Michael Meissner illustration
While most of the folks who move to Murphy, N.C., are transplanted Floridians seeking relief from the heat, my husband Rick and I are from the Maryland foothills.
Considering that our difference in latitude is offset by the difference in altitude, Murphy and New Market, Md., have similar temperatures most of the year. Retiring to a place with the same climate wouldn’t make sense to most people, but climate’s not why we came.
We came for the peace and tranquility of the mountains.
We stayed because of the people.
We have been hanging out in these mountains for years. At first we came to visit Rick’s clan of relatives who are from Franklin. We were drawn back by the windy mountain roads, which offer some of the best motorcycling on the East Coast. Our cousins (Floridians) moved to Topton, and we bunked with them so often it became embarrassing.
Finally we bought our own cabin in a lovely spot between Murphy and Brasstown. We wake in the morning to a view of the old man mountain still hugging a blanket of fog up to his chin. As we go about our day riding the country roads past the farms and forests, we can’t help but smile comparing them to the traffic and strip malls up north. In the evening we soak up local culture at the John C. Campbell Folk School, attending wildlife lectures, craft demonstrations and bluegrass concerts. We fall asleep at night serenaded by the Chuck-will’s-widow and the barred owl.
This being our second home until we can manage to retire, it had to be set up from scratch. What seemed a daunting task at first became a delightful opportunity to meet the local people. One contact led to another as we hunted for furniture, appliances and supplies. Our realtor told us where to find a good mattress. That man sent us to a furniture shop. That lady recommended a place to get a television. And so on.
Everyone knew everyone else. And they all had stories to tell. The man who delivered our dining room table regaled us with the gory details of sewing up his hunting dog’s injuries on the tailgate of his pick-up truck after a run-in with a wild boar. The refrigerator deliveryman admired our hound and gave us a full account of the different hound dog breeds. The baker filled us in on the history of the local liquor laws, relating stories of a time when this little sleepy town seemed as lawless and drunken as the Wild West. A neighbor turned us on to the joys of bargain hunting at the famous Tuesday Flea Market. By the time our cabin was furnished, we felt like part of the community.
Perhaps because it’s not so crowded here, folks take the time to wave, to talk, to help in ways that have become woefully uncommon in the hustle-bustle of our northern town. When my husband developed a terrible toothache one weekend, our realtor (the source of much good information) called his dentist at home to ask if he’d come in on his day off. He did so cheerfully, and he prescribed medication to get my husband through the weekend. The dentist called several times a day to check on Rick, who continued to feel worse. When it became apparent that a root canal procedure was necessary, he called in a favor from an endodontist in a neighboring town. That doctor and his assistant saw us on a Sunday morning and, in no time at all the problem was solved. That sort of care just isn’t common in a big city.
Rick and I have traveled all over the 50 states and many foreign countries as well, so we know that people everywhere can be warm and friendly. We have seen lovely scenery and homey little towns. We have enjoyed soaking up the local culture wherever we’ve gone and have often said to each other, “Wouldn’t it be cool to actually live here?”
With so many wonderful possibilities, we feel blessed to have found our perfect home nestled under the sheltering hills of Western North Carolina.