Message in a bottle

The effect falls somewhere between the frail whimsy of a plastic Easter-egg tree and the solemn thrill of a cathedral window. Like their egg-festooned counterparts that appear in early spring, bottle trees are meant for bare branches. And like stained glass, they look most grand after sucking up sunlight. Discovered on a quiet side street […]

And money left over for marshmallows

Depending on the level of amenities on offer — flush toilets, say, instead of stinky latrines; a hanky-sized puddle of chlorine that passes for a pool; proximity to numerous overpriced music festivals — some regional campgrounds have become distressingly expensive. Inexpensive gateway to recreation:  The rugged Southern Appalachians provide plenty of options for back-country camping, […]

Outdoors

A newish trend in parenting circles is "elimination control," a controversial technique whereby an infant's primary caretaker is supposed to learn to read his facial cues when pooping becomes imminent and then dangle the baby over the toilet, letting him do his thing unfettered. I've only met one mother who had any success with the […]

The fondant files

Deceptively pretty mass-produced desserts have done a great job raising diners' expectations — but they've also corroded their sugar-coated instincts. In the late 1980s, a certain ubiquitous restaurant-supply company started hawking fully loaded cheesecakes and candy-stuccoed tortes. Remember Snickers Pie? It looked great under glass: Every mathematically pre-sliced piece was exactly the same size as […]

Outdoors: Snap judgments

In between talk of apertures and shutter speeds, biodiversity photographer Kevin FitzPatrick drops an astounding fact: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, celebrating its 75th birthday this year, harbors an estimated 100,000 undiscovered plant and animal species. Through his work with the Discover Life in America program, FitzPatrick has helped document some of the 6,339 […]

Cultivating consciousness

At first, the effect is incongruous—like seeing puppies for sale in a bookstore. Replacing a full row of booths inside Neo Burrito, an army of potted tomato plants now spreads its leaves under the spaceship glow of a hydroponics table. Going green: Neo Burrito’s Zak Yancey has turned part of his restaurant into an organic-gardening […]

Justice served

Famed hoop dancer Eddie Swimmer last year became the first Cherokee director of “Unto These Hills,” the Qualla Boundary’s outdoor drama—still popular at age 60. And over at Tribal Grounds Coffee, another Eastern Band tribal member, Natalie Smith, is likewise blending integrity with theatrics. Well grounded: Tribal Grounds’ new location, which is slated to open […]