Tag Archives: adventure

Local Paragons VII: The Stocked Pot & Co.

The Stocked Pot & Co. is a cooking school and catering (by Simple Elegance) company located on Jonestown Road in Winston Salem, North Carolina.  ith extensive experience and wide training, the company is renowned for its culinary expertise. My experience at The Stocked Pot couldn’t have been better. I took a class through Amazon Local (they also offer deals through Living Social and Groupon). The class I signed up for was centered on Julia Child’s cooking and the art of sautéing. The chef was knowledgeable, friendly and entertaining and the staff was welcoming and professional. I was particularly impressed by the well rounded knowledge not only of cooking but of the history, nomenclature, motivation and reasoning behind the cookware, styles and reasoning in each dish the chef prepared. This allowed me to learn not only about the way to cook but why certain dishes cooked the way they did—which is important to me. The class I took was a demonstration class and lasted about 2.5 hours and the food was phenomenal. There are other classes—some which are more hands on—on a wide variety of food preparation styles and cooking techniques. I would highly recommend the cooking classes to anyone and would definitely consider them at the top of my catering list given the outcome of the dishes prepared during class.

Food: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3                                                     Local Color: <3 <3 <3

Learning opportunities: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Lucy walked into The Stocked Pot fifteen minutes early. The class was scheduled to start at 6:30, but she wanted to be sure she had arrived and was settled before her client arrived. While normally they chose a caterer by more conventional methods, her client had wanted to take this cooking class to vet the possible candidates. Lucy had agreed. After all, the clients were paying and she would get a good meal out of it.

Lucy settled in at a table directly in front of the demonstration area, a small mock kitchen with brightly colored backsplash that greeted her with the effigy “Cooking is fun”.

“Lucy!” the high nosed, nasal voice sounded loud in the small area, but Lucy forced a smile to her face as she stood to greet her client.

“Hello, Janie,” she said, reaching out to shake the other woman’s hand. Janie shook brusquely then pulled her long, dark curls back into a low, loose ponytail at the base of her neck.

“It’s warm today, isn’t it? I’m burning up. This place is cute. I hope the food is as good.”

“I’ve heard good things about it,” Lucy nodded and settled herself back in her seat. “But I certainly hope it’s what you are looking for. I know how important—“

“The food is absolutely essential at this party. After all Monique is retiring and she was one of the best chefs the city ever knew.”

“I understand,” Lucy said. “Would you like some water or tea?”

“Tea, but only if it’s sweet.”

“I’ll get it,” Lucy stood and walked over to the drink station at the back of the long room. As the ice rushed into the glasses, breaking the silence of the room, she pulled in a breath and tried to clear her mind. Tonight was about Janie, but she couldn’t seem to stop thinking about the look on Chris’s face when she took the call from Silas last Sunday. She’d been out with Silas twice since then—and Chris hadn’t met her for coffee as he usually did. The acute sense of loss suffocated her.

“Excuse me,” the voice interrupted her thoughts. “Do you mind?” Lucy looked behind her and saw that several people were waiting to get drinks.

“I’m sorry,” she murmured, then quickly hurried back to her seat.

Janie began to talk. And talk. And talk.

Lucy tried to listen, but her head had begun to ache and nothing seemed to get her attention until the chef got to the front and began to speak. Even then, she didn’t take notes.

Janie, on the other hand, was completely zoned in on everything he had to say. The back of her recipe handouts were filled with notes, and her hand was up in the air with questions every time the chef stopped to take a breath. When she wasn’t speaking to the chef, she was chatting with the people at the table. The smile never left her face, and her nasal laugh filled the small area more than once in her enthusiasm.

“Oh my gosh, Lucy,” Janie exclaimed when the plate of food was settled before them at the end of class. “Is this chicken not to die for? I can’t believe all these sauces—and he fixed all this while talking to us?” She paused to stuff a bit in her mouth, her eyes rolling up to the ceiling as she reveled in gastronomic ecstasy. “Can you imagine what he can do if he’s focused solely on the food?”

“Hmm,” Lucy took a bite and nodded. “So what do you think? Do you want to hire them?”

“Absolutely,” Janie’s plate was nearly empty. Lucy’s stood nearly untouched. “I can’t believe the juiciness. My chicken almost always comes out dry.”

“Great,” Lucy nodded and forced herself to eat the rest of the food—which was phenomenal; if only her mind hadn’t been so preoccupied she might have actually enjoyed the meal. As it was, all she could think about was her growing desire to spend more time with Silas, but how sick it made her that it seemed to be costing her friendship with Chris.

Katie was no help either. It wasn’t something she could really talk about with Chris’s twin sister—it wasn’t really fair to either of them. Lucy’s head pounded.

“Thanks for coming with me,” Janie said, standing from the table. Lucy reached over and took the empty plate from her, stacking it on top of her own.

“Happy to,” Lucy said. “I’m glad it worked out for you.”

Janie nodded, then headed for the door. Lucy threw away their trash, thanked the chef and then followed. She felt bad that she hadn’t been more enthusiastic, but as she started her car she knew she’d make it up to them given the money they would spend in catering when she called later to set up the event later in the week. Her guilt quickly cranked into relief as she started her car and headed for home.

But she didn’t get far.  Having only driven a couple of miles, her car began to sputter, then it gave a great jerk. Lucy yelped as the car heaved and she was barely able to pull into a dark BB&T parking lot before her car gave one final hiss, then died. All she was left with was the silence.

Lucy looked down at her phone, the only light left in this abandoned place. She only had about 15% of her battery left, but lately 15% was not really 15% and there was no telling when it would shut off on her. Knowing that Chris was her best option, since he was only a few miles away, she dialed and hoped he picked up the phone before her phone died.

As the dial back tone shifted, Lucy got her second big shock of the night as a woman’s voice floated through the air waves and into her ear.


“Um,” Lucy was at a loss.

“Hello?” The woman’s voice said again.

“I’m, uh, looking for Chris,” Lucy stuttered.

“He’s indisposed. Can I help?”

“Um,” Lucy’s brain swirled. “No, I guess not. I guess I’ll just call back later.”

“Okay.” Lucy could hear a muffled voice in the background, she presumed it was Chris but though the woman’s voice was faint she could clearly hear her response. “Nothing. It was a wrong number.” Then the line went dead.

Lucy stared at her phone in disbelief. Clearly she had been wrong. Chris didn’t have feelings for her—he’d apparently been…well, she didn’t have time to think about that now. Nor did she have time to figure out why her eyes smarted with tears. She was stranded in a dark parking lot, and she was down to 12%. Maybe TJ could help. She dialed, but it went straight to voicemail. Lucy hung up quickly, not surprised. Feeling frantic, Lucy called Katie—she knew Katie couldn’t help, being an hour away, but hearing her voice might help her feel less panicky. After three battery draining rings, she was left with Katie’s voicemail. This time Lucy left a message, trying to control the panic in her voice, but knowing that with her friend the emotion was clearer despite her rambling.

Lucy looked at her phone, despairing the draining percentage dialed the only other number she could think of.

He picked up on the first ring.


“Silas,” she felt like a small child, but at the moment she was so relieved. “My car broke down and none of my friends are answering their phones. I—I just—“

“Where are you Luce? I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

Lucy breathed a sigh of relief and told him where to find her. He was across town, but would be there soon. She hung up the phone and leaned her head against the seat. The silence didn’t feel quiet as choking now as she waited.

Her phone rang. She looked down at the caller ID, surprised that the device still held a charge—it was Chris. Part of her wanted to ignore it, but that felt juvenile, so she answered.

“Hi, Chris.”

“Lucy. What on earth is wrong? I got a frantic call from Katie saying something about you being stranded somewhere and she can’t get there. She said you weren’t answering your phone. Where are you?”

Lucy looked at her phone, but she didn’t see any missed calls.

“My phone is dying. It must not have picked up Katie’s calls,” Lucy said. “My car broke down. I’m—“

“Where are you?” he insisted. “Why didn’t you call me?”

“Don’t worry about me,” Lucy insisted. “I know you’re busy.” She could still hear the woman’s voice ringing in her ears.

“Lucy where are you?” she could hear the impatience in his voice.

“I’m–“she yelped as a knock on her window interrupted her speech.

“Lucy! What happened!” Chris’s voice was boarding on panic now, but Lucy’s heart had settled firmly back in her chest as she stared into Silas’ winning, warm gaze.

“I’m—“ but she didn’t get to finish. Her phone died. She stared down at the dark screen, wondering what she should do next. Silas waved at her again, so she pushed thoughts of Chris aside for the moment and opened the door.

“One knight in shining armor at your service,” Silas said, bowing deeply at her. Lucy smiled, and swallowed the fear as she stared at the motorcycle parked next to her car. At least she wouldn’t have to hitchhike home—but in retrospect, as she stared down the monstrous machine, perhaps that would have been preferable.

The Artist’s Way: Different Lives, What Could Have Been and What Could Be Still

When I was in college I analyzed a movie in Comp 101, a German film entitled Run Lola, Run (not a parody of the Forest Gump saying, though there may be a connection there I haven’t fully explored). This film, though not widely known, encompasses a widely popular theme: could one split second decision, one moment, one second change the entire outcome of our future? The movie follows the pattern of repeating the same day in Groundhog Day style, but the outcome of each tiny decision that Lola makes alters the ultimate ending or fate of this day—to a catastrophic extent—until she finally “gets it right” and the audience sees how even the tiniest of moments can make an impact on the future.

I think about this sometimes, not because I regret my decisions or want to change the past, but because I wonder…well what if?

During the course of The Artist’s Way study, Julia Cameron has her readers do the same by examining ‘different lives’ or ‘other lives’ he/she could have lived. But she adds a twist—a twist I particularly like. So first, I examined some ‘other lives’

#1: publisher/editor at a large publishing company on the West Coast (I don’t know why I always wanted to do this on the West Coast, but I did—particularly Oregon or Washington…)

#2: Surfer working at a hotel or other tourist location in Hawai’i while I wait to ride the ‘big wave’ (okay, so I’ve been surfing once in my life, but it was something I’d been dreaming about my whole life and this, of course, is a totally different kind of life)

#3: Linguist working at a University or library or museum—in the UK

#4: Linguist/code breaker working for the CIA (yeah, I dreamed this…or maybe I still do)

#5: Chef at a small restaurant in a big city (I kind of always wanted to be Monica Geller on Friends. I can’t really cook, but I always wanted to be able to)

#6: Book/coffee shop owner—a place for teens and young adults to hang out, read, play board games etc)

#7: Cruise ship activities director (yes, the antisocial writer dreamed of doing this once…what a way to see the world!)

#8: Soccer player (well, really I wanted to be a star—but I would have settled for playing in college or on a rec league. I haven’t played in years and didn’t even play in high school. Sometimes I wish I had. This is a childhood dream)

#9: Personal assistant to a CEO at a large marketing or other business (I never wanted to be the CEO, but organizing sounded amazing to me!)

#10: Journalist for a magazine

So, after I analyzed these “different lives” I kind of sigh and think, ah, as if. BUT, Cameron is more encouraging with her twist. She says, don’t just what if your life away—see how you can add bits of these other lives into your CURRENT life. After I blinked two or three times, I saw the brilliance in this. It helps to bring you into a more well-rounded sense of self. It’s not that you need to reinvent who you are, but that you need continue to seek out who you want to become. My artist date this week took me toward that end.  I took my first cooking class at The Stocked Pot, and while I by no means will ever be a chef, I can start by adding new terms and new friends and new interests in cooking to my life which will add more of this “could be” life to my current life.

So what life should I seek next?

What lives could you live?

The Artist’s Way Week 2: Pay Attention, Ashley!

“The Great Creator has gifted us with creativity. Our gift back is our use of it.”

Julia Cameron

As week two of my Artist’s Way study powers on, I reflect on the chapter this week with an interesting sense of awe. I have done a lot to open myself and my life up to the gift of being a creative soul this week, and for someone who has been spending the last couple of years trying to dig herself out of the trench where she felt stuck in the mire of her own stagnate life, this is really saying something. Now, I don’t want to contribute this all to the book, I’ve been working to make positive changes before now, but this study has helped to shed some much needed perspective not only on my own life, but also on how I view others. Particularly with respect to our use of the talents we have been blessed with.

And it makes me think of Milton.

In Sonnet 19, Milton reflects on his life in much the same way I am working to reflect on mine, but Milton has gone blind as he begins his reflection.

When I consider how my light is spent,

Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,

And that one Talent which is death to hide

Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent

To serve therewith my Maker, and present

My true account, lest he returning chide;

“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”

I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need

Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best

Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state

Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed

And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:

They also serve who only stand and wait.”

And as I contemplate this poem, that I’m sure I’ve read about half a million times, I begin to wonder if blindness is really a handicap? Perhaps it is because Milton is blind that he sees so clearly—a paradox of perspective. He talks about his one talent—a clever pun that serves to allude to the parable in Matthew 25 of the men whose master entrusted them with talents. One man was entrusted with 5 talents (hmm…perhaps a very talented man…), and he took those talents and invested them thereby yielding a gain of five more bags. He didn’t waste his talent. Now, “putting your money to work” is risky—but as one of my students in Sunday School reminded me today “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” so the man took a shot, and was rewarded according to his gifts. I suspect that the master knew the man would make worthwhile and worthy investments, which is why he entrusted him with the large amount of gold in the first place. To the second man, the master gave two talents. This man went and did like the first man and doubled his gain. To the third man, the master gave one talent (with my one talent—my best talent—the talent I feel I’m gifted with). And this man didn’t want to risk losing anything so he buried the money in the ground. When the master came back, the three men presented him with their talents—the first two with the rewards of their labor also, but the third gave back what he’d buried with not even interest gained. So not only did he not risk the talent, he didn’t invest it either.

And Milton sees how this applies to human gifts and talents. We are all gifted, we’ve all been given talents that we can either put to work or we can hide away. But what good is having a talent, if there is no one reward? By rights, Milton could have been (and you can even sense some of it in his tone) angry with God for robbing him of his sight. That made his brilliant gift—a mind that can write and compose beautiful words—seem hopeless I’m sure at first. As though he might as well bury it in the ground for all the good it was doing him now.

And yet, he did not. He questions God’s right to demand work from those who cannot do his bidding (perhaps like himself—blind and unable to use his talent) and the Patience steps him and gently rebukes him (clearly Milton had already learned this lesson which he now teaches to his reader). Service comes in many forms, rushing around as soldiers and merchants is only one kind of talent—waiting and listening is another. And that, for an active person, is the hardest kind of service of all. But it does require action (to wait, to listen) and good deal of faith.

“Give yourself the gift of faith.”

Julia Cameron

And that’s what artists often need to do. Give themselves a gift of faith. A gift of believing that their one talent is not to be buried in the ground, but to be invested and put to work. But it has to be our own work. And that is scary.

So what do we do to get back on the path of creativity and start using our talents? I love Julia Cameron’s point—we have to start paying attention. We have to start seeing—and that requires us to go blind.

“Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music—the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.”

Henry Miller

Just as Milton lost his eyesight and gained insight—we have to become blind to ourselves, our insecurities, or difficulties and those things that hold us back from becoming who we are meant to be We have to start using all our senses, not just the ones that scream catastrophe.

One of the assignments this week was to think about our lives in proportion. We drew a circle, and then placed dots on the places in the slices of the circle (assigned to different parts of our lives). These dots represented how fulfilled we felt in different areas. Mine was pretty lopsided—actually it come out looking a little like a shield, which I thought was rather appropriate.

I tend to shield myself from the world too often. Rather than going out and developing an interest in people and places and the world around me, I tend to draw within myself and shut out the world. And that’s not healthy, nor is it a way to foster creativity. And so I made some goals for myself—ways to start branching out of my shield and filling in my mandala with more fulfilling and life affirming experiences. Because I don’t want to waste my talent.

The Artist’s Way: Week 1–Ashley is an Artist?

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.


Recognizing you are a shadow artist.

I never really considered myself an artist. Creative, yes. Unique, absolutely. Quirky, you betcha. But, artist? When I hear the word I think of crayons, colored pencils, watercolors, paints, pottery, you know creators. Dreamers.

I’m more of a realist. A perfectionist.

What I am, I suppose is a shadow artist.

During Nano this year I met a woman who is very sure of who she is. Carenna has a plan; she has a family, she has a career, and she has it all pretty much figured out. So when we, by chance, started communicating again and it came to light that she would be teaching a class on writing, I said sign me up! The primary text we’re using: The Artist Way. And I hesitated—The Artist’s Way? Am I an artist?

Don’t get me wrong, I recognize writing as a kind of art—I’m not separating writing from that, but in a lot of ways calling myself an artist feels almost unauthentic. Except for writing, I don’t have an artistic bone in my body (not for lack of trying—I just don’t have the talent for it). But this course is for writers, so what do I have to lose.

Nothing. And really, as I’m starting to discover, I have a lot to gain including a new perspective, which is what this blog is really about after all.

So over the next 8-12 weeks I’ll be tracking some of the tasks, and activities I go through during my journey down the artist’s way. Some of them are personal, so I won’t post about them, but some are reflective so I will and perhaps, by the end, maybe I won’t be an artist (or maybe I will) but at least I’ll be more secure and will improve as a writer and that certainly is a goal worth pursuing.

Protecting your shadow artist

“Judging your early artistic efforts is artist abuse. This happens in any number of ways: beginning work is measured against the masterworks of other artists; beginning work is exposed to premature criticism, shown to overly critical friends. In short, the fledgling artist behaves with well- practiced masochism. Masochism is an art form long ago mastered, perfected during the years of self- reproach; this habit is the self- hating bludgeon with which a shadow artist can beat himself right back into the shadows.” JULIA CAMERON

In my first activity, Cameron encourages steps toward positive affirmation. So, I wrote 10 times “I, Ashley, am a brilliant and prolific writer,” but as she warns as these affirmations are written the negative will also emerge and instead of burying it inside, I should write them out and deal with it. Though a little uncomfortable, it was a way to pull myself out of denia  l and address underlying issues. I’ve included an image of my admissions, not so that people will negate the negative emotions, but to affirm to myself that they don’t have the power over me I’ve let them have for so long.

Negative beliefs are exactly that: beliefs, not facts. JULIA CAMERON

The next step is to turn them into more positive statements. So, not only did I rewrite the statements, I wrote them in a much stronger penmenship. Cameron encourages to use these affirmations as a conclusion to the morning pages exercises. I hope I can keep up with this for the next 8-12 weeks and really see a difference in how and why I write.

An affirmation is a positive statement of (positive) belief, and if we can become one- tenth as good at positive self- talk as we are at negative self- talk, we will notice an enormous change. JULIA CAMERON

Remember that in order to recover as an artist, you must be willing to be a bad artist. JULIA CAMERON

I don’t do anything unless I can do it well. Accepting that I could be bad at something is hard for me, the perfectionist. How do you put yourself out there knowing you’ll be bad at it?

You take an art class—or like I’m doing next week—a cooking class. My first artist date! Wish me luck!

Local Paragons V: Old Salem St. Phillip’s Learning Center

Old Salem is a beautiful living museum and probably one of the most well-known tourist destinations in Winston Salem. I can’t even count the number of times I have been to this living museum myself having lived so long in this city, but I can say that every time I visit I learn something new. The St. Phillip’s learning center is a gem I discovered in adulthood. While I may have visited it as a child, I don’t recall it. It isn’t on the regular tour path, so when I discovered it I felt more enlightened than I ever had about our city’s history and past—particularly with regard to diversity and civil liberties.

Local Color:  <3 <3 <3 <3 <3                    Learning Opportunities: <3 <3 <3 <3

Food: N/A

“Faith isn’t just about following a bunch of rules.”

“Then what is it about?” The challenge had escaped Lucy before she even knew what she had said. It hung in the air between them.

Saul looked at her from across the breakfast table. Lucy looked down, lining up the remainder of her breakfast in little soldier like lines on her plate.

“It’s something you live,” Saul’s deep voice broke into her thoughts. He stood, taking the check in his left hand and extending his right to her. “Come on. Let’s go see.”

Lucy stared at his hand, then slid her small palm into his, marveling at how warm and strong his grip was as he lifted her to her feet and led her to the register so he could pay. She expected him to let go of her hand after lifting her form the table, but he didn’t until he had to pull out his wallet and even then he let go reluctantly. Lucy thought it odd how natural it felt to hold this stranger’s hand, but she tucked both her own hands into her coat pockets now as she waited and wondered what seeing faith at work could possibly mean.

They headed out together into the sunshine of the unseasonably warm February afternoon, facing one another.

Saul smiled. “Are you ready?” he asked.

“For what exactly?” Lucy’s brow lifted. She’d barely been ready for lunch, let alone any kind of crazy scheme he’d just cooked up in his half-baked, overzealous skull.

“I want to show you what faith looks like. Will you go to Old Salem with me? “

Lucy’s brow wrinkled. “So you want to show me what faith looked like in 1753?”

“No,” Saul laughed and leaned back on his heels.

“I’ve been there like a thousand times. What could possibl—“ Lucy stopped talking as Saul’s grin widened.

“I know, but you haven’t been with me.”

Lucy chewed on her lower lip and considered this. Finally she nodded. “Okay, let’s do it.”

“Great,” he reached over and pulled her toward the parking lot, stopping at a motorcycle parked just next to a handicapped spot near the entrance. He held out a helmet to Lucy whose jaw was on the cement in front of her. “Ready?”

“You’re joking, right?” She squeaked.

“Nope. You’ll love it.”

“When I’m dead, maybe. But there is no way I’m getting on the back of that…that…”

“Standard road cruiser?”


“Watch it now, you’ll hurt her feelings.”

“That’s highly unlikely.” Lucy crossed her arms over her chest and stared at him.

“Why won’t you ride?”

“Because I’m not stupid.” Lucy shoved her hands back in her pockets and shook her head. Saul frowned.


“Really, as a med student I’d think you’d be aware of the statistics about motorcycle accidents.”

“Statistics, schmatistics—“

“It’s not happening Saul,” she crossed her arms now—shutting out the unwelcome memory of Pete’s premature death and the gruesome scene. Lucky to have survived, miraculous even, having been thrown clear of the accident scene.

Lucy’s breathing was becoming much shallower; Saul noticed and he nodded.

“Fair enough. We’ll take your ride.”

Lucy nodded and led the way to her own car, grateful not to have to relive that particular memory—today at least.

Her hands were shaking as she reached to unlock the door and she dropped the keys, the clatter and clink shattering the silence between them.

“Hey,” Saul was beside, plucking the keys from the asphalt. He put his hand on her shoulder as he returned the keys. “You okay?”

Lucy didn’t trust herself to speak. She nodded and her fingers folded around the keys, feeling the cold metal melt into the warmth of her palm. She took a calming breath as she slid in behind the wheel and waited for Saul to do the same on his own side.

Once they were both securely in the car, Lucy managed to shake some sense into herself and she headed to Old Salem in an awkward silence, listening to the chatter on NPR, which Lucy had been listening to early but didn’t really hear now.

As she pulled into a space at the visitor center, she turned to Saul and flipped the radio off. “Look,” she said. “I’m sorry I was so short with you. I just, well, I just really don’t like motor cycles.” She finished the sentence lamely, looking away from him as she did.

“I take it your distaste stems from more than just statistical analysis,” Sauls’ words were kind, un-probing, stated just as fact.

Lucy nodded.

Saul did the same.

“Fair enough,” he said. Without hesitation, he reached over and rubbed her arm. “A story for another day.” His hand dropped and he climbed out of the car. Lucy stared straight ahead, still feeling the warmth of his touch in his arm, but oddly also through her chest and down her legs too. She could feel her heart beating in her ears and didn’t know why or how, but something akin to fear was creeping over each part of her being. Not fear of Saul—but of the intensity, the moment, the unknown…and she was definitely afraid.

Taking a deep breath, she got out of the car and followed Saul to the visitor’s center, hoping she wouldn’t live to regret this moment or the feelings tumbling around inside her stomach as she walked.

“So,” she managed, shaking off the building tension. “Where exactly are you taking me?”

“We’re going to the St. Phillips Heritage Center.”

“To the what?” Lucy stopped, her brow raised.

“Come on, we have to hurry they close at 4:30.” He tugged on her hand and the walked quickly past the kiosk in the front of the lobby selling tickets and hawking general information about the living museum they were both so familiar with.

“Don’t we need tickets/?” Lucy asked, breathless as her short legs struggled to keep pace. They breezed out the odor and past a family chattering and clucking about the best position to take a picture on the old wooden crosswalk.

“Nah,” Saul squeezed her hand and they walked faster and closer together.

“Lucy let out a breath and followed as he took a sharp right off the bridge down the uneven sidewalk. They stopped outside an old white building with a porch. To the left set back to the side was a little white church.

“What’s this?” Lucy asked. She’d been here a million times, but had never been back to this far corner of Old Salem. It was off the usual path and far from Winkler’s Bakery where she liked to snack on sugar cookies and sugar cake. She’d spent plenty of time pursuing the Single Brothers and Single Sisters and even the Blacksmith’s places. She’d been in and out of the Old Home Moravian Church, and had even toured Salem College once or twice, but she hadn’t been to this little corner.

“This is the St. Phillips learning center, maybe one day we’ll get a chance to go through it, but today, I want to go back there,” he pointed to the little church. “With you.”

Lucy opened her mouth to say something, but Saul was already heading up the stairs.

She followed, feeling a little like an intruder as they entered the small, quiet building—emptied as the last tour had already been given for that day.

A small robust woman came from the back room speaking as she walked, “Folks, we’re done with tours, but you’re welcome to—well glory be if it isn’t Saul. Child, where have you been the past few months? Get over here and give Polly a hug.”

“Hey Polly Wolly Doodle,” Saul’s now familiar laugh rang out as he hugged the woman, knocking her reading glasses from her head to the floor in his enthusiasm.

Lucy picked up the black frames—she was surprised to see rhinestones on the upturned corners of the rims.

Clearly this woman had a flare for ostentation.

“You ruffian, put me down,” she demanded, straightening out her now wrinkled blouse. She took the glasses from Lucy and settle them back on the top of her head, patting the rows of braids, which didn’t look ridiculous on a woman her age as it would on a Caucasian woman who might attempt the same beaded style.

“Thank you honey. Now Saul you must introduce me to this young angel you’ve brought in here. Would you just look at that beautiful glossy hair? It positively shines, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, Polly,” Saul was studying Lucy now. “I think you may be right. This is Lucy and her hair is gorgeous. We were just talking about it earlier today actually.

“A woman’s hair is her glory, hmm?” Polly nodded and reached out a hand to Lucy. “It is so nice to meet you, child.”

“Lucy, this is my dear friend Polly Smith. She and her husband Silas work here at the cultural museum and have for as long—“

“For longer than you’ve been alive sweet cheeks,” Polly laughed, a hearty noise filling the small space of the tiny cabin around them. “And you are welcome here. I’m always glad to meet any of Saul’s friends.”

Lucy didn’t miss the added emphasis to her final word, or the cutting way Polly’s eyes searched Saul briefly before coming back to rest on Lucy.

Saul either didn’t notice, or ignored Polly’s unspoken question as he asked, “Is Silas around?”

“He’s over at the church, honey,” Polly shuffled her way toward the back door. “Come on now, I’ll walk you over. We’ll just see what Silas has gotten himself into now.”

Lucy and Saul followed Polly out the door and back into the welcoming sunshine where the small, white church stood tall, proud and welcoming—just waiting for whatever they were to discover next.