CAROLINA IN THE MORNING

Let me first explain where we are. That’s Susanne in a cotton field some years past. Visiting dear friends/relatives on their 40 acre estate–Ferncroft, it’s called– in North Carolina. Nearest town–Fairmont. Nearest town of any size–Lumberton,IMG_035821, 000 souls strong. Built around the Lumber River in the Lumber River Valley. It’s in Robeson County, demographically home to a variety of southerners, but including significantly, the Lumbee Indian tribe. The Lumbees are little known and of vague origin. The most intriguing theory I’ve heard is that they are connected somehow with the lost colony of Roanoke Island, a 16th century English settlement which just plain disappeared not long after it began. Are the Lumbees a white-native american hybrid of some sort descended from the lost colony? No one knows, so I prefer to believe it.

This area has suffered mightily from hurricanes over the last few years, the latest of which were Matthew (2016), followed closely by Florence (2018). Many people lost everything twice in two years. Good thing climate change isn’t real, or it might have been worse. ( Insert a weak “ho-ho” here.)

I’m sitting in a dark wood-and-leather chair at a fine small table in one of the most exquisite kitchens you’ll ever meet. Nila and husband Lionel are always on the hunt for the latest and greatest. Newest example, a smart refrigerator that shows you on its door what’s inside and where before you even touch it. It sits beside a cast iron stove whose operation I don’t fully understand except that its ovens are at a constant temperature and can handle more simultaneous projects than you could possibly imagine. Oh, and they just added a second dishwasher. No more dishes sitting out waiting for the last load to finish. And so on.

I look out through French doors and plate glass windows into an enclosed Lanai, perfect for all kinds of festivities, of which they host many. Beyond the lanai is a spacious veranda, also perfect for such festivities. Beyond that is a well-planted garden bordered by an elaborate pergola under which sit a rich collection of patio furniture and plants.

Above me sit a number of rooms–bedroom and non–connected by a fine staircase.

IMG_4797The journey from here to there is chock full of terrific and surprising art, much of it fashioned by Nila herself. Not that she made the peacock, of course, but she brought it home and placed it just so.

IMG_4790And looking beyond the Manor on the side opposite where I am perched is this grand reflecting pool, complete with–of course–swans–in this shot resting from their morning paddle.

IMG_4288There are are many more marvels, too numerous and widespread to show here. The home grown truffles, the exhibition gate house, the iron sculptured lions standing a roaring guard at the front gate, the fountain of Erasmus B. Dragon, who breathes fire at intruders, the miniature horses no bigger than a giant schnauzer, and so much more. It’s been just a couple of years since we were here last, but we’re told there are a number of additions ready and waiting for us to encounter on our next tour, coming up. In the meantime, we leave you with this haunting memento of Susanne and hostess Nila from a Halloween past. ha-ha-ha-etc.

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