• Kathryn Solee

WHAT THE HECK IS NEW NORMAL?

Updated: Jun 6, 2020


”Normal is nothing more than a cycle on a washing machine.”

Whoopi Goldberg


North Carolina is in week one of "Stay Home Stay Safe" to flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic. I spent many summers on my grandparent's farm in North Dakota, where the town was a 13-mile drive only to be made on Saturday evening to shop and socialize and Sunday for church service. I'm well versed in being stocked for groceries and have plenty of experience of staying at home. My pantry is full. My putter project list long. I'm good at staying home.

That is until newscasters started commenting on how we are entering a new normal. With this, I paused. Other than my cupboards, freezer, and refrigerator being fuller than usual, the past week wasn't all that much different than any other week this year.

This week IS different. My favorite local connections with nature – the North Carolina Arboretum and Biltmore Estate – closed as well as Pisgah National Forest, Dupont Forest, Chimney Rock, and other popular destinations.

As delightful as my neighborhood is, walking the paved street admiring spring come into bloom in front yard gardens; it's not the same as a walk immersed in nature. My freedom to go to my favorite places for a nature fix has temporarily been taken from me.

To see Biltmore house without people and shuttle vehicles in front is not normal. Of all my visits over many years, the only other time I saw this was the day after a big blizzard. It was eerie. Perhaps a foreboding. Little did I know this visit to Biltmore Estate would be the day it closed for the pandemic.

The estate, home of George W. Vanderbilt, completed in 1895, consists of more than 8,000 acres designed by Fredric Law Olmstead (he also designed Central Park in New York City). There's the walled garden, spring garden, a bass pond, waterfall, woodland trail, lagoon, walk along the river, and so much beauty.

The Biltmore gardeners work magic to keep spring-blooming from the first crocuses popping up in February through the last of the tulips in May. The walled gardens are particularly spectacular and full of surprises every visit. Our focus this visit was seeing the plethora of spring blooming. Essie, Zorro, and I had the walled garden to ourselves to marvel at the blooms and allow our imaginations to escape boundaries.

To this day, Biltmore Estate practices sustainable farming practices established by George Vanderbilt. One of the highlights of my spring visits to the estate is watching the progress of the new lambs. This visit they are only a few days old.



To this day, Biltmore Estate practices sustainable farming practices established by George Vanderbilt. One of the highlighs of my spring visits to the estate is watching the progress of the new lambs. This visit they are only a few days old.



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