Giving Thanks and Finding Home

This year I didn’t go “home” for Thanksgiving. As in, I didn’t go to Florida, where most of my family lives, and where I traditionally spend the holiday. To save money, and since we’re travelling down there for Christmas, Tommy and I spent the time here in Asheville at our apartment with his sister, another dear friend, and later, one of our neighbors.

We cooked and laughed all afternoon, taking shifts in our kitchen, which is so small you can almost touch opposite walls at once. Close quarters embraced, we whipped up a colorful array of from-scratch dishes, conventional with a foodie twist. Β From deviled eggs made with the farm-fresh eggs we are lucky enough to get delivered to our front door each week, to pie made with local Pink Lady apples, we borrowed from the classics as we started our own traditions. And of course, our cat Simone got to participate with her own fancy bowl of tuna.

Creating and sharing meals with loved ones is one my greatest pleasures in life. When we invest our time and creativity in making a meal together, we have the chance to forge the kind of fellowship that our technology-driven culture doesn’t often prioritize. For all of our far-reaching social networking, we often don’t know our neighbors very well, much less break bread with them.

This year, I feel so thankful for my parents and their insistence on the nightly family dinners of my childhood, for my grandmother for her ritual Sunday dinners that I sorely miss, and for all of the friends, Warren Wilson College and beyond, who have shared in carrying on those meals of kinship, where everyone can feel at home.

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Hot Springs Lovers’ Leap

So it’s become clear that I’m a blue moon sort of blogger, and I’m feeling it today.

Ever since researching for a story I wrote about regional Lovers’ Leaps, I’ve been itching to hit the trails myself. I hadn’t known what a dark lore most of them share, but most Lovers’ Leap Β legends were probably written by white settlers, and they usually star a Native American couple. The heroes are typically young and in love, but for various reasons are forbade to marry and eventuallyΒ feel driven to end their lives by leaping from a cliff.

One of these old-school romantic tragedies takes place in Hot Springs, a small town a bit north of Asheville. The Appalachian Trail runs through town, so it’s popular with through-hikers who need supplies (or a soak in one of the amazing natural hot spring tubs), or for those of us locals Β looking for a few hours in nature.

Mist-on-the-Mountain, the heroine of the Hot Springs legend, just wanted to marry a handsome young man named Magwa. However, her father was the chief, and he had his reasons for wanting her to marry Tall Pine, who was old enough to be her grandfather. The obvious solution was for Mist and Magwa to run away together, but they made it only as far as the base of a tall cliff by the French Broad river. Old man Tall Pine was also a lunatic, and he followed the young couple to the water, where he killed Magwa with a blow to the head. Mist fled to the top of the bluff, where Tall Pine cornered her, and her choice became clear. She jumped to her death, the only way to join her lover. As the story goes, a panther crouching in a tree killed Tall Pine before he could escape.

T and I spent a few hours in Hot Springs exploring this hike, which is fairly short but steep in some parts. You spend a good bit of time meandering (if you’re anything like me and pretty things catch your eye) along the French Broad river, and then a switch back trail takes you up to a few lookout spots, one of which is the true Lovers’ Leap. The view is gorgeous, of course, but I couldn’t help thinking of the poor heroine, who just wanted to marry the man she loved, and it made me feel an extra bit of lucky to be there with my love.

It’s been chilly here lately, too, so a day with sunshine and warmth was a gift. We’re past our leaf “peak,” but there was still plenty of bright autumn color I couldn’t resist attempting to capture. Here’s to fall, one of the best reasons to live in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Have a great week!

Love, K