fireflies: it’s usually the males who fly around, signaling to find mates. The females are what we think of as “glow worms,” and they are usually very different from males. They don’t have wings, and instead look like grubs on the ground (similar to larvae, actually.) They glow their own kinds of signals to the males. In the Great Smoky Mountains, there is a special place where fireflies synchronize. It’s a pretty amazing sight! The woods go from very dark to completely lit up in pops of light. You have to buy tickets to reserve a spot to see these amazing creatures.

But, you can still enjoy your own lovely backyard firefly show during the summer months. They might not synchronize, but it’s still a magical sight.

Cicadas

These creatures are fascinating, because they have either 13- or 17-year life cycles. They have a distinct, rise-and-fall whine that tunes up at night during the spring months, lasting far into the summer. Usually, 17-year cicadas live in northern states and 13-year cicadas live in southern states. Because of Tennessee’s location, we get both 13 and 17-year cicadas.

The cicada life cycle is fascinating. The female lays eggs in slits in trees, which then hatch in six or seven weeks. The nymphs make their way into the soil to live and eat tree sap from roots for 13 or 17 years, before coming back up to the surface and morphing into adults. If you look for them, you can see the nymph skins left behind on tree trunks and sides of buildings. (Kids are great at spotting these!) Adults are colorful, with black-veined wings and bright red eyes. They don’t bite.

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Listen for cicadas tuning up after sunset!

You might be worried about cicadas harming your saplings, and you’d be right. Cicada nymphs under the soil don’t noticeably hurt trees, but adult females laying her eggs in trees can cause damage during this process. Check out this website for more information about how to protect your trees from cicada damage.

If you’re interested in finding about more about living in East Tennessee, please check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

Landscaping in East Tennessee

Planting trees, shrubs and flowers that are native to our area brings many benefits.

Spring is here! Dogwoods and redbuds are in bloom and flowers are popping up everywhere. This is an especially exciting time to be a new homeowner in East Tennessee, because you never know what beautiful plants you’ve inherited with your property until they show their pretty faces in the warm growing season!

If you’re getting inspired by our lovely, warm weather to spruce up your landscaping, consider these ideas:

Go Native!

Planting trees, shrubs and flowers that are native to our extremely biodiverse area brings many benefits. They are more likely to survive and thrive in our climate, since they’ve been doing it for hundreds of years. They are also more likely to attract the pollinators. Helping pollinators like bees and butterflies with habitat and food helps us, too. Bees and butterflies not only ensure the beauty and propagation of our lovely flowers, they play a big part in growing crops that we need to eat. Check this list for ideas on native plants for your grand landscaping plan.

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Buy From a Nursery

Going native doesn’t mean digging up from the woods. DON’T take plants from public land, like a national park. It’s illegal! If you have access to ferns, trees and other plants you think you’ll be able to successfully transplant on your property, then go for it. But if you’d like a little more help and even a little guarantee, go to your local nursery. Family-owned operations are likely to have great advice on what to plant where, and when. Some places (like Lowes) have guarantees on their plants, which means if you save your receipts and your plant dies within a year, you can take it back and get a replacement.

Think Big, But Start Small

Frederick Law Olmsted, when he designed the landscaping for the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, thought long-term. Like, really long term: he planted stands of trees that would take a hundred years to mature. He knew he’d never see his vision completely realized, but he understood the grandeur of his legacy. If you have an acre of land you’d like to landscape, you don’t necessarily need to think of how it will look to your great-grandchildren, but do pay attention to how things will look in the next few years.

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Ivy and other vines might grow out of control, swamping out other plants and slowly destroying your buildings if they are given free reign. Bamboo certainly goes rampant, requiring heavy mowing. And trees are high on the list of culprits behind unsafe foundations; the roots grow out as far as the canopy, undermining the safety of your home if they’re planted too close. Evergreens are a little safer; their root systems tend to head down instead of out. Even so, that sweet little sapling you plant this year might take off in our mild, plant-friendly climate and become a danger to your roof, sewer or foundation in as little as ten years!

Consider Goats

One of the pervasive problems in rural East Tennessee is the fast-growing, invasive vine: kudzu! The best way to get rid of it? Goats. They eat it right down to the roots.

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Interested in real estate in East Tennessee? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com. Happy gardening!

Community and Beauty: Why We Love East Tennessee!

Our eastern corner of Tennessee is full of places like that: local secrets, where the authenticity hasn’t been polished off by the tourism industry.

Ask anyone who has made East Tennessee their home what their favorite things about living here are, and sense of community is bound to make the list.

During our 2016 wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains, local businesses, churches, schools and groups of private individuals banded together to provide relief in the form of food, clothing (including pajamas and teddy bears for displaced kids), Power Bars, water and Gatorade for fire fighters, and money. The support was so immediate and overwhelming that, at one point during the crisis, aid workers in Sevier County couldn’t find space to put all the supplies! It’s exactly this spirit that makes Tennessee the Volunteer State.

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Our smaller communities have this amazing “helping out” attitude, too. It’s evident in the revitalization of the Mossy Creek district in Jefferson City, the organizations that provide help to homeless families in Morristown, the knowledgeable folks at Clinch-Powell RC&D in Rutledge who help local families become first-time homeowners and veterans get help paying off their mortgages.

Remember that list of reasons why people love to call East Tennessee home? The beauty of our natural environment is high on that list, too.

Clinch-Powell RC&D combines its mission for benefiting local communities with benefiting the environment in Hancock County. There, they have revitalized an old general store into a hub for ecotourism. Kyles Ford in Hancock County is remote, but it’s this secluded quality that makes it ripe for a great family vacation experience. There are cabins for rent and space to pitch a tent if that’s more your pace. There’s a great restaurant in the old store, and the porch doubles as a stage for regular local and regional live music performances.

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It’s called River Place on the Clinch, and it overlooks (you guessed it!) the sleepy Clinch River, which is home to an amazingly diverse ecosystem. There is more diversity of mussels in the Clinch River than can be found in the entirety of Europe! So, don’t be surprised if you see scientists wading through the water to study its residents. In fact, you might see lots of things you’d never catch sight of in town, like turkey and deer wandering in the grass down below the back deck.

River Place offers tube rentals and shuttles during the hot summer months. You could spend a whole weekend just floating on the river, listening to live music, chowing down on food, spotting wild deer and turkey, catching twilight fireflies, and generally enjoying the natural bounty of East Tennessee. With spring peeking around the corner, this kind of vacation sounds just about perfect.

Kyles Ford is about an hour from Morristown on Highway 31, making it a great weekend escape location. Lots of repeat visitors found it originally while wandering on the backroads, or traveling via motorcycle on Highway 70. Our eastern corner of Tennessee is full of places like that: local secrets, where the authenticity hasn’t been polished off by the tourism industry.

If you’re interested in learning more about real estate in Morristown, Jefferson City, or even Hancock County, go to DarleneReeves-Kline.com. We’ll be happy to answer your questions.

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you need a little holiday motivation, there are plenty of things going on in our fair part of the country to help you out.

This year is pretty warm for an East Tennessee Thanksgiving. Usually around this time we’re waking up to frosty mornings, laying by stockpiles of firewood for the cold winter ahead and snuggling down with a cup of hot cocoa, trying to enjoy the calm before the storm of cooking our turkey dinner feast.

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We’re trying not to let our warm weather dampen the holiday spirits, though. If you need a little holiday motivation, there are plenty of things going on in our fair part of the country to help you out. Here are a few:

Dollywood Lights

It’s not quite Bob Segar’s “Hollywood Nights,” but this time of year is illuminated to the max at our favorite regional theme park. Local artisans practice their crafts, musicians perform in the theatres and outside and everywhere you look you see vibrant Christmas decorations. It’s worth a visit if you’ve never been, and your out-of-town guests will appreciate the experience, too.

Visit Dollywood.com to get visiting hours and ticket prices.

Speaking of Lights

Take a trolley ride in Gatlinburg to see the decorations of the season! The balmy weather makes for comfortable strolling, too. Be sure to check out the artists’ guild and the huge cowboy boot store. If you’d like a little taste of Tennessee shine, there are moonshine tastings available to those of age on the famous strip.

Rolling on the River

Tnvacation.com has some fun activities to help you with your festive spirit, especially if you are allergic to cooking. They recommend the Thanksgiving cruise on Knoxville’s river boat, Star of Knoxville or the Southern Belle in Chattanooga. The cruises include food, entertainment and, of course, lovely Tennessee scenery.

Get Local

The Rose Center in Morristown has a great lineup of entertainment, arts and crafts events, and classes. It’s a good time to get started making this year’s Christmas gifts! Or, you can support local artists and give pottery, paintings or other unique gifts this year.

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#Opt Out!

REI is among the growing number of retailers who shun the anxiety and general bad sportsmanship of Black Friday, instead encouraging folks to enjoy the natural beauty of our mountain home. Go for a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or walk your dog at the local park. Ride your bike, sit outside with your relatives on the porch swing, play corn hole in the back yard. Take a minute to breathe and enjoy this holiday before plunging into the gift-buying frenzy of Christmas!