In February we had a few warm days and prematurely we congratulated ourselves on successfully enduring another winter. March was bitterly cold with snow, April promised more of the same. We needed a break. When you drive South from Lake Erie, it doesn’t take long before the snow and serious frost is replaced by a world of yellow willows, hawthorn and redbud. At the border, we drank coffee at the historic Blennerhasset Hotel in Parkersburg, strolled by the flooded Ohio River, and then crossed into West Virginia. There was time for a coal country picnic in the sunshine of Ripley and a delightful walk around the lake in the Hungry Mother State Park.
The railroads criss-cross the state, hauling their loads of coal, chemicals and timber. Our motel was by the tracks. It didn’t matter, we kept our windows open, loving Spring. By early afternoon we reached Flat rock, and our cottage. It overlooks a ten acre paddock, and from a rocker on the porch we enjoyed the pastoral quality of sheep and goats cropping the grass, watch new leaves bursting from their winter casings, and catch the jewel tones of orioles’ in their flashy spring plumage.
Hendersonville is a short drive away, it’s quiet Main Street, lined with outdoor eateries, and pedestrian walk ways, with planters full of tulips, and daffodils. Kathy and Pete drove up from Seneca, and we ate pizza in the local bar, and walked around the excellent Flat rock Park, a reclaimed golf course, we explored the hilly neighborhood. . This is the Chagrin Falls of North Carolina, and I could live here. There is plenty to paint, mountains to hike, waterfalls, a market for art, and a climate that is perfect.
Next morning, we drove across country to Black Mountain to spend a few days with Linda and Earl. Their new rescue pup welcomed us with a huge spreading pool of pee on the tile floor. Maggie is an endearing young sheepadoodle, with some annoying habits. We had a long rough walk to Catawba Falls, a Kortuba ride along the back lanes of Black Mountain, and a fantastic day at Chimney Rock. We climbed the 500 steps to the top of the rock (the elevator is out!) Tons of subjects to paint here, the clear river bubbles over small falls, on a sandy base between lovely rounded boulders. The trees were just budding out, so the view from chimney rock was unobstructed, no weekend crowds, and if you like to paint waterfalls, here there are plenty! If we had stayed in Robins Mountain top tiny house, we might still be there. It has a tiny kitchen, a tiny bedroom but sweeping views of Mt Mitchell and nearby mountains seen from the hot tub. An artist could live here, too.
We made the drive back in one long day. Damn it is cold. We built a fire, and I went back to the studio.
The painting of Americas Cup boats was fun, the paintings of Hendersonville, the sheep side cottage in Flatrock or the falls of Chimney Rock will be sheer pleasure. I look forward to those. But first the wood interior, this will be WORK. Sometimes you have just got to say no. Why didn’t I! This will be a challenge, you’ll see.