Pine Pitch

Doin’ the Bunny Hop

Kids can enjoy an “Eggstravaganza” of crafts, egg hunts and pix with Mr. Bunny beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 9, at Campbell House Park, 482 E. Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines. Free to all, even those answering to the name Harvey.

Feherty Unplugged

The unchained — or perhaps unhinged, depending on your point of view — and incredibly funny David Feherty will go from the PGA Tour and major championship announcing booth to the stage at Owens Auditorium for his one-man stand-up show on Thursday, April 7, at 7 p.m., at the Bradshaw Performing Arts Center, Sandhills Community College, 3395 Airport Road, Pinehurst. For information and tickets go to

Double Dose of Lee

The Judson Theatre Company returns with Lee Squared: The Liberace and Peggy Lee Comeback Tour, a unique evening of music and laughter on April 8-10 at the Owens Auditorium, Bradshaw Performing Arts Center, on the campus of Sandhills Community College, 3395 Airport Road, Pinehurst. Liberace, played by David Maiocco, lived a life of flamboyance and sparkle, and Miss Peggy Lee, played by Chuck Sweeney, is simply beyond description. The duo won the 2017 Bistro Award for Lee Squared. The performance on Friday, April 8, is at 8 p.m., while the shows on April 9 and 10 begin at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at

Four Women, One Heirloom

Join New York Times bestselling author Kristy Woodson Harvey as she talks about her new novel, The Wedding Veil, at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 5, at The Country Club of North Carolina, 1600 Morganton Road, Pinehurst. Juxtaposed against the drama of the Vanderbilts and the Biltmore Estate is the intriguing present-day story of Julia Baxter and her grandmother, Barbara Carlisle. While wearing the gorgeous Vanderbilt wedding veil is considered good luck, is it really? Tickets are available from For more information go to or call (910) 692-3211.

Live After 5

The 2022 concert series kicks off with The Embers, featuring Craig Woolard, on Friday, April 8, from 5:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Tufts Memorial Park, 1 Village Green Road, Pinehurst. Picnic baskets are allowed, outside alcohol isn’t. Never fear, beer, wine and soft drinks are available for purchase, and there will be food trucks, food trucks, food trucks. For information go to

Homes in Bloom

The Southern Pines Garden Club presents its annual (in non-pandemic years) Home & Garden Tour on Saturday, April 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., where visitors have the opportunity to experience some of the Sandhills’ most elegant homes and gardens. The cost is $25 in advance and $30 the day of the tour. For information and tickets go to

And They’re Off and Running

Spring. Matinee. Races. The Pinehurst Harness Track, 200 Beulah Hill Road, Pinehurst, 1 p.m to 5 p.m., Saturday, April 9. Enough said. Bring sunscreen, floppy hats and plenty of folding money for, ahem, a side bet or two. The races begin at 1 p.m. and end at 5 p.m., or thereabouts. For information call (708) 921-1719.

Haute Couture

Just about anyone who makes anything you can wear or walk in will be represented in the spring Fashion Show on Tuesday, April 19, at the Forest Creek Golf Club, 200 Meyer Farm Drive, Pinehurst. The buffet lunch and cocktails cost $65. Eve Avery, Marie and Marcele, Morgan Miller, J. McLaughlin, Monkee’s, Denker, Ikonic Kollection, Eclectic in the Village, Cooper and Bailey’s, Dunberry Resort Wear, and Perle by Lola will all be there. For info and tickets go to www.

Home and Garden Extravaganza

The Spring Home & Garden Expo at the Fair Barn, 200 Beulah Hill Road, Pinehurst, will have more than 40 companies showing their wares beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 22. For information go to

It Looks Good for Its Age

The wood sprites will be out celebrating the oldest known living longleaf pine on Saturday, April 23, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Weymouth Woods Boyd Tract meadow, 555 E. Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines. The free festival will feature food tucks, music, turpentine info and a demonstration of a live, prescribed burn. So, how old is the oldest longleaf? It’s so old its squirrels are seventh generation. For information call (910) 692-2167.

Jazz and a Bagel

New Orleans jazz trumpeter Leroy Jones will perform on the lawn at the Weymouth Center for Arts and Humanities, 555 E. Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines, for Sunday brunch on April 24 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. For information and tickets go to

Choral Society in the House

The Moore County Choral Society will present “From Dusk to Dawn” at the Village Chapel, 10 Azalea Road, Pinehurst, on Sunday, April 24, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. For information and tickets go to

In the Spirit

Springing into Sours

Variations on sunny weather cocktails

By Tony Cross

I’m happy to report that spring is here. Finally. There are bartenders who might get more creative during the fall and winter months, and then there are hacks like me who get giddy as soon as the sun kisses my skin. I’m all about some warm weather. And what better way to start out this spring season than whipping up different sours? There are other styles of drinks I enjoy this time of the year, but for now, it’s all about the sours.

So, what is a sour, you ask? Simply put, it’s citrus, sweetener and spirit, combined into a drink. The daiquiri (rum plus lime juice plus sugar), probably my favorite drink ever, is a sour. Jennings Cox may have been the first to do it, mixing rum, lime juice and sugar, right before the 20th century, in Cuba — and for that, I’m eternally grateful. There are many other drinks with basically the same formula, and all are sours. But what about drinks that have sour mix in them?

Like it or not — and I don’t — there are many restaurants and bars today that use sour mix, and I’m not speaking just of corporate-run restaurants where it’s pretty much out of the bartender’s control. Even some independent bars and restaurants use the high-fructose-corn-syrup-mess-of-an-excuse-for-a-mix as an ingredient.

Bartender and author Derek Brown says it best in his book Spirits, Sugar, Water, Bitters: How the Cocktail Conquered the World: “One of the things that helped bars like T.G.I. Fridays crank out cocktails for the masses was the use of sour mix. Powdered beverages then were not viewed with the total scorn we have for them today. In the 1970s, instant powdered beverages had taken a foothold all over the cultural landscape. The turn toward the worst versions (of sour mix) was ultimately done because they were cheap to make, cheap to buy, and saved a lot of time behind the bar. Later on, opposition to sour mix would become a red flag that craft bartenders hoisted in their war against bad tasting, chemical-laden cocktails. But this ingredient that would sour the craft rose to absolute dominance while the Bay City Rollers blared from the speakers and the bottom of their pants widened. One more reason to blame the ’70s.” Indeed.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with prebatching ingredients before a busy night behind the bar (especially if you are alone with absolutely no one to help), or if you’re having to dish out a few hundred cocktails within an hour at a big event. If you’re making each cocktail to order, or making drinks at home, add each ingredient at a time, and if you couldn’t tell from Mr. Brown’s excerpt, ixnay the sour mix. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here are a few sour recipes to complement your future suntan.

Marmalade Sour

This is an oldie but goodie from bartender Jamie Boudreau, owner of the whiskey and bitters emporium Canon in Seattle. What I like about his cocktail is how you can experiment with the ingredients. If you don’t have cachaça on hand, try another rum, possibly an Agricole. Or try a gin! The same goes with the flavor of marmalade. I think I had this on my bar menu years back. Hellaciously good.

2 ounces cachaça

2 tablespoons low-sugar orange or grapefruit marmalade

3/4 ounce lemon juice

1/4 ounce simple syrup (Boudreau recommends a 2-part sugar, 1-part water ratio)

2 dashes orange bitters

1 large egg white

Edible flower (optional garnish)

In a cocktail shaker, add ice and all ingredients (sans edible flower). Shake hard until shaker is ice cold and double-strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with flower.

You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Million Bucks

This is one of the first cocktails I put on my menu when I started getting into this whole drink thing. A twist on a whiskey sour, it’s my blatant rip-off of the Billionaire cocktail from New York’s Employees Only. At the time, I didn’t have access to the bourbon the recipe called for, so I substituted Four Roses. For the sake of convenience, I’m going to switch one detail in the specs. The original Billionaire recipe calls for absinthe bitters — and I did make that behind the bar — but a touch of absinthe will do.

2 ounces Four Roses bourbon

3/4 ounce lemon juice

1/2 ounce cranberry syrup* (do not exceed)

1/16 ounce absinthe

1 lemon wheel (garnish)

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake like hell until you feel satisfied. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with lemon wheel.

*Cranberry syrup: Mix 1/2 cup of unsweetened cranberry juice with 1 cup (by weight) cane sugar in a pot over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved and let cool before transferring to a container and refrigerating. Syrup holds for two weeks.  PS

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

Out of the Blue

Ode to Weather, or Not

Spring belongs to the poets

By Deborah Salomon

In our righteous concern with climate change, I’m afraid we’ve neglected weather.

Not the extremes, which uproot trees and flood neighborhoods. Those are News, with a capital N. I mean the other kind, perfect days the morning meteorologist dismisses with a sentence unless they connect to something else.

Sept. 11, 2001, was such a day in the Northeast, so beautiful that most documentaries mention the brilliant, cloudless sky, low humidity and slight chill.

I remember it as just that — the perfect autumn morning until . . .

Certain physiologies seem finely tuned to the weather. Humidity makes a hot day feel hotter, a cold day colder. It just makes me cranky. But not all humidity is created equal. The minute I walked out the door that day last month when snow was imminent, I felt a certain damp chill that precedes the white stuff. I remember my mother called the chilly dampness “raw.” Very descriptive, more so than anything from the TV meteorologist wearing a tight red dress and lip gloss.

That’s the thing. Weather is better experienced than described. I lived most of my life far north, where November always meant raw and people, especially skiers, welcomed a Thanksgiving blizzard. If you’re dressed for it, nothing compares to sun bouncing off fresh powder under a brilliant blue sky, no wind, temps in single digits or below, which make ceiling beams creak come night.

I hear the sweaty golfers howling protest. They have a point, I guess, if you skip July through October.

Beach day! Having packed the kids and their water toys in the car and driven a couple of hours, you want a clear sky with just enough breeze to stir the heat. Actually, the most impressive beach weather finds high, massive cloud formations racing from horizon to shore. No worry if they are a fluffy white. Gray merging to black — menacing but just as beautiful. 

Beauty exists in even the most destructive weather. An ice storm knocking out power for days inspires photographers to snap ice-encased twigs sparkling in the sun. Hurricanes inspire pilots to fly into their eyes, which remain calm. Similar bravehearts chase twisters, documenting their power.

My grandfather, a bricklayer with a penchant for mathematics, taught me about cloud formations, which determined whether he should water his enormous garden plot. He didn’t know Latin names, only what the clouds foretold. Then, when the thunder commenced, he said nothing, just nodded and smiled, since one man’s rained-out ball game is a farmer’s windfall.

“Windfall” itself is a term coined in the 15th century; landowners gave fruit that blew off the trees during a storm to the serfs.

Weather inspires music. Remember Gene Kelley dancing in Singin’ in the Rain? Etta James and Lena Horn crooning “Stormy Weather”? “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” from Butch Cassidy and Sundance? Then, “They Called the Wind Maria,” “Blue Skies,” “Candle in the Wind”? The Beatles’ prediction “Good Day Sunshine” and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” from Stevie Wonder, who never saw a single beam.

Technology has heightened our awareness: Get minute-to-minute details on the 24-7 Weather Channel or the weather apps.

Without weather, art would be flat, dull. Van Gogh illuminated his subjects with the almost-tangible sunlight of Provence, but Michelangelo, in the Sistine Chapel, placed God giving life to Adam over a high, thin cloud cover, while Leonardo da Vinci posed Mona Lisa against what looks like smog.

Spring weather belongs to the poets — soft rain, warm sunshine, aromatic breezes suggest romance, rejuvenation, rebirth of the insects, unfortunately. On the flip side, the Bible relates heaven dumping 40 days and 40 nights of rain, forcing Noah into ship-building. How about the wind that blew Dorothy clear out of Kansas? Who knew the deadly fog that smothered London in 1952 would be immortalized on a raincoat label?

And now April, the cusp of spring. Wordsworth had his turn, as did Shakespeare. Hear it best, from an anthropomorphizing Ogden Nash in “Always Marry an April Girl”:

Praise the spells, bless the charms,

I found April in my arms.

April golden, April cloudy,

Gracious, cruel, tender, rowdy;

April soft in flowered languor,

April cold with sudden anger,

Ever changing, ever true —

I love April, I love you.

Just don’t forget the umbrella.  PS

Deborah Salomon is a writer for PineStraw and The Pilot. She may be reached at

National Poetry Month

Words and
Music Riffs

By Shelby Stephenson

Hiram Larew turns loose the syllables like steam on water in his 2021 book, Mud Ajar, from Atmosphere Press. His words do not sink up in stirred up mud. At times I feel as if I can almost see through the mud, as the poet shakes form and content to create Poetry.

In “Quiet Come” —

All is up


all is sky

In “Ode to the Edge” —

all arrows lift their grateful views

sung-up like curves

the call of bogs

where edge surrounds

Listen to these few lines from “Mud Ajar,”
the title poem —

Here where beaks are barns

that loop through when

as rain lifts praise

on trill of rakes. 

In “Listened Twigs” listen to Larew’s lines —

These trees a choir

in early fine

their waking limbs

When snowflakes hear within themselves

of how beginning sounds.

Every syllable sings: example, these words from “Sign a Lease” —

When the skies boil or bloom

go sweep the stoop.  PS

Hiram Larew is the founder of Poetry X Hunger which inspires writers all over the world to combat hunger. In Mud Ajar, the music quakes and the sky blazes all over again.

Shelby Stephenson was poet laureate of North Carolina from 2015-18. His recent book is Praises from Main Street Rag Publishing Company.


The Spice
of Time

When you see more salt than pepper

By Bill Fields

I got a much-needed haircut recently not long after eye surgery. My vision was limited to the other eye, but that was plenty to notice the clippings on the black cape when the stylist had finished. There was enough white on the cover-up to make it seem as if a polar bear had been in the chair.

Forty years after finding my first gray hair, on my 22nd birthday, there is much more salt than pepper to be swept up after getting a trim. It’s been headed in that direction for two decades, an inexorable journey that, like achy joints after a taxing day, is just part of the landscape when you’re north of 60. As P.G. Wodehouse said, “There is only one cure for gray hair. It was invented by a Frenchman. It is called the guillotine.”

Don’t think for a minute I’m not grateful to have a head mostly full of hair at my age, regardless of its hue. I thank my maternal grandfather, B.L. Henderson, for whom a pocket comb remained a useful stocking stuffer as he made his way into his 90s, if one’s hair prospects are indeed rooted in that part of the family tree.

Plenty of men are dealt a different hand, losing their hair, or most of it, at a relatively young age. The combover can be a comical reaction — see images of former Purdue basketball coach Gene Keady for confirmation. This is the ultimate losing battle, and the willingness of more folks to go the shaved-head route when faced with a bare minimum is a victory not only for style but common sense.

I’m glad I haven’t had to make that decision. A couple of years ago while getting a haircut down South, as I sat down in the chair, I asked the barber if he could do anything about all the gray I could see in the mirror.

“Better to go gray than go gone,” he said.

Those seven words of barber philosophy have become my mantra.

If my father had heard them as he started getting lots of gray as he approached his 50th birthday, he might have avoided his brief hair dye experiment. Something looked different about his appearance as he sat down to supper one evening, but the real evidence was in the bathroom sink — black stains from the hair dye he had applied. We teased him so much that he never altered his appearance again. For the last decade of his life, he let his short flat-top go increasingly toward white, and set against his blue-green eyes it was a very handsome look.

“No play for Mr. Gray” has been a catchy line for Walt Frazier to say in the “Just for Men” television commercials, but I’m not sure how accurate it is.

If someone wants to dye his or her hair to maintain a look that has been theirs for years, more power to them. It’s none of my business. But tell me that singer Emmylou Harris doesn’t look gorgeous these days with that silvery hair of hers, and I’ll wonder what you’re smoking.

When it comes to hair color, I’m leaning toward letting time tell its story.  PS

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

Golftown Journal

Stumbling Into Happiness

When Pinehurst is the journey’s end

By Lee Pace

James Walker Tufts had no grand design on a New England-style village nor wall-to-wall golf courses when he set off from Boston in the mid-1890s. He wanted warm weather and a reasonable train ride from the snowy North to establish a winter resort, and it was by pure coincidence that he happened upon some 5,000 acres of land for sale just west of Southern Pines, the suggestion coming from a Wilmington insurance man he met on the train.

Walker Taylor, legend has it, suggested that the train station in Southern Pines might be a good starting point for Tufts. It was right on two of the nation’s major north-south transportation arteries — the railroad and U.S. Highway 1. Well, highway might be a bit of a stretch for the 1890s, but you get the idea. There was cheap land available, and it was halfway between Boston and Florida.

“It’s an old family story,” says Walker Taylor III. “I have no way of proving its authenticity. But my grandfather always said he directed Mr. Tufts to the Sandhills. True or false, he did get the Tufts’ insurance business. He even opened an office in Pinehurst to service Mr. Tufts.”

So, how did you stumble upon Pinehurst?

Stan Bradshaw and his wife, Jean, were living in St. Louis in 1997 when they channel-surfed across a television showing of Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf. The episode featured Arnold Palmer against Jack Nicklaus, played on Pinehurst No. 2 in April 1994. Those shows were part competition and part golf travelogue, so the Bradshaws were intrigued with the history and ambience of the golf-centric village in the North Carolina Sandhills.

“You know, we ought to look at that place,” Jean said.

Stan agreed, and soon after they booked flights, rooms and golf times for themselves and Jean’s parents. They traveled to Pinehurst in November 1997, and while the men played golf, the ladies toured the village and checked out The O’Neal School, a college preparatory school on Airport Road just northeast of Pinehurst.

Stan and his father-in-law were smitten.

“But how are you going to get Jean to move to a golf resort?” Stan’s father-in-law wondered.

“I’ll figure something out,” Stan answered.

It turns out the women were so impressed with The O’Neal School that Jean was ready to move — lock, stock and barrel. Bradshaw was in the banking, capital management and hedge fund world and could “live anywhere within an hour of an airport,” and thus had the freedom to move wherever suited the family’s interests. They joined Pinehurst Resort and Country Club, bought two lots to the right of the fourth fairway of the No. 2 course in 1999, and built a house.

“We say that the three things that got us to Pinehurst would be Jack, Arnie and The O’Neal School,” Bradshaw says.

Mark Reinemann grew up in Wisconsin and as a golfer “was always looking in the spring to travel somewhere warm for golf — typically either southwest Florida or Scottsdale,” he says. He and his wife over time came to prefer the green of the South over the brown of Arizona, though Florida wasn’t their cup of tea. He visited Pinehurst in the late 1980s, loved the experience, and was introduced to the Country Club of North Carolina through a banking client and CCNC member, Jack Schwerman.

“Jack invited us to stay at his house for a long weekend in 1988 and we just fell in love with CCNC,” says Reinemann, who served seven years on the USGA executive committee and retired from the banking business in 2016. “It was one of those ‘perhaps someday we could be a member here’ moments. Fast forward and here we are.

“We love the charm of the area, the slight change in seasons, the grace and style of the people who live here and, of course, the world-class golf. We never deviated from our plan to move here full time once I retired and have absolutely no regrets. We just love it here.”

Robert “Ziggy” Zalzneck was enraptured as well by CCNC and the Sandhills, on Christmas Day in 1967. At the time, he was a young accounting intern in Raleigh a long way from his Pennsylvania home. He was given access to CCNC by his boss, club co-founder Dick Urquhart, and had the place to himself on the holiday. “I played 36 holes and it was 70 degrees,” says Zalzneck, who later joined the club and has served as president. “It was the prettiest place I’d ever been my whole life. I’ve loved the place ever since.”

Marty McKenzie is a lifelong Pinehurst resident and real estate executive who loves to wax poetic about the “magic bubble” of the village of Pinehurst — the winding streets, the thick tree canopy, the absence of visual clutter.

“As human beings, when we try to describe something to people they’ve never seen, we always use the five senses — it looks like, tastes like, feels like — whatever. When you try to describe Pinehurst to other people and you think of those senses, you can’t find anything. Nothing comes to mind. Pinehurst doesn’t look like anywhere else,” McKenzie says. “People drive into the village and they’re absolutely paralyzed. They look around and say, ‘This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. How can I be a part of it?’ We take for granted we have the same status as the Washington Monument and Mount Rushmore — all of those are National Historic Landmarks.”

That bubble once snared a first-time visitor to Pinehurst on the second-floor porch of the Magnolia Inn. It was there amid the century-old magnolia trees over Memorial Day weekend in 1994 that Jane Deaton of Sea Island, Georgia, opened her eyes to the magic of Pinehurst.

“We arrived late the night before so we didn’t really know where we were,” she says.  “I walked out on the balcony the next morning and thought, ‘Oh, my God.’ It took my breath away. It was glorious. The village literally unfolded beneath me. I said, ‘I want to live here.’”

That day, Jane and Brian Deaton found a real estate agent and within the week bought a vacant lot at the intersection of Culdee and McKenzie roads, just two blocks behind the Carolina Hotel. Their new home was finished at the end of 1998.

Earl Ellis was a floor trader at the New York Stock Exchange in the 1980s and later a partner in a Wall Street specialist firm. Ellis and his wife, Anne, had a vacation home in Florida, but since Ellis, in his words, “liked Florida but didn’t love it,” they began scouting in the early 1990s for options, including the Carolinas and Georgia coasts. A friend was a founding member at Forest Creek Golf Club and suggested Ellis visit Pinehurst. The Ellises drove through town on the way back north from Florida and got a room at the Holly Inn one day in 1997.

“I just fell in love with the village,” Ellis says. “The thing that’s intriguing about Pinehurst is that if you’re in Pinehurst, you’re in Pinehurst because that’s where you wanted to go. There’s rarely someone who goes through Pinehurst to get somewhere else. So, you don’t have all this transient traffic. Everybody is playing golf and laughing it up at the bars and restaurants. There was something special about the feel of the place.

“It was like Brigadoon. It seemed too good to be true.” PS

Lee Pace has written about the Pinehurst experience for more than three decades from his home in Chapel Hill.

Tea Leaf Astrologer

(March 21 – April 19)

You know those little peppers used on Thai menus to indicate the spice level of the dish? Well, it’s a three-pepper month for you, Aries. And while that may seem mild compared with the blistering, full-body high you’re accustomed to, perhaps it’s time to shift your focus toward the subtle energies in your life. Single? No need to go sending up flares. Love always finds you. But you’re not a dish for just anyone.

Tea leaf “fortunes” for the rest of you:

Taurus (April 20 – May 20) 

Get ready for a reality check. Or don’t. It’s coming for you either way.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

When it comes to love, you’re only fooling yourself.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

Somebody’s got shiny-penny syndrome.

Leo (July 23 – August 22)

The door is unlocked. 

Virgo (August 23 – September 22)

You’re going to have to speak up.

Libra (September 23 – October 22)

Don’t think of it as backtracking. Think of it as recalibration.

Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)

Two words: healthy boundaries.

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

You’ll want to change your shoes for this. 

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)

Does the term “energy vampire” mean anything to you?

Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)

You couldn’t wipe off that grin even if you tried.

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)

You’ve already hung the moon. Now it’s time to enjoy it. PS

Zora Stellanova has been divining with tea leaves since Game of Thrones’ Starbucks cup mishap of 2019. While she’s not exactly a medium, she’s far from average. She lives in the N.C. foothills with her Sphynx cat, Lyla. 

Pleasures of Life

Egg-Dyeing for Empty Nesters

An Easter without kids brings
a basketful of memories

By Tom Allen

I’ve never been sure when a parent qualifies as an “empty-nester.” Maybe when the only, or last, child has his or her place, when their delivery and return address changes.

The younger of our two daughters officially fledged in June of 2020 when, like her sister, she married just out of college. But from March until her wedding day, June 20, courtesy of a pandemic, the last half of her senior year at Meredith College was virtual.

With campus housing closed and classes moved online, Sarah packed up and came home. We loved it. During the day, she continued her student teaching, online, with 20-plus kindergartners. After school, we cooked, ate supper together, played board games, and during visits from her fiancé, planned for a COVID wedding, with 15 guests instead of 250.

Her presence also meant she was home at Easter, specifically, the Saturday before Easter, which in our family is egg-dyeing day. We, like many, have specific holiday traditions. Fewer, by far, at Easter than Christmas, but nonetheless beloved. Until last year, one or both daughters were home for the annual ritual. No fizzy tablets and water for us. The real deal — the sound of boiling eggs bumping against a pot, the pungent aroma of hot water and vinegar, and McCormick’s “Assorted Food Color and Egg Dye.”

Four little vials — red, yellow, green, blue. The back of the box provides instructions for classy colors like “orange sunset” and “dusty rose.” When the girls were old enough to read, we challenged them to follow directions for other hues — 24 drops of red and 16 of blue make “pretty purple”; nine of green and three of yellow give you “mint green.” Or just squeeze this many drops of whatever and this many drops of whatever and see what happens.

Traditions die hard. Soon-to-be-graduated and married Sarah, along with Mom and Dad, spread newspapers on the kitchen table. My wife boiled a dozen Dollar Tree eggs, their shells dinging against the pan when it hit that rolling boil. Sarah boiled the egg-dyeing water. Odd how the smell of boiled eggs and a teaspoon of White House Apple Cider Vinegar, like cinnamon at Christmas, becomes the smell of Easter. Lilies, boiled eggs, and vinegar. Who knew?

We mixed the vinegar and water in glass ramekins, the same ones used for years. I know. They make plastic cups for those kinds of things, but again, traditions die hard. Like a hot potato, gotta wait for the eggs to cool a bit, but soon, with newspapers spread, water and vinegar mixture ready, spoons out, the time for dunking and dying came.

I’m a McCormick purist — red, yellow, green, blue. Sarah and her mother live on the edge, mixing this with that. No matter. There was laughter and joy, the essence of Easter. We left our creations to dry in the empty Dollar Tree carton. Then, as in years past, we placed the colored eggs in a basket of plastic grass. This would be the centerpiece on our kitchen table for the next couple of weeks.

Last year, my wife and I found ourselves alone on the Saturday before Easter — empty nesters with a dozen cheap eggs.

“You wanna dye eggs?” Beverly asked.

“Sure,” I responded, admittedly without much enthusiasm. She boiled the eggs, but only six. I laid out newspapers. She heated the water. I added the vinegar. Same ramekins. Same McCormick colors. I dipped my three in red, yellow, green. She went for half-and-half colors with hers. Finally, our six dry eggs were placed in the centerpiece basket with plastic grass. We smiled. Traditions die hard.

The saying goes, “We give our children two things — roots and wings.” Roots keep them grounded; wings give them freedom to be themselves. I’ve seen the cliché attributed to Goethe, Jonas Salk and the ubiquitous “unknown.” Their words convey wisdom and truth, but watching them fly can be bittersweet. New families are formed, new traditions are established. Some holidays the house is full. Others, the nest is empty.

Fortunately, our daughters and their husbands live an hour north. The oldest is expecting our first grandchild, a boy, at the end of April. Even with an early arrival, he’ll be too young for egg-dyeing this year. Ah, but next year, sometime before Easter, we’ll probably cover a kitchen table with newspapers, boil some eggs, bring out the ramekins, vinegar, and McCormick “Assorted Food Color and Egg Dye.” Who cares what colors he chooses?  Traditions live on, like Easter’s joy and laughter.  PS 

Tom Allen is a retired minister living in Whispering Pines.

The Zoo

Fiction by Daniel Wallace   

Illustrations by Harry Blair

We were listening to Vivaldi the night I died, the bed so soft, so warm, my wife of nearly half-a-century perched beside me with a cup of ice chips, there to wet my tongue, my lips. Even though I die at the end of it, this is not a sad story, really: I was very old, comfortable, cared for, weary, and loved, loved my whole life long, ready to fade into whatever night was waiting for me. And of all the moments I might have conjured to accompany me as I was leaving, it was our very first date that I recalled.

Clara and I were grad students in English, just classroom friends, weeks away from defending our dissertations — hers on lute music in Shakespeare’s early plays, mine on Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and the birth of modern science. I’d always liked Clara, but I think everybody did. She was smart but didn’t seem to care that she was, and made the rest of us — who were battling with each other, always burnishing the myth of our own brilliance — seem dumb. She was also funny, and the kind of pretty I was drawn to. Her nose was just a little longer than one thought it might have been, her eyes too big. They were emerald green, though, and rested on her big cheeks like marbles. Her knees were oversized for her long thin legs, like two snakes that had just swallowed one rabbit each. The truth was she wasn’t really picture-pretty at all, but carried herself as if she were, or didn’t care that she wasn’t, and that made her more beautiful than anyone I’d ever seen. She seemed wild to me, beyond anything I could ever capture. I was 27 and looked like a young man overly acquainted with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, by which I mean bookish in a sun-starved sort of way, shy around actual humans, shiny brown hair, still waiting for the peach fuzz on my upper lip to turn to fur. Somehow she let me know that she was free — “I’ve been kind of seeing somebody, but now . . . ” And she shrugged.

And there we were.

So we decided to go out for a beer one night. I picked her up in the first car I’d ever owned, an old Dodge Dart I’d bought used five years before, beaten and bruised, 210,027 miles and counting. There was a hole in the passenger side floorboard a mouse could have slipped through, and the engine was seriously flatulent.

“Nice car,” she said, hopping in. She was wearing jeans and a T-shirt, variations on which seemed to encompass her entire wardrobe. “Is it new?”

“Very funny.”

“Kidding,” she said. “But seriously, it’s a real car, right?”

“Ha ha.”

“I’m just having fun with you.” She punched me in the shoulder. “But honestly, want me to give it a good push? Happy to.”

She went on like this for a little while and stopped just before it became tedious. Maybe just a beat after it became tedious. But I was laughing. “For someone who doesn’t even have a car, you have strong opinions about mine.”

“I kid you,” she said. “But seriously.”

Off we went to a place called Brother’s, famous for its jukebox and onion rings and frosty beer mugs. We slipped into a booth and talked about what graduate students talk about — dissertation directors, anxiety, our cohorts, and more anxiety. That was the thing: It was fine and fun and comfortable; we just got along so well. Even after a few minutes together it felt like we’d been coming to Brother’s forever and talking about nothing and laughing — when this guy appeared, an apparition materializing from the dark of the bar beyond us. Tall, wiry, a small face made angular by a well-trimmed goatee, and eyebrows like a mossy overhang. Our age. He was wearing a black jacket and a black T-shirt beneath it and black pants, and I’m assuming black socks and underwear as well. He sat down next to Clara — they clearly knew each other — and he smiled at me and shook my hand. A strong grip. Very strong.

Clara covered her face with her hands and moaned. “Jeremy,” she said, she sighed. “Jesus. Jesus Jesus Christ.”

Jeremy looked at me and rolled his eyes, like we were having so much fun and now Clara has to come and ruin it for us.

“I saw you and I had to say hello,” Jeremy said to her. Then to me, conspiratorially: “We were together, not too long ago. Clara and I.”

Clara nodded, but it was a grudging nod. I’m sorry, she mouthed to me.

Jeremy saw her. “You should be sorry,” he said.

“Please,” she said. “Jeremy. This is not the time or the place for this.”

Jeremy shook his head and shrugged. “I don’t know why. This used to be our place.”

“Our place?” She mocked him. “We came here twice.”

Someone put two quarters in the jukebox and “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” began to play. Clara looked at me. “We should go, Richard. This isn’t going to get any more fun than it already is.”

“Richard,” Jeremy said. “What a great name. May I call you Dick, Dick? Great. So, Dick, about how long have you and Clara been an item . . . Dick.”

I didn’t answer. I was in a difficult position: Clara and I really weren’t an item, yet; I didn’t feel it was up to me — or in my wheelhouse — to step up and eject the interloper from our midst.

But then, slowly, Jeremy’s smile dimmed and died, and he looked at Clara as if she were a hideous thing.

“You’re a coward, you know,” he said to her. “How could you just
. . . disappear? No call back. Nothing. Not cool. Not how you break up with somebody.” He looked at me, back to her. “Just . . . not cool. In case you didn’t know.”

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, as if she were about to plunge underwater.

Slowly, she exhaled.

“We didn’t ‘break up,’ Jeremy. We were never even really seeing each other, not like that. We were never even — .” She stopped, giving up the postmortem. “Listen. I’m sorry, okay? I should have called you or maybe written you back to say thanks and everything, it was great while it lasted but a talent-free hobo novelist who doesn’t know the difference between a semicolon and an ampersand is just not what I’m looking for in my life at this time. All the best, Clara.”

Jeremy tried to rally with a comeback, but he didn’t have one. “I’m not a hobo,” he said. “Just . . . between places.”

“For a year and a half,” Clara said.

Poor Jeremy. He had been defeated. “Raindrops” ended and began again. Jeremy shook his head, stared off into the faraway-somewhere. He looked like he was standing on the shore of a deserted island watching the ship that was supposed to save him sail on by. 

“Okay, well, I feel like it’s time for me to hitch a ride on the next prevailing wind! But before I go, I have a message for you, Richard. You’re going to be me one day. You’ll have the time of your life with this one. You’ll be so happy. It’ll be like the world went from black and white to color. Then everything will go to shit and you won’t be happy anymore because Clara will move on, and it will suck for you, just like it’s sucking for me now.”

By the look in his eyes he was taking a moment to relive some of the colorful times he’d shared with her, and he smiled. “But it will be worth it,” he said. “Because Clara . . . well, nobody is Clara.”

Then he stood, and just as quickly as he had come was gone, a shadow fading away into the darkness of the bar.

We paid up and left and walked to the car in the dusky quiet. We were a little unsettled.

A breeze ruffled the trees but fell short of the two of us, standing on either side of my car now in the gravel parking lot. No stars out yet but the moon was rising, low still and smoky white.

“Well, that sucked,” she said.

“Yeah. Yeah, but — ”

“But what?”

“You have to admire his pluck.”

“I love that word,” she said. “He’s not plucky, though. He’s . . . indecorous.”



Looking down like there was something on the ground for her to see, her hair fell into her face and it was as if a big CLOSED sign went up. Even after she pushed it back behind her ears it was hard to really see her. “Jeremy,” she said. “Such a mistake. What if every mistake you ever made followed you around for the rest of your life? Like a parade of mistakes. The too-small shoes you bought, the undercooked chicken. Jeremy.”

“That would suck a lot.”

“I was mean to him.”

“He asked for it.”


I shrugged my shoulders. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, but I was on Clara’s side now. I looked back at Brother’s. I kept thinking Jeremy was going to follow us out here and stab me.

“I think we should make a mistake,” she said.


“We need to do something,” she said. “That or go home. And I don’t want to go home. Let’s do something stupid that will follow us around forever like undercooked chicken.”

“Sure,” I said, not really sounding like the devil-may-care-crazy guy she may have wanted just then. But what to do? I couldn’t think of anything: I’d always veered to the quiet, safe side of life. But she had an idea.

“You know what we should do?” she said. “Or what we shouldn’t do, I mean?”

She sat on the hood of the car and waited for me to join her. I did. This was as close as I’d ever been to her.


“Go to the zoo.”

There was a small zoo in Bellingham, somewhere between a real zoo and a place where a bunch of animals had been collected from around the world and housed by a larger-than-life intrepid explorer in makeshift pens and a pit for lions and tigers, a skinny elephant, a fence for the giraffe, a cement island for the monkeys. The animals didn’t look abused, just disappointed.

“Great idea,” I said. “But it’s closed. It closes at dusk.”

“Who said anything about it being open?”

And she told me a story she’d heard, about an entryway at the bottom of the 12-foot-high metal fence, one you can slither through with ease, gaining access to the entire place. No alarms, no cameras. Just you and the animals in the dark.

“I know the way.”

“Sure,” I said, hoping to impress her with my newfound recklessness. I handed her the keys to the car.

“Really? Seriously?” she said, like a kid. “You’re up for this?”

Her face was so small I could cup it in one hand, and in the half-light of the parking lot outside of Brother’s she had the patina of a film from the ’40s. I think I was already in love with her. We got in the car and she looked at me, and it was as if she were saying, Are you ready? Because this is happening. If you’re going to wimp out this is your last chance. In just the few minutes we’d been outside night had fully fallen. A couple of frat boys came out of Brother’s braying at each other, and the tail end of a song comes out with them — “Raindrops.”

“Let’s do this,” I said.

She started the car and winked at me as she revved the engine. “Big mistake,” she said.

It was a terrifically muggy night but with the windows down I could feel a cool undercurrent to the air. I remember thinking that one day it would be fall, then winter, then spring and then summer again, and that whatever was about to happen will have happened a long time ago. The wind made Clara’s hair go wild, half of it flying out the window like streamers on a bicycle, the other half in her mouth and in her eyes, blindfolding her for seconds at a time. “I’ve got this,” she kept saying. “No problem.” Then she looked at me, mock-scared with a frightened smile, like the other part of her was saying, Don’t believe me! There is a problem! I don’t have this!

She took a sudden turn off of Greene Street, and then the road whipped around to the right, up and then down, the car beams breaking into what felt like a virgin dark. Just a pine tree forest, a forgotten road, nothing else.

She pulled over to the curb and cut the lights and we were under the cover of night.

“We’re here,” she said.

Gradually the world around me came into focus, and over the trees I could see the throbbing red light at the top of the WRDC radio tower. I positioned myself in the world and I realized we were in fact right behind the zoo, near a farm, an overgrown pasture. She put the car in reverse, pulled back, angled it, then turned the lights back on, spotlighting the secret entrance through the fence. She raised her arms into the air, fists clenched: victory.

“You’re pretty impressed with yourself.”

“I am,” she said, nodding. “As I should be.”

She turned off the car and threw the keys back to me.

“It’s go time,” she said.

The hole in the fence was big enough for a mandrill to crawl through. We got in on all fours. Neither of us said a word but communicated through hand signals and raised eyebrows and then suddenly — What’s that? Oh. It’s nothing. Continue . . . inching through the inky dark toward the animal quiet.

The woods ended, and we were on a path, dirt and gravel first and then lightly paved uneven asphalt. A yellow light spilled on the elephant cage, that fenced-in patch of hard dirt no bigger than a poor man’s front yard. There was no elephant there now — he or she was sleeping inside. I’d been here a couple of times, thrown a few peanuts over this wall. Clara looked at me. She was so excited she seemed to be vibrating. She leaned in close and stood on her tiptoes to whisper-yell in my ear: “We did it!” She held onto my elbow. “But it’s important to stay quiet,” she said. “That way they won’t know we’re not one of them. They’ll do things most people never get to see them do.”

It turned out that animals in the zoo at night do what most animals do. They sleep. It was absolutely still. The elephants, the giraffes, the monkeys, the spiral-horned antelope — they were all asleep. You could hear them; it was the humming sound of a living forest. Blue-black shadows everywhere. An ibis had a bad dream and shrieked, and a striped hyena answered (maybe it was an ibis, maybe a hyena), then it was silence again. What lights there were were kept low, and the moon was hidden behind a cloud. It turned out that sneaking around in a zoo full of sleeping animals was not unlike sneaking around in a zoo with not a single animal in it. Clara thought she saw something and gave a little involuntary gasp and turned and — it was a rabbit. She shrugged her shoulders, smiled, but I could tell she’d had high hopes for this adventure. It hadn’t lived up to its hype. “We can go now if you want,” she said.

I did want to go. I wanted to be back in the car talking about what had just happened, how great it was and can you believe that we actually did that? Clara had no idea how careful I normally was, how meticulous with my life, had no way of knowing that I was a man who folded his pants at the crease and arranged his shirts by kind and, within kind, color, whose life-plan was to be invisible on command, to follow directions, to go as far as a man with a Ph.D. in Frankenstein could go. So yes, I wanted to leave.

But she was just too defeated. 

If this were even our second date I would hug her, even kiss her until my kisses made her smile. A second date meant options. A first date, you couldn’t — I couldn’t — do more than take her hand. There was an old stone wall surrounding a duck pond, and I stepped up on it. It was only 2 feet high. Clara looked up at me and sort of laughed and said, “What are you — ?” but before she could finish the sentence I had my hand out and she took it and I pulled her up to stand beside me. “Listen,” I said. She listened and heard the same thing I did: almost nothing at all, just that humming sound. “Now listen,” and with my hands cupped around my mouth I shouted a quote from the book I had memorized: “Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.”

That did the job: The night blew up. The animals rose. Plodding out of his concrete bunker pounded the elephant, the curious giraffes loped into the moonlight, and the island of monkeys began to wildly chatter. Every animal was baying and woofing and screeching. The animal world had awakened — just for us.

“Richard,” Clara said, still in whisper-mode. Wings flapped in the dark above us, water roiled somewhere nearby. Clara grabbed my arm and pulled me close. Our shoulders bumped. “This is just . . . so great!” Her big eyes were wide, the size of saucers for a miniature teacup. The moon, the stars, the sky, the animals of the Earth, this beautiful woman, all here, before me — and I felt as if I had created a moment that had never been created before, never in the history of the world. And I was sharing it with Clara.

But I woke up more than the animals. The zoo actually had a keeper. I saw him before I heard him, the beam of his super-powerful flashlight bouncing off of everything.

“Who’s there?” he called out, in a deep voice. “You’re trespassing, assholes. And yes, it’s a felony, and yes, I will prosecute. Do not think I won’t. Course I’ll let you spend some time in the hippo pond first, goddamn it.”

He sounded tired, and very serious. This had gone too far for me, and for Clara. She was frozen against my side, had stopped breathing I think, statue-still. I took her hand and we jumped down from the wall. I had no idea now where the hole in the fence was, but what choice did we have but to try and find it? We ran into the woods. I scratched my face on the lower branches of a pine tree and could feel the stripes of blood across my cheeks. But we didn’t stop running. The zookeeper could hear us, of course, and shined the light into the woods following our path. “Come out come out wherever you are, moron,” he said gleefully. He followed the sound of us, sweeping his light through the forest, coming closer. I had no idea where we were. But we came to a huge tree, and I pulled Clara behind it, wrapping my arms around her until we were as small as two people could be. The light of his flashlight fell all around us, but not on us. We were that close to being seen — inches away from being caught and caged. But we were not.

He gave up. “Damn it,” he said to himself now, thinking we were long gone.

Then he turned around and headed back the way he came.

Still pressed up against me she looked up at me and smiled.

“You did it,” she whispered. “You saved us.” She kissed me on the cheek, but her eyes did not leave mine. “Richard,” she said, “that was truly magical.”

And I thought, I actually remember thinking this as we huddled together behind that tree: in thirty, forty, fifty years — whenever she buried me — no matter what may have happened through the decades of our life together, this was what I’d remember, this night, the story she’d tell too many times to our children, our grandchildren, our oldest friends, the story of that night we broke into the zoo and woke everyone up. And not because it was the best thing that ever happened to us, but because it was the first. It set the tone, she’d say, for the rest of our lives. That night at the zoo we were in our own cocoon, arms encircled, closer than close. She burrowed into me, and we stayed that way for a while, longer than we needed to, until the night returned to its rhythms, until all the wild animals in the world went back to sleep.

So of course, out of all the moments of my life, this would be the one I chose to see me out.

I felt a chip of ice on my lips, a damp cloth on my forehead. I didn’t know if my eyes were open or closed, but it was all dark now, and getting darker. I found my wife’s hand and held it.

“Clara,” I said. “Oh, Clara!”

Yes, your name was my very last word, so sweet I said it twice.

“Clara?” Gwendolyn said, and she shuddered, seemed to freeze and harden as if she’d died herself. “Richard, who is Clara?”

And I might have told her, but it was a long story from a long time ago, and by then it was much, much too late. PS

Daniel Wallace is the author of six novels, including Big Fish and, most recently, Extraordinary Adventures. He lives in Chapel Hill, where he directs the Creative Writing Program at the University of North Carolina.

Residential Renaissance

Residential Renaissance

Art dominates Grandma Boyd’s “cottage”

By Deborah Salomon     Photographs by John Gessner

The Breakers. Downton Abbey. Monticello. Taliesin.

Fancy family estates — real and literary — set the tone with fancy names. What could be more dramatic than the opening line in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca:

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

Locally, Weymouth — named for an English village — qualifies; and right next door, Inchalene, Celtic for “cottage at the edge of the woods,” adds its own mellifluous name to the list. The residence, designed by Alfred Yeomans, built in 1923 for James and Jackson Boyd’s widowed mother, Eleanor Herr Boyd, and now respectfully renovated, retains grandeur aplenty. During the Boyds’ heyday, Granny arrived from Pennsylvania in a private railroad car preceded by servants, supplies and silver. Once ensconced she kept tabs on her sons and grandchildren while hosting garden parties.

Eleanor Boyd died in 1929, son James in 1944. Inchalene declined until purchased in 2005 by a historic homes renovator and his sister, from Palm Beach. Their plan, similar to the Boyds’, was to create a family compound with their elderly mother nearby. But mother died and an unfortunate construction-related incident aborted Inchalene’s rebirth.

The grande dame of Connecticut Avenue was down . . . but not out.

In the spring of 2011, Inchalene once again bustled with activity, as workmen readied it for a designers’ showcase benefiting Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities.

The result: a double dose of classic opulence. Many furnishings from the showcase were still in place when the house was staged and listed for sale.

Eric and Nelsa Spackey had been looking for a year. “I passed by one Sunday at 6 a.m., hopped the fence and listened to the birds,” Eric recalls. “The house had a good feel, a welcoming flow, positive energy.”

“I fell in love with it,” Nelsa adds.

So impressed were they that in 2019 they bought the house and contents — lock, stock and Murano glass chandelier hanging over a hammered-copper dining table. What wasn’t included they tracked down at auctions, online and elsewhere. “We wanted (furnishings) related to when the house was built,” Eric says.

Turnkey sales of this magnitude seldom happen. Neither does an entrepreneur like Eric Spackey, who grew up in Michigan, trained in finance, set up a cellular network, manufactured uniforms for the military, and is now involved in developing a James Bond-worthy electronic communications device — among other pursuits.

“Sort of like Forrest Gump,” Eric says, as he kneads sourdough on the kitchen island. Besides baking bread, he cooks, cares for the horses, tends a garden, orchard and chicken coop. He plays the guitar and collects art, enough to transform the mansion into a gallery begging a docent. The first image inside the front door is a mother and child with cherries by Gilbert Stuart, whose other works include the iconic portrait of George Washington.

Eric relates best to Fauvism, popularized by Henri Matisse. Upstairs hangs a dreamy likeness of Claude Monet’s daughter and granddaughter, by Monet’s son-in-law Theodore Butler.

The Spackeys’ have four daughters and three granddaughters; living among them made him appreciate the soft femininity of these paintings, and the house. But not all his art is “pretty.” Eric displays Depression-era WPA depictions of factory workers in stark, angular forms.

The Spackeys’ other residence is a waterfront villa in Puerto Rico, site of Eric’s businesses. After hurricane Maria hit the island in 2017, they looked for a safer home base. Eric considered Asheville, then discovered Moore County while working with a government official from Pinehurst.

“I wanted more than a house,” Eric says. “I wanted a working farm with horses — and this was close to the military.” Perfect! “I use the hayloft as a meeting place and the tack room as a bar.”

As for Granny Boyd’s white stucco English Tudor cottage with mullioned windows: “The house itself is a work of art,” Eric says. To preview the interior he installed a 12-foot marble fountain adorned with lions on the circular drive.

Inchalene’s footprint and layout remain virtually intact, except for a solarium added at one end and a second-floor master suite cobbled from several smaller bedrooms and a porch. The longitudinal layout, however, is both interesting and typical of estates unconstrained by lot size. A “shotgun” hallway bisects the main floor, allowing straightline vision from the solarium at one end to a small office at the other. Off it branch the kitchen, dining room, den, entrance hall, powder room and a curious bedroom with door leading outside. Often called a pastor’s room built to accommodate itinerant clergy, these front-facing bed/bath/sitting chambers also appear in homes with elders who could not climb stairs. Or, it might have doubled as an office where the chatelaine received tradesmen without allowing them into the house proper. To that use, the sparsely furnished room includes a desk and a floor lamp from the reading room of a New York City library.

The kitchen, displaying art on a wall rail and countertops, introduces a color appearing elsewhere: the pale green of extra-virgin olive oil. Step down into the family dining area where hangs Eric’s talisman: a 10-foot-long, 450-pound Byzantine mosaic believed to be 2,000 years old that just happened to fit the wall over the table. Beyond that, the glass solarium surrounded by flowering shrubs sparkles like a diamond.

In contrast, the den is dark, clubby, bookish, with oversized pieces upholstered in leather, a primordial man cave where gents gathered to solve world problems over cigars and bootleg brandy.

That long hall opens out into the bright living room, where white sofas hint contemporary in contrast to an ornate gilded case piece in the dining room — imagine it coming from a Versailles tag sale, where Eric might have also found his musical clock, circa 1780s.

The second floor master suite is a clutter of charming objects in hues to match antique Delft tiles surrounding this and other fireplaces. Here and elsewhere, wall-mounted TVs stream fine art when not in use. Down the hall, a “princess” bedroom is scaled and decorated for granddaughters, including a bathroom with a 3/4-sized tub and sink. Next to it, a rough-and-tumble boys’ room has bunk beds and a wall painted to resemble a barn door.

Faux finishes appear on other walls, some resembling wood paneling; others textured Venetian plaster mimicking damask. Touch to believe.

Completing Inchalene’s idyllic portrait are two horses joined by Frida (as in the Mexican painter Kahlo), an affectionate and intelligent German shepherd rescue, and Luna, a long-haired Himalayan kitty big as a watermelon.

Eric insists that maintaining Inchalene’s acreage makes him feel connected. “The chickens produce manure for compost for the garden, a tie back to nature. There’s no better therapy than getting on my tractor. It keeps me balanced.” He finishes with a sweeping, “This was meant to be.”

All things considered, maybe more Lorenzo de’ Medici than Forrest Gump. PS

Home & Garden Tour

Inchalene is just one of the homes on the Southern Pines Garden Club’s Home & Garden Tour on April 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Buy tickets online at