By Kim De, special contributor to RomanticAsheville.com!
My Asheville. It is a state of mind. It is a place as well as a feeling. It is where I want to be.
As I approach the state line, a feeling washes over me. It is a first date. A first kiss. Around every curve lies a new hill, larger than the last. The mountains are drenched in yellow beams of light providing peaceful contentment. I no longer hear the radio, only the roar of excitement like the ocean in a seashell. Stress melts away as the trees grow before my eyes.
I go to Asheville hungry. There is no lack of fresh, sustainable food presented with beauty and innovation. Each restaurant achieves its own unique harmony, performing a veritable treat for the senses. Today I wax poetic while crunching into a steaming slice of pizza, its aromatic herbs and fresh meats folding into bright vegetables. Tomorrow I will feel a tingle of appreciation while melting into the beautiful grains and delectable legumes of a homemade veggie burger snuggled between a bakery bun.
A giant plus to the great food is the large offering of local wine and beer. And what amazing beer! Nine breweries call the surrounding area home and no two are the same. Upon first frosty sip the hops dance on my tongue. I am am drowning in a sea of ale with no desire for rescue.
Part of the beauty of Asheville lies in the surrounding mountains. Pure poetry. I admire their beauty from the steam of my coffee as I silently rock. The birds share in my joy with their aria. Gentle breezes stir the cool air, whispering to the lacy pines. Cars drive by, closer to an outdoor adventure. This is my Asheville.
In Asheville, people are relaxed, casual . Their demeanor suggests they just came from a hike. Or rafting. Their clothes say “hey-we-are-not-a -corporate-culture”. Asheville is a tourist town owned by the locals. Neon signs are absent. No go-cart centers, no rows of souvenir shops. Instead a bevy of local bookstores, coffee shops and restaurants stand in wait. Loyalty blankets the city with dwellers buying from the local farmers and eating at the local pubs. The snow-globe view displays a colorful, happy time and I am fortunate to be invited.
I never stay indoors while here. Mountains of various hues call me to hike. Rivers beckon me to visit their glassy ripples. Even in the rain I sit outside, inhaling soaked bark and sighing with enchantment as the fog blankets the view.
In my Asheville I am not a tourist, I am a resident who doesn't live here. I feel freedom in Asheville. I am always energized, when I am here. I open up like a spring flower. Beauty soars up my spine, into my heart and shines through my eyes. Every minute I spend here is one more minute flying on the wings of a bird. When it is time to depart I feel a sense of longing to return. A whisper from the wind calls to me. To turn around. To be a part of the community. I carry Asheville away in my heart.