- [Female Speaker] Published by Tennessee state parks the Tennessee Conservationist Magazine features articles on native species, culture, and history. Connecting readers with Tennessee's natural resources and recreational activities. More information at tnconservationist.org. - [Joe Elmore] This time on Tennessee crossroads we visit a remarkable animal sanctuary at Joelton and then see what's cooking at the Southern Charm Bakery. We'll explore the Lost River Cave up in Kentucky and finally seize the day at the Carpe Cafe in Smyrna. Hi everybody, I'm Joe Elmore. Welcome to this edition of Tennessee crossroads. Those of us who've lived in Tennessee for a while know what a great treasure it is. Well, every year more and more people are discovering our great state and moving here. Well, that's good news for the economy. Not so good for our native wildlife. Laura Faber gives us a behind the scenes look at a rare wildlife resource in the mid-state. One that's all about helping our native species thrive and survive. - [Laura Faber] Behind every adorable photo of a baby animal, there is a story of a good deed, rehabilitation, and survival. - Hi - [Young Women] Hi, did you find another opossum? - We found a sibling - [Laura Faber] Everyday one after the other, kind hearted Tennesseeans bring all kinds of injured and orphaned animals to a place called Walden's puddle. Located in Joelton, this professionally staffed wildlife rehabilitation center serves 39 Tennessee counties. Carolyn Pendarvis is the operations manager. - We're one of the largest wildlife rehabilitators here. We bring in orphaned, ill and animals that are in need of care that cannot survive on their own without medical care. We bring those back into the wildlife center. We give them the food, the medicine the nutrition that they need. They may be with us 24 hours or they may be with us for six weeks. Whatever that care is we provide 100% of that back to that animal so that they can be released back into the wild where they belong. - [Laura Faber] Walden's puddles started in 1989 by a backyard rehabber named Vicki Carter with a mission to help native species. The need grew, and the organization transformed. Now led by musician and animal lover Lane Brody. It meets incredibly high standards and licensing requirements. - Although we're not deemed as sanctuary, we think of ourselves as a sanctuary. All of our animals here are, they're in a rehabilitation mode. So we require quiet, we don't have animal viewings here, we're not a zoo. So you can't just kind of walk the grounds. - [Laura Faber] Dropbox or by appointment only an animal care technician Rebecca Garner says only trained staff and volunteers handle the animals. - [Rebecca Garner] We provide a service for the public in middle Tennessee to take care of any injured, sick or orphaned wildlife so that they can bring it here. We can rehabilitate it and then we can release it back where it was found. - [Laura Faber] There are a handful of non releasable animals that live at Walden's puddle, like Graydon the grackle an intelligent bird. - He was attacked by a cat when he was a fledgling, so when he was learning to fly. So unfortunately he ended up with some neurological issues and he unfortunately can't fly anymore. So he gets to spend his days here. - This is Nagini, she's an albino corn snake and educational ambassador for Walden's puddle for 13 years. And she's never bitten anyone yet. - [Laura Faber] King Arthur, a gorgeous red tailed hawk is actually a she. - [Rebecca Garner] She was hit by a vehicle and that impaired her ability to fly. And she also has some visual issues as well. - [Laura Faber] But the main focus is doing whatever it takes to return animals to the wild. - We get over 2000 animals every year. So we have a wide range of, we have to tube feed and syringe feed our babies. For our foxes, we get a lot with mange, so we have to treat the mange and then we have to get them back up to weight. So we have to feed them, we have to make sure that they are having clean bedding and nutrition while they're here so they can grow. We also have to do wound care on anything that's been attacked by something and has an open wound. And we have to treat any eye infections. We have to give fluids, medications and we have to do this for a wide range of species. - [Laura Faber] Human interaction is kept to a minimum, animals stay from three weeks to a year. Once stabilized, they were moved to a pre-release enclosure with more space to build up strength. Then tested to be sure they are exhibiting the proper behavior to survive. And finally, it's release day. Today, a pair of red foxes that came from the back of Sylvia Hertzog's property. She first saw them on her security footage. - I noticed that the male started to come out during the day, which is very unusual. And, and he was looking for food. He was very thin and his eyes were almost shut. He was almost blind. And so I knew he couldn't hunt because of his eyes. - [Laura Faber] Both had mange, a huge skin problem with this species but now are healthy. The male darts out, but the female, well not all releases go as planned. And the crate is dismantled. Finally, she runs. - Never seen that happen, ever. - Only for NPT - I think we're very fortunate and we have so much building in Nashville. A lot of the habitats are shrinking. And so that puts stress on the environment. And so we're seeing a lot more wild animals because of that. So it's great that we have Walden's puddle to take care of our wildlife, a gift to the town really. - [Laura Faber] A gift indeed, Walden's puddle does not accept state or federal funding. It relies on donations of which 92% go directly to animal care, a rare and wonderful thing. - [Rehabilitation Center Worker] Every time we pick up the telephone, we remind ourselves that it's all for the animals and that these people care. Oh my goodness, Laura, they really really care about what's going on here. - Thanks a lot, Laura. We all have family recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation. Well grandma's kitchen is where the subject of our next story got many of her sweet ideas. And as Alex Denis discovered the award-winning Courtney Luckett continues making her family proud. - [Alex Denis] ] Flour, frosting, batter, and bake. Courtney Luckett has mastered the perfect recipe, creating Southern Charm Bakery. - Alright, what else can we get for you today? - [Alex Denis] As owner, baker, and decorator, her sweet disposition is matched only by her sweet treats and the care she shows her customers. - It's not just the cakes. You are two away my dear. It's the relationships that we build with people that come in. - [Alex Denis] You're baking with love - Absolutely, all day, every day. It's how can this one cake make somebody's day better? - [Alex Denis] It's the heartbeat of her being, born from the memory she made as a child with her grandmother. - She started teaching me her recipes and started teaching me to decorate some things. She and I were able to spend a lot of time together. After my grandmother passed away I stopped baking, stopped decorating, stopped doing anything. It was really hard. - [Alex Denis] Until the day Luckett noticed a handwritten message from her inspiration, inspiring her to get back to baking. - The very cover of one of the cookbooks, it says "Courtney use these and do great things. God has a plan for you". Oh, you talk about it, I cried and I cried and I cried. And then I picked myself up and close to a month later, I quit my job in the corporate world and started doing cakes out of my home. - [Alex Denis] Thanks in part to her grandmother's recipes, her business has grown into this. Numerous flavors of cheesecakes squares and cakes fill the cases and shoppers can choose between rows of cupcakes. You can't go wrong with one of their signature flavors but if you're looking for a little something extra try one of their specialties like strawberry margarita. - [Courtney Luckett] We normally rotate those out. We have a website, so you can find those other flavors and everything on our website of what we have for the day. - [Alex Denis] Hours of preparation takes place here at all hours of the day. The process is meticulous, from the first measure to the last sprinkle, Luckett's attention to detail ensures every treat is top notch. And that takes time. - [Courtney Luckett] Three tier, four tier, depending on the level of difficulty it takes anywhere from four to six hours. So I could not do this by myself, at all. So we have a team of people, that come in. We have people that come in and follow the recipes and bake overnight and in the afternoons and the evenings. - [Alex Denis] But there are some recipes near and dear to Luckett that only she knows how to create. - [Courtney Luckett] A couple of my different pies, that my employees don't make those. I will actually make those, because that's what sets it apart. I have a chocolate chess pie that I bake and that's what sets it apart is that little bit of secret ingredient. And I will not share it with anyone. One day, I will whisper it and say this is what this is, but I haven't gotten there yet. - [Alex Denis] Whatever the secret ingredient is, it's working for Luckett. Her flare for flavor has captured the eyes and stomachs of those in town and celebrities alike. - [Courtney Luckett] One of the cakes that has taken us the longest, It would, took about 16 hours, was actually Kid Rock, his 50th birthday cake that he celebrated this past February. - [Alex Denis] Luckett's ability also landed her on two national cooking shows the first, Bakers versus Fakers, where she had to hide her true identity. - [Courtney Luckett] That one was super intense, You think of like a football game and how intense it is. It's like that on a scale times 10. - [Alex Denis] She took home the top prize. - [Courtney Luckett] I was like, I was flabbergasted. I was like, no, no, really? No. - [Alex Denis] She did it all over again on Bake it Like Buddy. This time her mother joined, they used her grandmother's coconut cake recipe. - [Courtney Luckett] We actually add cherries, maraschino cherries. It gives it just a little bit of sweetness, a little bit of different texture in it. So it definitely sets it apart. - [Alex Denis] She experienced the sweet taste of victory for a second time. Challenges like these keep Luckett and her team rising to the occasion. Custom orders are the icing on the cake. - [Courtney Luckett] We do sequins, we do hand painting, we do marbling, oh gosh. The sky's the limit if you can think of it and say, okay, this is what I want. Then we can make it happen. - [Alex Denis] Pleasing customers is why she's in business. Making memories they'll cherish long after her cakes are enjoyed. - [Courtney Luckett] Now, you're in here with us for a very short time. Most of the time it's four or five minutes, but the impact that you, you know, people leave with is what God calls us to do. So that's me and our entire staff just making my grandmother proud. - Thanks Alex. For our next story, we head up to Bowling Green, Kentucky and a unique urban nature center. The main attraction there is a legendary little river that flows underground into a cave, the Lost River Cave. It's an ancient marvel of nature that attracts modern day adventures. A river runs through Bowling Green, Kentucky, one that flows above and below the ground. Eventually escaping into a mysterious, natural wonder, the Lost River Cave. - We're an urban, nature sanctuary in the heart of Bowling Green, surrounded by the history of the cave and the beauty of nature. We have an amazing place to come to work every day. - [Joe Elmore] That's Rho Lansden, CEO of a 60 acre attraction that draws about 80,000 people a year. Many come just to walk the trails, others come to fly above them, more about that later. But the main attraction is of course the cave and according to tour manager, Chad Singer, it was once a refuge for ancient Native Americans, a few famous outlaws, and much more. - Even during the summer war, Lost River Cave, this whole valley that we're in at one point may have had between 15,000 to 20,000 troops from both sides here at one point. - [Joe Elmore] For about a century, the river was dammed to make power for grain and lumber mills, which either flooded or burned. But in 1933, the mill dam was rebuilt to run a water wheel that generated electricity for cave tours and even a nightclub. The cavern nightclub complete with band stand and dance floor was a popular entertainment attraction for decades. Thanks in part to its cool temperatures in a time when air conditioning was rare, but by the early sixties, the nightclub closed and the cave fell into neglect, eventually becoming a dumping site. - But then, you know, Western Kentucky got involved with trying to find the true depths of the blue holes and you know, trying to see what was really going on here. This unique geological feature that we have, and then some students got extra credit to help do the cleanup and were able to pull out 55 tons of trash from the cave and from the valley. - [Joe Elmore] In the mid 1990s, a nonprofit group Friends of Lost River reopened the cave and now explorers of all ages can enjoy boat tours through this geological wonder. Now, when you begin the tour, the operative word is duck. As you pass under this low limestone ceiling, before the cave opens up into a four story cavern. - [Chad Singer] Now this room that we're in is what we call the breakdown room. It's about a four story tall room, it's, caves in this area are going to be kind of notable by having these bigger portions to it first, and then they're going to kind of taper down as well through out. As you go through here, you may feel nice cold wet drip of water on your heads. And that's what we call a cave kiss. Yep. We know it's not that big, but we still think it's impressive. It's pretty neat. - [Joe Elmore] Eventually, we arrive at a newer dam built to control the ever-changing water level. - This is a great example of Cape coral or popcorn. This is just, what's going to be littered with it, no matter where that water is going it's going to be carrying those minerals too. - [Joe Elmore] The natural beauty is obvious, but the tour also offers a lesson in the caves delicate ecology. - Now here's the thing in a karst environment, a drop of oil, say, leaving a car that's going over top of our road with a little bit of rainwater like we're going to have today. Within an hour and a half, those oils can get down here. You know, where you have caves that oils and pollutants are going to move very fast. And it's going to damage these environments that are here. Like I've been saying, it's this very unstable ecosystem. It's not going to bounce back. - [Joe Elmore] Before long we returned to the mouth of the cave, back into natural light, but we're not leaving until we sample a new adventure of the Lost River Valley. In April of 2018, the Flying Squirrels Zip Line was opened to visitors who want a high ride over this wooded wonderland. So with help from Chad and his assistant, Heather, photographer Paul and I geared up to give it a go. What a ride, and what a place to commune with nature. Whether you're zipping through the trees, floating through a cave, or just strolling down a quiet trail. You can find wonderful works of art when you go to a museum, but what's wrong with bringing the works of art to other places? Well like a coffee shop. That's the plan at a cafe and Smyrna designed to surround you with works of local artists. Rob Wilds recently visited the Carpe Cafe where you can get coffee, a good sandwich and a side order of art. - [Rob Wilds] It's lunchtime in Smyrna. And it's busy at the Carpe cafe where as you might expect you can get a good cup of coffee. - [Ron Alley] If we were going to call ourselves Seize the Coffee we figured we'd better make a pretty decent cup of coffee. Since the time we started, we investigated small batch roasters. We wanted to stay local as much as possible. - [Rob Wilds] Ron Alley is the man who came up with the idea for the carpe cafe though his ideas just keep on morphing. - We thought we were going to be a cafe that sold a little bit of food. And it turns out we're a restaurant that sells less coffee than we do food. So, all local made on the premises baked goods, made to order sandwiches, soup, salads. So light fair. - [Rob Wilds] Mostly light, but there are some exceptions. - [Ron Alley] We may have one of the best cinnamon rolls in town. They're all made fresh every day. Next to that, is a cinnamon roll bread pudding with a bourbon sauce. So that is fabulous. - [Rob Wilds] The menu changes and expands, but the mission stays the same. You see Ron heads up a group called Carpe Artista, Seize the Artist. - [Ron Alley] Not in the sense of rough them up but capture their attention, their energy, the power of their art to make a difference in the world. - [Rob Wilds] And the world starts here at the cafe, where you're interacting with artists and their work, whether you know it or not. Often, musicians come by to play. Beau Tackett is a professional guitar player, who's used to playing country music in front of huge crowds. So being at the cafe really is like playtime for him. - I love the atmosphere, the vibe. I love it, that I can just sit here and kind of just play something in the corner. And nobody cares. Sometimes. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't and that's okay. You know, I just want to play something pretty since kind of background music gives me a chance to get out of the house and play some of the stuff that I practiced in my bedroom, you know. - [Rob Wilds] Good for the artist, good for people who get to hear him and interaction between them. Just what Ron wants from the cafe. - [Ron Alley] It is to create a connecting point for our students to connect with community and trying to create positive culture for our local community here. - [Rob Wilds] The cafe planted the artistic flag in an area of Smyrna that had been overshadowed a bit. - [Ron Alley] This is a historic zone for the town of Smyrna. It's a small area and it was primarily overlooked and left behind. And one of our directives with Carpe Artista is to look for overlooked and left behind older areas of a town and infuse it with the arts and work on bringing it back to life. - [Rob Wilds] Most people who come here aren't aware of the grand plan. They just like the place for what it is. Morgan Keith and Adriana Carter came here because it was a convenient place to work on a school project. They got a lot more than they bargained for. - It's great, It's really nice. The food's really good and it's very friendly staff. It's very a kind of homey feeling. It's really nice, great atmosphere. - I love it. I love it, I may drive the 45 minutes from my house to come here often. I may, yeah, I love it. It's very small, very quaint. It's a fun place to be - Along with providing a place for artists to display their work or for them to interact with the town's people. The cafe also provides a little money for those people who'd like to explore their artistic side through some classes. - That alpaca is very unruly. - Yes it is. - [Rob Wilds] Whether it's a group of ladies learning a bit about wool - [Elderly Lady] you want to do your small work, your detailed, the single mingle - [Rob Wilds] Or someone like Anna Kriel who came for lessons on how to refine her considerable young talent. - Ms. Larissa has been a great teacher. She really helps me do what I want to do but then also pushes me to do other things as well. - [Rob Wilds] Things for instance, that can go on display at carpe cafe. Along with all the other works by local artists. - I like that people get to see it and enjoy it. And it's not just secluded at home and it's so people can actually see and enjoy it. So that's, that makes me happy - [Rob Wilds] Now while you're here, don't forget, this is a cafe. - [Ron Alley] Get a great sandwich and a cinnamon roll and a great latte. Matter of fact, one of our signature sandwiches is called Smokey's Chicken Sandwich and it's made with a signature barbecue sauce. It's just the right amount of spices on it and so it's a great little sandwich - [Rob Wilds] But be sure you also get a large side order of local creativity when you visit the Carpe Cafe in Smyrna. - Well that about does it for this edition of Tennessee Crossroads. We sure appreciate you joining us. And don't forget to check out our website from time to time, Tennesseecrossroads.org. Follow us on Facebook, of course. We'll see you next time. - [Female Speaker] Published by Tennessee state parks the Tennessee Conservationist Magazine features articles on native species, culture, and history. Connecting readers with Tennessee's natural resources and recreational activities. More information at tnconservationist.org.
June 24, 2021
Season 34 | Episode 40
Laura Faber learns about rescuing wild animals at Walden's Puddle. Alex Denis satisfies her sweet tooth at the Southern Charm Bakery & Cupcakery. Joe Elmore explores the Lost River Cave. And Rob Wilds visits the Carpe Cafe in Smyrna. Presented by Nashville Public Television.