What a glorious time to visit Asheville, North Carolina! Kudos to my planning team. It totally makes up for Detroit in February. It had been a cool, long rainy non-springy spring in the Northeast, gray and overcast, and I was in desperate need of some color for my palette. Of course the day I flew out of New York it was into a clear blue sky with a heat promised that would surely blast open the flowering trees down by the Hudson River.
Asheville in Blue Ridge mountain-ed western North Carolina was lit with enough pink and white dogwood, flaming azaleas, tender new green leaves and chirping birds to break a city girl's heart. I arrived the afternoon of my show and strolled "the Paris of the South." Part of the charm of the city is its vibrant music scene. I am in favor of cute girl accordionistas on every other street corner. It should be a by-law in every town.
The gorgeous, well-staffed Diana Worthem Theater is a dynamic part of the Pack Performing Arts Center. In addition to an art and earth science museum, the theater is a must-stop for dance, theater and music troupes on any Southern tour. My Thursday night crowd looked like old home and homo week down from the hills and hollers of Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky. Since I was going to be in town for a few days, I asked them what I should do and the suggestions cascaded down from the balcony - kayaking, dining at my place, visiting the Biltmore estate, hiking or biking the arboretum, hanging out. They love where they live.
If you're ever in Asheville, go to the Early Girl Eatery and have their southern style cooking with locally grown produce. The biscuits were five-pointers on Weight Watchers but who cared? They do grits. And the waitresses were hard-working, tart and tangy and knew me by name after my second meal there.
The real purpose of my visit was to attend the commitment ceremony of two old friends from Provincetown, happily transplanted to Asheville. Amy and Katina had been married in Provincetown in October, but wanted to celebrate with their new friends in the town where they had sunk roots in the last five years. My galpal joined me on Friday and we hung out with old friends Nancy and Beth who had emigrated from Jamaica Plain in Boston. We hiked the arboretum.
Friday night before the ceremony, Amy and Katina's friends had a dinner party for friends and family. Even though everyone seemed to be a transplant, we were warmly welcomed with classic southern hospitality. As apartment dwelling New Yorkers, we schwinged at the size of the house. The ceremony the next day was welcoming and woo-woo, with vows, blessings, a medley of songs from members of Womansong Chorus, roasting and toasting, dancing, and finally more music from Nancy and Beth's great band "Lucky". A great buffet of southern fried everything kept everyone stoked.
Since I don't often get to stay for a few days in towns where I perform, the weekend was special. The women we met were smart, political and committed to creating social change through their jobs, their retirement, their art and conversation. Their values create community and it radiates out into a wider community. My partner and I spent one whole breakfast at Early Girl Eatery trying to figure out how we could swing a move to Asheville. And flirting with Fran.
Today the trees by the river are at a full flower with some petals already floating down like spring confetti.