I’ve just returned from a week’s vacation in Orlando, visiting Disney World and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios with my family. I have been working on a post with a gushing review of Harry Potter land and tear-jerking accounts of Disney magic, but I’m having trouble focusing on writing it. I leave for India tomorrow and I’m nervous, so I’m writing about something homey today. The vacation post (and pictures) will come soon enough, I promise! But for now, read and enjoy this:
Today, I was about to Tweet something about how cool it looks when gigantic flocks of little black birds move in union through the cow pastures near Cardinal Gibbons, but then I realized how odd it is that there are cow pastures near my high school. Gibbons is in Raleigh, the state capital. It’s across the street from the RBC Center (home of the Carolina Hurricanes) and NC State University’s Carter Finley Stadium. The cow pastures aren’t true farmland—they are part of NC State’s veterinary college—but I started thinking about how quickly North Carolina transitions from rural to suburban to urban to rural. Thus, I bring you part 4 of my intermittent series about good things in NC.
I live in a wine-themed neighborhood. No, people don’t just drink all the time (although the neighborhood ladies do enjoy a few glasses of wine at Bunco or book club). Yes, the streets are all named after different vineyards. It is a veritable suburbutopia. There are plenty of rules: all homes must have a certain type of mailbox, homeowners must receive approval from a board before beginning any construction or landscaping projects, families in the neighborhood are permitted to have no more than two dogs, etc. When we moved to NC, this lovely community backed up to a dirt road. My house is at the very edge of the subdivision, nearest the (formerly) dirt road. The day we moved in was also the day of the groundbreaking ceremony for the park and elementary school that were to be built on the land across the road. The park, school, and other neighborhoods that are back there now are quite nice, but I liked the area better when it was a forest.
Back in the woods, some neighborhood kids had carved a makeshift paintball course out of the brush. I heard tell of blackberry bushes somewhere in the brambles, but I never did find them. My friends and I went exploring one evening and found a creepy abandoned house with an overgrown in-ground swimming pool. We were adventurous 14-year-olds looking for a thrill, so of course we went inside. The house was empty, but we poked around and found a weird little panic room upstairs. We got scared, so we left, but somebody snagged the key that was under the doormat. The house and it’s swimming pool have since been demolished.
Back when the park and the school and the neighborhoods were a forest, there was a guy who lived in a trailer on our side of the dirt road, adjacent to my community. He owned a decent-sized parcel of land, I think, and was holding out for a big offer from a developer. Eventually, he made a killing off the sale of the land and moved away. While he lived next to our neighborhood, however, he embodied just about every hick stereotype about NC or the South. Rusted-out cars on blocks in the front yard, laundry flapping in the breeze, you know. He actually kept chickens. If we were up early, we could hear roosters cock-a-doodle-dooing.
Maybe it’s just the area of the state where I live, but I love the way NC rapidly transitions from cows and farmland to downtowns with one-way streets. This state has everything; mountains, beaches, and lowlands in between. The fluidity is refreshing—you never know quite what you’ll see.