Home Sweet Home


Home Sweet Home

  • Rachel Brownlee

    As a freelance writer with a background in horticulture and sustainable agriculture, Rachel's intrest in food has, over time, become her primary artistic medium. An advocate of exploring the freedoms...

A change of scenery over the holidays is usually something to look forward to, with the promise of family and good food waiting for your arrival, but coming home never gets old. Although I do occasionally feel full to the brim with the dogma/karma bumper stickers and the rare but guilty moments standing at the checkout without reusable bags in hand, when I leave this place, I miss it. Bad.
The move to Asheville began with everything my then boyfriend (now husband) and I jointly owned, crammed into his 85’ Toyota forerunner. Ten years later, I finally appreciate all this place is. 
It’s not just the usual list of incredible and ever mushrooming craft breweries packed into one little town; or the eclectic restaurants; or proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway; or the natural delights unique to living in a deciduous rainforest: ginsing, ladyslipper, showy orchis, wild ginger, and bloodroot; or the spectrum of trailblazing small business owners; fresh milled grits; concentration of artists; good schools; unbeatable four season variety; the mountain views, or the French Broad River. For me, it’s being able to come home and feel at home in a way I haven’t living anywhere else. 

Rose Of Sharon Winter Seed Pods (Hibiscus syriacus)
Climbing back into the mountains from the Piedmont or crossing over the peaks of Eastern Tennessee, I stop to grab a frosty 6pack and crack one open in my sunny yard by the creek. Because it’s so damn sunny here. It’s not everywhere else; ever been to Trenton? Philly? Cleveland? 
The morning after a full week or two of travel with nothing in the fridge isn’t a problem. I roll over to the North Asheville Tailgate Market at UNCA and maybe pick up ingredients for one of the best meals of my life, and catch up with the vendors, who, over the years have become dear friends. Then I eat my grass fed pork chops with a pile of brown-sugar-doused and skillet fried Henderson county apples in my sunny yard. By the creek. On a 60 degree December day. I walk off the holiday debauchery in Carrier Park alongside paw paws and serviceberries (not bad for a reclaimed junk pit). And then I plug back in, and it’s not a drag. The bouquet of rock-solid friends who greet my return is the reason I will never live anywhere else.

Winter Red Bud Seed Pods (Cercis canadensis)