I recognized the aroma immediately. In my dream, I pulled a bureau drawer open and the unmistakable scent of Shalimar perfume overwhelmed me. It was the preferred scent of my late mother, and as I opened my eyes in my room at the Inn on Church Street in Hendersonville, N.C., I smiled at her memory. Strangely, I still smelled the perfume...
“Am I still dreaming?” I wondered, but no, the scent permeated my room.
At breakfast, Inn Manager Michelle Briggs tells of some of the history of the house as she places a savory plate in front of me laden with silver dollar pancakes, layered with homemade jam and served with crisp Canadian bacon, orange juice and hot tea. Briggs says many people think they are hearing ghosts in the inn, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places,” because of the creaking hardwood floors and inevitable clangs from the old timey radiators. She says she never pays attention to strange noises, but reveals that there is one room in the inn that consistently yields the unmistakable scent of perfume. “In fact, it comes from the room you stayed in – Room 8, our Narcissus room.” “I smelled it,” I told her, "It woke me up."
The property manager joins us and adds that an engagement ring was found in the baseboard during renovations of that room. Could a perfumed spirit continue to search for the ring?
Intrigued by the thought of ghosts, and satisfied by the hearty breakfast, I make my way just a block or two south on Church Street and park outside the Curb Market. This market has been a staple here since 1924 and features foods, dolls, original artwork and floral arrangements – all created by Henderson County residents.
Elaine Staton stocks jars of jams and jellies at a neighbor’s booth as she greets me with a smile. Staton has served as the manager here for eight years. She takes a couple of steps to the next booth which features her popular pound cakes, a tasty treat she’s been selling here for 11 years.
“I make 15 different varieties,” she says as she points to an almond flavored cake, its top covered with slivered almonds. She sells half cakes for $7.
When she initially sought a booth here she wanted to sell her husband’s woodworking. When she applied, one of the board members asked if she baked and told her there was a demand for pound cakes. “I pulled out a recipe that a neighbor gave me 30 years ago and I still use it today,” Staton says. “I just use different flavorings.”
Tambra Buford and her husband hold down full-time jobs, but on Saturdays they bring their fresh goat’s milk cheese and lotions and soaps made from goat’s milk to their booth at the Curb Market. “The bloodline of our goats comes from the Sandburg goats,” says Buford. Carl Sandburg’s wife, Lillian, raised and sold goats from their home in neighboring Flat Rock.
“Our most popular cheese varieties are jalapeno and garlic chevre, and feta with sun-dried tomato and basil.”
The Curb Market is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. www.curbmarket.com, 828-692-8012
Surprises on Main Street
Hendersonville’s Main Street offers an eclectic selection of fine dining, cozy cafes, jewelry stores, toy shops, clothing shops, and other unique businesses. Most of the stores open at 10 a.m., so after visiting the Curb Market, I stop in at the Black Bear Coffee Company to sip a cup of hot Peach/Apricot tea and to connect to their free Wi-Fi. I use Twitter to send out tweets and photos of the day’s events for Blue Ridge Country.
A steady stream of patrons arrive for lattes and pastries, and many groups settle in for chats at the cozy tables and sofas arranged inside, as well as the patio on the street. A steady flow of parents and tots make their way next door to a place called Hand’s On: A Child’s Gallery (www.handsonwnc.org, 828-697-8333). A quick glimpse inside shows off a colorful, inviting play area, as well as provides a venue for birthday parties.
My next stop is a place I have always wanted to visit, but somehow never took time to stop in. Today, I ventured into the Mineral & Lapidary Museum (www.mineralmuseum.org, 828-698-1977), at 400 North Main Street. Admission is free – a true bargain in today’s economy.
Lighted display cases show off an impressive collection of stones and gems. As I admire the case of North Carolina Minerals collected by Richard Jacquot, author of Rock, Gem and Mineral Collecting Sites in WNC, volunteer Robert Bissonnette asks if I have any questions. I discover that Bissonnette is a master faceter. Examples of his work, including replicas of the Hope Diamond, are prominently featured in this museum.
He introduces me to Helen Houser who founded the museum 12 years ago with her late husband, Larry. “I think we’re the best kept secret in Henderson County,” says Houser. “We have items on loan from many people. A couple of collections have been donated to us and several we have purchased. We bought all of the India minerals. Right now, our replica of a T-Rex head is the biggest draw. Kids can’t get enough of dinosaurs.”
Antique stores, like the Village Green, offer an amazing array of memorabilia and nostalgia – china, silverware, knick knacks, furniture and other items that once served a previous generation. Another stores giving rebirth to its inventory is The Beehive, which is a consignment store featuring women’s clothing and shoes.
My exploration of Main Street leads me past McFarland’s Bakery a staple here for decades. I step inside if nothing else just to take a few deep breaths. The aroma is a mixture of fresh baked breads, cakes, cookies, chocolate --- an overwhelming scent that fills my lungs and causes me to linger as I gaze at the chocolate éclairs, fresh donuts, and display of cookies shaped like clowns, dinosaurs, stars, and butterflies.
After exploring more unique shops and stores, I am ready for a late lunch. The early morning pancakes lasted well past the noon hour, and now I head to Mike’s Sandwich and Soda Shop. I love the old timey feel with the Coca-cola advertising, mirrored bar with stools where people sit and order root beer floats, sodas, and scoops of ice cream. There are also booths and a menu featuring sandwiches, fries, onion rings and more.
The atmosphere is fun and lively, with multi-generations enjoying the illusion of returning to the past. It provides a comforting oasis for a short time as customers remember a simpler time.