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212 S. Kerr Avenue • Wilmington, NC 28403 • 910-399-4802 Visit our showroom online at

1100 Pembroke Jones Drive • Landfall • $4,750,000 Overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway and ‘’deep water lollipop lagoon and unspoiled islands’’ this spectacular Mediterranean design sits on 1.6 acres and features over 10,000 square feet of luxury.

134 Sound View Drive • Belvedere Plantation • $1,050,000 If life on the water is what it’s all about, this is a must-see! This quality built home by Frann Coangelo overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway Stump Sound, Topsail Beach and Harbour Village Marina.

Enjoy Th e Holidays Among th e Hollies A hot cup of cocoa in front of a roaring fire, tucked under a cozy blanket on a carriage ride, tree lightings, candlelight tours of homes, Holiday Pops concert, Reindeer Fun Run, holiday parades. The Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area of North Carolina offers you “Holidays Among The Hollies”. Enjoy shopping, holiday spirit, traditional small-town events, charming scenery and great lodging rates, whether you’re visiting relatives or friends or just want to try a new holiday experience.

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LOCALFIRSTBANK.COM/DOUBLEREWARDS ©2017 MasterCard. MasterCard, Debit MasterCard and the MasterCard brand marks are trademarks of MasterCard International Inc. To receive double First Bank Rewards points, application must be received between October 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017, and card owners must open and activate a First Bank Platinum Rewards MasterCard or Business World Rewards MasterCard and register their card at the First Bank One Rewards Program website ( during this time period. Bonus rewards points awarded through this promotion will be credited to your account within 5 business days of each qualifying purchase. Offer expires December 31, 2017. Loans subject to credit approval. Member FDIC.

SOLD Landfall | 2336 Ocean Point Drive | $4,900,000 Nick Phillips | 910.620.3370 |

Figure 8 Island | 520 Beach Road N | $3,800,000 Nick Phillips | 910.620.3370 |

Wrightsville Beach | 115 N Channel | $1,575,000 Sam Crittenden | 910.228.1885 |

Parkside at Mayfaire | 6511 Brevard Lane | $839,000 Will Musselwhite | 910.736.2869 |

12 ACRES Wilmington | 1280 Hill Valley Walk | $1,340,000 David Benford | 910.264.8889 |

Historic District | 314 S. Front St | $1,050,000 Jane Davis | 910.520.4444 |

Landfall | 2320 Ocean Point | $2,100,000 Monica Rolquin | 910.232.1427 |

Parkside at Mayfaire | 1201 Olmstead Lane | $995,000 David Benford | 910.264.8889 |

Sotheby’s International Realty and the Sotheby’s International Realty logo are registered service marks used with permission. Each office is independently owned and operated. Equal Housing Opportunity. ©2017 Landmark Sotheby’s International Realty. All rights reserved. All prices shown are list price.

SOLD Bradley Creek Point | 417 Bradley Creek Point Rd. | $3,295,000 Sam Crittenden | 910.228.1885 |

Landfall | 813 Howes Point Place | $3,250,000 Nick Phillips | 910.620.3370 |

SOLD Landfall | 2305 Ocean Point Drive | $3,195,000 Nick Phillips | 910.620.3370 |

Wilmington | 6417 Quail Run Road | $2,490,000 David Benford | 910.264.8889 |

SOLD Wilmington | 334 Cabbage Inlet | $3,295,000 Nick Phillips | 910.620.3370 |

Headwater Cove | 1039 Headwater Cove | $799,000 Joy Donat | 910.200.4117 |

SOLD Shell Island Resort | Two Waterfront Units | $289,000 - $325,000 Sam Crittenden | 910.228.1885 |

Landfall | 1063 Ocean Ridge | $1,650,000 David Benford | 910.264.8889 |

Sotheby’s International Realty and the Sotheby’s International Realty logo are registered service marks used with permission. Each office is independently owned and operated. Equal Housing Opportunity. ©2017 Landmark Sotheby’s International Realty. All rights reserved. All prices shown are list price.

85 75



Luxury Property Market Share


Transactions $1,000,000 and Above

45 35 25 15










Data Source: NCRMLS, 11/1/16 - 11/1/17, New Hanover

Intracoastal Realty

RE/MAX Essential

Coldwell Banker Seacoast Realty

Landfall Realty, LLC

Hardee Hunt & Williams

Bluecoast Realty Corporation

Figure Eight Realty

Keller Williams

Landmark Sotheby’s International

Living Seaside Realty Group


local. We’re global.

I nt ra co a s t a l R e a l t y. co m | 9 1 0 . 2 5 6 . 4 5 0 3


When it comes to luxury home sales, Intracoastal Realty soars above the competition. We utilize a sophisticated mix of online and offline media to position homes so that they receive maximum exposure to the increasingly savvy affluent consumer. The result? Nearly 5X the number of unit sales than the closest competitor in homes priced $1,000,000 and above. 910.256.4503 / 800.533.1840 INTRACOASTALREALT Y.COM

M A G A Z I N E Volume 5, No. 11 5725 Oleander Dr., Unit B-4 Wilmington, NC 28403 Editorial • 910.833.7159 l Advertising • 910.833.7158

David Woronoff, Publisher Jim Dodson, Editor Andie Stuart Rose, Art Director William Irvine, Senior Editor Lauren Coffey, Graphic Designer Alyssa Rocherolle, Graphic Designer Contributors Ash Alder, Harry Blair, Susan Campbell, Wiley Cash, Clyde Edgerton, Jason Frye, Nan Graham, Virginia Holman, Mark Holmberg, Ross Howell Jr., Sara King, D. G. Martin, Jim Moriarty, Mary Novitsky, Dana Sachs, Stephen E. Smith, Astrid Stellanova Contributing Photographers Rick Ricozzi, Bill Ritenour, Andrew Sherman, Mark Steelman

b Advertising Sales Ginny Trigg, Advertising Director 910.691.8293 •

Elise Mullaney, Advertising Manager 910.409.5502 • Susanne Medlock, Advertising Representative 910.520.2020 •

Courtney Barden, Advertising Representative 910.262.1882 • Alyssa Rocherolle, Advertising Graphic Designer 910.693.2508 •

b Darlene Stark, Circulation/Distribution Director 910.693.2488 Douglas Turner, Finance Director 910.693.2497

©Copyright 2017. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Salt Magazine is published by The Pilot LLC


Salt • December 2017

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

sat | jan

13 th



$35 online | $45 at the door ticket includes self-guided tour of eight fully styled venues featuring hand picked creatives, live music, tastings & sunday brunch at courtyard by marriott

co urt yar dsan d cobbl e st on e s. com

December 2017

Departments 12 Simple Life By Jim Dodson

Features 51 December

Poetry by Sam Barbee

52 The Joy of Jonkonnu By Kevin Maurer History with a beat

54 Enchanted Romance

By Christine Moughamian Warm chestnuts and the birth of a Christmas tradition

56 Striperfest

By Virginia Holman A fair-weather fisher braves a day of winter fishing on the Cape Fear

58 Home for the Holidays

By Isabel Zermani An antiques road trip to a Christmas country house

67 Almanac

By Ash Alder Peppermint, the Geminid meteor shower, and stocking suffers

16 SaltWorks 21 Cape Fear Bookshelf By William Irvine

22 Omnivorous Reader By D.G. Martin

25 A Writer’s Life By Wiley Cash

30 Gallery 35 Lunch With a Friend By Dana Sachs

39 The Garden Path By Anne Barnhill

45 Food for Thought By Hope Cusick

49 Birdwatch

By Susan Campbell

68 Calendar 74 Port City People 77 Accidental Astrologer By Astrid Stellanova

79 Notes From the Porch By Bill Thompson

80 The Mistletoe Bride By Nan Graham


Salt • December 2017

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

S i mple

L i fe

My Pre-Geezer

ChristmasList Wishing for the intangible

By Jim Dodson

Earlier this month, my lovely grown-up

daughter living in faraway Chicago phoned to ask what I want for Christmas.

“Can’t think of a thing, Honey,” I replied, then said what I say every December when we do this routine. “I don’t need a thing, Mugs. Just seeing all of you kids come home is my Christmas present. Oh, wait, I know — a pair of new white socks and a pen that doesn’t run out of ink.” “Dad, be serious.” I was being serious. For better or worse, come winter I go through white socks like tissues, and there’s nothing worse than a pen that runs out of ink when you’ve had a sudden brilliant thought. The trick of living, I’ve discovered over three score years plus four is to know what’s enough and to need (and better yet desire) less and less of this world’s material stuff, whittling down life until you’re traveling light enough to someday join the dust from whence you came. On this same note, it was a shock to discover the other day that I own 23 very nice sports coats. Where on Earth did they all come from? And more to the point, do I really need 23 sports coats in my life, only two or three of which I might wear over the course of a year? Ditto neckties, golf clubs, various hats and caps, even books I used to think I would someday read but never got around to. So I had a brilliant idea. For the first time in decades, I made out a Christmas list, putting “give away at least half your very nice sports coats for Christmas” at the top of it. Like my working hero Thomas Jefferson — who claimed to be an “old man but a new gardener” — I tend to make lists of things I mean to do on any given day. As any pre-geezer knows, the older you get, the better it is to write stuff down before you forget it. Unfortunately, I’m always finding old lists of things I meant to do stuffed in the pockets of my sports coats and gardening pants, things I somehow forgot to do. This is just another good reason to get rid of half my very nice sports coats. That way, I’ll probably only forget to do half the tasks I put on my daily list of things to do.


Salt • December 2017

In this spirit, I decided to revisit making a Christmas list since I was about 11. That year my buddies and I used to ride our bikes to the downtown Sears and Roebuck store to check out toys we wanted to see under the Christmas tree. I wanted a new Alamo set that year and a Redskins football jersey. Also to kiss Della Hockaday who rode my bus and lived just around the corner. She wouldn’t give me the time of day. But that’s an old story of youthful yearning and unrequited love. Back to my current pre-geezer Christmas List: Time. Don’t tell anyone, least of all my literary agent, but I have at least three novels half-written that I just can’t find the time to finish. I don’t know if the world needs to read my unfinished novels or not. I just know I need to someday finish writing them — though “someday” really has a scary way of creeping up on you. Time is the one thing that always seems to be in short supply, running out like the ink in your pen when you least expect it. I’d also like enough time to see my children settled down and happy with how their lives are working out. While I’m on the subject, wouldn’t mind being in the Grandpa Club some day. But no rush, Kids. Hopefully I still have a little time yet. Those new grandpas seem to have all the fun, though. Something spicy and blue. Thanks to several careers in writing, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel abroard a great deal, exploring faraway places I only dreamed or read about as a kid. Most of my wanderlust has been spent. But there still are a few places I’d like to go before I’m scattered among the wildflowers. One is the spice market and Blue Mosque of Istanbul. I can’t really tell you why — maybe because on an attempt to see the wonders of the ancient world with my 10-year-old son many years ago, we failed to reach Constantinople or explore the Holy Land. In a nice development, next summer that grown-up son — now a reporter for a famous newspaper in northern Maine — plans to marry a beautiful Palestinian Christian girl from Jaffa, Israel. The sacred sights of the Holy Land await. And just maybe, on the return leg, something spicy and blue in old Constantinople. Another rescue dog. Please don’t share this with my wife, but I’d love another rescue dog or two. Rescue dogs make the world a better place. They’re all about love and joy at finally having a home to call their own. Mine found me. The Art & Soul of Wilmington

My Pre-Geezer

Christ masList Wishing for the intangible

S i mple Her name is Mulligan. Best dog ever. I’ll cry like a baby when she’s gone. Then I’ll go get myself another rescue dog or two. A politician to admire. Frankly, I’m tired of the ones we have. All they do is bicker, call names and point nasty fingers at each other. If my mother were running this country, she’d send them all to their bedrooms without dessert until they could learn to speak with a civil tongue in their mouths. If you can’t tweet something nice, she would add, don’t tweet anything at all. We could sure use a guy like Thomas Jefferson or my mom for president. Tickle the ivories. Sure wish I could play the piano. Actually, I can play the piano. It just doesn’t sound like it. Looking back, I should have taken more than two weeks of lessons. You can probably put the blame directly on Della Hockaday. She was all I could think about the year my mom (see above) suggested I take piano lessons. The teacher smelled like moth balls so I quit and took up playing guitar, planning to become the next George Harrison. Sadly, Della wasn’t impressed. More Saturday mornings. Look, I could really use an extra Saturday morning. That’s when I get my errands and garden work done. While the world sleeps in, I get down and dirty. Thus I hereby propose a constitutional amendment introducing the four-day work week and renaming Friday “First Saturday.” Just imagine what we could all do if we had two Saturday mornings! An extra day for golf, gardening, sleeping in, reading a book, meeting a friend for lunch, writing a letter by hand, taking a walk with the dogs in the park, or just doing nothing but noticing what a beautiful world we’re briefly inhabiting. What’s Up, Doc? And since we’re on the subject, would someone please bring back those classic Bugs Bunny cartoons that once made Saturday morn-

L i fe ings so sublime – Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Foghorn Leghorn, Tweety and Sylvester, Yosemite Sam, Pepé Le Pew, the whole Looney Tunes gang. Sure loved those guys. They made the world a better place — or at least a whole lot funnier. We should all lighten up, especially the cartoon characters we’ve elected to public office. Besides, I have it on good authority that Tom Jefferson was a huge Rocky and Bullwinkle fan. A Revised Eleventh Commandment. Here’s a final thing I wish we could do: learn to listen to each other with a closed mouth and an open mind. During the years I wrote about life in Washington, D.C., Ronald Reagan publicly embraced an Eleventh Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.” I propose we update that to “Never speak ill of another American, even if they look or sound different from you.” We’re the most diverse nation on Earth, after all, made up of a polyglot of souls who mostly came from someplace else far, far away — yet a country constitutionally founded on the timeless principle of free exchange of ideas, civil discourse and respect for a neighbor’s opinions, even if we don’t agree. If we get to know that neighbor, we just might be reminded that far more unites than divides us. So there it is, neighbors, eight modest items on my pre-geezer Christmas Wish List. I can almost hear what you’re thinking — What a dreamer, pal. You must have sugar-plums dancing in your head. I suppose that’s true. But the older I get, the more I dream about such things, not unlike the way, long ago and far away, I wished for a new Alamo set and a kiss from Della Hockaday. One of those things, I can safely report, Santa delivered. In the mean time, can anyone use a very nice sports coat or two? b Contact Editor Jim Dodson at

Little luxuries for the home, cottage or castle

1425 Airlie Road, Wilmington • 910.256.5505 •


Salt • December 2017

The Art & Soul of Wilmington


Yuletide by Candlelight

The Latimer House (1852) has been home to the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society since 1963, and it’s a good place to start your evening for the organization’s 43rd annual Old Wilmington Candlelight Tour, which this year features 13 residences and institutions in downtown Wilmington, Carolina Heights and the Country Club Pines neighborhood. Among the highlights: the Beery House, now known as The Verandas; three houses of worship — the First Presbyterian Church, Temple of Israel and the Basilica Shrine of St. Mary — and the Dennis Hopper loft, which was featured in the September edition of Salt. Dec. 2, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Dec. 3, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Lower Cape Fear Historical Society, 126 S. Third St., Wilmington. For info and tickets:

Zuzu’s Petals

Holiday Time-Traveling

The holiday movie favorite It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) is a Capra family tradition — Frank Capra, its director, watched the film every year with his family. Wilmington’s Frank Capra Jr. would screen his father’s film every year at UNCW. It remains a Christmas classic to this day. This year the film will be screened on Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. at Thalian Hall, where you can also view Tony Rivenbark’s historic toy collection, on display for the occasion. Tickets: $10. Thalian Hall, 310 Chestnut St., Wilmington. For info:

The Bellamy Mansion Museum, BurgwinWright House and St. James Episcopal Church are teaming up for “A Christmas Stroll Through the Past,” a festive evening of period costumes, refreshments and music, as well as a petting zoo and other children’s activities. Tickets: $10-$20. Dec. 9, 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Bellamy Mansion Museum, 503 Market St., Wilmington. For info:


Salt • December 2017

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

Sounds of the Season

St. Paul’s Church is a wonderful place to hear Christmas music — the church has two magnificent pipe organs, one in the front and one in the galley. “Coastal Carolina Christmas” (Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.) will feature the choir of St. Paul’s and the Wilmington Boys Choir performing the “Ceremony of Carols,” by Benjamin Britten, and “Dancing Day,” by John Rutter, followed by Champagne and chocolates. On Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. the choir of St. Paul’s and the North Carolina Baroque Orchestra will perform Handel’s Messiah. And on Dec. 22 at 7:30 p.m., the choir will perform a selection of Christmas carols and seasonal music. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 16 North 16th St., Wilmington. For info and tickets:

A Victorian Christmas

Fort Fisher State Historic Site will host its Victorian Christmas Open House on Dec. 5. In addition to an appearance by Father Christmas (to use the Victorian parlance), there will be a number of musical guests, including the Murray Middle School Jazz Band, and John Bennett and Masonboro Parlor, a group specializing in 18th- and 19th-century period music. Seasonal refreshments will be served and if that isn’t enticement enough, the event is also a great opportunity to get a gift for the history buff on your list — the museum store will offer 20 percent discounts. Admission is free. Fort Fisher State Historic Site, 1000 Loggerhead Road, Kure Beach. For more information:

Macy’s or Bust

Have a yen to see the Rockettes Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall? Sit on Santa’s lap at Macy’s? Cape Fear Coach Lines is offering a Christmas in New York Experience the weekends of Dec. 1 to 3 and Dec. 6 to 8. Buses depart at 8:30 p.m. Friday and arrive at Macy’s in Herald Square in the morning. You then have 14 hours to shop till you drop (or go out for a fancy French Yuletide lunch). Buses depart New York at 11 p.m. Saturday to return to Wilmington the following morning. Tickets: $147-$178. Cape Fear Coach Lines, 6301 Market St., Wilmington. For info and tickets:

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

Ring In the New

TheatreNOW presents “Bacchanalia!”, its decadent New Year’s Eve extravaganza featuring live music, comedy, fire and aerial performers, all accompanied by a multi-course tasting menu and Champagne toast at the witching hour. Tickets: $90/$170 per couple. Dec. 31 at 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. TheatreNOW, 19 S. 10th St., Wilmington. For tickets and info:

December 2017 •





W I L M I N GT O N 8 1 8 S O U T H C O L L E G E R O A D 9 1 0 . 7 9 9 . 5 5 3 3 Ask a designer or visit for details. Sale going on for a limited time.

©2017 Ethan Allen Global, Inc.

Open: Friday’s 10:00 - 6:00 Saturday’s 10:00 - 3:00

4th Friday Gallery Walk December 22nd 6:00 - 9:00

Like the Nautilus, a Symbol of Expansion & Renewal, theArtWorks™ Will Grow Logarithmically.

Shop Original Art for Christmas!

Mark Gansor

Kirstin O’Malley

Sarah Horak

Perry Smith Barton Hatcher

Alice Corl

Janet B. Sessoms

Laura Kalina

Sue Cunningham Lauren Rogers

Performance & Lessons

Elena Wright

Pat Pinter

Charlie McGee


Just a Sample of theArtWorks™ William Marr


Elizabeth Desmond

Janet Johnson

200 Willard Street Wilmington, NC 28401

100 Years 5Generations 1 Name

From Our Family to Yours for 100 Years From Christmas dinners to firstday-of-school breakfasts — and all the little moments in between — we’re proud to be a part of your family tradition. Try Neese’s and you’ll see why we’ve been the sausage of choice for a century.

C a p e

F e a r

B o o k s h e l f

A Well-Read Holiday From food to design, a book for every taste

By William Irvine

A selection of great new titles for

anyone on your gift list:

Wrightsville Beach: The Luminous Island, by Ray McAllister (John F. Blair, $23) The 10th anniversary edition of this fascinating and essential book, which won an award from the North Carolina Society of Historians.

How They Decorated, by P. Gaye Tapp (Rizzoli, $55) Tapp looks at 17 icons of style — from fashion designer Pauline Trigère to artist Georgia O’Keeffe — and their elegant way of life. North Carolina’s Barrier Islands: Wonders of Sand, Sea and Sky, by David Blevins (UNC Press, $35) Blevins’s stunning photographs capture the beautiful diversity of the North Carolina coast.

The Last Castle, by Denise Kiernan (Touchstone, $28) This riveting history of the Vanderbilts and Biltmore is like time travel to the Gilded Age.

Reynolda: Her Muses, Her Stories, by David Park Curry and Martha R. Severens (UNC Press, $60) A beautiful new volume — part history, part memoir — celebrates the 50th anniversary of Reynolda House Museum of American Art.

The Comfort Food Diaries, by Emily Nunn (Atria Books, $26) A former New Yorker editor’s beautiful, heartbreaking story of love, loss and coming to terms with her dysfunctional Southern family is interwoven with terrific recipes.

Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites, by Deb Perelman (Knopf/Doubleday, $35) A relaxed approach to family dinner with delicious recipes from the noted blogger and cookbook author.

The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South, by John T. Edge (Penguin Press, $28) A richly textured history of the food and culture of the South by the director of the Southern Foodways Alliance.

Private Italian Gardens, by Paolo Pejrone (Rizzoli, $45) Thirteen spectacular gardens from the Piedmont to the Italian Riviera by renowned Italian landscape designer Paolo Pejrone. b

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

December 2017 •



O m n i v o r o u s

r e a d e r

A Carolina Classic Revisiting Cold Mountain

By D.G. Martin

Charles Frazier’s classic

novel, Cold Mountain, was published 20 years ago and more than three million copies have been sold. The book inspired a popular epic film and an opera staged in Chapel Hill in September. As North Carolina’s most admired work of literary fiction since, perhaps, Look Homeward Angel, it should be on the bookshelf of every home in our state.

The book’s great success has made its story and its characters familiar and memorable. When the name of Inman is mentioned, we think of a tired, warworn, wounded Civil War soldier walking across the Piedmont and foothills determined to make his way back home to Cold Mountain and to Ada, the lovely Charleston-reared Ada, whom he hardly knows, but deeply loves. She is out of place, struggling, and starving on a mountain farm. Ruby, an uneducated mountain girl, full of energy and grit, rescues and restores Ada and the farm, where the two women await Inman’s poignant return and the accompanying tragedy. As in Homer’s Odyssey, the returning soldier’s travel toward home provides the framework for a series of adventures and contacts with a variety of compelling characters. The book opens with the battle-wounded Inman recovering in a Confederate hospital in Raleigh. Outside the hospital a blind man is selling boiled peanuts. When Inman asks what he would give for just a few minutes of sight, the peanut man replies, “Not an Indian head penny.” He explains there are things he would never want to see. Inman understands, because he remembers vividly the horrors of war and the battles he experienced and wishes he had never seen them. As Inman’s condition improves, he resolves to desert, leave the hospital, and begin his walk toward Cold Mountain. Not long after his trek begins, in the woods near a river, he sees a fallen preacher bent on killing a woman he has impregnated. Inman rescues the woman and brutally punishes the preacher. Soon afterwards, he encounters and angers some armed and dangerous locals. They follow him to a river crossing. As he canoes across the swollen river they fire a barrage of bullets that destroy the canoe and almost kill him. After Inman’s escape, he meets a deceitful redneck named Junior, a farmer


Salt • December 2017

and bawdyhouse keeper, who drugs Inman and sells him out to the Home Guard. After marching its prisoners in chains for several days, the Home Guard loses patience and executes its captives. Inman survives miraculously and goes on the road again, but only after returning to extract vicious revenge on Junior, whom he finds salting ham in his smokehouse. Frazier describes the brutal details. “Junior raised up his face and looked at him but seemed not to recognize him. Inman stepped to Junior and struck him across the ear with the barrel of the LeMat’s and then clubbed at him with the butt until he lay flat on his back. There was no movement out of him but for the bright flow of blood which ran from his nose and cuts to his head and the corners of his eyes. It gathered and pooled on the black earth of the smokehouse floor.” The fight with Junior is only the beginning. Along the way to Cold Mountain are encounters at every stop, many of them bloody. Inman’s travel home, like the Civil War battlefields, is marked by violence and death. Frazier writes, “He could not even make a start at reckoning up how many deaths he had witnessed of late. It would number, no doubt, in the thousands. Accomplished in every custom you could imagine, and some you couldn’t come up with if you thought at it for days. He had grown so used to seeing death, walking among the dead, sleeping among them, numbering himself calmly as among the near-dead, that it seemed no longer dark and mysterious.” But Inman has another, softer side. He loves nature and carries with him Bartram’s Travels, William Bartram’s description of his travels in the American South in the 1770s. In Inman’s view, “the book stood nigh to holiness and was of such richness that one might dip into it at random and read only one sentence and yet be sure of finding instruction and delight.” Bartram’s description of a mountain scene that reminded Inman of Cold Mountain was his favorite selection. “Having gained its summit, we enjoyed a most enchanting view; a vast expanse of green meadows and strawberry fields . . . companies of young, innocent Cherokee virgins, some busy gathering the rich fragrant fruit, others having already filled their baskets, lay reclined under the shade of floriferous and fragrant native bowers of Magnolia, Azalea, Philadelphus, perfumed Calycanthus, sweet Yellow Jessamine and cerulean Glycine frutescens, disclosing their beauties to the fluttering breeze, and bathing their limbs in the cool fleeting streams; whilst other parties, more gay and libertine, were yet collecting strawberries, or wantonly chasing their companions, tantalising them, staining their lips and cheeks with the rich fruit.” When Inman read this passage aloud to Ada at their reunion, “he could The Art & Soul of Wilmington

O m n i v o r o u s r e a d e r not wait to reach its period for all it seemed to be about was sex, and it caused his voice to crack and threatened to flush his face.” Alternating with the chapters describing Inman’s travels are reports of Ada’s and Ruby’s growing friendship and success in managing the farm together. The superstitious Ruby gives us a picture of farm life 150 years ago. Frazier writes, “The crops were growing well, largely, Ruby claimed, because they had been planted, at her insistence, in strict accordance with the signs. In Ruby’s mind, everything — setting fence posts, making sauerkraut, killing hogs — fell under the rule of the heavens . . . November, will kill a hog in the growing of the moon, for if we don’t the meat will lack grease and pork chops will cup up in the pan.” Inman finally makes his way back to Cold Mountain. His homecoming and reunion with Ada are joyful, but short lived, as Inman dies in a firefight with the Home Guard. Giving away the closing is not a spoiler. After 20 years in print, the book’s ending is no secret. But people still ask Frazier, why didn’t you let Inman live and make a happy ending? Frazier explained to me that the real Pinkney Inman died in a gunfight with the Home Guard. Therefore, he said, “having that knowledge in my mind, I wrote the character to go with that ending without really fully accepting it. But at that point, where I had to decide, then I realized, it’s going to feel fake if I come up with a way for him to survive this.” Frazier continued, “I got to the point toward the end of the book where I had to decide. And I drove all the way from Raleigh up to Haywood County. There’s a cemetery there, in a little town called Clyde, where Pinkney Inman is buried, but there’s not a marker. And I just walked around, looked at the view, and I just thought, you know, there’s only one way to end this, that I knew what happened from the first page of writing this book, to the real character, and it’s built in.” Frazier’s decision resulted in the classic that has stood the test of time. Reading it cover to cover is still a moving experience. But also, like Bartram’s Travels for Inman, we can pick up Cold Mountain and “read only one sentence and yet be sure of finding instruction and delight.” b Charles Frazier tells much more about Cold Mountain and his experiences writing the book in his interview on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch at: video/3004954333/ D.G. Martin hosts North Carolina Bookwatch, which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. The Art & Soul of Wilmington

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December 2017 •




Salt • December 2017

The Art & Soul of Wilmington


W r i t e r ’ s

L i f e

Have Yourselfie a Merry Little Christmas In search of a family tradition

By Wiley Cash

Our oldest daughter was only 2 months

old the first time we made her cry while showing her the importance of family traditions. It was a chilly late afternoon on the day after Thanksgiving in 2014, and my wife and I had already unloaded all the Christmas decorations from the attic while our daughter napped. Now we sat on the living room sofa in nervous silence, watching the daylight slip away and wondering if we should dare commit the cardinal sin of waking a sleeping baby. After all, we were going to get our first Christmas tree as a family, and we needed high-quality photos to prove that a tradition had been forged. I cannot quite remember what my wife or I were wearing, but in my memory it seems that we were decked out in our winter, Christmas tree-searching finery. I picture myself in a red flannel shirt with one of those leather hats with the flaps folded down over my ears, and I imagine my wife was wearing a cream-colored sweater with a beret that matched, but these are just bits of speculation. I do, however, remember our daughter’s outfit, can still picture it where it was laid out on the coffee table: a white onesie with a Cubist-inspired Christmas tree on it and, of course, a tiny red Santa hat that we planned to perch perfectly atop her bald baby head. At the first sound of her stirring, we flew upstairs. We slipped her out of her non-holiday clothes and into the Christmas tree onesie with ease, but we hit a serious speed bump once the Santa hat was installed on her head. She shook it loose, and when we put it back on she actually reached for it and

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removed it. My wife did her best to distract our daughter while I fumbled with the tripod so we could snap a few casual photos in front of our garlanded, lit fireplace before setting out in search of a tree. By the time the camera was ready, our daughter was in tears. The photos show our strained faces, her tearstained cheeks and a tiny Santa hat that is alternately atop her head, in midair as it falls toward the floor, then absent altogether. With dusk coming on and our normally relaxed newborn newly fitful, we made a dash for the closest Christmas tree lot we could find, which, unfortunately, sat on a narrow strip of grass between the fire department and a busy road. The sun had sunk below the tree line and an icy chill had settled over the late afternoon by the time we arrived at the lot. We immediately set about the task of having and photographing our tree-hunting experience instead of actually hunting for a tree. Our daughter showed no more interest in wearing her Santa hat than she had shown at home, and the cars and trucks that sped past us only a few feet away did not assist us in our attempts to keep the hat on her head. However, what the speeding automobiles did do well was force the cold air deep into our eyes so that tears streamed down all our faces. After we had taken all the pictures the three of us could stand — none of which actually featured the three of us together — we realized that we had not yet spent a moment considering any trees on the lot. We made a hasty selection, tied a tree to the top of the car and headed home. We got the tree inside and set it up in its stand, but we did not decorate it that evening. We did not decorate it the next day either. Perhaps we were not yet in the Christmas spirit. Perhaps we were busy decorating other parts of the house. But what is most likely is that we were silently pouting due to the fact that the experience of getting the tree had not been captured in a way that felt sufficient to memorialize it as a family tradition. A few nights later, after an early dinner, I found my wife going through a box of ornaments. Many of them had been given to us while we were dating or during the first year of our marriage. We considered each ornament, talked about the people who had given it to us, recalled the first Christmas tree we December 2017 •




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decorated as a couple when we were living in the northern panhandle of West Virginia in 2009. That year, my wife had come home late from work, and snow had begun to fall. It was early December, and there was already a thin layer of snow on the ground. Both of us being Southerners, we were excited by the idea of getting a Christmas tree in the falling snow. Although we had not yet unpacked ornaments or even considered decorating our tiny apartment, we set out on the dark, snow-covered roads that wound through our mountain village and headed for the small town of Wellsburg, where it sits on the banks of the Ohio River. The only Christmas trees we could find were in the parking lot of a Rite-Aid, and there were only a few trees available. But we took our time, imagining each one crammed inside our living room in front of the window that looked out on the main street of the village. We talked about how high our ceiling was, what kind of tree topper we would buy, which ornaments would hang where. The snow kept falling, and I have vivid memories of seeing flakes caught in my wife’s dark hair. I can remember reaching out and touching the pine boughs on the various trees where the soft snow had settled. We finally agreed on a short, fat tree, and as we paid for it and loaded it onto the roof of our car we discovered that the owner of the tree lot knew some friends of ours. We had only recently moved to West Virginia, and we were thrilled by the knowledge that we had just met someone who was friends with our friends. We felt like we belonged in this distant place that was so far from our lives back home in North Carolina. We were forging a life together. Five years later we stood in a new house with a new baby and looked through old ornaments. I opened a few boxes of lights and began snaking them through the tree. We made a fire and hung our old ornaments one by one. We were so caught up in our decorating that we did not notice that our daughter had fallen asleep on the little pillow where she often rested, the light from the fire and the light from the tree causing her soft baby face to glow. I looked at my wife. She reached for her cellphone, and I reached for our daughter’s tiny Santa hat and, as carefully as I could, placed it on her head. We knelt behind her, gazed down upon her with all the love one could ever feel for such a sweet, innocent thing. And then we looked up at my wife’s cellphone and snapped a selfie. That night, I knew that we were a family with a Christmas tradition. But I also knew something else: We always had been. b Wiley Cash lives in Wilmington with his wife and their two daughters. His new novel The Last Ballad is available wherever books are sold. The Art & Soul of Wilmington

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Salt • December 2017

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Salt • December 2017

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

G a l l e r y

Local Holiday Favorites 2017

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Salt • December 2017

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Food for the Soul God talk and divine crepes on Front Street

By Dana Sachs

Photographs by Andrew Sherman

At Betsy’s Crepes on Front Street, Vic

Frederiksen and I start talking about God. Vic serves as priest of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church downtown, so God is his business. Somehow, though, I didn’t expect to talk about God. I expected to hear the history of his church, which is old (148 this year) and gorgeous (hand-carved wood, no nails in the ceiling, all dovetail joints) and home to one of Wilmington’s most storied congregations. I also wanted to hear what it’s like for Vic, who is white, to lead a predominantly African-American church, as he has been doing for the past 11 years. But, first, God. People who go to church, Vic tells me, are “looking for God. They want to find God and they want to be found by God.” Episcopalians, he explains, find the “real presence of Christ” through the Sunday sacrament of bread and wine. “It’s a mystery. We don’t know how it happens, but it strengthens us and provides us spiritual direction.” Catholics and Methodists also take the sacrament, he adds, but regard it in different ways. Catholics describe the sacrament

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as literally consuming the blood and the body; Methodists conceive of the ritual symbolically, as a memory of the blood and the body recalling the Last Supper. Episcopalians fall somewhere in between, believing that the taking of the sacrament transforms bread and wine into the blood and the body of their Lord. I find these distinctions interesting, but Vic is less concerned with differences than with similarities — not just among people who take the sacrament, but also between people of all religions. “I believe that everybody is searching for God,” he says. “They may not be looking through the same window, but they see the same thing.” This conviction about the things that connect us as human beings may, at its core, explain why Vic has successfully led a black congregation for so many years. “I don’t even see color,” he says, but he’s also fully aware that, as a white man, “I don’t presume to speak for the black experience.” Talking with his parishioners, he’ll sometimes say, “You’re going to have to help me understand it.” Vic came to St. Mark’s following a career as both a congregational priest and a chaplain. For nine years, he served at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where his chaplaincy brought him into contact with very sick children and their families. “My first day,” he tells me, “I lost four kids.” And that was typical. He regularly had to help parents making excruciating decisions. Some, in agony, would turn to him and ask, “Is God going to agree?” “I don’t know,” he’d answer, “but whichever way you go, God is with you.” Over time, Vic came to see life itself as being intimately connected to Christianity. He regards the Pascal Mystery — the story of Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, entombment and resurrection — as, at its core, the story of the human experience. Trauma — be it grief, illness, addiction, divorce — is itself a crucifixDecember 2017 •



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ion. “It’s not a question of whether you’re crucified, but when you’re crucified. Something has to die. Without death, there is no life.” At the children’s hospital, Vic tells me, “There was never a day when I left and I’d say that it didn’t matter.” The experience, however, wore him down. One day, while trying to minister to a very sick child, he realized he “felt nothing at all.” He saw the lack of feeling as a sign that “I couldn’t do it anymore.” He resigned the chaplaincy and returned to congregational work, ending up at St. Mark’s in 2006. Once quite large, St. Mark’s is now a small, tight-knit community of about 100 members. Vic says that “most of them now are, like me, gray-haired, on fixed incomes, don’t like to drive at night.” They are also deeply committed to social justice. After a white supremacist murdered nine people at Charleston’s Emanuel A.M.E. Church in 2015, St. Mark’s held a vigil for the entire Wilmington community. Members volunteer in assisting teachers at a local elementary school. And, when they cook for homeless people, congregants and their guests sit down and enjoy the meal together. Food plays a big role in the life of the church. After funeral services, the congregation holds a “repast” for everyone attending and, Vic tells me, “the food just keeps coming out. Rice and gravy, turkey wings, fried chicken, black-eyed peas. We’ve got cobblers. We’ve got butter beans.” Early on during his time at St. Mark’s, Vic proved himself to be such a fan of Southern slow-cooked vegetables that one of his parishioners told him, “We knew you were all right when you went for the greens.” At Betsy’s, he goes for everything. We start with a Parfait Crepe — tart yogurt hidden within a crepe topped by blueberries, strawberries, banana slices and a The Art & Soul of Wilmington

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crumble of granola. “Beautifully done,” Vic says. He starts to put his fork down, then changes his mind. “Stay with this one,” he tells me. Betsy’s crepes play with texture and color in unusual ways. The La Turquie, for example, contains chopped turkey and bacon, sautéed onion, tomato and chunks of feta. A dollop of pine-nut-speckled pesto covers the crepe, creating an unexpected combination of flavors that, somehow, remain sharp and distinct. Similarly, the dessert crepe Le Sweet Gabby is filled with melted Brie, a robust cheese that balances the sweetness of strawberries, brown sugar and honey. At St. Mark’s, Vic regularly performs a Healing Service at which parishioners come forward looking for solace and healing. “What do you want me to pray for?” the priest will ask before anointing foreheads with oil, the “Christmation” ritual that he calls “an outward and invisible sign of an inward and spiritual

grace.” It’s a kind of spiritual medicine — “no magic, but mystery,” he says. In the end, Vic’s path makes room for both the sublime and the practical: the divine strawberry and the earthy Brie. After his Healing Service, he makes clear, for example, that religious worship does not replace good medical care. “Now go home,” he’ll tell his parishioners, “and take your insulin.” b Mark’s Episcopal Church is located at 600 Grace Street in Wilmington. For more information, call (910) 763-3292. Dana Sachs’s latest novel, The Secret of the Nightingale Palace, is available at bookstores, online and throughout Wilmington.

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December 2017 •



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Roses in Winter

Now’s the time to plan and take a plunge into the flower of love

Winchester Cathedral. David Austin By Anne Barnhill

Photographs by Denise H. Miller and her garden

Roses, the flowers of love, have

permeated our culture with a sweet perfume. We look through rose-colored glasses, we speak of thorny issues, and we send roses to our loved ones for every occasion from birth to death. There’s clearly something about a rose that intrigues and delights us. The Wilmington Cape Fear Rose Society, founded in 2003, understands our love for this most symbolic bloom.

“I’ve always had roses. I spent 20 years in the Navy and then lived in D.C. We had roses there and won yard of the year,” says Bill Hartzell, president and founder of the society. “When we moved to Wilmington, all I heard was, ‘Don’t try to grow roses!’ Well, of course I took that as a challenge and wanted to prove the naysayers wrong. So, my wife and I looked for a rose society. The closest one we found was in New Bern. We joined.” That dire warning — Don’t Try Roses Here — is ubiquitous. I heard the advice myself when I first moved to the coast. But as Denise Miller, treasurer and founding member, explains, “We have lots of humidity, which means you have to fight black spot. But you can spray. You can’t go all organic in Wilmington. I spray about every two weeks. You can grow roses here — but it takes a lot of work.”

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Both Miller and Hartzell suggest keeping a calendar regarding spraying and fertilizing (another must for this area) in order to keep from doing too little or too much. Hartzell and his wife, Patti, were happy to drive to New Bern for rose events, but eventually, that society wilted. Hartzell decided to check into the possibility of starting a rose society in Wilmington. He contacted the American Rose Society and discovered that Wilmington used to have a chapter. He got the names of former members and sent out letters to see if he could generate some interest. His wife put signs up in the local garden stores, and that’s where Miller first discovered Hartzell’s efforts. She was hooked right away. What exactly does a rose society do? More than you might expect. In October, they host a rose exhibition here in Wilmington. It’s called an exhibition rather than a show because the society doesn’t “strictly adhere to the American Rose Society’s rules,” according to Hartzell. “We want people to show up and we want to award prizes — we even Dr. John Dickman. Miniflora have our own judges, Bob December 2017 •



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and Linda Knerr. Before they sold their home in Virginia to come here, they had 350 rose bushes!” he says. In addition to the exhibition, the society holds a fundraiser from November to January where they sell organic soil, rich with such things as bone meal, Gathered 3304-A Wrightsville Ave. 910.769.7318 Tue-Fri: 9-5 Sat: 10-3

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Lady Elsie May. Shrub Rose blood meal, fish meal called osmocote, at a bargain price. Other annual events include a Christmas brunch, a rose tour and an August picnic. The Rose Society donates a portion of its proceeds to the Ability Garden at the Arboretum, a garden designed for the disabled. They also contribute a scholarship to the Cape Fear Horticulture program. But which kind of roses should you grow? Many roses have poetic names — Lady Banks, Moonstone, Queen of Sweden, Double Delight, The Fairy — while others are named after people

French Lace. Floribunda — Queen Elizabeth or Mr. Lincoln. Decisions, decisions! There are so many types to choose from: “There’s the hybrid tea rose, which is a rose that has been hybridized to pick up a certain quality, bred with the tea rose. These will have a single bloom on a high stem. And there are floribunda roses, which have more than one blossom per stem. You also have climbing roses and miniatures,” says Hartzell. Other varieties include the old garden roses — roses that originated prior to 1867 — shrub roses and even tree roses. The Wilmington Cape Fear Rose Society is always willing to help beginning rose gardeners. Members often speak to local garden clubs, 40

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OPENING JANUARY 2018! #RenaissanceExperience


Sexy Rexy. Floribunda and if you need more professional help, they can recommend rose experts. “Witherspoon Roses in Durham can help you get started, if you have an interest,” says Hartzell. “For years, I avoided roses like the plague, even though my grandfather and my mother grew them,” says Miller. “I’d always heard roses were a challenge and finally, I rose to the challenge.” Now Miller is a square-foot gardener, who places six rose bushes in a 4-foot-square bed. “I have an old-fashioned rose from my grandfather,” she says. Imagine — a living inheritance. There’s another possible hindrance to growing roses on the Carolina coast besides the humidity and heat — hurricanes. Do these storms affect sturdy roses? “Absolutely,” says Hartzell. “A hurri-

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Melody Parfumee’. Grandiflora cane can strip off leaves from a plant and can also loosen the roots. The roses aren’t as pretty this year because of Hurricane Matthew.” However, both Hartzell and Miller agree that such a fear should not deter the potential rose gardener. And the society is always looking for new members. “All ages are welcome, and we’ll help you on your way,” says Hartzell. Besides producing beautiful flowers, there are CVW12.2017salt.indd 1

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This year, give yourself the gift worth waiting for:


Queen of Sweden. David Austin other benefits to rose gardening. Harzell is confident that his gardening keeps him spry. Miller, a physical therapist, seconds that philosophy: “Digging in the dirt is good for the soul.”

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Perfume Delight. Hybrid Tea TIPS FOR GROWING ROSES • Roses need at least six hours of sun per day. • For a normal summer, water once a week. In extremely dry weather, water three times per week. • Prepare the soil by digging three shovelfuls. Throw two away. Use the remaining dirt to mix with compost and other soil conditioners. Be sure there is lots of organic stuff in the soil. • Be sure the roses have good drainage. • Trim roses in February or when the forsythia blooms. • Cut stems at an angle so that the rain runs off the stem. b For more information on membership in the Wilmington Cape Fear Rose Society and to order organic soil, go to Anne Barnhill’s latest novel, The Beautician’s Notebook, set on the North Carolina coast, was published earlier this year. 42

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Christmas Cookies Bet you can’t just eat one

By Hope Cusick

Holiday traditions are enhanced with a

variety of cookies, bars and other delights for Christmas. Of course, everyone has a favorite recipe that has been passed down through the generations as a family treasure. These buttery delights are great gifts to share with family, friends, guests and colleagues.

Use the best-quality ingredients that you can afford. When a recipe calls for softened butter, don’t let the butter get too soft or the dough will not hold its shape. In many cases, refrigerating the cookie dough overnight will add more flavor and make the dough more pliable; even freezing the dough for a few days enhances it. Ingredients should be fresh. Buy new unbleached all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla and other spices. Cookie dough may be made days or weeks in advance and frozen before using. For drop-cookie dough, form the dough into balls and freeze on a pan, then place in plastic freezer bags. These balls can be baked from the frozen stage by adding a few minutes to the baking time. A few more tips: Over-mixing cookie dough will make the cookies tough and hard. Be sure to follow the recipe exactly as stated. Using parchment paper for the cookie sheets helps to remove cookies easily without breaking off the lightly browned edges. Use a sturdy cookie sheet pan to bake on. Be sure not to let the parchment paper overlap the pan’s edges; cut the paper to fit the pan because paper edges may cause a fire in the oven. Put cookie dough on cold cookie sheets so cookies won’t spread and lose their shape. Bake on single cookie sheets in middle of oven. Remove cookies from the oven before they are completely done. They continue to cook for 3 to 5 minutes after they are removed from the oven. When cookies are slightly golden on the edges is the best time to take them out of the oven. Hope’s Chocolate Chip Cookies Makes 4 dozen cookies 1/2 cup butter 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/4 cup brown sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla

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1 egg 1 cup unbleached flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup chocolate chips 1/2 cup chopped pecans With an electric mixer beat butter, sugars, vanilla and egg until light and fluffy. Add dry ingredients and blend well. With a spoon, stir in chocolate chips and chopped pecans. Drop from a teaspoon onto ungreased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Here is a special treat that you can give as a gift to anyone on your holiday list. I use a one-quart jar (recycled tomato sauce jars work great). Put a label on the front, type directions on a tag and tie to the ribbon, put a piece of cloth over the top cover, and tie a holiday colorful ribbon around the neck of the jar. Voilà, one perfect and easy-to-do gift. Gingerbread Cookie Mix in a Jar

3 1/2 cups unbleached flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 2 teaspoons ground ginger 1 teaspoon ground cloves, optional 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground allspice 1 cup packed brown sugar 1 gingerbread boy-shaped cookie cutter In a clean one-quart jar, layer the ingredients, pressing each layer down firmly. Mix baking powder and baking soda together with the flour. Put in half of the flour. Add the spices and the remaining flour. Add the brown sugar last. Tie a ribbon around the top of the jar and attach the cookie cutter and the directions to the jar. Directions: Empty jar of cookie mix into large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly. Mix in 1/2 (one half) cup softened butter, 3/4 (three quarters) cup molasses and 2 eggs. Mix until completely blended. Cover and refrigerate 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes. Place cookies on lightly greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 10 to 15 minutes. Decorate with icing. December 2017 •



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910.791.7911 | 3317 Masonboro Loop Road, Suite 140 Wilmington, NC 28409

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies 2/3 cup butter, softened 2/3 cup brown sugar 2 large eggs 1 1/2cups old-fashioned oats 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 pinch of salt 1 6-ounce package dried cranberries 2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips Preheat oven to 375 degrees. With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. In another bowl combine oats, flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks, mix well. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Cranberry and Pecan Delight Cookies



Gingerbread and cinnamon with a touch of white chocolate topped with house made whipped cream





Salt • December 2017

Makes 3 dozen cookies 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 cup olive oil 1/4 cup butter, melted (1/2 stick) 1/2 cup fresh orange juice 1 large egg, room temperature 1 cup dried cranberries 1/2 cup chopped pecans 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange rind or zest

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray nonstick cooking spray on 3 baking sheets. In a bowl whisk together flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Set aside. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat olive oil, butter and orange juice on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Beat in egg. At low speed, beat in the flour mixture, just until blended. Fold in cranberries, pecans and orange rind. Beat for 1 minute. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until firm and golden around the edges. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

f o o d

f o r

t h o u g h t

Drop by spoonfuls of dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until golden. Let cool a few minutes on baking sheet before removing to wire rack.

Gluten-Free Oatmeal-Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 2 dozen cookies I like to make these a big cookie by using tablespoonfuls of dough or more. White chocolate chips may be substituted. 1/4 cup butter, softened 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter 1 cup brown sugar, packed 1 large egg 1 large egg white 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 cups rolled oats 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 Pinch of salt 1/2 cup chocolate chips 1/4 cup mini-chocolate pieces, like M & M’s

Flourless Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies Makes 2 dozen cookies 1 cup creamy peanut butter 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1 large egg 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 pinch of salt 1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels Parchment paper Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix together with an electric mixer the butter and peanut butter. Add brown sugar, egg, egg white and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth. In another bowl mix together oats, baking soda and salt. Add this to peanut butter mixture. Fold in chocolate chips and chocolate pieces and mix well.

In a bowl stir together peanut butter, sugar, egg, baking soda, and salt until well blended. Stir in chocolate morsels. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 12 to 14 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Helpful hint: When portioning dough, spray your tablespoon with cooking spray for easy release onto baking sheets.

Mexican Wedding Cakes

Makes 54 cookies Recipe by Janet Niederberger 2 cups flour 2 cups pecans, chopped fine 1/2 cup powdered sugar 1 pinch of salt 2 teaspoons vanilla 1 cup butter, softened and cut up Additional powdered sugar, for finish Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, pecans, powdered sugar and salt. Stir in vanilla. With pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Gently knead dough until it begins to hold together. Roll dough into 3/4-inch balls and place 1 1/2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes on wire rack, then roll in powdered sugar and cool completely. Roll in additional sugar before serving. b Hope Cusick is a prize-winning cook and a poet.

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December 2017 •



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Salt • December 2017

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Brown-Headed Nuthatch One of our smallest local breeding birds

By Susan Campbell

If you have ever heard the sound

of what seems to be a squeaky toy emanating from the treetops here along the coast, you may have had an encounter with a brown-headed nuthatch. This bird’s small size and active lifestyle make it a challenge to spot, but once you know what to look and listen for, you will realize it is a common year-round resident throughout our state’s piney woods.

Brown-headeds are about 4 inches long with gray backs, white bellies and as the name suggests, brown heads. And in this species, males are indistinguishable from females. Their coloration creates perfect camouflage against the tree branches that the birds can be found foraging on, in search of seeds and insects. Their oversized bill allows them to pry open a variety of seeds as well as pine cones and dig deep in the cracks of tree bark for grubs. By virtue of their strong feet and sharp claws, brown-headed nuthatches are capable of crawling head-first down the trunk of trees as easily as going up. Although they do not sing, these birds have a distinctive two-syllable squeak, which they may roll together if they are especially excited. Brown-headed nuthatches do take advantage of feeders. One of the best places to view them is the feeding stations at either Fort Fisher or Carolina Beach State Park. They are probably the most common visitor on any day of the year. Brown-headeds frequent both the sunflower seed feeders and suet from dawn until dusk. They are very accustomed to people, so viewing at close range is possible — as are fantastic photo opportunities, particularly in the colder months. This species is one of our area’s smallest breeding birds. It is a nonmigratory resident, living as a family group for most of the year. Unlike its cousin, the white-breasted nuthatch, which can be found across the state, the brown-headed is a bird of the mature pine forest. Brown-headeds are

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

endemic to the southeastern United States, from coastal Virginia through most of Florida and west to the eastern edge of Texas. Their range actually covers the historic reaches of the longleaf pine. However, in the absence of the longleaf, this little bird has switched to using other species of pine, such as loblolly and Virginia pine. Brown-headed nuthatches are capable of excavating their own nest hole in small dead trees in early spring. But because so few of the appropriate sized trees are available (due to humans tidying up the landscape), nuthatches have taken to using nest boxes in recent years. However, unless the hole is small enough to exclude larger birds such as bluebirds, they may be outcompeted for the space. For this reason the species is now one of concern across the Southeast, with populations in decline. In addition to reductions in breeding productivity, logging, fire suppression and forest fragmentation are causing significant challenges for this feisty little bird. For these reasons, in 2015 Audubon North Carolina launched an endeavor to encourage homeowners in brown-headed nuthatch habitats to add a nest box or two to give them a hand. Not surprisingly, it took less than a year to add 10,000 new boxes across the state. One of the most unexpected finds from long-term research on this species has been that “helper males” have been documented assisting parents with raising subsequent generations. Without unoccupied territory nearby, young males may consciously be choosing to stay with their parents in hopes that they may inherit their father’s breeding area over time. If this approach sounds at all familiar to bird enthusiasts in our region, it should! This is akin to the strategy of the red-cockaded woodpecker, another wellknown, albeit less abundant, inhabitant of southeastern pine forests. Regardless, brown-headed nuthatches are one of the most charismatic bird species in our area. Their fearlessness and unique vocalizations endear them to so many, even those who are not self prescribed birdwatchers. Just about anyone who cocks an ear to their squeaky calls and catches a glimpse of these squatty characters cannot help but become enamored by these very special little birds that call the North Carolina pines home. b Susan would love to receive your wildlife sightings and photos at December 2017 •




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The Art & Soul of Wilmington

December 2017


December orphans the dove permits growing pains flight whispers this is why you fought —

in a wrap of bright cerements weans solstice with a mutter and a kiss bestows sparkle to ruined promises.

December lends diamonds spins a symphony in crackling trees waltzes us to the whistle of sleet —

seizes the ripple in my weary stream warns a feral life knows no end argues reasons to abridge the verdict.

December chaperons chill points out the joy in an ashen sky bends all light across the gaunt branch —

she liquors my lips with her tongue allows secrets loosed on a smile re-pours the bitter vintage till it is gone.

December is a confession knocking down the tell-tale curtain promising weakness will set you free —

directs congealed communions palming our dead leaves as wafers proffers intinction in a frosty spirit and glazes gravestones so I can sleep.

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

— Sam Barbee

December 2017 •



The Joy of Jonkonnu History with a beat


By Kevin Maurer • Photographs courtesy of Bellamy Mansion Museum

he first time Keith McClease picked up the “gumba box,” he felt something. An energy. Spirits, maybe? As McClease tapped out the beat on the box-shaped drum covered with sheepskin, he felt a link to the past. It was 2000 and Tryon Palace in New Bern was holding its first Jonkonnu, a traditional African-American celebration dating back to the 1700s. It was held on the day after Christmas, when slaves in eastern North Carolina celebrated one day of freedom with music, dancing and costumes. For weeks, McClease trained with two experts on African drumming and songs. He played everything by ear, picking up the songs quickly. “You’ve got it inside,” one of the teachers told McClease. He could feel it, too. Each beat. Each step as they practiced, the parade took him into the past. Took him back to his ancestors. “It’s spiritual for me,” said McClease, Tryon Palace’s garden operations supervisor, who serves as the master drummer during the Jonkonnu parade in New Bern. “I felt like I could really feel what they felt. I was bringing back something pushed back in time and covered up.” Traditionally celebrated between Christmas and New Year’s Day, Jonkonnu is unique to eastern North Carolina. Widely practiced in Wilmington until the early 1900s, the festival was a brief respite from the horrors of slavery, a chance for slaves to shed their bondage for at least a day. “I think it could be a time of joy,” says Elizabeth Fenn, who wrote the definitive piece on the festival in an April 1988 article in the North Carolina Historical Review. “It was a time of opportunity in the sense that it was a moment when the rules were called off and people could express themselves in ways they couldn’t in other times of the year.” The festival— which is now re-enacted in New Bern every December and in the past at Wilmington’s Bellamy Mansion — was the only chance for slaves to honor birthdays, births and weddings with two forbidden activities, drumming and dancing, says Sharon C. Bryant of Tryon Palace.


While the origin of its name – Jonkonnu (pronounced John Canoe) – remains a mystery, the festival started in Africa before coming to the first


Salt • December 2017

slave communities in the Caribbean, and later in the 18th century to Wilmington and eastern North Carolina. “It is an incredibly rich ceremony,” says Fenn. “It shows how influenced we all are by that Atlantic crossing. It does reflect cultural strains that existed under this sick institution.” Fenn called North Carolina “a virtual island of the Jonkonnu on the North American continent,” but noted similar celebrations happened as far north as Suffolk, Virginia. Regardless of locale, all the Jonkonnu had the same foundations – drums, singing, dancing and funky costumes made of rags or animal skins with horns. Schoolteacher Moses Ashley Curtis described the festival in Wilmington in his Dec. 25, 1830, diary entry: “The (N)egroes have a singular custom here . . . of dressing out in rags & masks . . . They are accompanied by a troop of boys singing, bellowing, beating sticks, dancing & begging. Three or four of these John Cooners as they are (called) made their appearance today. One of them was completely enveloped in strips of cloth of every color which depended in the most ragged confusion from every part of his ebony hip. Over his face was drawn the nether part of a raccoon skin from the center of which hung the tail . . . On each side of that tail appeared two holes through which shone the whites of his eyes . . . Then dancing & his rags flying & his flexible nose gamboling about his face, singing with a gruff voice in concert with his satellites.” The men — accompanied by spectators of both men and women — marched and danced from door to door in town, performing for their masters and white people or up to the master’s house, a privilege to all those slaves who worked in the house. The performers were given money or liquor as a reward. But there was a bigger reward — a handshake. The master would shake hands with the performers, McClease said, adding that some of the spectators would often come out just to see it. “It was the only time they could be equal to the white man,” said Simon Spalding, a musician and historian in New Bern who started the Jonkonnu tribute at Tryon Palace. “It was an opportunity to be able to express one’s life and energy.” Wilmington’s Jonkonnu custom continued after the Civil War, according to newspaper reports from the time, but petered out by the 1900s, according The Art & Soul of Wilmington

to Fenn’s article. The Wilmington riots ended the festival, historians said. Jim Crow laws also discouraged the festival.


But in New Bern, the festival has been reborn. For Bryant, who is the African-American outreach coordinator at Tryon Palace, the celebration is a way of connecting with her heritage. “Slavery happened,” she says. “I take pride in knowing what my ancestors did here. I am very proud of what we do here at Tryon Palace. I like to teach people.” Fenn’s article sparked the revival of the festival in the 1990s. One of the first re-enactments was at Wilmington’s Bellamy Mansion in 1995. The mansion held several Jonkonnu revivals in 2007 and 2008, but won’t be holding one in 2017. “I’d be open to doing it again,” says Gareth Evans, the director of the Bellamy. “We stopped because this was a project of staff that had retired or moved on. I didn’t have the connections upon starting the job. Mostly, however, it was because we came up with other community programs around that time. It was simply a matter of trying to fit 60 events in a year and running out of space. Every year I try new things and Jonkonnu may well become an old ‘new’ idea here again soon.” Spalding started working on starting a regular reenactment of Jonkonnu in New Bern. In the late ’90s, he was working full time at Tryon Palace and looking for ways to bring more AfricanAmerican history into the living history experience. “Part of it was just trying to make a more accurate and more inclusive interpretation of history,” Spalding says. “We have a lot of detail about the Tryons and other prominent white citizens of New Bern.” Spalding majored in music at the University of California at Berkeley in the late 1970s. He’d studied Jamaican musical traditions and noticed the similarities in references about Jonkonnu. He had a hunch that the Jamaican tradition likely played into the Jonkonnu celebration in North Carolina. Christmas is a special time and Tryon Palace’s candlelight tour attracts crowds. Spalding liked the idea of adding a Jonkonnu parade throughout the streets of New Bern. He came up with the plan, recruiting re-enactors and artisans to make the instruments and costumes. “Some of those (African-American) stories we cover a little bit, but not as much as we should,” Spalding says. The festival is now a staple of Tryon Palace’s Christmas celebration. Tryouts to join the Jonkonnu troupe were held over the summer and the 2017 Jonkonnu shows start in early December.


While it was a celebration, Fenn, who is now teaching history at the University of Colorado — Boulder, called the festival needed relief from the horrors of slavery. “(Slave owners) did it out of a sense if they didn’t do it, complete repression year-round would result in an uprising, rebellion and resistance,” says Fenn. “It’s a steam valve. I think it was calculated. Slave owners weren’t doing anything out of the goodness of their hearts.” Bryant said there was some resistance to holding the re-enactment at Tryon Palace. She said in Wilmington the festival wasn’t welcome because of the stigma of slavery. “A lot of friends think that it was wrong,” she said. “It feeds into that The Art & Soul of Wilmington

concept of slavery. It was the only time African- Americans were able to do something of their own. I don’t think it is degrading.” But Bryant said that stigma is why Jonkonnu needs to be celebrated and remembered. “People don’t like to talk about slavery,” she says. “Sometimes when you get a subject out, people can express how they feel about it. Share a story that needs to be told.” She refuses to look at the dark side of the festival, and instead focuses on the good. For some participants, Jonkonnu was the only time they could leave the plantation and see family and friends. Bryant said it was a time to celebrate the year’s joys — weddings, births — and historians said it was a time to plan: Slaves would often use the time to pass messages about escape plans and some of the songs mocked the slave masters. “They preferred to have a time to celebrate,” she said. “Three hundred sixty-four days of hard labor. They wanted to celebrate what God gave us. They prayed and took care of each other. One day they could celebrate.” Spalding said before they started the series, Tryon Palace held open meetings with community leaders to discuss plans on holding a Jonkonnu event in Tryon Palace’s Christmas Candlelight Tours. He said Tryon Palace was trying to not repeat mistakes made by Colonial Williamsburg, which re-created a slave auction in 1994. News of the event was leaked, causing boycotts and protests. Spalding said the reaction to Jonkonnu was positive. “As it turned out, New Bern’s African-American community has embraced the re-creation of Jonkonnu, and to a great extent, made it their own,” he says. “I think people working in the museum/living history field have learned from the experience of Colonial Williamsburg’s slave auction program — it is best to include the African-American community from the very beginning, in any programs interpreting slavery.”


McClease, who will be in costume in December leading the parade, doesn’t get too wrapped up in the politics. The entertainment part of it is his focus. It’s a show and he is a drummer. You’ll see him this December in the front of the procession leading the line of dancing and drumming men and women. Rags spinning. Raccoon headdresses bobbing. The thump of the drums. The hum of the West African chant: Funga alafia, ashay ashay! Funga alafia, ashay ashay! The chant translates into a message of hope: “I welcome you into my heart.” But behind the pageantry and the show, McClease is carrying on the fight for those before him. He is preserving a celebration for those who couldn’t celebrate. He is reminding us that even during one of the most shameful episodes in our country’s history, there was joy. There was rebellion. And that no matter how much we don’t want to acknowledge America’s original sin, it is there and can never be forgotten. “Now I have an opportunity to bring it back out and it is a big responsibility,” he said. “A part of history that was blocked out.” Tryon Palace in New Bern will hold Jonkonnu performances December 9 & 16 at 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, log on to or call 252-639-3592.

Kevin Maurer is an award-winning journalist who lives in Wilmington. His latest book is American Radical: Inside the World of an Undercover Muslim FBI Agent. December 2017 •



Enchanted Romance Warm chestnuts and the birth of a Christmas tradition By Christine Moughamian • Iluustration By Romey Petite


Salt • December 2017

The Art & Soul of Wilmington


t was my boyfriend’s first time. I’d done it many times, but never upright in the fog by a Christmas tree all lit up, soaring to a starry sky. The night was magical. Naturally, I wanted to be his first. “Here, try this one,” I whispered. “It’s hot.” Jim opened his mouth. I did it the French way, with a seductive smile, blew a kiss on it and put it on his tongue. “It’s not what I expected,” he said. I felt nervous. Before we met, the closest my American boyfriend had come to a hot chestnut was with the Nat King Cole song. I grew up in France to the shouts of street vendors, “Hot chestnuts! Chauds, les marrons!” I’d planned our date carefully. As in a fairy tale, we’d stroll down paths glistening in holiday magic, savoring oven-roasted chestnuts. I’d already experienced Enchanted Airlie in 2005. But in December 2006 for Jim, it was a night of firsts: first time for the Holiday Light Extravaganza and first time ever eating roasted chestnuts. “So what did you expect?” I asked, a bit concerned. “I thought it’d be hard and nutty.” What could be worse than that? “But it’s warm and melty,” he said. “I like it.” Good, I thought, we’re back in our fairy tale. I opened the newspaper cornet I’d rolled our treats in, picked and peeled a fleshy chestnut, and offered it to him. “Mmhh,” he moaned. Our love story had begun in the summertime, once upon a Sunday in church, when a tall, handsome man crossed the stage, sat at the keyboard and sang. His voice stirred something deep in my soul. A couple of months later he accompanied me in the song “Autumn Leaves” for our church variety show. He used a melancholy accordion sound whose name set the tone for our encounter: Paris Romance. On performance night, Jim backed me up at the keyboard, but I stood front and center at the microphone — terrified. I thought I’d die, hardly comforted to know I’d die in style in my classic “LBD,” a fluid long black dress from Paris, my hair cascading in auburn waves down my bare back. The audience was silent. Nervous, I took a side step, revealing my leg through the slit in my dress. “Ahh,” they all sighed. That only vaguely concealed my stage fright. Somewhere in the middle of the song I had to switch to English, then back to French. What if…? “Just keep repeating the same French words,” Jim had said at rehearsal. “People will never know.” He was right. I did. They didn’t. That night changed my life forever. I channeled Edith Piaf, the audience cried, and Jim fell in love with me. “You looked sexy,” he said later on. “Your leg showing through that long slit . . .” At Enchanted Airlie, as I reminisced about Jim’s compliment, I looked into the newspaper cornet for another chestnut, auburn like my hair, and tender like my heart. “It’ll melt in your mouth,” I said. The fog enveloped us. We hummed a Christmas carol drifting in the

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

distance. When we talked, we whispered. After a bend we found ourselves standing in the middle of the path under a Christmas tree made of blue light-strings. Surely, we had just stepped into a magical wonderland where sugarplum fairies danced in our eyes, their fluttering wings sparkling blue. Blue like our whirlwind romance that would take us from sunset walks on the beach to a rendezvous in Paris the next spring, then an invitation to live in Jim’s luxurious house, and a long weekend on Bald Head Island in the summer where he embodied Richard Gere at Island Passage Clothing and I, Pretty Woman, lavished on for my birthday. In the fall, like in a fairy tale, he took me to a masked ball. I wore a blue evening gown he bought for me because, he said, “When I saw it in the window, I knew you’d look good in it.” He even gave me the perfect shoes to dance in, silver with rhinestones. I felt like Cinderella. But every girl knows that in order to find her Prince Charming she’ll have to wrestle with a beast. Jim was a widower who had been married most of his adult life. I was a fierce woman who’d left France at 27 years old, had never married and had lived alone for years in my own house. I liked space, he liked stuff. Once, he gave me rubies. And I fell for it. Like Snow White, I took a bite of that red apple. I fell asleep. Upon awakening I discovered that not all roasted chestnuts tasted warm and melty. Some chestnuts were hard like his furniture I kept bumping into, while mine sat in storage, abandoned. He gave me gold and silver but seemed unaware that to me, true treasures were open feelings and shared dreams. Some chestnuts crumbled into dust, moments of doubt when I’d ask, “Show me the way, should I go or should I stay?” It would take another few months for Jim to let me bring over some of my own furniture. Eventually, we turned an attic corner into a writing study. And the magic of our first night at Enchanted Airlie, renewed with every Yuletide, lived on ever after. Every year since, when night falls on Airlie, we stroll through the gardens aglow with festive lights twinkling to Christmas cheer. We marvel at the Enchanted Forest and Poinsettia Paradise, then enter Santa’s North Pole, a large, white tent cozy with a hearth, Christmas trees and treats. We wait in line with throngs of children to have our photo taken with a ruddy Santa, cradling cups of hot cocoa in our hands in the spirit of the season of hope and togetherness. Strengthened year after year, our Christmas tradition was born on that foggy December evening, when we walked under majestic oaks decked in rainbow colors. That night, we promised to return every year and celebrate our enchanted romance with thousands of twinkling Christmas lights. I gave Jim the last roasted chestnut, both crisp and tender. “It’s delicious,” he said. It was. And still is. b Award-winning memoirist Christine Moughamian is a regional representative for the North Carolina Writer’s Network. She lives in Wilmington.

December 2017 •




am a highly intermittent, fair-weather fisher. Don’t judge; there’s no shame in it. After all, in Wilmington, we can fish the waters for nearly three seasons a year wearing little more than a bathing suit, sunscreen and a life jacket. Life on the subtropical line makes a body spoiled. Once the winds switch north and howl down the long, empty fetch of the lower Cape Fear, it’s a labor to layer up for a long cold day on the water “just for fun.” The past few winters, however, I’d seen increasing numbers of folks fishing in December and January. These weren’t commercial fishermen; these were average Jills and Joes on the water enjoying themselves. So last January, I broke down and decided to give cold-water fishing a go. Since I was a newbie, I decided to learn from one of the best, Capt. Allen Cain of Sightfish North Carolina, and joined the hale and hardy for the annual StriperFest Tag and Release Tournament. Capt. Allen and other skilled fishing guides not only participate in this annual tournament, they also donate their fees to help fund studies of striped bass and other migratory fish in the Cape Fear River. Since 1915, when the first of three locks and dams were built on the river to ease riverboat navigation, anadromous fish like shad, sturgeon, river herring and striped bass have been unable swim to their native spawning grounds. These fish are unique: They live much of their life in saltwater, but swim upriver to freshwater habitats to breed. To striped bass, dams are simply walls that cannot be breached. As a result, our local population of stripers has declined at an alarming rate over the last century. According to Capt. Jot Owens, the founder of StriperFest Tournament, “The primary cause of striped bass declines in our area is the dams. Fortunately, efforts are underway to create a byway for these fish — and we’re a third of the way there. In 2012, the Army Corps of Engineers completed the first rock arch rapid, or fish passage, at Lock and Dam No. 1.” (Plans for passages at Locks and Dams Nos. 2 and 3 are in the works.) The fish passage is a large sloped terrace located just below the dam. Water collects in small pools within the terrace, and the fish are able to swim upriver from pool to pool. Eventually, they reach and surmount the dam. After the first rock arch rapid was installed in 2012, a collective breath was held. How and when would we learn if the fish used the new passageway? That’s where the StriperFest Tag and Release Tournament comes into play. Each tournament captain has a team of two on board. My teammate was Gary Hurley, the cheerful, mellow editor of the Fisherman’s Post. We arrived at sunrise at the Coastline Convention Center wearing about three days’ worth of clothing topped by a winter coat, sunglasses, and a face buff (the winter wind on the river is raw). Cape Fear River Watch does it up right for the StriperFest Tournament. Participants loaded up on pancakes and coffee, necessary fuel for the full day ahead, before heading to the dock. About five minutes before the starting bell, the Wilmington fireboat arrived and put on a majestic full-water salute: four plumes shot 30 feet into the air. Then Gary and I took our places on the boat, wished the other participants well (truth: we enjoyed some good-natured trash talk), and Capt. Allen opened the throttle to head to 56

Salt • December 2017

Striperfest A fair-weather fisher braves a day of winter fishing on the Cape Fear

By Virginia Holman • Photographs by Alan Cradick

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

the first of several of his favorite honey holes. The goal of the tournament is to catch as many stripers in a day as possible. Stripers of 24 inches and above receive sonic tags. These specialized tags require surgical implantation, so when someone reels in a big fish, the captain radios for the Division of Marine Fisheries patrol boat and a specialist onboard quickly implants the tag. When fish implanted with sonic tags pass by one of three riverside receiver stations, the data is recorded. (If you’re the gambling type, you can bid on a tag at the StriperFest Banquet auction. Then, you can participate in the annual Striped Bass Race to see which fish is the first over the dam.) For fish smaller than 24 inches, Capt. Allen inserted a P.I.T. tag (Passive Integrated Transponder) in the fish’s cheek, a quick 10-second procedure. The tag carries the same technology as the chips used for lost pets. Each chip has a unique alphanumeric code that researchers are then able to use tag scanners to track fish movements. Unlike the sonic tags, these P.I.T. tags don’t need batteries and cause less stress to the fish during implantation. A couple of nice stripers hit for Gary early in the day and I reeled in one that surprised me with its fight. Throughout the day Capt. Allen and Gary coached me on my casting; before long my lure started to hit where I aimed. After a couple of hours in the main river channel, the cold wind was a bit much, so we wound our way up a long serpentine channel and fished the calm, ghost-forested waters of Smith Creek. The stripers seemed to hang out near the bridge pilings and along the river’s reedy edge. Staying out of the weeds and tree branches proved a bit challenging at times between the wind and the swift currents, but Capt. Allen’s relaxed and precise coaching kept me learning and improving happily over the course of the day. He’s a highly experienced and sought- after guide here and in Louisiana, where he runs winter fishing tours for redfish just outside New Orleans. He’s a natural: talented, focused and relaxed. After a long day on the water, we were all tired and a bit wind-burned and stiff from the chill. Even so, we remained in good spirits, a credit to Capt. Allen’s expertise with fish and people. At the end of the afternoon, our boat tallied six fish, a good haul on such a raw day. We headed back to the dock to fish the last remaining minutes up until the final buzzer. Though we came close, we didn’t land any stripers big enough for the sonic tags. Back at the dock, no one rushed inside. The captains and competitors would soon tally the final numbers and the winners would be announced. After a full day of coldwater fishing, we were all looking forward to a warm drink and perhaps an award plaque or two. We lingered as the the sun set and the river was suffused in a golden light. We all knew the biggest prize was participating in such a glorious day of fishing for a such worthy cause. b StriperFest will take place Jan. 12 and 13, 2018. For information and tickets to the tag-and-release tournament and the banquet and silent auction, visit capefearriverfwatch. org. For Capt. Allen Cain, visit Virginia Holman writes about fishing and many other pursuits for Salt. The Art & Soul of Wilmington

December 2017 •



S t o r y

o f


h o u s e

Home for the Holidays An antiques road trip to a Christmas country house

By Isabel Zermani • Photographs by R ick R icozzi


half-hour drive from Glendal Jenkins and Michael Moore’s historic downtown Wilmington home is their getaway in the sleepy former railroad town of Atkinson. Here, cell service is scant, but the church manger scene is life-size. Both the days and nights are quiet. One can relax in the glow of the fireplace or the Christmas tree and pass the time talking with friends waylaid by a rare Carolina snowfall. Here, they renew some of America’s favorite forgotten pastimes: resting, restoring and collecting, in a mostly forgotten town. Jenkins and Moore bought their 1912 farmhouse house in 1987, shortly after Jenkins retired from his career as a high school chemistry teacher in Washington, D.C., moved to Wilmington and opened an antiques shop on Dock Street. Now Michael Moore’s name is synonymous with antiques in Wilmington, but it was Jenkins who got him into the business. They aren’t afraid of uncharted territory. Jenkins moved his antiques shop to Castle Street in 1992 when “people thought, ‘You’re absolutely crazy,’ but I came from D.C. and things didn’t bother me.” Since 1998, Moore has run Michael Moore Antiques on Castle Street, a stronghold of the arts and antiques district. They were looking for a weekend country house on the river, but stumbled upon Atkinson.


Salt • December 2017

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

December 2017 •




Salt • December 2017

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

The T-shaped farmhouse, now registered as the Johnson-Pridgen House by the Atkinson Historical Society, had great bones, but was a failed Section 8 rental when Jenkins and Moore came across it in 1987. Jenkins had restored a whopping 17 houses in the D.C. area and collected many of the antiques that are displayed in their country house: For instance, a lamp from the Library of Congress now graces the bedside of the blue room. Jenkins restored this house to the era of its glory and while he was at it, elevated the entire town. He started the historical society, restored the library, and has researched and documented the rise and fall of the original 100 acres that blossomed into this picturesque railroad town and blueberry boomtown. A home is always at its best around Christmas. Christmas exists in a time and place all its own, where memory, fantasy and reality touch like layers in a shortcake. Outfitted in Victorian antiques with at least one tree in every room, this home is well-dressed for the holidays all year round. Here, not only can one escape from regular life, one can time-travel to the most wonderful time of the year (and never have to lug the decorations back to the attic). Downstairs, gold-leaf cornices top each window. Ten-inch crown molding surrounds the gleaming beadboard ceilings. “Most of the lighting fixtures I created for the period of the house,” says Jenkins. Moore is quick to point out one meant to burn whale oil. They’ve even installed a period phone and . . . it works. They test-call it to demonstrate a robust brrring! In the dining room, the table is set for an elegant feast with a kind of Depression glass called American Sweetheart Mona, which was produced only between 1930–36. “They never reproduced it,” reports Moore. “It took me 25 years to collect this set.” Delicate skim-milkcolored glass plates with ruffled edges on the bold red tablecloth feel The Art & Soul of Wilmington

December 2017 •




Salt • December 2017

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

December 2017 •



romantic, like a valentine for each guest at the table. After climbing the very steep original staircase — not for the faint of heart — one finds a selection of treasure box bedrooms to tuck in for a long winter’s nap. The blue room boasts a stunning Victorian claw-foot sleigh bed and Venetian glass chandelier. A collection of celluloid items from the teens and ’20s — sometimes called “French ivory” — makes for a delightful display. (Our modern magic of throwing everything away truly has nothing on a well-curated collection.) Perhaps the only country thing about this country home is Moore’s collection of cow creamers. “Glen collects Wedgwood, I collect cows,” he says with a laugh. In the red bedroom, a cluster of framed silhouettes reminds me of one of the home’s namesake families, the Pridgens. Albert H. Pridgen Sr., a gentlemen farmer, bought this house from the Johnsons in 1920, during Atkinson’s heyday. He and his wife, Sarah, raised five daughters and one son here. Their joyous holidays still echo in the bones of this old house. They kept the home in the family until 1971, just after the railroad closed for good. Of all the pristine antiques in the house, the master bedroom headboard and vanity are exceptional. Ornately carved into the wood are birds that are practically three-dimensional. Jenkins knows its august history: “This bed was displayed at the World’s Fair in 1877 in Philadelphia.” It took him years to find the vanity to match, but persistence restored the pair. It’s no exaggeration to say there is no nightlife in Atkinson. But there’s one exception. After settling into the country house, Jenkins took on an even larger project with his Castle Street neighbor and antiques auctioneer Angel Mintz. At one end of Atkinson sits a large and well-preserved brick high school designed in 1924 by Wilmington architect Leslie Boney at the height of Atkinson’s population boom. Jenkins bought it. Again, the naysayers came to scoff. “People said, ‘You’re not going to get anybody up there’,” remembers Jenkins, “I said, ‘You offer a good product and they’ll come.’” They worked on it for 14 months and opened with a black tie auction — “Guys in tuxes, ladies in furs” — and have held auctions on the first Saturday night of the month ever since. (No tux needed.) Business was strong. Jenkins remembers 300–500 people attending each month. Dealers and bidders from “Wilmington, Raleigh, Fayetteville, Myrtle Beach, even Virginia” were making the trip to stock their shops and homes with treasures from Atkinson. Sad news came just after last Christmas. His longtime business partner and auctioneer Angel Mintz passed away. Any loss for a small town is impactful, but this one especially so. Thankfully, Rhonda Strickland has stepped in to run the auction house, allowing Jenkins to focus on documenting the town history as he has in the museum room in the schoolhouse. Although the crowds are smaller now (maybe 100–150 people), the lights of the schoolhouse are still the brightest things for miles on a Saturday night, and the scene draws action from all over. A hot dog or homemade BBQ sandwich can be had for a song, and the show is free unless you want to take something home. b Auctions are the first Saturday of every month beginning at 6 p.m. in the old Atkinson schoolhouse, 300 W. Henry St., Atkinson, NC 28421. You can find previews on Rhonda’s Auction Treasures on Facebook and on Former Salt senior editor Isabel Zermani is enjoying the desert life in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 64

Salt • December 2017

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

December 2017 •



2013 Castle St. Wilmington, NC 28403 910.762.3345 | Monday - Friday from 8am-5pm

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Salt • December 2017

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The Art & Soul of Wilmington


December n

By Ash Alder

Winter Is Here

Deadhead the rose bush. Prune the wild muscadine. Move the front porch pumpkins to the compost pile. The days grow shorter, yet from darkness comes light. Behold phlox and hellebores, snowdrop and iris, camellia and winter-flowering crocus. This month, while the soil is cool, plant spring bulbs and fruit trees, harvest edible weeds and winter greens, and when the work is done, create sacred space to enjoy the season. And beaucoup peppermint. First cultivated in 1750 near London, England, as an experimental hybrid between water mint and spearmint, this perennial herb has long been used for its magical and medicinal qualities. According to The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, however, the candy cane came before its flavor. Sometime around 1670, a choirmaster in Cologne, Germany, asked a local confectioner to come up with a special candy stick to help pacify the young folks during the live Nativity on Christmas Eve. Shaped like a shepherd’s staff, this sugary creation surely kept them quiet (and buzzing) until the Magi arrived. Want to grow your own? If you’re going for potency (read: high oil content), go with black peppermint, named for its dark purple-green leaves and stems. White peppermint has a milder flavor, but crush the leaves between your fingers and feel an instant calm throughout your entire being. Because this aromatic herb can quickly take over an entire garden, and because it craves rich soil and good drainage, container gardening is recommended. Full sun increases its medicinal qualities (and makes for stronger, spicier tea).

Stocking Stuffers • Pear tree seed • Bird food • Binoculars

Peppermint Tea for Two 2 cups water 14 peppermint leaves 2 teaspoons honey

Bring water to boil Place leaves in teacups; cover mint with hot water Steep for 5 minutes Remove leaves (or not) Add honey Steep with fresh tarragon leaves and a quarter-inch slice of vanilla bean to enter a new realm. Add lemon wedge to continue the journey.

Celestial Shower

As we approach the winter solstice — the longest night of the year — we look to the stars to celebrate a new season, and the final hours of the year. The Geminid meteor shower peaks on the night of Wednesday, Dec.13, until the earliest hours of Thursday, Dec. 14. Sky-watchers may see as many as 60 to 120 shooting stars per hour predawn. Watching with friends or loved ones? Steep a pot of peppermint tea or keep the cocoa simmering on the stovetop for this enchanted celestial event. b

In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy. — William Blake

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

December 2017 •



Arts Calendar

December 2017

Enchanted Airlie





7:30 p.m. Celebrate the Christmas season with a family-friendly, festive parade around Carolina Beach, featuring floats, bands, and even Santa Claus. Admission: Free. Lake Park Boulevard, Carolina Beach. Info: (910) 4582977 or

Coastal Carolina Christmas

7 p.m. A Christmas concert featuring carols by the Choir of St. Paul’s, the Wilmington Boys Choir, and harpist Christina Brier. The program includes Britten’s Ceremony of Carols and Rutter’s Dancing Day. Concert is followed by a sparkling chocolate reception. Admission: $30. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 16 North Sixteenth St., Wilmington. Info: (910) 7624578 or 68



12/1 Pleasure Island Christmas Parade


5K Jingle Bell Run

The Sound of Music

Salt • December 2017

12/1 & 2 New York’s Ballet for Young Audiences: “The Nutcracker” 4 p.m. & 7 p.m. (Friday); 10 a.m. (Saturday). A 60-minute, kid-friendly ballet performance of the classic holiday tale “The Nutcracker” as part of Thalian Hall’s Legends and Main Attractions series. Admission: $10–20. Thalian Hall, 310 Chestnut Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 632-2285 or


The Holiday Flea at BAC

4 p.m. – 9 p.m. (Friday); 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Saturday); 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. (Sunday). Join us for Wilmington’s coolest vintage, up-cycled and retro show. Wilmington’s finest food trucks will be in attendance and the BAC cash bar will be serving drinks all weekend. Admission: $5 for all 3 days. Kids under 12 get in free. Brooklyn Arts Center, 516 North Fourth St.,

Wilmington. Info: (910) 538-2939 or www.


Enchanted Airlie

5 p.m. – 7 p.m. and 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Please see website for specific dates. A Wilmington holiday tradition featuring a self-guided tour through the festively lit gardens, music, refreshments and a visit from Santa. Tickets must be pre-purchased. Admission: $27/carload. Airlie Gardens, 300 Airlie Road, Wilmington. Info: (910) 798-7700 or


Dashing Thru the Glow 5k & Holiday Festival

3:30 p.m. This holiday race through the new RiverLights community includes a timed 5k and an untimed 1-mile fun run, along with all the things you love about a Christmas festival— The Art & Soul of Wilmington

c a l e n d a r

Kure Beach Fantasy Christmas Show


New Year’s Eve Gala






food trucks, caroling, a visit from Santa, and a variety of local vendors. Bring a toy to donate to Toys for Tots. See website for registration prices. RiverLights Community, 4410 River Road, Wilmington. Info: www.its-go-time. com/riverlights-dashing-thru-the-glow.

12/2 Pleasure Island Christmas Flotilla

7:30 p.m. Come watch the dazzling display of boats festively decorated with Christmas lights as they light up the Intracoastal Waterway. A night of holiday entertainment for all members of the family. Admission: Free. Carolina Beach Boat Basin, 923 Basin Road, Carolina Beach. Info: (910) 386-8081 or

12/2 & 3

Polar Express Day

Old Wilmington by Candlelight Tour

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

4 p.m. – 8 p.m. (Saturday); 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. (Sunday). Join the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society for their 43rd annual candlelight tour. Carolers and luminaries guide you through some of Wilmington’s most historic and beautifully lit spots and neighborhoods. Admission: $38–40. Various locations around downtown Wilmington. See website for parking details. Info: (910) 762-0492 or

12/2-10 Whole Foods Holiday Tasting 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. Join Whole Foods on December 2nd, 3rd, 9th, or 10th for a complimentary tasting of holiday favorites. Pick up a menu, place your order at the Holiday Table, and schedule pickup at your convenience. Admission: Free. Whole Foods Wilmington, 3804 Oleander Drive, Wilmington. Info: (910) 777-2499 or


Jingle Bells Holiday Tea

1 p.m. – 3 p.m. An afternoon holiday tea hosted by the Bellamy Mansion, featuring sandwiches, tea, scones, dessert, raffles, and live entertainment. Admission: $53.50. Bellamy Mansion Museum, 503 Market St., Wilmington. Info: (910) 251-3700 or


Landfall Foundation Holiday Marketplace

4 p.m. – 8 p.m. A festive marketplace featuring home and holiday decor, gifts, clothing, jewelry, and more from dozens of local vendors. Admission: $20. Country Club of Landfall, 800 Sun Runner Place, Wilmington. Info: (910) 256-8411 or

12/5 Fort Fisher Holiday Open House December 2017 •



c a l e n d a r 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Celebrate the holiday season with seasonal decor, live entertainment, refreshments, and special gift shop discounts at Fort Fisher. Admission: Free. Fort Fisher State Historic Site, 1610 Fort Fisher Boulevard, Kure Beach. Info: (910) 612-7067 or

12/6 & 7

The Sound of Music

7:30 p.m. A live performance of the timeless classic The Sound of Music following the infamous von Trapp family at CFCC’s Wilson Center. Admission: $42. Wilson Center, 703 North Third St., Wilmington. Info: (910) 3627999 or


A Christmas Stroll Through the Past

4 p.m. – 8 p.m. A festive, old-fashioned holiday evening complete with period decorations, music, dancing, a miniature petting zoo, refreshments, and more. Admission: $10–20. Children under 3 get in free. Bellamy Mansion, BurgwinWright House, and St. James Episcopal Church in downtown Wilmington. Info: (910) 251-3700 or

12/9 Pleasure Island’s Tour of Homes

5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Take a self-guided tour through Carolina and Kure Beaches’ most beautiful and festive homes as they open their doors to guests for this special event. Tickets available at businesses on Pleasure Island. Various homes throughout Pleasure Island. See website for details. Info:


5K Jingle Bell Run

7:30 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. (Check-in); 9:00 a.m. (Race). Come join Wrightsville Beach Museum of History for their annual Jingle Bell Run and enjoy the beautiful winter scenery of Wrightsville Beach. Participants are encouraged to wear holiday apparel. Registration: $15–29. Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, 303 West Salisbury St., Wrightsville Beach. Info: (910) 256-2569 or

12/9 & 10

A Merry Little Christmas Festival

10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Saturday); 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Sunday). This year’s Poplar Grove Christmas show features bouncy houses, Santa’s work-

Taste of Downtown Wilmington


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Gift cards available! Shoes, handbags, jewelry, and accessories for all sizes!


Dress Like a Million Without Spending a Fortune! 70

Salt • December 2017

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

c a l e n d a r shop, carnival games, visits with Santa, food, and so much more. Come see the beautiful grounds of Poplar Grove transformed into an enchanting winter wonderland. Admission: $5. Proceeds benefit the conservation of the historic Poplar Grove Plantation. Poplar Grove Plantation, 10200 U.S. Highway 17 North, Wilmington. Info: (910) 686-9518 or

12/14-17 Ebenezer: A Christmas Carol



Kure Beach Fantasy Christmas Show

6:30 p.m. A free, festive evening of Christmas music performed by a costumed cast of singers and dancers. Admission: Free. K Avenue (near Kure Beach Fishing Pier), Kure Beach. Info: (910) 458-8216 or


Cherish the Ladies: Celtic Christmas

7:30 p.m. A live, family-friendly Christmas musical performance by the popular Celtic group Cherish the Ladies. Admission: $22–40. Thalian Hall, 310 Chestnut St., Wilmington. Info: (910) 632-2285 or

7:30 p.m. A musical adaptation of the Christmas classic A Christmas Carol following the journey of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge in a world of song and dance. Written by UNCW’s own Frank B. Trimble. Admission: $15–40. UNCW Kenan Auditorium, 515 Wagoner Drive, Wilmington. Info: (910) 962-3500 or

Polar Express Day

9:00 a.m. 3rd annual Polar Express Day at the Children’s Museum of Wilmington, featuring hot chocolate, storytime, holiday crafts, letters to Santa, and train rides. Admission: $8.75– 9.75. Children’s Museum of Wilmington, 116 Orange Street, Wilmington. Info: (910) 2543534 or


Seahawk Family Arts Matinee: Holiday Luau

2 p.m. A family-friendly, Hawaiian holiday musical performance by the local band Da Howlies, blending classic “Hapa Haole” swing tunes and bluegrass country. Admission: $5–20. Kenan Auditorium at UNCW, 515 Wagoner Drive,

Wilmington. Info: (910) 962-3500 or www.


North Carolina Symphony Holiday Pops Concert

7:30 p.m. An annual holiday celebration including an array of Christmas classics and holiday tunes, performed by the North Carolina Symphony and conducted by David Glover. Admission: $64–75. Wilson Center, 703 North Third St., Wilmington. Info: (910) 362-7999 or


It’s a Wonderful Life


Choral Concert: Christmas at St. Paul’s

7 p.m. Annual Christmas film screening of the holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life. Tony Rivenbark’s famous toy collection also on display. Admission: $10. Thalian Hall, 310 Chestnut St., Wilmington. Info: (910) 6322285 or

7:30 p.m. A festive Christmas concert featuring a collection of Christmas carols performed the Choir of St. Paul’s. Admission: Free. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 16 North Sixteenth

S a lt S e r v i c e s

Tracy McCullen

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c a l e n d a r St., Wilmington. Info: (910) 762-4578 or www.


New Year’s Eve Gala

7 p.m. A special benefit gala for Thalian Hall, co-presented with Cape Fear Theatre Arts, includes dinner, drinks, dessert, dancing, and a live performance of a Broadway musical featuring local talent. Admission: $150. Thalian Hall, 310 Chestnut St., Wilmington. Info: (910) 632-2285 or


Wine Tasting

6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Free wine tasting hosted by a wine professional plus small plate specials all night. Admission: Free. The Fortunate Glass, 29 South Front St., Wilmington. Info: (910) 399-4292 or


Cape Fear Blues Jam

8 p.m. A night of live music performed by the area’s best Blues musicians. Bring your instrument and join the fun. Admission: Free. The Rusty Nail, 1310 South Fifth Ave., Wilmington. Info: (910) 251-1888 or

What Sets Us Apart? Here is one way. . .


T’ai Chi at CAM

12:30–1:30 p.m. Qigong (Practicing the Breath of Life) with Martha Gregory. Open to beginner and experienced participants. Admission: $5–8. Cameron Art Museum, 3201 South Seventeenth St., Wilmington. Info: (910) 3955999 or

Wednesday Weekly Exhibition Tours

1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. A weekly tour of the iconic Cameron Arts Museum, featuring presentations about the various exhibits and the selection and installation process. Cameron Arts Museum, 3201 South Seventeenth St., Wilmington. Info: (910) 395-5999 or


Yoga at the CAM

12–1 p.m. Join in a soothing retreat sure to charge you up while you relax in a beautiful, comfortable setting. Sessions are ongoing and are open to beginner and experienced participants. Admission: $5–8. Cameron Art Museum, 3201 South Seventeenth St., Wilmington. Info: (910) 395-5999 or

Friday & Saturday

Blackwater Adventure Tours

Times available online. Join in an educational guided boat tour from downtown Wilmington to River Bluffs, exploring the mysterious beauty of the Northeast Cape Fear River. River Bluffs, 1100 Chair Road, Castle Hayne. Info: (910) 623-5015 or


Taste of Downtown Wilmington

9:15 a.m., 2:15 p.m., & 3:15 p.m. A weekly gourmet food tour by Taste Carolina, featuring some of downtown Wilmington’s best restaurants. Each time slot showcases different food. See website for details. Admission: $55–75. Riverwalk at Market Street, Wilmington. Info: (919) 237-2254 or b

To add a calendar event, please contact calendar@ Events must be submitted by the first of the month, one month prior to the event.

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A campus-wide celebration of the holidays! Visit our Porters Neck location for the decorated Giggle Garden evenings through December. A delight for all ages!

1011 Porters Neck Road 83 Cavalier Drive, Suite 200 Wilmington, NC 28411 910.686.7195 |


Salt • December 2017

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The Art & Soul of Wilmington

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December 2017 •



Port City People

Brandia & Scott Bradshaw

Brittany & Scott Douglas

Celebrate Hope Ball Presented by Hope Abounds, Inc. Saturday, September 23, 2017 Photographs by Bill Ritenour

Jimmy & Ashlynn Cushing

Jamie & Angela Blanton, Joe & Pamela Firetti Caroline & Taliaferro Parks, Lucinda & Eugene Arnold

Sarah & Tom McGovern Philip & Kim McGee

Glenn & Megan Luisi, Raishael & Ben Tessari


Salt • December 2017

Ashley & Michael Conner

Janice Adams, Cheryl Collins

Doug Horrell, Carol Ryan

Kathy & Paul Cozza

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

Port City People

J.R. Bourget, Misty Brown

Jared Ange, Christina Budres

Low Country Boil and Brew Wrightsville Beach Brewery Sunday, September 24, 2017 Photographs by Bill Ritenour

Cheri Ferguson, Susan Williams, Bill Compton, Holly Konrady, Howard Ferguson

David Cignotti, Walter Laughlin

Catherine Snead, Gary Miller

Bruce Holsten, Dana Sargent, Pat Holsten

Terry Bennett, Ralph Orkiszewski

Ralph Konrady, Hank Carter

Rebecca Philpott, Kathy Monaghan, Jane Old Cathy Meyer, Felecia Lee, Dana Sargent

David Strickland, Kristi Falco

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

Pam Watkins, David & Lynn Weaver

December 2017 •



Gaby Lopez, Michaella Tran, Madelyn Banat

Port City People

Kenleigh & Carrie Patterson Clarke

Yacht Venture A benefit for the Children’s Museum of Wilmington Saturday, October 14, 2017

Photographs by Bill Ritenour Jodi & Trace Adams, Chad & Kate Fortun

Duane & Rebecca Hixon

Spencer & Sue Carney, Susan & Stedman Stevens

Cam & Rebecca Guthrie Monty Recoulley, Susan McGee

Hannah Zimber, Ray Martin, Amanda Peters, James Willhide


Salt • December 2017

Heather Bowman, Jim Karl, Heather Eliason

Bethel & Bill Paris

Courtney & Nick Aughtrey

Carley & Derek Denton

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

T h e

A cc i d e n ta l

A s t r o l o g e r

Mixing It Up

Sagittarius brings a merry, motley crew By Astrid Stellanova

Happy Holidays, Star Children!

December births make me think of Forrest Gump’s good ole chocolate-box. Born in December: Crooners Frank Sinatra, Britney Spears and Taylor Swift; politicians and criminals, like Winston Churchill and drug lord Pablo Escobar. Then, everybody else that is waaaay outside the box: Pope Francis and Walt Disney, Larry Byrd and Mary Queen of Scots. Stephen Spielberg and Richard Pryor. Beethoven. Nostradamus and Bruce Lee. Woody Allen and Samuel L. Jackson. Keith Richards and Jamie Foxx. Joseph Stalin and Benjamin Disraeli. . . Ad Astra — Astrid Sagittarius (November 22–December 21)

There ain’t nothing old about you but your money! And Honey, you know you are feeling the rush of being flush since a minor crisis passed this year. You escaped just fine with your wallet, hair and teeth intact. Now, the cake is ready, friends are gathering and birthday wishes are all coming true. Have faith. Your life is the sum of a lot of struggle but nothing was wasted — not even your dryer lint. (We can talk about that hoarding thing another day.)

Capricorn (December 22–January 19)

You don’t need to keep looking in the rearview mirror. All good things lie ahead, Sugar. Memory lane is closed. And what you have lying straight before you is worth focusing on. Meanwhile, there is a great opportunity for investing in yourself and a new idea in the new year. Don’t let that escape you — take the off ramp!

Aquarius (January 20–February 18)

Well, look at you social caterpillar! You have broken into a tough circle of friends that only took about a thousand forevers. But you were patient and they finally saw that one of you was worth ten of a lot of people. You’re well loved, Honey Bun.

Pisces (February 19–March 20)

You sayin’ your Jaguar can’t make it up the driveway at your mountain place? Or you’re allergic to all metals but platinum? Sugar, that is something called a humblebrag. Nobody else has told you, so I have to. It is true you have been prosperous. And that you have especially fine taste. Just say a little bit less about it.

Aries (March 21–April 19)

Somebody bamboozled you pretty good. Looked like you couldn’t tell a skunk from a Billy goat. Well, they reckoned wrong. You’ll get your chance to settle the score but don’t let it concern you. The view ain’t worth the climb, Honey Bunny.

Taurus (April 20–May 20)

There is one somebody who gets under your skin and makes you lose your everloving mind. You know who and when. You have got to stop the blame game, hurling insults faster than Kim Jong-un. It might be a game to them but it is bad for your constitution, Sugar.

Gemini (May 21–June 20)

You’ve been showing too many teeth. Makes people nervous, and that completely undermines you. Stop trying so hard to be liked. You don’t have to work that angle. If The Art & Soul of Wilmington

you can stand in your truth, they will admire you, anyhow. You are likeable enough, Sally Field.

Cancer (June 21–July 22)

Let’s get some lumbar support for you, since you’re having a lot of trouble with your backbone. The thing is, you let a situation get out of control because you felt a lot of misplaced sympathy. But what they need from you is leadership. That might require you to be a lot firmer than your Beautyrest mattress.

Leo (July 23–August 22)

Yep, your little plan fell into place, which either puts you in the catbird seat or the litter box. You were cunning and scored a win. But is this a game you really want to win? Ask that question. Also, a friend from your past needs a pal. It would be good karma just to let them know you remember them.

Virgo (August 23–September 22)

Can’t never could, Sugar, but don’t kill yourself. It is also true that flop sweat ain’t becoming. During the holidays you may be asked to step up and take on a social role that you have never especially wanted. But it will be growth for you. And a toehold inside a door that has been closed for a very long time.

Libra (September 23–October 22)

You speak Southern? Then you know not to look over yonder for something right under foot. Focus is all you need to find your heart’s desire. And even though you feel like you have given all you have for a mighty big goal, you have something important and don’t even recognize it.

Scorpio (October 23–November 21)

Hunh? Darling, you brought a cup of Ramen noodles to a knife fight? I don’t know what got into you lately, but you have had this idea that life is a spectator sport. Well, what are you planning to do with the rest of this special life? This month is a good time to ask yourself if you are going to keep chasing after unicorns. b

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. December 2017 •



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Salt • December 2017

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

N o t e s

F r o m

t h e

P o r c h

Christmas 1944 The spirit of a gift that lives on

By Bill Thompson

Christmas 1944 was not necessarily merry for my family or most Americans. Our country was in the midst of World War II. Most immediate concern to us was the fact that it was raining and cold in southeastern North Carolina. I state this based on my mother’s recollection. I was only a little over a year old at the time, so much of what I know of that particular season was told to me. It was to be my first real Christmas.

Like most families during the war, my family listened carefully to the reports of what was happening in Europe and the South Pacific. They learned the names of faraway places that they had never heard of, looked them up in the big atlas book of maps, and waited eagerly for the infrequent letters from sons, uncles and brothers who may have been in those places. But tradition runs strong in my family and, war or no war, Christmas was a time of celebration. Somehow or other we would recognize the season in as many ways as we could just as we always did. One major tradition was finding an appropriate tree to decorate. We didn’t have a lot of fir trees in this part of the country, so we made do with pine. Those scruffy little trees didn’t have the perfect symmetry that we associate with Christmas trees. The one my father found for us had some uneven gaps between the limbs and it wasn’t exactly triangular — it more or less resembled a bush. But it was sufficient for decorating with the limited amount of decorations we had. My mother found some big long-leaf pinecones and covered them with white flour that looked like snow. She picked up several of the little prickly balls that fell from the sweet gum trees and draped their long stems on the limbs of the little pine tree. She had saved some of the “icicles,” thin streams of tinsel left over from previous years, and placed them gingerly on the tree. She tied tiny red and green ribbon bows to the limbs. Of course, the biggest, most important, element of the tree decoration was the lights. They were big bulbs of red and green. I still believe that those are the only true Christmas lights. The actual celebration of the birth of the Christ child was centered around the service held at the little Baptist church. All the family went to The Art & Soul of Wilmington

the Christmas Eve service and returned home and went to bed. That was it. I was the only child and Santa was not yet a person of my acquaintance, so there was no great anticipation of reindeer and such nor, for a one-year-old baby, much awareness of any of it. But the Thompson tradition of storytelling has passed down the story of that Christmas morning My mother and father and I lived in a small renovated tenant house on the family farm in Chadbourn. My grandfather and grandmother lived in the “old house” about 100 yards up the road. We were all gathered there for Christmas Day dinner. (Not lunch. Dinner was the noon meal; supper was the evening meal.) After that, we all gathered around the tree in the living room to exchange gifts. My father was the oldest of the five children and the only one married and, of course, I was the only grandchild. The fact that I didn’t have any idea about what was going on, the significance of the season or even who they were did not deter my family from making me the center of attention. My Aunt Mary Lee was just a year younger than my father. She lived and worked in Wilmington but, like everybody else, she came home for Christmas. My mother told me that Aunt Mary Lee waited until all the other gifts had been opened to present me with her special present. She let me tear the wrapping off but my mother opened the little box that contained the special gift. She removed a large red glass Christmas ball so light and fragile it was almost weightless. It was a wonderful, caring gift. Anything made from glass was very rare during the war. Aware of the fragility of the ornament and the potential danger from the rowdy group, Mama placed it gently back in the box. Later that evening after we had gone back to our house, Mama took out the Christmas ball, placed it in my little hands and lifted me up to place the ornament on our shabby tree. Each year since 1944, my mother and I repeated that decoration (minus the lifting me up part). She stored that fragile ornament wrapped in tissue paper and stored away until we ceremoniously placed it on the tree at her house each Christmas. Until last year. Time just caught up with the old ornament as it hung on the tree at Mama’s house. The old hanger just detached itself and the ancient glass fell to the floor and shattered into pieces. An old tradition died but the spirit of the gift still lives. b Bill Thompson is a regular Salt contributor. His newest novel, Chasing Jubal, a coming of age story in the 1950s Blue Ridge, is available where books are sold. December 2017 •



T h e

H o - h o - H o

D e pt .

The Mistletoe Bride A gothic Christmas story

By Nan Graham

The Brits have a

very different Christmas than ours. First, they say “Happy Chrimbo” for “Merry Christmas.” Then there’s the wearing of paper crowns by all at the Christmas dinner, Christmas pudding instead of pecan pie and Father Christmas . . . not Santa Claus. Even more bizarre, there are ghost stories. And I was reminded of one gothic Yuletide tale years ago in Charleston.

I was startled by the enormous scale of the image. The imposing oil painting was at least 8 by 6 feet, covering almost the entire wall of my favorite Charleston antiques store. I was drawn to the picture immediately not only by its size, but the immediate recognition of its subject: the Mistletoe Bride — just as I always pictured her. Beautiful. Young. Her radiant face full of mischievous cheer. Her long white veil, attached to the wreath of mistletoe on her dark hair. She tentatively looks over her shoulder as she lifts the trunk lid in front of her. The background behind her is a darkened attic. The moment is frozen. The shop owner had never heard of the Mistletoe Bride, so I told him over a cup of hot tea. It was a favorite in Victorian England, where Christmas ghost stories were a pervasive custom and still are. It goes something like this: The couple were to be married in the groom’s castle on Christmas Eve. After the ceremony and wedding breakfast, the happy guests and newlyweds decided a game of hide and seek would be great fun. The groom was “it.” Everyone hurried to closets and nooks within the great house while the bride, competitive to the max, decided the attic would make her the last to be found. She would win the game and remain the star of her own wedding day. She found her way to the attic, gloomy with castoffs from the great house. Then she saw the large oak trunk in a dim corner. It was huge, and she lifted the heavy lid with some effort. She looked around and listened for a moment to see if anyone were coming to the attic. Silence. She smiled and climbed into the trunk, excited at the thought of her young husband’s amazement when she pushed open the lid to reveal herself. She stepped in, tucking the long skirt of her dress beneath her, her wedding veil falling like a cloud around her. After she pulled the lid down, she heard it. The thud of the heavy metal lock as it clicked. The guests searched until everyone was found. All but one. The bride. They looked everywhere. The groom frantic, the guests scurrying to check every cranny in the house. Nothing. They searched through the night and as the next


Salt • December 2017

day wore on, it became obvious that they would not find her. Years later, the old man decided to move out of the manor house where he had married his beautiful bride and had lived alone for decades since her disappearance. Cousins were helping empty each room of its contents. The last task: the attic. The ancient trunk was opened and disclosed its grim secret — the skeleton of a young woman, her disintegrating veil falling from the wreath of mistletoe around her skull. A horror story! At Christmas? Horrors! The traditional story gained wide distribution when it appeared in Thomas Haynes Bayly’s printed ballad around 1830 titled “The Mistletoe Bough”: “O sad was her fate! — in sportive jest She hid from her lord in the old oak chest. It closed with a spring! . . . and, dreadful doom, The bride lay clasped in her living tomb!” Every household in England is said to have sung this ballad at Christmas in the mid-19th century: The Victorians were obsessed with this early urban legend. So taken were the English with the morbid story of the bride’s disappearance and grim discovery that country castles around the island even today claim the story as theirs: Castle Hornbeck, Basildon Grotto, Marwell Hall, Bramshil, House Brockdish Hall. And the reported most likely site of the tragedy was Minster Lovell Hall, built in 1440, and pretty much dismantled in 1747 by Baron Lovell. Its ruins remain a tourist attraction. Was this the Lovell mentioned in the ballad? His son, the devastated widower? Or the baron himself? No castle or attic or trunk to explore, so we will never know the truth of the matter. Ghost stories on Christmas Eve were an English tradition long before Dickens wrote the most famous Christmas tale of multiple ghosts, A Christmas Carol, with a happy ending. The English, as well as the rest of the world, cherish being frightened out of their wits on Christmas Eve with visions of Marley’s ghost or Scrooge himself, who was truly scared straight by the three apparitions of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and the Christmas yet to come. But the haunting Yuletide tale of a wedding and young love forever lost remains a favorite. The Brits remain the Mistletoe Bride’s staunchest supporters, but Christmas ghost stories? Rarely in America. So Happy Chrimbo! Merry Christmas! and God Bless every one, y’all . . . as Tiny Tim and I say! b Nan Graham is a regular Salt contributor and has been a local NPR commentator since 1995. The Art & Soul of Wilmington

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December Salt 2017  

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

December Salt 2017  

The Art & Soul of Wilmington