A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

Purchase collections of Elizabeth Hudson’s columns at ourstatestore.com. Every morning — before she pours herself a bowl of cereal, before she takes her first sip of coffee — my mother

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

Purchase collections of Elizabeth Hudson’s columns at ourstatestore.com. Every morning — before she pours herself a bowl of cereal, before she takes her first sip of coffee — my mother

Purchase collections of Elizabeth Hudson’s columns at ourstatestore.com.


Every morning — before she pours herself a bowl of cereal, before she takes her first sip of coffee — my mother raises the blinds in her kitchen, a ritual as instinctual as drawing a breath. With a gentle pull, the shades ascend to the top of the window, flooding the room with sunlight, welcoming a new day.

She lives just up the street from me; I can see her house from the end of my driveway. Every morning — before I spoon yogurt into my bowl, before I take my first sip of coffee — I step outside and glance to see if her blinds are open. It’s a comforting ritual I’ve created for myself, reassurance that my mother is awake and up. It’s how I know that all is well, that everything is as it should be.

The house I grew up in had 19 windows, and my mom kept them gleaming, Windexed-and paper-toweled every season, starting in the spring after the pollen settled. She cleaned the windows after heavy summer rains and cleaned them again after a winter storm.

You’re going to wear a hole in those windows, my dad teased, yet both of them were committed to ensuring that no smudges or dust obstructed the light.

For my dad’s part, he insisted our windows stay unadorned. No café curtains hung above our kitchen sink; no drapery panels puddled to the floor in our living room. We didn’t give any thought to a need for privacy.

Our house sat on top of a hill in rural Randolph County, the Uwharrie Mountains in the distance. You couldn’t see in to the house from the road, and our nearest neighbor was half a mile away. In our house, sunlight was the ever-present guest.

In North Carolina, we’re known as the Old North State and the Tar Heel State. This time of year, as the days grow longer and warmth reaches every garden row and grapevine, every porch and pine forest, I like to think that we may also be the State of Light, living up to the proclamation in our state toast as “the summer land, where the sun doth shine!”

I hope you’ve stood, as I have, on the sandy shores of Oak Island, Emerald Isle, Cape Lookout, to watch the dawn break. Maybe you’ve driven the Blue Ridge Parkway, marveling at misty rays illuminating the valleys, or paused along Highway 276 in Brevard to admire the glimmering curtain of Looking Glass Falls, liquid light cascading into a crystal-clear pool below. You might have found yourself among the towering trees in the Great Smoky Mountains, shaded but for the sunlight filtering through the leaves. Even in the shadows, light finds us, a beacon of assurance that all is well, that everything is as it should be.

Or maybe, like me, you’ve found yourself closer to home, chasing fireflies at the end of a summer evening, laughing before collapsing backward on the cool grass, gazing upward, lost in the vastness of a night sky. Overhead, millions of stars keep watch, twinkling like distant lanterns, out of reach but always in view.

Oh, how they shimmer. Oh, how they shine.

 

Elizabeth

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Hudson
Editor in Chief

 

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This story was published on May 27, 2024

Elizabeth Hudson

Hudson is a native of North Carolina who grew up in the small community of Farmer, near Asheboro. She holds a B.A. degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and began her publishing career in 1997 at Our State magazine. She held various editorial titles for 10 years before becoming Editor in Chief of the 88-year-old publication in 2009. For her work with the magazine, Hudson is also the 2014 recipient of the Ethel Fortner Writer and Community Award, an award that celebrates contributions to the literary arts of North Carolina.