A few days ago, my cousin Norma accompanied me on errands to the TRAC galleries in Burnsville and Spruce Pine, NC. TRAC -- that's the Toe River Arts Council, of which Greg and I are members. There are many fine artists in Yancey and Mitchell counties, and TRAC does a terrific job of promoting them, and promoting the arts in area schools and the surrounding communities at large.
One of my favorite artists is Judson Guérard, Norma's son-in-law (hence, my cousin-in-law?). Judson is a terrific glass artist. We visited Judson's studio, in Toecane, that day as well. Oh, you haven't heard of Toecane? Why, it's a little less than a mile from Loafer's Glory. You don't know where that is, either? Well, it's about three miles away from Red Hill ... ummm ... 16 miles north and east of Burnsville ... umm ... a little over 50 miles away from Asheville. Should you ever decide to go to Toecane, let the old mill located in Loafer's Glory be one of your landmarks.
Toecane's a pretty quiet place. I think that at one time it might have been a busy little town, located as it is above the river and the railroad tracks. But though a freight train still rumbles through, it doesn't stop in Toecane any more. There are a couple of old large commercial buildings that silently serve as witness to Toecane's former prominence among the mountain communities, a few houses, a church; Judson's studio occupies an old mercantile.
The road from Loafer's Glory is the only paved road going in and out of Toecane. It's pretty quiet, too, as you can see: these two dogs, who have appointed themselves official studio greeters (they are not Judson's dogs, though they do hang out at his place during the day), often lie in this bend of the road, giving them a good view of anyone who may be approaching from either direction. To better understand just how infrequently cars do come along ...
I do love small towns. I love quiet, out-of-the-way places even more. Though it would not be practical for me, at this stage of my career, to live in a place like Toecane, I sometimes daydream about retreating from the busy-ness of the modern world to just such a place. So I relish each and every visit!