Apparently, we aren’t the first or only New Yorkers who planned to move to North Carolina. In fact, every workman who came to fix up our house to put it on the market claimed to be heading south within the next couple of years. Or, short of going themselves, Marty from Retro Modern has a sister who’s moved down and “loves it but it drives her crazy that they ask you five questions before they pour your cup of coffee,” and John, our car mechanic, has an aunt and uncle who came down but he doesn’t like to visit because they “live on one of those chichi golf courses.” So many people were or had moved down that Bob and I thought maybe we’d go to our local NC farmers markets and call out, “New York!” and see how many people respond.* (*We never did this. In fact, we got NC plates for our cars ASAP.)
Meanwhile, we did move down. Of course, it was the middle of COVID so we couldn’t exactly go out line dancing every night. But we did discover the local grocery store (5 minutes to the close one, 10 minutes to the big one, 14 minutes to the fancy one). We started sampling takeout from various nearby restaurants.
In short, we are starting to get the lay of the land. Here are a few things we’ve discovered are delightfully specific to our new stomping grounds.
On a trip to the grocery, we discovered the shelves are stocked a bit differently.
There is an entire shelf of different kinds of grits, the same with cornbread mix. Local cornbread is often not sweet, so I was afraid when I couldn’t find Jiffy cornbread mix, which I need for my famous stuffing. Turns out I wasn’t looking hard enough. They come in 12-packs on the lower shelves.
Sadly for people watching their carbs, biscuits are a food group and come with nearly everything. Not rolls, mind you, biscuits. Can you even think about Bojangles or Cracker Barrel and not picture a plate of fall-apart, dip-in-honey pieces of heaven?
Bob and I have acquired new favorite tastes. His is pimento cheese dip. It’s a fresh made local delicacy around these parts, and you can get it any way you can imagine.
Our daughter Linnéa’s favorite is sweet tea. Somehow it’s not the same as plain old iced tea with sugar in it. It’s, well, sweet tea.
As far as drinks, I’ll go with Cheerwine. It’s a cherry flavored soda that is something of a precursor to Dr. Pepper. But it’s somehow just so southern.
As are Moon Pies. First, what size do you want, regular or mini? Chocolate, vanilla, mint chocolate…they’re serious about their Moon Pies.
Besides groceries, we have found some other happy differences.
It’s considered cold here at 46 degrees.
Happily, contractors work straight through the year. In Warwick, when I wanted to hire a deck contractor in December, he explained he’d start working again in April. The guys who poured our driveway would come in May. The gazebo people started up again in March but couldn’t get to us till July. Here, Hector asked to take off Christmas week and started work on our deck in early January. Sure, the team had to take a few days off here and there due to weather, but the project is was finished in February.
Speaking of inclement weather, of course our first winter included the “storm of the decade.” It really was. There hasn’t been a foot of snow in Asheville since 2011. Lucky us. The snowplow guys, who came up our driveway on ATVs, couldn’t get to us right away. Even though they cleared the snow, we were left with half an inch of ice on the driveway. The next day I tried to take the Subaru down. Nope. The car remained sideways at the top of the driveway for the next three days. Fortunately, we’d seen the storm coming and were well-provisioned.
No matter where we want to go, it’s 18 minutes from our house. Downtown Hendersonville, 18 minutes. Downtown Brevard, 18. The Asheville Airport, 18. You get the idea.
And there are hikes! So many hikes! When our daughter Linnéa visited we tried to find one and found 50. Pisgah Forest, DuPont Forest, Flat Rock, Carl Sandburg farm, the Biltmore Estate, Jump Off Rock, and Jump Off Rock (apparently, Cherokee princesses had no recourse when unlucky in love but to jump. I think this is likely the myth they told gullible white people whenever they didn’t want to divulge the real name of something.) But, seriously, you can spend your whole life hiking around these parts and never run out of waterfalls.
Our mail delivery person is Chris. She thinks the Fed Ex guys is rude for leaving packages at the bottom of our driveway and she’ll drive them up.
Before we moved into our house, when we came for the inspection, we briefly saw a pure white squirrel who looked like he was checking us out. We wondered if we’d ever see him again. Turns out, yes. And many of his aunts, uncles and cousins. We recently met Rita and John, the people who built the house, and asked if they fed the white squirrels. Rita claims one would sit in her lap and eat Hershey’s kisses. We’re a ways from that. A note: these are not albino squirrels, who have red eyes. They are a mutant variety, descended from the original two who were loosed in Brevard 50 years ago, and we love them. I’m wondering if I can import some pure black squirrels? They would look so good together.
Churches! There are churches every 6 feet. Well, maybe not quite every six feet, but there are a lot. Our favorite is up the road, just in the next county: Transylvania Baptist Church. There is Power in the Blood.
Lastly, we are half an hour from Asheville, a city bustling with arts, restaurants, breweries and entertainment, and bursting with history. We’ve already taken guests on the Comedy Tour and the Hop-On, Hop-Off Greyline Tour. We have annual passes to the Biltmore Estate and went with the kids and then with Barb at Christmas. We are regulars in the River Arts District.
The hard thing is, there’s so much to do right here near home, it’s not often we gear up to drive a whole half an hour to get to the city.
But when y’all come to visit, that will be a different story.