Miss Spruce Pine

chalk mtn

This is a look at Chalk Mountain, taken from the road between Spruce Pine and Bakersville. It’s not the prettiest view, I suppose, but it is one I associate with home. I lived in those mountains for 22 years, 18 in Spruce Pine, 4 in Linville and Boone. I still tell people I am from the Appalachian Mountains even though I have lived in the Piedmont part of North Carolina for 38 years. I may not physically live there, but it is a part of who I am and I miss those mountains. When I go back to visit my family, I know I am almost home when I reach a curve on I-40 in Hickory and I get my first view of the mountains. I sincerely believe that my heart sighs. All feels right with my soul. I chose not to live there after college, but that does not mean that those mountains are not a part of me. A dear friend used to call me “Miss Spruce Pine.” That always made me laugh. I don’t think that Stan the Man ever visited SP, though.

I took my latest trip up the interstate to be with Mama Mildred when she had out-patient surgery, a lumpectomy. She did very well and, as she heals from that, her doctor will let her know next week what the next step is. Cancer. Stage 2. Mama is tough. Mountain women are. She will win this fight.

There were not many places to eat out in Spruce Pine when I was growing up there. And my family didn’t eat out often anyway. Not enough money in the budget for that. A big day for us was a summer Sunday morning trip down to Lake James with a stop to visit Colonel Sanders at KFC. Daddy loved their chicken as good as anything in the world. There are more places to eat now, mostly fast food, of course, but I was so excited when I opened up the May 2018 edition of Our State magazine and saw this–

our state

I asked Sister Moo if we could have lunch there. Twist my arm, she said. Mama Mildred wasn’t up to it, but she wanted us to tell Lacey, the Queen of Spruce Pine, that she has a picnic table for her if she wants it. My brother used to build furniture and Mama is ready to find a good home for one of his creations and this is as good a place as any.

tin shed sign

You walk up and order at the little window.

And then find a seat (hopefully!) at either of the little counters or at a picnic table out in the grass. While you are waiting, you can check out the critters.

Or admire the setting.

Or read the names and comments written in chalk on the side of the building.

eat BBQ

Or just people watch.

Okay, so I will confess right now– I went twice. The gentleman in the black hat must be a regular, probably a friend of Lacey’s dad, Mike Queen, who passed away last September. (I would definitely be a regular.)

Sister Moo and I shared a BBQ cheeseburger and red potatoes. I ate all the coleslaw the first day so the darling young man behind the counter brought us extra on the second day. I guess he didn’t want a fight on his hands.

burger potaoes



Lacey suggested we share the burger and potatoes so that we could save room for dessert, but we failed at that. No dessert was necessary nor was there room saved. Even the water we drank was about the best I’ve ever tasted. And don’t worry, we did take a burger and potatoes home to Mama. Next time I visit, I hope to see my brother’s picnic table there. I think he would like that a lot.

How about a little music interlude? Soggy Bottoms Farms reminded me of O Brother Where Art Thou and the Soggy Bottom Boys. Dan Tyminski, not George Clooney, is the real singer. I recently saw him perform the song at the Brad Paisley concert. Man of Constant Sorrow–

I also did a little bit of wine tasting while there. I had heard of Linville Falls Winery, but I didn’t even really know where it was. Moo and I were headed up to the thrift store at Crossnore School when she all of sudden made a left turn. I always let her drive so that I can just look out the windows without worrying about running the car off the side of a mountain. Smart move, right? This is a little slice of paradise.


Grapes. Vineyards. Right up the road from Spruce Pine. I asked Moo if she wanted to do a tasting to which she replied “I don’t like wine.” Hmmm. We’ll see. She tasted the sweet selections and I tasted the dry.

wine tasting

We were both quite pleased! She even let me taste hers. What a sweetheart. Not really my thing, but the fortified wines… downright delicious. I brought home two bottles, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. And took two home as well. Son #2, home from Charleston to ride out Hurricane Florence, approved, as did his GF. Teddy, at the tasting bar, was great and very knowledgeable. We sat outside for a while, admiring the beauty.

sunflowers LFW


wine glass1

My final adventure was to attend the Mitchell High-McDowell High football game. I have no idea how many years it has been since I went to a high school football game. 35? The person in the world who has known me longest (other than my family), JN, lives in Asheville but still supports the hometown team. Actually, we graduated from Harris High School, not Mitchel High, but our sports teams were consolidated with Bakersville High the last year we were in school, 1976, so he played for Mitchell. My great nephew is a freshman at Mitchell and wanted to go so the three of us made the short drive over to the school. The Mitchell Mountaineers won.


It was a lovely trip to the mountains, in spite of the reason for going. I spent some quality time with my family and played tourist for an afternoon. Thank you, Sister Moo.

This recipe is my sister’s specialty. She got it from a friend of hers years ago. It is so good that when she makes it for family reunions I have learned to hide a bowl of it for myself.

Moo’s Broccoli-Cauliflower Salad

Fresh broccoli, florets cut into small pieces (about three stalks)

Fresh cauliflower, one head, cut into small pieces

(My sister doesn’t use the stalks in her salad but you certainly could- she says she uses the cauliflower stalks to taste the dressing until she gets it just right. Genius.)

Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups, but to your own taste)


3 tablespoons Duke’s mayonnaise

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Mix the dressing ingredients together and let sugar “melt.” Taste and adjust to your liking.

Pour the dressing over the broccoli and cauliflower. Stir. Add shredded cheese and stir gently. Refrigerate. Set aside a bowl for your own self but be sure to hide it in the back of the refrigerator.

Bon appétit, my mountain family. I love you all. Stay strong, Moo, Best Niece, and Mama. Eat good, local food as often as possible!



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