Yesterday, as we traveled the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway near Gowensville, we were amazed by the contrast of seasons on display in the landscape before us. In the foreground was the magnificent pink blossoms of peach trees in full bloom, with the ancient hills of The Dark Corner, covered in a dusting of March snow, as a backdrop. The mountains were shrouded in gray clouds near their peaks, making them look higher than they actually are. We didn't have a good camera with us, just the ones from our cell phones. I did manage to slow enough for Melissa to take a quick, off-handed shot with her phone. As usual, we were in a rush to get from one engagement to another, and didn't have time to stop for a while and take it all in.
That morning, I paddled the cove, searching around fallen timber and boat docks for bass. The first one I hung into pulled my kayak around like a bathtub toy, even though he was no more than two pounds. I took a good look at the fish, then flipped him back into the tangled mass of brush that I'd pulled him out of. When I paddled back out away from the bank, I saw a man in a red kayak, working the shoreline toward me, although his only fishing rod was upright in the rod holder, and his hands were prodding the rocks, as if he was searching for something. I just watched him, wondering what he was looking for, and then when he pulled up a wad of mono with a Carolina rig attached to it, I knew he was a treasure hunter. He looked to be around 70-- slender and tall with a white goatee and ponytail, earrings and tattoos, a stubby pipe puffing smoke as he paddled on around the bend to find another jewel. When he looked up, I threw up my hand. He took the pipe from his teeth and said, &quo