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“Why do you live so far away?”

My 9-year-old granddaughter innocently asked me this question during a recent beach getaway. Her question took me by surprise. I didn’t answer; instead, I just smiled and gave her a hug. She seemed content with that.

A few days later, driving alone toward the mountains that I now call home, I thought about her question. Why do I live so far away?

The answer came to me so quickly that I said it out loud before I could stop myself. Because I love where I live.

I made the decision to move to Black Mountain almost five years ago, when the heat and humidity that had been a part of my life for almost 30 years finally got the best of me. My children had magically become adults, and for the first time in my life, I was able to make a decision without taking a family vote. So I moved north.

And I haven’t regretted it for one minute. Not one.

Sure, I miss having my children and grandchildren within arm’s reach. I miss being able to throw a blanket and a good book in the car and take the short drive to a beach. I miss being able to make spontaneous dinner plans with my daughter. I miss my friends. I miss all of that.

But the tradeoff is that now I can breathe in the summer. I can experience autumn weather without going on vacation, and I can ride my bike in the middle of a summer day without passing out.

I remember the first time I drove through Black Mountain. I was looking for a place to call home, a community where I could belong. Someone had told me it was “a sweet little town that had quaint little shops.” But what I saw that day, and what I’ve come to know since, is that there is so much more to this town than meets the eye.

Did you know that Black Mountain has a walking food tour? It also has a Pub & Grub tour. We have over 30 restaurants that offer everything from authentic German food (I should know, I lived in Germany for four years), to Mexican, Thai and wood-fired pizza.

If working with your hands is your thing, you can learn how to make clever clay pots or paint watercolors at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, or learn to knit at the Black Mountain Yarn Shop. Have a little acting bug? We have a great little community theater that needs you.

Within a few square miles, we have a college, two breweries, and a concert venue that features local and regional talent. We have biking trails, hiking trails, camp grounds, waterfalls and greenways. On any given day you can attend events that include a community yard sale or a tailgate market that features local food, including organic goat cheese.

I’m not sure it gets any better than organic goat cheese.

And something you may not have known - our little town that rocks won the TripAdvisor reader’s choice for Prettiest Small Town Vacation in America! Yep, our town is winning awards, and we are lucky enough to live here.

As I write this, I’m sitting where I usually write my columns, at Trailhead Restaurant, sitting on the porch sipping a cider and eating the best burger you will find in Western North Carolina. And I’m thinking back to my granddaughter’s question, and my answer, which comes to me without hesitation or effort.

Because I love where I live.”

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