A Little Ghost in the Garden

And so, I moved into “the city.”

Even by Asheville’s idiosyncratic standards, my new neighborhood has a lot of personality.

Perched on a mountainside overlooking the north end of town, it is laid out in a maze of rather narrow and hilly streets – perfect for long, rambling walks with dogs.

It is home to musicians, artists and artisans.  Dancers and dreamers.  Builders, renovators and carpenters.   Massagers and missionaries.  Realtors and retirees.  Genealogists and historians.  Fishermen, restaurateurs, and coffee shop owners.   Mountain folk, half-backs, snowbirds, and urban-flighters.

It even has a ballet conservatory and an electronic music factory.

Yes, this is Appalachia.

IMG_1670

Some folks have been here most (if not all) of their lives.

And some, like me, have only just recently found their way into the neighborhood.

Some have built their dream retirement home here,

IMG_1677

while others are just trying to get through the mountain winters without central heat.

In addition to the home for retired Methodist missionaries, our street has a random assortment of Arts & Crafts bungalows, Victorian and Queen Anne-style homes, a little church,

IMG_8434

and one Dutch barn – my own casa mia.

 And, co-existing in a rather bizarre juxtaposition,

IMG_1400.JPG

 there is also a women’s shelter next to two lovely and historic B&B’s.

IMG_0736

A crazy eclectic mix – and that’s Asheville.

Each house in the little ‘hood holds a unique cache of stories of the generations of people and families that have lived and died there.

Like this one down the street, where wedding initials and dates, etched with a diamond ring decades ago,

IMG_0734

are still visible in the glass of the window panes.

Or this overgrown lot around the corner –

IMG_9064

where you can still see the ruins of an historic home that crack-addicted squatters accidentally burned down nearly twenty years ago,

IMG_9063.JPG

back when this neighborhood was the working turf of prostitutes and drug dealers.

And, until just recently,

IMG_6591

there was this old farmhouse dating back to 1910.

These photographs, taken just a year and a half ago,

IMG_6592

seem to illustrate the bewildering and poignant displacement of old Appalachia.

(It’s actually just my former neighbor, Donna Sue, getting irritated with me for taking “so durn long” to grab the shot, while she was busy trying to pack up and move out.  But not too busy, it should be noted, not to indulge in a lengthy discussion on flowers and the best place in Tennessee to get moonshine.)

IMG_2649

A few months later, after Donna Sue and her family left and only the stubborn old cat remained, the farmhouse was torn down to make way for something new.

IMG_2262

Even my house, it turns out, has its own ghosts, one of which belongs to a little five-year-old girl, whose gravestone I discovered unexpectedly

IMG_0132.JPG

while gardening in my back yard one day.

It’s a sad story, I came to find out, and one that can wait for another day.

Author: kristin fellows

Kristin Fellows is a street photographer & travel writer, based in Asheville, North Carolina. Kristin’s adventures in the past several years have taken her to Iceland to hike volcanoes and photograph puffins; to Barcelona, Mexico, Addis Ababa, and New Orleans for street photography; and most recently, to Athens for a big fat Greek wedding, and to Helsinki to get beaten with frozen birch branches in the city's oldest public sauna. She has worked as a documentary film consultant on more than 65 films. Her photograph, “Skywalker,” was chosen as a National Geographic Photo of the Day in 2015. Kristin is still working on her first book, The Red Moon Letters – a non-fiction, dual-narrative thriller set in Ethiopia during the time of the Haile Selassie. Educated in both London and the US, Kristin also has a cherished diploma from the Icelandic Elf School (Álfaskólinn.) Kristin is the niece of the late New York Times foreign correspondent, Lawrence Fellows. Follow Kristin on Instagram @ kristinfellowsphotography

1 thought on “A Little Ghost in the Garden”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s