Meet your neighbors along the sidewalk

Published 1:20 pm Thursday, August 31, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

A birdsong can even, for a moment, make the whole world into a sky within us, because we feel that the bird does not distinguish between its heart and the world’s.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke


September glides her canoe peacefully along trickling mountain creeks, trailing fingers through scattered maple leaves twirling in currents. Overhead, glimpses of yellow amid late summer’s palette of green. 

A busybody squirrel scampers up a nearby tree trunk to perch, tail shaking a mile-a-minute at some unseen intruder. Light changes, drifts over rocks and water. Wild sunflowers twine with graceful Joe Pye weed, promising more change. Dusky muscadines cluster along draping vines, the woods quieting as evenings grow shorter. Blue skies have been rinsed clean by rain; the rain barrel and buckets overflow again after being bone-dry for too long. Gardens perk back up, grateful.
Speaking of the garden, on one of those dry-spell mornings, I kept busy watering/sweating on plants, trying to keep them happy. After a bit, I spot a couple hiking along the sidewalk, so I move the watering cans and garden cart out of their way, with a smiling greeting. They stop to admire the flowers, which without fail always warms a gardener’s heart. The admiration led to introductions and a visit—the watering can got a rest. 

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Dear Reader, you can get the most interesting conversations over sweat, flowers and folks who come by. Some stop, some keep going. Most speak, and some really do take time to sniff the roses. 

So that’s how I met Alison and Doug Jayne from Smith Hill, where they’ve built a house and small rental. I’d wondered about the two new nicely-painted buildings in shades of mountains and sea with cream trim, so finally got my answer in person first-hand. The pair loved Saluda and had moved from Virginia/Charleston. 

As our chat meandered, I learned that Doug is a boat builder—and has a lifetime of building, repairing, owning and hauling vessels. They’ve owned, operated/maintained charter boats in the Caribbean, Newport, Rhode Island, Charleston, Shelter Island and Sag Harbor. Alison specializes in large event planning—in fact, was heading for the airport later in the afternoon. They’re travelers and are accomplished, yet humble as well as down-to-earth. 

We discovered a shared love of great food and cooking, discussed France, and agreed that the food, wine, and culture is our kind of idea of deliciousness—no hurry, the organic way of growing things. By this time, these two are really singing my song as we segue into discussing fresh herbs, bees, trucks for hauling garden supplies and fig trees. When Doug tells me he uses white oak bark’s inner-red cambium layer for poison oak treatment, I’m in love with them. 

By the time we finished our talk, I felt like I’d just found two new friends who had been friends all along. You know it’s been a great time when you hate to see someone leave, you want to keep talking with them! Sometimes, it’s the opposite, isn’t it? You never know who you might meet one morning with a watering can in hand, sweat in your eyes, and a smile on your face along the sidewalks of this little town. 

By the way, Saluda Community Land Trust has a hike planned on September 3 to Vaughn’s Creek. Meet at Saluda Library’s parking lot at 2 p.m. 

Happy September Birthday to Wayne Thompson, Courtney Hoots, Merci Weitzen, Dale McEntire, Joni Rauschenbach, Linda Kaye Hayes, Carol Kenfield, Leslie Jespersen, Linda Mintz, Sheila Billeter, Cary Pace, Ross Arrington, Chuck Hearon, Alexia Timberlake, Jason Justus, Beth Carson, Clark Thompson, Nicholas Edwards, Cindy Tuttle, Don Clapp, Nancy Pew, Marc Blazar, M.J. Parsons, Gina Burnett, and Melanie Talbot. 

Feel free to contact me at, (828) 817-6765, P.O. Box 331, Saluda, NC 28773, Facebook, or visit