Wine Country

Neighbors to the North

Virginia wines come into their own

By Angela Sanchez

When driving through the rolling hills outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, you see beautiful farmland with wineries, cider houses and breweries. Tucked away in Central Virginia, these places have breathtaking views and lovely, preserved agricultural spaces. It’s where Thomas Jefferson worked voraciously to grow French wine varietals in the fields of Monticello, his plantation home.

Full of American history and family-owned farms, minutes away from cities, colleges and culture, this area boasts a thriving wine industry. It’s only fitting that today Central Virginia is on the map for winemaking and viticulture. Once considered mediocre, at best, today the wines are worth a closer look.

While Virginia is broken into numerous growing districts, Central Virginia is the most interesting. Encompassing Albemarle and Nelson counties — a short drive from Charlottesville, minutes from Wintergreen ski park in the Appalachian Mountains and an hour-and-a-half from Richmond — the area is beautiful, accessible, and capable of producing wines on par with those of America’s more heralded wine regions.

The Central Virginia growing district encompasses the Monticello AVA (American Viticultural Area), named for Jefferson’s home. A well-know Francophile when it came to all things wine, Jefferson not only collected French wines but toiled over French varietals in his own vineyards, trying to find the right “fit” for the land.

Today, the land has decided. Granite-based clay soil is very fertile, and provides the structure behind the beautiful wines produced there. Lesser-known French varietals have taken hold. Viognier, cabernet Franc and petit verdot have grown, adapted, and are thriving in the rich soil, continental climate and the extended growing season of over 200 days a year. As of late, better-known varietals like cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay are shining, too.

At most of the wineries you will find Bordeaux-style blends leading the tastings as favorites, lending an “expression of place” that is uniquely Central Virginia. The wines are structured with a restrained power that allows the balance and fruit character to shine. Some have great aging potential, though most producers are making wines that can, and should, be enjoyed young. Whites and rosés are aromatic and, at their best, show notes of minerality. The growers and vintners have developed wines of style based on their place, soil, climate — terroir, if you will — rather than emulating other growing areas. Working with what the land gives them has added greatly to the success of the region, what calls “pushing back against a tyranny of sameness.”

The wineries of the Central Virginia growing district are beautiful, like the landscape they occupy. The fertile, green, rolling hills, undeveloped farmland and the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains make for idyllic production. Some of the wineries are stately, some modern farmhouses, all offering their unique expression of place, and all accommodating. A few offer full menus while others just showcase their wines, allowing you to bring in food. Most are kid-friendly, and all are couple- and friend-friendly. A large majority are family-owned, and a few are owned by famous faces.

Flying Fox Vineyard, a family-owned winery that not only makes amazing wines but has introduced a line of outstanding vermouths, is one of my favorites. Others include Pippin Vineyards, with a full restaurant and culinary gardens; Pollack Vineyards, with a beautiful tasting room and big lush wines; and Blenheim Vineyards (owned by rock star Dave Matthews), with gorgeous views, picnic areas and a glass floor in the tasting room that shows off the winery. All are easy to get to and open every day of the year except Christmas.

The reds and whites produced by these wineries are balanced, generous and a great bang for the buck. I like to pair the wines with cheese produced in Virginia, too. Try one of the signature red Bordeaux-style blends of cabernet, merlot, petit verdot and syrah from Blenheim with cheese from Meadow Creek Dairy. Appalachian, a tomme-style cheese with a rich, yellow hue and deep nutty and grassy flavor from the grazing herds, pairs well with a crisp, fruit forward rosé from Pippin Vineyards.

Beautiful farmland, wines distinct to place, and the roots of America’s history are a day trip away.  PS

Angela Sanchez owns Southern Whey, a cheese-centric specialty food store in Southern Pines, with her husband, Chris Abbey. She was in the wine industry for 20 years and lucky enough to travel the world drinking wine and eating cheese.

Good Natured

What’s Your pH?

Finding balance in the body

By Karen Frye

There has been much study and information published about the importance of balancing our body’s pH level. The term pH (potential of hydrogen) refers to the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. If you have a fish tank or a swimming pool, you understand that maintaining the proper pH balance is very important. The theory is relevant to the human body as a way to reduce the risk of many diseases. When the clear fluids like saliva remain in the healing pH range of 7.1 to 7.5, a slightly alkaline condition, the body is able to perform cellular repair and maintain good health.

Lack of pH balance can lead to poor health. A few of the conditions of an over-acidic body are arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, tooth decay, osteoporosis, asthma and fibromyalgia. Nearly all degenerative, chronic disease thrives in an over-acidic state of health. One way back to better health is finding that acid/alkaline balance your body works hard to maintain.

Our body is designed to be self-healing. When there is a balance of alkaline and acid, the body can repair itself. The food we eat directly influences the state of our health. Changing your diet is one of the tools to balance pH and maintain the proper balance of the bodily fluids that impact every cell in the body.

Sometimes the change can be a radical one, especially if you eat the standard American diet. A diet of highly processed and refined food, lacking enzymes and nutrients, can, over time, create major stress on the body because of over-acidity. An acidic condition wreaks havoc on the major organs, glands, bones and teeth.

It is also important to know that you do not want to be too alkaline, as the vital organs and muscles need to remain in the slightly acidic pH range. The blood seeks to stay in the constant pH of 7.365 to 7.425 to maintain homeostasis.

What should you eat, and what should you avoid? There are many books that contain vast amounts of information about the foods you need to include in your diet. Vegetables are at the top of the list; they contain the most alkaline-forming nutrients. Red, yellow, purple, and especially the greens; almonds, Brazil nuts, raisins, dates, and fruits are the way to go (citrus fruits are thought of as being acid-forming, but actually have an alkalizing effect in the body).

Another item you can add to the list is raw apple cider vinegar. The acid-forming foods include all refined and processed foods, flour-based food and grains, dairy, most nuts and seeds, sugar and food with added sugar, along with most drugs including aspirin, coffee, tea, soft drinks and alcohol. You can find a complete list in books, and online.

Checking your pH is easy. You can find the litmus paper at most natural foods stores (like Nature’s Own) or a pharmacy. You use the paper to test the saliva and urine. There is a color strip included to measure your readings. Usually once a week is enough. There are pH balancing drops available that you can add to your water daily to help you achieve your “perfect health” balance. The long-term results are worth all your efforts as you gradually see and feel your health conditions improve.  PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

The Accidental Astrologer


Keep an eye on La Luna’s transits this spring

By Astrid Stellanova

Star children, consider the moon.

All things lunar delight me: moonlight, moon bathing, Moon Pies, moon races — and swooning beneath the moon with Beau.

Without the glorious moon, we would be stuck with he paler light of Venus in the night sky. And the sea tides would be punier. Days would be much shorter but our years much longer. The axis of the Earth would be wonky. Seasons would no longer exist.

The brightest moon this month, a “worm” moon, will light things up on March 9th. Another super moon, a “pink” moon, falls on April 8th. Watch lunar lovers, in wonder.

Pisces (February 19–March 20)

Somebody has to bring the chaos, and somebody else has to be the designated chaos coordinator. Pull up your boots and just deal with it, Darlin’. You’ve had many skills that are being tested; but there is no one better to handle what is in front of you. The good news is your trials are soon resolved and the Magic 8-Ball agrees: The future looks bright.

Aries (March 21–April 19)

You ain’t a flower, but if you stand in the sunlight you might get straightened out. The past dark months bent you out of shape, and your focus was the view from a dark corner of your mind. The days are longer, and you grow stronger and more resilient with each cycle.

Taurus (April 20–May 20)

Paddle your own canoe. Stay in your own lane. Mind your own beeswax. Write this on your hand and read it, Sugar. The temptation to meddle is mighty, but the payoff to resist is profound.

Gemini (May 21–June 20)

Can’t everybody be the monarch, or who would bow down and kiss your patootie? That’s right, Honey Bun. Have you realized how much you need to make others subservient? Watch The Crown, but don’t wear one.

Cancer (June 21–July 22)

Lordamercy, Child! Seems like you’ve got too many tabs open in that brain of yours. Consolidate your energy and focus upon things in an orderly way. Being too scattered hurts your peace of mind.

Leo (July 23–August 22)

Don’t let life become a spaghetti Western. You know the player, Honey, who enters the room and immediately turns everything into a Survivor episode. This drama is costly. Two steps back will save your sanity.

Virgo (August 23–September 22)

Those who love and know you say this: You’ve been like a mother or father figure, but cooler. A reputation for being kind and nurturing can be useful in mentoring. This will be important to your legacy.

Libra (September 23–October 22)

Running out for beer, coffee or doughnuts is not exercise. Love Bug, you have neglected your own well-being but developed your social life. Now to combine both for the sake of a longer, healthier, loving life.

Scorpio (October 23–November 21

If you’ve grown up around boys, nothing can scare you. You already know that. Your sense of mystery is so deep; sometimes shyness is at the root. Saying you’re scared isn’t your way; but Honey, just say it.

Sagittarius (November 22–December 21)

Your cat may think you’re cool as beans . . . but outside the house you baffled your human friends. What is in play has confused others but you do have an end game. Talk about it. Gain support for your actions.

Capricorn (December 22–January 19)

Those crazy relatives helped build character. Now you are one — a real-life Southern character. A fun time in your sun cycle, and unexpectedly, you air some whole new eccentricities. Sugar, fly your freak flag!

Aquarius (January 20–February 18)

Your face is saying what your mouth just can’t, but being an open book type, you had no idea. Wearing a game face is absolutely impossible. No Vegas cards for you; maybe Tarot? Consult the charts; stay calm. PS

For years, Astrid Stellanova owned and operated Curl Up and Dye Beauty Salon in the boondocks of North Carolina until arthritic fingers and her popular astrological readings provoked a new career path.

The Painted Herd

A new breed of pony in the Pines

By Jenna Biter   •   Photograph by Tim Sayer and John Koob Gessner

Southern Pines recently gained a handful of new temporary residents, 10 painted ponies courtesy of a fundraiser for the Carolina Horse Park, a charitable nonprofit corporation committed to the upkeep of grounds for equestrian and recreational use. Located in Hoke County, the 315-acre park is a nationally recognized equestrian competition site, and it’s a horse lover’s paradise.

Now, the painted ponies of Southern Pines may not be living and breathing animals, but they’re the next best thing: life-size lookalikes painted by local artists and sponsored by local businesses. Together, each artist and sponsor(s) brainstormed and, ultimately, chose a theme for the artist to execute on the blank canvas of fiberglass horseflesh. And boy, did they execute.

The themes run the gamut from a sporting art take on life in the Pines to an impressionistic rendering inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night. One pony even has a three-dimensional copper horn and wings, transforming it from equine into magical alicorn – but more on that later. At Big Sky Farm, on April 4, the painted ponies will be auctioned off to their permanent owners with all proceeds going to the Carolina Horse Park, so admire them downtown before March slips by. First, sneak a peek here.

Water for Horses
Artist: Jenay Jarvis
Sponsor: The Country Bookshop

“I love nature and creativity and have a very real passion for impressionism, which has fueled my love of painting,” says Jenay Jarvis, who studied fine arts at the University of North Carolina Asheville. “I specifically used Starry Night to inspire this piece,” she adds, referencing her painted pony Water for Horses.

Vincent van Gogh painted Starry Night, possibly his most recognized work, in 1889 during his time at the asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole in France. Despite his tragically short life of only 37 years, van Gogh produced over 2,000 works — most of them in his last two years. Ever since, artists like Jarvis have looked to this master.

“I like my work to appear like the images in my mind: dreamy and surreal with a focus on color and movement,” she explains. “My work is fluid and often associated with water.” Although Starry Night doesn’t feature water, the blue and swirling sky makes the leap easy.

“Water itself could represent a number of things,” Jarvis continues. “It’s an open interpretation as with all art, and I’d like to leave that up to the viewer.” Regardless of how you interpret the work, from a distance, you can spot its famous inspiration, but take a closer look, and you’ll see Water for Horses come into its own.

Love Your Local
Artist: Ashley Van Camp
Sponsor: Ashten’s Restaurant and Moore Equine Feed and Pet Supply

Ashley Van Camp, owner and chef of Ashten’s Restaurant, didn’t study visual arts in college, but she says, “I’ve spent a lot of time around food being a chef, so I think that’s helping me with our (artwork’s) theme, which is all about keeping it local.” Local food and local business. Appropriately, her painted pony’s name is Love Your Local…although, for those who know him well, he prefers to go by Lyle. Donning a Technicolor coat of produce, he pays homage to small businesses, specifically his sponsors Ashten’s Restaurant and Moore Equine Feed and Pet Supply.

“The things that our businesses have in common are that they are locally owned, and we both provide sustenance — she to horses and me to people,” says Van Camp of Moore Equine and her own restaurant. Lyle is the hypothetical offspring of these livelihoods. He sports ripened watermelons, an assortment of shiny red and green tomatoes, leafy purple cabbage, dainty flowers climbing his forelegs, and a carrot for a marking on his forehead. He’s a well-bred stallion foaled by small town love and sired by local abundance, Van Camp explains, and his artwork reflects his parentage.

While Ashten’s restaurant and Moore Equine Feed and Pet Supply nourish the stomachs of our Sandhills community, Lyle feeds our eyes with a visual feast. If he could see himself, he’d be drooling.

Artist: Beth E. Roy
Sponsors: Hampton Inn & Suites, TownePlace Suites and Hilton Garden Inn

Lewis Carroll didn’t let reality stop him from transporting Alice down the rabbit hole, and J.K. Rowling didn’t let it stop her from inventing a boy wizard to defeat the also invented He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (But-We’ll-Name-Him-Anyway) Voldemort. Fantasy writers and children have that in common; they don’t let reality stop them from creating. Regular old adults shouldn’t either: Beth E. Roy definitely hasn’t.

“My mother would not swear but used colorful words put together. When she expressed herself by saying, ‘Oh, horsefeathers,’ I had a vision of a horse covered in beautiful feathers,” says Roy of a childhood memory. And that’s how we got her painted pony, the imagination of a child brought to life by an adult — a very skilled adult. Professionally trained at Austin Peay State University and Christopher Newport College, Roy painted as a watercolorist for 15 years before moving to Southern Pines and taking up oils in the early 2000s.

She’s traveled to Italy and Mexico among other locales to participate in artist workshops, and she’s completed many commissioned works. Her art hangs in several galleries, and her painted pony Horsefeathers currently stands at Belvedere Courtyard in downtown Southern Pines. Its plumage of celadon, ivory, fiery orange and more lay against a black background that makes the colors buzz, causing us to wonder, is it about to take flight?

“Dream Big,” says the Alicorn
Artist: Nikki Lienhard
Sponsors: Better Homes and Gardens Lifestyle Property Partners, Opulence of Southern Pines and Patricia

“I was struggling with a design concept,” says graphic designer Nikki Lienhard of her painted pony. Until one day her 9-year-old daughter, Jesse, suggested over dinner, “Why don’t you do an alicorn?” Reflexively, Lienhard and her husband replied, “What the heck is an alicorn?”

“It’s a Pegasus with a horn,” Jesse informed them. And, although the term “alicorn” historically refers to the horn of a unicorn, Jesse is right. The kids’ TV show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and other media have culturally popularized the alicorn as a winged unicorn. Sometimes, pegacorn or unipeg are terms referring to this magical ungulate, while other times, it goes entirely unnamed. But regardless of the creature’s name or lack thereof, it’s the crossbreed of two storied legends: Pegasus and the unicorn.

According to Greek mythology, Poseidon, the god of the sea, and Medusa, the mortal woman with snakes for hair and a face that turns men to stone, parent Pegasus. After the hero Perseus beheads Medusa, Pegasus and his brother Chryasor are born into the world from their mother’s severed head — what an entrance. On the other hand, the Greeks classified unicorns not as mythology but as natural history; they believed the animals lived in India.

But back to Lienhard: “Before I knew it, I was creating this magical alicorn with copper wings and a horn, something right out of a fairytale.” Right out of a fairytale and into the Sandhills.

Royal Tashunka
Artist: Mary Ann Welsch
Sponsor: WhitLauter by Leann Parker

Mary Ann Welsch and her painted pony’s sponsor are a match made in horsey heaven. “I found out that my sponsor was WhitLauter (Estate Jewelry), so I went down to introduce myself. I started looking at all the beautiful jewelry, and I thought, where does the concept of jewelry come from? How long has it been around?” says Welsch.

Turns out, it’s been around for 135,000 years, provable by a necklace made of eagle talons. A little odd, no? But a different ancient necklace inspired Welsch: a 40,000-year-old Kenyan piece made of ostrich eggshells. “The women actually still do it. Like a little puka bead, they take that shell and then crush it up into small pieces and make jewelry out of it,” she explains, pointing at the eggshell beads painted on her pony’s back. Combine these beads with gems, succulents, horse tack and a little bit o’ the Southwest — all on the canvas of a tobiano pony — and, voila, it’s Royal Tashunka.

Fun fact: Tashunka is the Siouan word for horse. Thanks to Welsch’s attention to detail in both research and artistic execution, her painted pony’s disparate components (see succulents and horse tack) meld into a cohesive whole that feels new. Corroborating this take, Welsch comments, “I like to make things that don’t exist.”

Living in the Pines
Artist: Gene Fletcher
Sponsor: The Pilot

British sporting art is exactly what it sounds like: artwork that depicts British sport. This eventually includes sports like cricket and boxing, but originally, it meant country pursuits like fishing, foxhunting and horse racing. Gene Fletcher is a fan of the originals.

“I’ve always been really attracted to the British sporting artists. The 18th century, 19th century sporting artists — they’re the ones I really admire, so this was kind of natural,” says Fletcher, pointing to his painted pony, Living in the Pines. One flank shows two horses at pasture, while the other shows a mounted hunt complete with two hounds and a fox. Purple mountains and a blue sky provide the backdrop for both scenes. “Of course, the fox didn’t get captured,” Fletcher jests. “He’s looking (and) saying, ‘Ha-ha, you missed me, right?’”

The victorious fox peers at huntsman & co. from behind a tree papered with a flier that reads, “The Pilot 100 years.” The detail is a nod to the artwork’s sponsor and its centennial anniversary. A flowering dogwood and cardinal grace the neck of the painted pony as homage to the North Carolina state flower and bird.

Fletcher’s work, in a snapshot, shows the tradition of the Sandhills through a mostly equestrian lens. And it makes sense. Horses are significant to the area and, lucky for Fletcher, “In 30 seconds or less, I can draw a horse,” he quips.

Little Red Truck
Artist: Claire Connaghan
Sponsor: McDevitt Town & Country Properties

Rising to prominence in the 1950s, pop art rejected fine art and embraced the commonplace: advertisements, comic strips, and objects like Campbell’s tomato soup cans and Brillo boxes. Critics tut-tutted the movement, but the general population adored its rebuff to the art world’s members-only vibe, catapulting artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein into the limelight. Claire Connaghan’s Little Red Truck is reminiscent of this 20th century movement.

“I chose to keep a simple and colorful illustration style with a little country scene and a little red truck in the middle,” says the 25-year-old graphic designer. Her edited design, flat application of color and black outlines combine for a cheery and approachable work. The upper half of the pony is an unshaded blue sky spattered with cartoonish white clouds, while the lower half is a solid grassy foreground. Smack dab in the middle of the left flank is a little red truck, the heart and soul of her sponsor, McDevitt Town & Country Properties. Jamie McDevitt, owner of her eponymous business, once had a red truck, and made it her logo. Then, the truck moved on, and her logo changed, but the vehicle is still at the core of her business.

With that big, blue sky consuming half of her pony, Connaghan’s interpretation of the McDevitt icon is a breath of fresh air.

Horses Connect Us All
Artist: Shelly Turner
Sponsors: Pinnock Real Estate & Relocation Services, C.Cups Cupcakery and Longevity Massage & Bodywork Therapy Center

Although horses appeared in cave art 30,000 years ago, their domestication (the genetic reorganization that took them from wild animal to pet) didn’t come until later — and that date is hotly debated. Most researchers agree that equine domestication happened around 2,000 BC at the latest, but some claim it occurred over 1,000 years earlier. The exact date isn’t the point. It’s that the human-horse relationship is long, notable and indivisible from history.

“From farming to military, pleasure to show, therapy work to pasture pet, horses have been and continue to be such an important, integral element in the world,” says Shelly Turner, owner of and interior designer at Canter Lane Interiors. “Think of just about any topic and horses can be linked.” Even the Carolina Horse Park’s fundraiser proves Turner correct, validating her artwork’s title, Horses Connect Us All.

“With his head to the ground, he seemingly breathes in the world around him,” she says of her painted pony. “I (expressed) this notion by painting the soil from his muzzle to cheeks and showing plant roots that bloom into a colorful palette of local elements.” These elements include agriculture, golf and the military painted in a style visually similar to that of a 19th century American quilt.

Turner concludes, “I think that my upbringing and love for folk art, animation and tribal embellishment and design combined to inspire and create this eclectic piece.”

Between the Ears
Artist: Darlene Ivey
Sponsor: English Riding Supply

“My mom is an artist; she taught me how to draw, and I’ve always been into horses, so that’s what I learned to draw,” says Darlene Ivey. Thankfully, she had plenty of support that helped to take her artwork far. When Ivey was in high school, her dad encouraged her to make and sell paintings. This eventually led to commissions. Roll all of that together, and that’s how Ivey ended up here: an equestrian apparel rep and the artist of Between the Ears.

Her painted pony is the merger of the horses in her life; they’re joined into a sort of visual equestrian calendar, consisting of four tableaus, one for each season. The winter scene shows a lakeside horse ride, while the spring is a glimpse into horse show season. Summer is a ride on the beach that ultimately ends up in the ocean waves and, on this, Ivey comments, “A lot of horse people don’t ride on vacation, but I always try to.” The fourth and final scene represents fall, and it depicts the treasured foxhunts of Moore County. All four tableaus come from photographs Ivey has taken, and they’re layered over a palomino background.

Ivey elaborates on the horse at the center of it all, “My palomino Lacey was my childhood horse. My dad got her when she was 3, and she passed at 26. Most of my life she was with me.” Thanks to Between the Ears her spirit still is.

The Chief’s Pony
Artist: Tiffany Teeter
Sponsors: Cabin Branch Tack Shop and BB&T

“When I was a kid, you know, I was sure every Christmas I was going to get a pony, but my father said, ‘Listen, there’s six of you kids, if you want a horse you got to go buy it.’ I saved up my money, and I did: $85,” says Tiffany Teeter. That $85 led to foxhunting, a barnful of 65 horses at any given time (two of them Olympians), and a son who competed as a steeplechase jockey. It’s no surprise that now, with only one 23-year-old horse left, Teeter gets her equestrian fix elsewhere — painting a life-size doppelganger called The Chief’s Pony. He’s inspired by Native American warhorses.

“It’s what you call a medicine hat pony. You see the markings on his head?” asks Teeter, pointing to her pinto’s mostly white face. “Only the chiefs were allowed to ride that marking.” Only the chiefs and other powerful figures like medicine men and great warriors. Any pinto with an all-white head, except for its poll and ears, is a medicine hat pony, but the most beloved only had these markings. Add blue eyes, and it was even more revered. Because of their rarity, these ponies were thought to be good luck, able to prevent the deaths of their riders.

Referring to primary-colored symbols on her artwork, Teeter continues, “All these markings mean something. That means danger, those are captured ponies and this means may hail fall on your enemy . . . I like that one.”  PS


Wizards Run Wild

Celebrate the work of J.K. Rowling at “Wizards of Weymouth” on Saturday, March 28 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Weymouth Center for Arts and Humanities at 555 E. Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines. Enjoy the TriWizard Obstacle Course, Quidditch Toss, LEGO Wizards, Potion Crafting and Wand Wizardry. In addition, awards for the Moore County Writer’s Competition will be presented. Tickets are $10 per child. Adults accompanied by a child are free. For more information call (910) 692-6261 or visit Tickets available at

Mothers and Strangers

Samia Serageldin and Lee Smith, editors of and contributors to the highly acclaimed anthology Mothers and Strangers, will appear at The Country Bookshop, 140 N.W. Broad St., Southern Pines, on Friday, March 6, at 2 p.m., to discuss the collection of essays by 18 different writers who challenge the stereotypes of Southern mothers. For information visit

Festival of Song

Enjoy the N.C. Symphony’s performance of “A Rodgers & Hammerstein Celebration,” featuring the timeless song collaborations of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II from musicals like South Pacific, The Sound of Music, State Fair, The King and I, Carousel and Oklahoma! The concert, hosted by Oscar Andy Hammerstein III, the grandson of the lyricist/dramatist, is at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March, 5 at Lee Auditorium, Pinecrest High School, 250 Voit Gilmore Lane, Southern Pines. For additional information call (877) 627-6724 or go to

Bolshoi Ballet in Cinemas

The tragic fate of a pair of young lovers inspired Sergei Prokofiev’s cinematic score of Romeo and Juliet. Bolshoi stars Ekaterina Krysanova and Vladislav Lantratov embody the star-crossed lovers. The showing is Sunday, March 29, at 1 p.m., at the Sunrise Theater, 250 N.W. Broad St., Southern Pines. Tickets are $25. For more information call (910) 692-3611 or visit

Classical Concert Series

Concert pianist Nathan Lee will perform at the Sunrise Theater, 250 N.W. Broad St., Southern Pines, on Monday, March 9, at 9 p.m. At the age of 15 Lee won first prize in the 2016 Young Concert Artists International Auditions and debuted at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He has performed with the Cleveland Symphony, Buffalo Symphony, Seattle Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra. For additional information call (910) 692-2787 or visit

Young at Art

Visit the Young People’s Fine Arts Festival, presented by the Arts Council of Moore County, at the Campbell House Galleries, 482 E. Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines, beginning on Friday, March 6, from 5 to 7 p.m. The exhibition of art by Moore County students in grades K-8 will run through March 25. For more information call (910) 692-2787 or go to

Wit & Whimsy

The Uprising Theatre Company’s annual fundraiser to cover the costs of the “Shakespeare in the Pines” 2020 production of The Comedy of Errors will be Thursday, March 19, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., at the Fair Barn, 200 Beulah Hill Road S., Pinehurst. For information go to Tickets are available at

Art in Bloom

The Garden Club of the Sandhill’s sweetly-scented showcase of local floral designers, “Blooming Art” begins on Saturday, March 28 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Campbell House Gallery, 482 E. Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines. The exhibit is also open on March 29 from noon to 4 p.m. For more information call (843) 992-1891. The tickets are $10 and available at

Wagner at The Met

The Metropolitan Opera’s performance of Der Fliegende Hollander, an early masterwork by Richard Wagner, starring base-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel, will be shown at the Sunrise Theater 250 N.W. Broad St., Southern Pines, at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 14. For information call (910) 692-3611 or visit

The Rooster’s Wife

Friday, March 6: Miss Tess and the Talkbacks. Tess has always been known for creating an eclectic array of vintage blues, country, and jazz sounds. However varied Tess’ music can be, her voice has been described as seductive and sexy, and a pure joy for listening. She’s celebrating her brand new record at the Spot. Cost: $20.

Sunday, March 8: George Jackson Band, Treya Lam. At the heart of all traditional music lie two important coordinates, the time and place of origin. Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, fiddler George Jackson spent the better part of his childhood living and touring in a house bus with his family band, eventually making his way to Nashville, Tennessee. His fiddle tunes reflect a deep understanding of American roots traditions while remaining entirely true to his own musical and personal identity. Cost: $20.

Sunday, March 15: The Blue Eyed Bettys. Weaving spellbinding stories with their exuberant performances, they turn boisterous bars into attentive listening rooms and sleepy pubs into raucous parties. Cost: $20.

Sunday, March 22: Steel City Rovers. This Celtic group from Ontario, Canada, performs dynamic and expressive music that is a unique composite of traditional Celtic music and North American styles including bluegrass, folk and roots. Performing on meticulously crafted replicas of historical instruments rarely seen on today’s musical landscape, they breathe life into newly discovered instrumental melodies from centuries ago. Cost: $20.

Thursday, March 26: Hargreaves and deGroot; Furtado and Price. This special evening will feature two pairs of renowned string players. Tatiana Hargreaves and Allison deGroot immerse themselves in the depths of a centuries-old art form — the interlocking propulsion of Appalachian fiddle and banjo duets — and emerge with a contemporary aesthetic and vision. Tony Furtado is a wide-ranging songwriter adept on banjo, cello-banjo, slide guitar and baritone ukulele, and Luke Price is known for his great balance of taste, rhythm and technical ability. Cost: $20.

Sunday, March 29: Eliza Neals. A Detroit blues-rock star on the rise, honors the gut-wrenching, soul-splitting intent the American roots of contemporary blues represents with inspired songwriting, live performances, and magic not seen in years. Cost: $20.

Unless otherwise noted, doors open at 6 p.m. and music begins at 6:46 at the Poplar Knight Spot, 114 Knight St., Aberdeen. Prices above are for members. Annual memberships are $5 and available online or at the door. For more information call (910) 944-7502 or visit or

Papadaddy’s Mindfield

A Close Shave

What’s old may be new

By Clyde Edgerton

If I use a plastic drinking straw, I get grief from my family.

As I should. So I decided to stop using plastic straws and plastic razors — those disposable ones, usually orange or blue — and buy an electric razor.

My father, back in his day, used an implement that looked very much like a plastic razor, but his was metal, and when you twisted the handle about a quarter-turn, two little doors on the head of the razor opened toward the ceiling. He’d then drop in a thin, almost weightless Gillette razor blade. He’d twist the handle so that the little doors closed and the blade would be enclosed snugly, with its two sharp outside edges exposed.

He’d drip some warm water from the spigot into a mug that had a bit of soap in the bottom, then work up some lather with a soft round brush. He’d brush the white lather onto his face, and then carefully shave.

My grandfather did it the same way, except he used a straight razor, sharpened by sliding the blade along a leather strap, or “strop.” The strop looked like an extraordinarily wide leather belt.

Anyway, I realized I’d have to shop for a new electric razor.

For me, shopping often produces anxiety and indecision. I do it as rarely as possible. For example, I bought my newest sport coat before my very old cat was born. Cats don’t live that long. And I just found out that some blue jeans are black.

First stop: Target. I find the electric razor section. It’s as long as a gymnasium wall. My heart rate ticks up. I look closely and read packaging information: dryfoil, proskin, lithium ion, microcomb, flexible foil cutters, pivot head. I grab one in the mid-priced range: $69 — the going price of a sink, commode and bathtub when my father started shaving in about 1917. The brand is a Braun, and something extra is in the box. I’m not sure what, but I just want to get out of the store.

I take my Braun home and try to open the box with several kitchen implements. I finally open it with my chain saw, avoiding injury, get the razor out, and unpack the rest of the box. I find a thick booklet of instructions in English and many other languages, as well as a fairly large “recharging stand.” And inside the recharging stand is a small, clear plastic container. And . . . stay with me . . . inside that container is a container of some special liquid that every night will clean the shaver while the razor is being recharged and  . . . no joke . . . oil it. I read that every few months I’ll need to buy more of that special liquid. A reasonable person might wonder if this thing will shave me like those vacuum cleaners that vacuum the house while you watch TV.

What happened next is I nervously decided to do a bit of research. What was I getting into? When I Googled “electric shavers” I got this many hits: 41,300,000. (Check it out.) And then because I Googled “electric shaver,” I now have a new electric shaver image pop-up on my speedometer screen when I start my car — the latest deal between Honda and Google.

Next stop: Target. I returned the electric razor. I bought a bag of disposable razors, the blue ones, and a can of shaving foam.

Soon, I’m going to visit my father’s grave as I sometimes do, and we will have a talk. I think I know what he’s going to suggest: mug, soap, soft round brush, and an old-timey metal razor.  PS

Clyde Edgerton is the author of 10 novels, a memoir and most recently, Papadaddy’s Book for New Fathers. He is the Thomas S. Kenan III Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at UNCW.

Women in Combat

Members of elite unit gather to discuss Ashley’s War

By Jim Moriarty

Ashley White was a first lieutenant assigned to the 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team attached to the Joint Special Operations Task Force when she was killed in action in 2011 in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. She was a member of a Cultural Support Team, a very special unit composed of very special women.

The CSTs, as they are called, undertook night missions with elite Army Rangers. Their job was to interact with women and children in countries like Afghanistan where contact between women and men they’re not related to is socially unacceptable. When the Rangers entered a compound in search of insurgents, the CST officers would calm the women and children, search them for possible weapons or explosives (and to see if a man was hiding dressed as a woman) and, finally, obtain whatever intelligence they could. It was dangerous work in a dangerous part of the world.

On Thursday, March 19, Amy Sexauer, Shelane Etchison and Caroline Cleveland, three women who trained and served with Ashley White, will lead a panel discussion of Ashley’s War, a New York Times best-seller by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. All three appeared in the book under aliases. The event — “Ashley’s War: Bonds of Women in Combat” — will be held at the Country Club of North Carolina. Doors and a cash bar open at 6:30 p.m., and the program begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 and available at All proceeds benefit 2020 Women Build, a committee for Habitat for Humanity of the N.C. Sandhills. (Film rights for Ashley’s War were acquired by Fox 2000 and Reese Witherspoon, and the project is in development.)

“Stepping back and looking at things from a larger picture, Ashley’s War and the story of CST is the story of a collective group of women rising to a challenge and finding deep friendships along the way,” says Etchison, who is out of the Army pursuing dual advanced degrees at Harvard University, one in business and the other at the Kennedy School of Government. “You hear about the brotherhood all the time. You never really hear about the sisterhood.”

In 2013, 1st Lt. Jennifer Moreno became the second CST killed in combat. Trained originally as a nurse, Moreno was killed when she rushed to the aid of a fallen comrade. She was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for bravery. “My first priority is to memorialize the legacy of Ashley White and Jenny Moreno, who are the first and hopefully only CSTs to be killed in action,” says Cleveland, who lives in Fayetteville and is a doctor of physical therapy at Cape Fear Hospital.

“A lot of people have given their life in the military, and not everybody has a book written about them,” says Sexauer, who lives in Southern Pines, as have many of the CSTs. “It’s an honor to be able to carry on Ashley’s legacy. It’s not always easy, it’s not always comfortable, to talk about the past and about the things we did in the military, but it’s an honor to keep Ashley’s legacy alive.”

The following is an excerpt from the preface of Ashley’s War, edited for space:

Second Lieutenant White entered the “ready room” and began preparing for the night of battle.

White felt the fear rising, but more seasoned soldiers had provided plenty of advice for the special brand of trepidation that accompanies a soldier on their first night mission. “It gets easier after the first time,” they assured the newbies during training. “Don’t indulge it, just pass through it.”

Ready now, White stepped into the briefing room and took in the scene. Dozens of battle-hardened men from one of the Army’s fittest and finest teams, the elite special operations 75th Ranger Regiment, crowded in to watch a PowerPoint presentation in a large conference room. Many had Purple Hearts and deployments that reached into the double digits. Around them was the staff that supports soldiers in the field with intelligence, communications, and explosives disposal capabilities. Everyone was studying a diagram of the target compound as the commanders ticked through the mission plan in their own vernacular, a mix of Army shorthand and abbreviations that, to the uninitiated, sounded like a foreign language.

White had the feeling of being in a Hollywood war movie. Standing nearby was a noncommissioned officer (NCO) and Iraq War veteran whom the second lieutenant had trained with.

“Are we supposed to say something?” White asked.

Staff Sergeant Mason, also out for the first time, scooted closer and whispered back. Neither new arrival wanted to stand out any more than they already did.

“No, I don’t think so, not tonight. The last group will speak for us.”

That was a relief. White had no desire to draw attention in a room filled with soldiers who clearly felt at home in combat. Like a cast of actors who had performed the same play for a decade, they knew each other’s lines and moves, and offstage they knew each other’s backstories. It was an unexpected revelation for White, gleaned during a fifteen-minute mission review in a makeshift conference room in the middle of one of Afghanistan’s most dangerous provinces: this was a family unit. A brotherhood.

The briefing ended, the commanding officer approached the front of the room and the soldiers suddenly shouted as one:

“Rangers Lead the Way!”

In one of the many Velcroed pockets of White’s uniform was information about the insurgent they were after and a list of crimes he was suspected of committing. In another pocket was a medal of St. Joseph and a prayer card. White stepped out of the barracks and worked to conceal any trace of the intense emotions this moment conjured up: pride in being part of a team hunting a terrorist who was killing American soldiers and his own countrymen; trepidation at the thought that after a short ride on the bird they would all end up in his living room. But it was exactly what White had wanted and trained for: to serve with fellow soldiers in this long war and do something that mattered.

The fighters lined up by last name and marched into the yawning darkness of the Kandahar night. Unlike the American cities they came from, whose skies were often clouded by the pollution of industry, traffic, and the millions of lights that power a modern, twenty-four-hour-a-day society, Kandahar’s blackness stretched on forever with constellations you only read about at home. But then a powerful stench yanked the young officer back into the moment. As heavenly as the skies were, just so earthly was the smell of human excrement that hovered over and seemed to surround the Kandahar camp. In a city whose sewage system had been all but destroyed by war, the smell of feces attacked with ferocity anytime a soldier was downwind.

But White was focused on something even more mundane: staying upright while marching along the unpaved, rock-strewn tarmac for the first time in total darkness. “Focus on the next step,” White silently commanded. “No mistakes. Do your job. Don’t mess up.”

White and Mason fell in alongside their fellow special operations “enablers,” a group that included the explosive ordnance disposal guys who became famous in the Hollywood blockbuster The Hurt Locker. Close behind was their interpreter, an Afghan-American now entering year four in Afghanistan. Language expertise notwithstanding, the interpreter’s gear looked like it came from the Eisenhower era. They all guessed some soldier had worn that helmet back in Vietnam; it barely held the clips for night-vision goggles and was seriously dinged.

Entering the cramped helicopter, White and Mason were determined not to make a beginner mistake by taking the wrong seat, so they fell in behind a first sergeant, who had taken the new arrivals under his wing. After he sat, they followed his example, snapping a bungee cord that hung from a metal hook on their belt into hooks beneath a narrow metal bench. In theory, these cords would keep them from flying across — or out of — the helicopter while it was airborne. The soldiers took root, and with a sudden whirr the bird was off.

Here we go, White thought. Outwardly the picture of calm, inside the young officer felt a rush of adrenaline and fear. Everything — the selection process, the training, the deployment — had happened so quickly. Now, suddenly, it was real. For the next nine months this is what every night would look like.

Over the booming engine noise the first sergeant barked out the time stamp in hand signals.

“Six minutes.”

“Three minutes.”

White turned to Mason and gave the thumbs-up with a smile that was full of unfelt confidence.

“One minute.”


The bird landed and the door flew open, like the maw of some huge, wild reptile that had descended from the sky. White followed the others and ran a short distance before taking a knee, managing to avoid the worst of the brownout, that swirling mix of dust, stones, and God-only-knows what else that flies upward in the wake of a departing helicopter.

With barely a word exchanged, the Rangers fell in line and began marching toward the target compound.

The ground crunched beneath their feet as they pressed forward through vineyards and wadis, southern Afghanistan’s ubiquitous ditches and dry riverbeds. They marched quickly, and even though the night goggles made depth perception a nearly impossible challenge, White managed not to trip over the many vines that snaked along and across the rutted landscape. No one made a sound. Even a muffled cough could ricochet across the silence and bring unwanted noise into the operation.

Fifteen minutes on they reached their objective, though to White it felt like only a minute had passed. An interpreter’s voice could be heard addressing the men of the house in Pashto, urging them to come outside. A few minutes later the American and Afghan soldiers entered the compound to search for the insurgent and any explosives or weapons he might have hidden inside.

And then Second Lieutenant Ashley White heard the summons that had led her from the warmth of her North Carolina home to one of the world’s most remote — and dangerous — pockets.

“CST, get up here,” called a voice on the radio.

The Rangers were ready for White and her team to get to work. The trio of female soldiers — White, Mason, and their civilian interpreter, Nadia — strode toward the compound that was bathed in the green haze of their goggles. It was dead in the middle of the night, but for White, the day was just beginning.

Her war story had just begun. It was time for the women to go to work.  PS


A Rose is a Rose

No matter what the cable guy says

By Bill Fields

In the early stages of my seventh decade of being called something, I know I am not “” And the singer William James Adams Jr. need not fear that I will encroach on his lower-case and punctuated stage moniker.

Beyond that, though, all bets are off as I deal with an identity crisis.

My name game was simple for a long time. As with many folks, there were family reasons my birth certificate says what it says. William was the first name of my father and of the man who, with his wife, adopted him. Henderson, my mother’s maiden name, was chosen for the middle of mine. Both sides had a stake in how I would turn out.

From as early as I can remember, people called me Bill, never the two-syllable variant of the nickname. This was obviously a choice, for whatever reason, by my parents. As a child, I had no reason to argue with them. Neither Billy the Kid nor Billy Graham had something I needed.

Once I started school, I began to see how the world’s male Williams — or at least those in my classroom — were divided into Bills and Billys. The Duncan boy was a Billy. The Perham boy, like me, was a Bill. Folks seemed as likely to switch up their nicknames as to mistake the Blue Knights for the Red Devils. I was Bill on my lesson papers and my report cards. I also was Bill on my Little League team, although if someone had labeled me Willie, same as one of my baseball heroes, Willie Mays, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.

This “rule” followed me to the barbershop, where I never heard anyone voice the first name of my favorite haircutter, Billie Joyce Hill, with fewer than two syllables. The same was true for a longtime teacher in Southern Pines, Billie Bowen, although in the hallways she received an alliterative addition, “Bat Cave” Billie Bowen, because of her roots in that tiny western North Carolina community.

I was a plain, boring Bill until encountering golf professionals at Mid Pines for whom I worked as a teen golf cart attendant. I was Billy to them just as sure as there were longleaf pines along the fairways.

As I got older, outside of passports, bank statements and driver licenses that utilized my legal name, I was Bill — to friends and family, in bylines and, most of the time, to co-workers. The difference between the nickname’s versions was as different as Billy Crystal and Bill Kristol.

The last couple of years, one of my freelance assignments finds me on the road a dozen times a year working long days with a great bunch of people, some of whom like to call me Billy. Although I still don’t see myself as a Billy, I answer to it and have come to see it as the term of endearment that it is. I am the same person, after all, with or without a “y.”

I wish a phone agent had been as understanding a year ago when I was attempting to close a cable television account for the service in my mother’s room in an assisted living facility.

“This is William Fields,” I said, identifying the account and explaining why I had called.”

The voice on the other end of the line was helpful at first, collecting salient information to allow him to retrieve the account from the virtual vault of cable TV land. Just when I thought we were close to finishing the conversation, a snag appeared.

“What did you say your name was?” he asked.

“William Fields,” I answered.

“This account was opened by Bill Fields.”

“Yeah, that’s me. Bill is short for William. It’s a nickname. It’s my name. That was me — it is me.”

“But the account was opened with a different name. I can’t do this over the phone. You’re going to have to go to an office.”

After a couple of more tries weren’t able to inject any common sense into the conversation, I gave up and hung up.

As the steam dissipated, Bill v. Billy seemed way down the list of the world’s woes.  PS

Southern Pines native Bill Fields, who writes about golf and other things, moved north in 1986 but hasn’t lost his accent.  Bill can be reached at


By Ash Alder

March is the blushing maiden, bright-eyed and smiling, her wild locks softly brushing your skin as she frolics past.

You knew she was coming. The birds have been singing her name for weeks. And yet her arrival has taken you by surprise. You, too, are blushing.

March is the blossoming redbud, soft light, a tapestry of pine needles, bark and grasses.

The nuthatch has crafted her nest, and like the pregnant doe, belly swollen with late winter pansies, a new energy is alive inside of you — a new innocence.

Pale pink blossoms adorn the saucer magnolia, but a tiny yellow flower has caught your eye.


Simple, immaculate, glorious dandelion.

You see it as if through the eyes of a child, pluck it from the tender earth, tuck it snug behind your ear.

The birds are singing louder now. Ballads of clover, crocus, daffodil. And in the garden, each tiny blossom smiles back.

March has arrived and, with it, spring — as much in your heart as the outside world.

Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer. — Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

Destination Dandelion

Sometimes, especially on dreamy March mornings, the gentle pull of adventure arrives.

On such mornings, you will wander for the sake of wandering, nectar-drunk as a hummingbird as the fragrance of spring blossoms swirls around you.

You might follow the warmth of the sun, or a sweet aroma, or the distant rapping of a woodpecker, any of which will guide you someplace new.

Then maybe, on some quiet woodland trail, you will discover a fluffy young dog.

He won’t look hungry. Or lost. And from the way he is looking at you, he seems to be inviting you farther down the path.

You’ll walk together, for a mile or so, before the path reveals a rolling field. This is when you’ll realize that, across the field, inside the cottage with the smoking chimney, someone might be wondering where their dog went.

And so you’ll walk him home.

Inside the cottage, which smells of rich and exotic spices, an elderly woman is cooking dal on the stovetop. Her husband thanks you for returning Houdini (he slipped the gate again), and invites you to stay for lunch.

“I’ve just gathered greens for the dandelion salad,” he tells you.

You can’t say no to that.

Dandelion Salad

All you need: dandelion greens, wild and tender. Wash thoroughly, then toss with whatever you’d like. Lemon juice, fresh dill, olive oil and pepper.

Glory of Spring

Goddess of Fertility Day is observed on Wednesday, March 18 — the day before official spring. Among the goddesses celebrated on this day, Aphrodite is by far the most widely known.

Born from the foam of the sea, it’s fitting that this goddess of love and blinding beauty be remembered at a time when tender green shoots and brilliant flowers seemingly appear out of nowhere.

Historically, those seeking to conceive would make offerings to Aphrodite on this day — flowers, greenery, dessert wine, and triangle-shaped honey cakes.

Or, grow a garden in her honor.

Dandelions don’t tell no lies. — Mick Jagger

Laugh in Flowers

The earth has softened. In the garden, sow seeds for spinach, radish, turnip and kale. Plant a Flower Day is celebrated on Thursday, March 12 — but why stop at just one? March is a good month for planting lilies, tulips and roses. And don’t forget landscaping beauties, like rock cress, sweet pea or — in celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17 — clover.

In The Spirit

America’s Spirit

Bourbontown, U.S.A.

By Tony Cross

In past issues, I’ve mentioned how my first encounters with almost every spirit were terrible impressions: everything from Jose Cuervo to Aristocrat gin. Let me fill you in about my first dance with whiskey.

I was with a friend at the lake on a beautiful day in June. We were fishing and having a few beers while music was blasting from a little speaker. My friend brought some snacks with him that were in his book bag. One of those snacks was a bottle of Jack. He grabbed the bottle, unscrewed the top, and took a swig.

My turn. Acting like I was a seasoned vet, I snapped my head back, raising the bottle vertically to the sun, and took a decent-sized “swaller.” I screwed the cap back on, sat the bottle on the grass, and grinned. I couldn’t breathe. As my buddy was rambling on about something, I just nodded my head, and stood there as that you’re-about-to-throw-up saliva secreted from the glands in my mouth. Thirty seconds later, I dizzily walked away from our poles toward the woods, fell to my knees, and yakked. Man, last summer was crazy. Joking.

But, I’m still not fond of Jack Daniels. What I am a fan of is other types of whiskey (I see you, rye). Canadian whiskey was my puppy love stage, and bourbon whiskey was my first full-fledged relationship. Even though that sentence makes me sound like a full-fledged alcoholic, I am not (I see you, Mom). My first days of bartending were during the bourbon boom, if you will. And even though we have strict ABC laws in North Carolina, we were able to get great bottles on a regular basis. These days that is certainly not the case. Most ABC hubs have to have an auction-style drawing to see which bar or restaurant gets that one (yes, one) bottle of higher-end whiskey. I wish I were joking.

One of those bottles is Blanton’s bourbon. It’s a pity, too; Blanton’s is one of my favorite whiskies. Blanton’s was so popular last decade that their distillery, Buffalo Trace, put out a press release stating that demand was higher than their supply. Unfortunately, it still seems to be. Either that, or North Carolina is not allocated many bottles at all, compared to when I could order from my bar. I could wax poetic on how lovely Blanton’s is, and why I would marry her, but instead I’m going to share some facts about bourbon. However, if you ever see a bottle of Blanton’s anywhere, buy it. Even if you’re not a whiskey fan, I guarantee that you will have someone over one day, and when they find out you have a bottle, they just might faint.

Before I drop knowledge, please note that some of my info comes from whiskey sommelier Heather Greene. I purchased her book years back, Whisk(e)y Distilled — A Populist Guide to the Water of Life. I highly recommend it. I know that there are hundreds of books on whiskey, but Heather’s is as easy to read as it is informative.

• Bourbon is an American spirit.

• Bourbon can be distilled anywhere in America. Contrary to belief, it does not have to be produced in Kentucky.

• With that being said, Kentucky is the birthplace of bourbon. They craft 95 percent of the world’s bourbon.

• Kentucky has the perfect climate for bourbon: ideal soil for growing corn, iron-free water, access to rivers for transportation (when distillers first began making bourbon in the early 1800s), a multitude of trees for making casks, and hot summers/cold winters, which allow the casks to expand and contract.

• Bourbon can be called bourbon only if the mash bill is at least 51 percent corn. The other 49 percent can be any other grain. Bourbon can also be made from 100 percent corn.

• Bourbon must be aged in charred new oak. Time is not an issue; even if it’s only for 10 minutes, as long as it’s in the barrel, it’s bourbon.

• Bourbon must be distilled at no higher than 160 proof (80 percent ABV).

• Bourbon must be put into the barrel at no higher than 125 proof (62.5 percent ABV).

• Bourbon must be bottled at a minimum of 80 proof (40 percent ABV).

• As of 2018, Kentucky had 68 distilleries. That’s a 250 percent increase from the decade prior. There are 32 counties with at least one distillery, compared to only eight in 2009.

• “Kentucky is on pace for record growth (this year) — more than 24,000 people will owe their paychecks to the distilling industry for a total payroll of $1.2 billion annually and $10 billion in economic output.” (

I enjoy my Blanton’s neat, sometimes with a flick of water. If you’re looking for a recipe, here you go:

2 ounces of your favorite bourbon in a rocks glass. Ice or water optional.

Sláinte, ya’ll.  PS

Tony Cross is a bartender (well, ex-bartender) who runs cocktail catering company Reverie Cocktails in Southern Pines.