Phoning it in before the long weekend
Biscuits! Fire ants at Pinehurst! VENOM-SPITTING COBRAS! Ease into July 4th with a few bits of North Carolina miscellany.
Going to take this one a little easy, since I’m off to Carolina Beach for the weekend to observe the Shibumi Shades in their natural habitat. But before I get away, here are a few odds and ends for you:
Wooooo, but what does it mean?!?
As you may know, I have an unhealthy obsession with Ric Flair, a former Charlottean and professional wrestler of some repute. Hence, I am very much enjoying the No Context Flair Twitter account, which just posts bits of old promos, usually with no comment, and begs for you to quote-Tweet them back out. If you go back far enough, you can find a Flair bit for every situation, but I found this one particularly useful as a writing prompt:
Hit me up with your spiciest QTs. Here’s mine:
A close look at an overlooked place
I also have a bit of a soft spot for Tyrrell County, North Carolina’s least human-inhabited county and the only place where the bear population is within striking distance of the human population. (SIDE NOTE: I came across and wanted to do a story about the Tyrrell County Bear Lady, a woman who militantly protected and cared for the local bears — bears that ultimately may have eaten her after she died. Alas, Brandon Sneed got there first.) The county is so small that once, when I went to the local courthouse to pull some old case files, the clerk pointed me to a small row of shelves. “Here you go,” she said. “Here are all of the civil cases filed here since 1985.” Reader, I was able to quickly locate the files.
You may be more familiar with Tyrrell County as the place where a state trooper will definitely pull you over if you’re doing a mile-an-hour over the speed limit on U.S. 64. Other than that, the county is largely overlooked, which is why I was heartened to see this story from Caitlin Thompson at Coda about the have and have nots when it comes to adapting to climate change in North Carolina. A few miles away over in Nags Head, they’re preparing for the rising seas. In Tyrrell County, they can’t. The details in this story are particularly eerie:
“People say when sea level rises, the tide comes into the yard. No, it comes up through the yard,” said Willy Phillips, who has lived in the county for decades.
The soil is so wet that people can only bury their relatives in the community’s small graveyard during the hottest seasons, and coffins are covered in concrete to keep them from rising to the surface after they are interred.
tl;dr it all comes back to a think I’ve heard over and over again when it comes to deciding who gets to be protected from the natural world and who doesn’t: cost-benefit analysis. I’ve heard it in Southeast Ohio, where a river was rerouted and levees were built to protect a prosperous college town at the expense of smaller, poorer towns just downriver. It’s certainly been the case in Princeville, North Carolina, the country’s first town incorporated by Blacks. Tarboro was built on the higher ground on the other side of the Tar River, leaving the lower, more vulnerable, cheaper land of Princeville open for poorer, Black families who, in short, built a thriving community that was constantly hit hard by flooding and storms. And, it’s at play in Tyrrell County, where people don’t deny that climate change is real — they’re dealing with it right now — but they just don’t have the money to do anything about it.
It’s worth reading the whole thing.
A North Carolina Biscuit Outpost in Denver, Colorado
I wrote a whole thing about Denver last week and totally forgot to mention Rise & Shine, a biscuit joint out there whose logo is the Colorado flag inside the outline of North Carolina. I was tipped off on its existence by former mayor of Charlotte Ben Swanson, and visited a few years back. I wrote a little ditty on it for Our State magazine that’s not online, but I’ll publish it here:
Rise and Shine Biscuits in Denver, Colorado worked hard on establishing its North Carolina credentials. Menu items have names like the Raleigh, the Asheville, and the Goldsboro. The WiFi password is “tarheels82.” And, it’s stocked with Our State magazines, thanks to a customer who bought a gift subscription for them. “She felt like we needed it,” says Seth Rubin, who moved to Denver after graduating from UNC Chapel Hill in 1999. In 2010, he started Rise and Shine because: “I was hungry. And I missed biscuits.” Today, the place is a gathering spot for North Carolina expats, who push pins into a state map on the wall to show where they’re from. There are close to 450 in total, proving you can move away from our state, but you never really leave.
The biscuits were great. I’m not a connoisseur, though, so I don’t know if they use the secret Southern biscuit-making ingredients there.
A Chicken In Every Pot and an IPA in Every Cooler
If you ask U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Jackson to get you some Hop, Drop, and Roll … he might.
A snake in Raleigh that’s not a lawmaker AMIRITE
There was a supa venomous snake loose in Raleigh, which is the rare news story that brings everyone together. Right? It’s a moment when an entire city says: We all have our differences, and we’re going to pledge to be better people and resolve them in a thoughtful way … just as soon as we catch THAT VENOM-SPITTING COBRA THAT’S ON THE LOOSE.
They did catch the snake, but along the way, a reporter for WNCN actually walked up on the snake as it sat on a porch. They looked into each others eyes. And then, she very deliberately turned and walked away, flashing her videographer the biggest NOPE facial expression I’ve ever seen:
God bless local news reporters, who are not paid enough to go knock on random doors as it is without having to deal with venom-spitting cobras.
Pinehurst No. 2: North Carolina’s Dirtiest Golf Course
My brother and I were with my dad last weekend as he crossed a big one off of his bucket list: 18 holes on Pinehurst No. 2. Yes, we got the Paine Stewart picture.
I shot 100 from the white tees and was very happy with that. Dad shot 85. He’s still grumbling about missing a birdie put on 18. Still though, dude, YOU SHOT AN 85 ON NUMBER TWO. That alone should get him goodwill Cokes from his Ohio golf buddies for years.
My brother and I, however, spent most of our time hitting errant shots out of waste bunkers, and then watching as those shots, if they hit the green, cruelly rolled off into another waste bunker. By the end of the day, my legs were grimy and I had a fire ant bites on my shins. That alone gives me the incentive to be a better golfer. Just imagine how much cleaner I’d be if I hit a fairway every once in a while.
Also, my golf shoe broke on Pinehurst No. 4. I’d like to say that it’s because I golfed so hard, but it’s because my shoes were at least 20 years old. The sole came flapping off on the 17th, and I ended up playing the last hole barefoot.
I’ve never had nature try to break me in such a pretty place, but I’m here to tell you that I survived.