Back to the Mountain – The Tryon Daily Bulletin


I’m back for another fun summer at Tryon. This is how we make things work for us while Paul’s job keeps us in Phoenix. I stay at Tryon all summer, and Paul joins me when he can. When we retire, we will both come home for good, and I look forward to that day.

I consider myself lucky to have a place that I feel so connected to. Not everyone does. I grew up in Asheville, and now I only call home in these beautiful mountains. When Paul and I drive across country every summer, we notice the changes in color as we drive through landscapes, from shades of desert tan to pale mid-country greens, and finally to lush variations of green in western North Carolina. . I feel the stress leaving my body as I approach home, and we both savor that first aromatic deep breath that tells us we’re back in our mountains.

When I was a kid, my dad was president of the Carolina Mountain Club. We hiked and camped as a family, and it’s those memories that add to my sense of belonging here. A job brought my father to Texas after living in Asheville for eighteen years, but he returned to Asheville when he retired and served as president of the Carolina Mountain Club for the second time.

One of our family traditions was to attend the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. Since 1956, these Scottish games, now the largest in the world, have been part of what draws people to western North Carolina for unique adventures.

Paul and I recently attended the 2022 games and shared our experience with several Tryon friends. North Carolina has the largest population of people of Scottish ancestry than any other state or country, including Scotland. But you don’t have to be Scottish to enjoy four days of music, food, dancing, demonstrations and competitions. You might even be tempted to buy yourself a kilt or one of the many quality souvenirs offered in the vendor tents. I ordered myself a kilt on this trip to the games and can’t wait to wear it there next year.

As well as a love for the mountains, my dad also gave me a Scottish surname, and so I always seek out the MacNab tent at games to meet my clansmen. My husband also has a Scottish surname which I proudly chose when I became an author and wanted a pseudonym. Paul also remembers attending the Highland Games as a child. It’s funny to think we could have been there at the same time when we were kids.

I left North Carolina as a young woman to pursue a career in Los Angeles, where I lived for 27 years. I loved my life there. I worked as a model and commercial actor and dated interesting men. But I married a boy from Asheville.

We reconnected in our 40s after knowing each other in Asheville High School decades before. He lived in Atlanta and I lived in Los Angeles, but we met in Asheville for our first date which included a hike in Craggy Gardens and dinner at the Grove Park Inn.

I have no doubt that our shared love for North Carolina played a part in our decision to get married. He was the only man I dated who knew how cold the water was at the foot of Sliding Rock, who could sing the Asheville High fight song with me, and who recognized and desired that specific scent of air in the mountains where we were from.

We got married in Asheville, and seven years later moved from LA to Tryon to live in the mountains. I was happily happy at Tryon, as you probably know if you’ve ever read my columns in the newspaper. A job opportunity too perfect to say no presented itself to Paul, and we moved to Phoenix after four years at Tryon. We have returned as often as possible for visits and have made my summers here a regular affair. The plan has always been to retreat to this location.

As I sat in the stands at the opening ceremony of the Highland Games this year, the sun had set and lightning bolts lit up the dark clouds above Grandfather Mountain in a spectacle that silver could never buy. Games officials told stories about the history of the Scottish people who settled here many generations ago because the mountains reminded them of their beloved Scottish Highlands. I thought of all the people in the history of these mountains, including those who were here before any Europeans, and how they must have felt the same power as me.

Our latest Highland Games host addressed a silent crowd as he welcomed us to Grandfather Mountain. His last words were, “Now you’re home.”

I wondered how many people around me felt that same pull that tugged at my heart, that same lump in my throat, that feeling that those words were personal.

If you are lucky enough to live here, I wish you the same sincere love I have for our beautiful home: for Tryon, for North Carolina and for the mountains.


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