The Guardian of the Gate at the Live@Lanier  March 5

Published 1:29 pm Wednesday, February 26, 2020

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The rainbow feathered parrot said “hello.” Andy Ruff, bending at the side of a sedan with its California plate, looked past the middle-aged man in the driver’s seat and pondered a response to the exotic greeter perched on the passenger’s shoulder. 


In his tenure as Operations Manager at Pearson’s Falls, Andy has been surprised, challenged, intrigued, educated, and entertained. A major perk of the job is greeting and chatting with an average 90 visitors a day and sharing his knowledge of fauna and flora. He has rarely been at a loss for words, but on the “day of the parrot,” he had to pause to think of what to say to a talking bird. 

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At the next Live@Lanier on Thursday March 5, 6:00 p.m., Andy Ruff, “Guardian at the Gate,” will tell you how he handled this invasive species as well as anecdotes about other visitors.


For example, when a groom in black tux and a bride in white lace stopped at the admission booth and announced they were getting married at the waterfall, Andy was enthusiastic with abundant well wishes but cautioned about snags on her veil and damp ground on her hem during the quarter-mile ascent. 


Jim Welch, former TV anchor and host of NatureScene, will join Andy to help you better understand the treasures Andy is guarding. 


Both men feel personally protective of the eight species of salamander, 39 bird species, 13 types of fern, 140 or so Hemlock trees, seven types of Trillium, and other wild flowers that they find fascinating despite their abundance.  


“Guardian of the Gate” is the latest in Lanier’s Felburn Nature and Wildlife Collection series. The program is free and open to the public. Members and visitors can also browse the collection downstairs in the Le Duc Room, The Lanier Library at 72 Chestnut Street in Tryon or call 828-859-9535.


Submitted by Vincent Verrecchio


PHOTO CUTLINE:  The parrot said “hello” to Andy Ruff, Guardian of the Gate at Pearson’s Falls and Glen.