Hello! We’re just wrapping up a week down in Black Mountain where we’ve been buying a home as well as a completely new way of life.
Depending on how you look through the knothole in the fence of life, it’s either an episode right out of Twilight Zone or beginning to live the lyrics out of a John Denver song, that lyric being: Going Home to a place he’d never been before.
We were sort of expecting the first part of the Twilight Zone part. After fighting seriously nasty traffic in the east for the past 30 years, we arrive in Asheville, rent a car, pull out on the road and…this is where old Rod Serling’s voice comes in: “A couple, having spent most of their lives having to fight for everything, even the spot on the highway, arrive in a town that’s the complete opposite of that.”
Within ten seconds, the difference is noticeable, almost palpable: the absence of road rage, but it’s more than that: It’s as if everyone…was happy, and with that, courteous and gracious. If you’re even thinking you might want to cross the road, the drivers slow to a stop, smile, and wave you on. This courtesy extends to such things as opening doors, smiling, waving and…communicating. Yeah, I would be skeptical as well, but it’s true and the plot thickens.
After returning from signing the house papers, Pam and I were walking along a stream near our motel. A mountain of a man, all of six foot-three and 300 lbs approaches from the other direction. He looks like a great big Santa, with a long beard, and he’s walking a Boston terrier that looks like one of ours. We stop and talk. He’s leaving Black Mountain after 30 years, because of family in Florida who need him. He has a stare that forces you to look him in the eyes and not look away. He’s been helping out at a seniors’ center for a decade and what he’s most depressed about, is that he won’t be able to help anymore. We play with the dog, chat a bit and explain that we’re moving down. We part, but there’s that Twilight Zone moment waiting in the wings. More in a minute.
We walk into Black Mountain and stop in at a shop called the Seven Sisters. Talking to the British gal, Arlene, who runs it, I ask if it’s named for the mountain ranges you can see here. She says, “Bingo” and a conversation ensues. We tell her we bought a house, she asks where and then…more Twilight Zone. She’s been there many times, had teas and barbecues there and knows the (former) owner well. An hour later, we leave, but we’ve already forged a new friendship. We have a “date” at the new house.
Time doesn’t permit me to go through the rest of the day, but at EVERY single place we go, whether in Black Mountain, Asheville, or Old Fort, the same thing happens. You cannot toss your hat without meeting a potential new friend and learning about the area as well as their lives. There is zero pretense here. Zero. Nada. There’s a friendly quirkiness that prevails and it’s palpable.
Getting back to the Twilight Zone. The next morning it’s 5:00 am,black outside and raining buckets. I sprint over to the main office to get some coffees and that old Santa Claus guy is there doing the same. As I enter, he starts scribbling on a paper napkin and hands it to me. The words are: Bud Hogan, Senior Citizens’ Center. I’m thinking, …huh??? He says, “I’m leaving, but you’re just arriving. When you’re settled, get your fanny down there and meet the people. They need some help.” I look question marks at him and he gets it. He says, “Trust me. Go down there. Spend an hour and if you can leave without being moved by these people…their needs…well, there’s something wrong with you.” I promise him. Finally I ask him who he is. He says. “Harvey; that’s what they know me as down there.” I say, “My name is Harvey, too.” He doesn’t blink…doesn’t bat an eye. He just grins a little.
Right now we have a small handful of friends up north who’ve fought the battle of rage, entitlement and pretense for a long, long time. With a little luck, there may be a small exodus to a place that’s not so fast-paced, but a whole lot happier and friendlier.
Country Roads…take me home…to the place…I belong….Carolinas, Mountain Mama, take me home…country roads.
P.S. I obviously can’t name every one of our friends in this blog. But…y’all know who you are. You don’t need an engraved invitation to come down and possibly discover a new way of life.
Henry and Pam!
So happy for you! We’re thinking of a trip to Biltmore this summer. A friend of Wade’s came back and raved about the riding. That’s all Wade had to hear. Enjoy, my friends. Well-deserved.
Okay!!! The place we bought has its own guest house with kitchen, laundry, parlor, everything. It even has its own driveway and overlooks a pond and a waterfall. They say fish and visitors start to stink after three days… NOT when you have your own place so nobody has to whisper or keep all their clothes on all the time. We upsized with the property…prettiest I’ve ever seen. Tell Wade there’s some of the best food we’ve ever had and about half the price of Bucks.
Henry and Pam
I’ll see you both again…goin home to a place I’ve never been before. It’s the place in your heart that counts.
You’re gonna LOVE this place, Deb! Pam and I have always had a hard time visiting friends. You’re always tripping over each other in the morning. With a guest house, ALL of that goes away.
Living here in Charleston, I hear people RAVING about Asheville. You made a wise choice, Henry.
Well, I hear Charleston is pretty darned pretty, too! Not that far, either.
Hats off to you and Pam. I’m sure you’re going to be happy in your new surroundings. Hope we’ll be able to meet up and do some exploring!
Well, it may be a little bit country, but it has its own symphony, and ballet/opera house. Then there’s everything else. We’ve always had an extremely soft spot in our hearts for good Blue Grass…and dancing, of which there’s plenty down here. We have a guest house and we know how to use it!
Henry and Pamela,
Congrats to you both! May the year ahead be filled with joy, exploration, meeting new friends, and most of all good health! Patti and Gary
Thanks Patti! You’re right about the health. That’s at the very top of the list.
AWESOME! That is great news! You’re going to love it down here.
Thanks Nancy. Well, you’re not that far now. Have you been to the Stoney Knob Cafe in Weaverville?
Sounds like a bit of heaven! When’s the move?”
Assuming all goes well, about thirty days. I keep waiting for some director to call out: “Cut! That’s a wrap” for some happiness movie, but it’s for real. Even the kids are friendly….courteous.
Good for you two!
Happiness makes for a long life.
That would be really really nice. Fingers crossed.
The place looks beautiful! Happy for you guys…sad to see you leaving.
You and Phil have a standing invitation to come down and visit! Just give us a little time to unpack and find new places to put stuff.
Henry, my very best wishes to you and Pamela as you enter this new and obviously wonderful phase of life. May your days be filled with love, contentment, laughter, excitement, and new friends. Hoping to remain one of your old friends.
Hey Nan! You will always have a spot in our hearts and…we just halved the distance between us. Since we’re both at what is known as destination points, we should be able to visit…a bit more often. Big hug!
Henry and Pamela
I, too, love Asheville for all its art, food, culture, gorgeous scenery and the friendliest people ever. Your waterfalls look amazing. Watch how quickly you adopt the southern accent… it is charming.
Best of luck in the most beautiful place in the states.
Why hello Miss Walker,
and thank ya kindly for your words. Looks like we have a couple a ducks, some bass, sunnies, frogs, bluegills and a big ole snappin’ turtle who’s runnin’ the place. I don’t think I’ll ever pick up that accent though. Just too old and gnarly. HRH
You are no longer just gone to Carolina in your mind. Go outside one clear crisp day and put on “Blue Sky” by the Allman Brothers and soak it all in.
Congratulations. Now you know why I could never leave this place even for
all the great perfect surf that I can find when I travel to California or
We’ve been visiting Black Mountain and Asheville for over a decade now and in the back of my little twisted northern mind, I kept wondering if it was too good to b true…sorta like an old episode of X-Files where by day, everyone is kind and sweet, then by night, they put on their black hoods and drink goat blood……or something like that.
Well, it’s just like that excepting for the hoods and drinking blood. Genuinely nice people. We’re going to have to work on getting a little nicer if we’re gonna fit in.
We’ve been to Monet’s home north of Paris. Is it a painting or is it real? We loved it. I couldn’t wish you more happiness especially when you get there for good. We’ve been to a few places where people welcome you openly. We have done the same and have developed close relationships with several people and families all over the world..
Pat and I want to wish you and Pam the very best in your new piece of paradise. We will always keep you in our hearts and minds. Should we ever get to Asheville we will let you know…..with some advanced notice.
Be very well my friend,
Thank you kindly! Let us know when you’re coming down and we’ll plan some cool stuff to do!
Henry and Pam,
If we get there, we would have to look you
up so Wade could check on how your Southern accent was developing.
Thank you for the offer. It’s nice to dream.
Let me know if you add horses to your menagerie.
Pam and Wade
Thank ya kindly Miss Pam,
By the second day, the realtor noticed that the accent was comin’ along nicely. More seriously and more importantly, the people are so courteous, on the road and off, that you find you’re adopting a kinder and friendlier technique of driving than is common up here. We have enough room for horses, but for us, we’ll probably get more Boston terriers. They’re harder to put a saddle on but they don’t eat so much either.
Y’all have a GREAT day!
Henry and Pam