How was your week? Mine was fairly quiet. I might have whooped a little when I weeded the garden for the first time this year, and sighed a little. The first was for being able to ease the soreness in my back afterwards, the last was for the number of butter beans scattered all over the bed (I foresee a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk right in my front yard. Beans can indeed be magic…if you count magic as “never having to buy bean seeds ever again.”) People are asking me what I’m planting, and a Durham garden blog I follow just said that they planted their peas yesterday. And I saw a daffodil on my walk today. It is still January, right? I’ve not turned the wrong page in the calendar or something, right?
Seriously, it feels kind of weird. It’s like watching a movie in which everything goes so well and is so lovely that you just know something big is about to happen, but you don’t know what, and you can’t do anything about it. Well, I can’t, but I think I’ll take advantage of this mild winter and plant spring-like things while I still can.
I’m looking forward to something this week, and it’s our annual winter Asheville trip. This is our third year, and instead of going south in winter (we are in the south after all) we go west to western North Carolina, to mountains and mist and a spa.
Yes, a spa. For some reason when we tell people this, they wrinkle their noses. I don’t think they expect us to be typical spa people- I don’t even wear makeup! The truth is, we go to this particular spa for its amenities and to relax. I usually dunk my dry winter skin in warm whirlpools, mineral waters, go to wet and dry saunas, try out the contrast pool at least once (you soak in a very hot tub, and then you dunk yourself in extremely cold water. It’s actually very refreshing). In between the soaking and sweating, I read by the fireplace, usually with a blanket and herbal tea and some trail mix. It’s one hell of a way to relax, and I am looking forward to it. Some of my favorite moments at the spa:
1) Soaking in the outdoor hot pool at night (by day, you get an amazing view of Blue Ridge Mountains). I get to see the stars on a clear night, and if it’s snowing, it’s fun watching snowflakes fall on your face while you’re warm and cozy. It reminds me of those photos of hot springs in Japan.
2) Going back to the spa near closing time (when there are very few people), lying on my back and looking my reflection and the moonlight through the spa’s clear ceilings. So peaceful and soothing.
3) I also get a kick out of the fact that I get to wear my bikini in January
The rest of the resort isn’t bad, either- there are plenty of rocking chairs and a huge (it’s like 6 feet tall) fireplace in the main hall, and we’d sit by the fire late at night, rocking and talking quietly. Most of the time we end up playing Scrabble or Carcassone.
Then there’s the Asheville “scene.”
The food in Asheville is terrific, and being the boring people we are, these are the few places we go to over and over:
1- Rosetta’s Kitchen. It’s not that it’s all-vegetarian. It’s fabulous. This is a place where the daily shipment of kale is like 5 big crates, and when it comes in, the customers cheer loudly. The food is not the fanciest, but it is the most comfortable. The family favorite, which is peanut butter tofu, sautéed kale, and mashed potatoes with nut gravy, is well, indeed a family favorite. I don’t think there’s a single thing there that is not delicious. The only bad thing about it is that it makes the food at the spa really, really horrible. Really.
2- Early Girl Eatery. My favorite breakfast/brunch spot, though they do a very good dinner too. I love their catfish sandwich, but mostly, I love their strong coffee and eggs benny (poached egg over spinach with their signature tomato gravy).
3- French Broad Chocolate Lounge. This is like coffeehouse/dessert heaven. They have EVERYTHING, and I mean everything- chocolate, beer, coffee, tea, cake, cookies, brownies, ice cream, and so on. All of their ingredients are very high quality, and it shows. The best part is that they are usually open until 11 every night, so when the spa closes at 9, we continue the fun at the chocolate lounge and indulge in a dessert or two.
4- Beer. So much beer. In fact, Sierra Nevada just announced this week that their East Coast operations are going to be near Asheville. I’ve been to Barley’s, Jack of the Woods, and Asheville Brewing and Pizza, and all are good. I’m hoping to go to The Thirsty Monk, which was picked by Garden and Gun magazine as one of the best Southern bars.
Okay, I think I’ve gone on long enough about AVL. Time to start the weekend!
P.S. For links, I have a sort of a fantasy trip list:
Little Flower School Dutch Masters Class (not your typical flower arranging)
Food Photography Course in France (with bikes and trips to Farmers’ Market!)
Squam Italy (photography, food, knitting)
and a lovely video about tailoring in Italy.