Monday, July 21, 2008

Hillsborough in July

We live in one of the oldest overlooked little towns in North Carolina. During the days leading up to the American Revolution, Hillsborough was the colonists' NC capital. There was a scandal when the capital was moved to Taylor's Farm (now Raleigh). Having missed its bid for the center of NC government, it makes due these days as the Orange County seat (to the irritation of Chapel Hill, which has easily ten times the population) and a growing reputation as a nice place to live and an interesting little area to shop and eat.

Sunday my dearest and I got up early and went for a walk in the village. We live in a well established, well treed subdivision a few miles south of the town center - we couldn't afford these houses in the historic area, and it's too dark for us in those houses. Lots of little windows, huge trees, deep porches and very little direct sunlight into the rooms. It was all about keeping them cool in the summers before central air.

This is the Colonial Inn, which fifteen years ago was one of the longest continuously running inns in the United States, and one of the town's best known landmarks. They also had a legendary Sunday brunch. Then a rich eccentric recluse bought it, promising to restore it and continue it's life as an Inn; he closed it and for over a decade has lived in one back corner, letting the building molder into ruin. We have heard that he has done this with historic properties in other towns. He's not well liked in Hillsborough. I'm sure tar and feathers have been discussed.

These houses, with the gable over the bay window, were built in several variations in the early 1800s around town. Here are three of them. Click for a larger version.

The downtown historic area has been there so long that the trees have attempted to swallow many of the houses. People also garden intensively on the small lots, but this example carries it further than most.

In West Hillsborough, where my wife had never been before, we found an old mill, and several other buildings. This little corporate district is being renovated for businesses and some condominiums, we understand. The town had under 5000 people when we moved in - now it's over 6500 and growing. As long as it's done smart and with character, it's probably a good thing for the near term. We don't want it to become homogeneous and boring, like Cary, NC.

I was snapping these while we walked, and my dear one had to keep walking for her foot and knee injuries. Standing is the hard thing right now.

This crepe myrtle paradise was repeated in many parts of the walk, but this was the most beautiful, with a heavy shower last night responsible for so many bright blossoms on the ground.

It looks pretty, and it was, but by 10:00 the NC July heat was setting in, the cicadas were ratcheting up, competing with the sound of the church traffic (and winning), and we were ready to head for the quiet and cool of home. We shopped at the newly opened organic market before heading out - but that's another subject, which I'll let my dear one handle on her blog.

>>>> Appendix de Grenouille #7 <<<<

Grenouille visited the other amphibians around the fountain. He's too fussy to swim in that water. He's strictly a coffee mug frog (but not like this one - biscotti always brings a smile to my face now).

When we were on the way back to the house Grenouille said, with his usual sangfroid, "That poullette is tres joli, and her spots are tres chic, but she never paused even to breathe. I watched carefully. Her beak also proves scientists are incorrect - perpetual motion is possible. And, finally, I deduce that both toads have developed selective deafness."


Anonymous said...

What a lovely community. I would love to live in an old gabled house like that - just once. I think it's wonderful that you and your dear one get out for those walks. That is something I miss since we're not in town. It's not really safe to walk these roads much.

MLight said...

A picture of me. You're in big trouble. In fact, you've inspired a whole blog post.

Liberality said...

A nice little town you have there. I now have to check out her blog.

Liberality said...

I also wanted to add that your comments on my blog are very thoughtful and I apprieciate that.

Pagan Sphinx said...

Gorgeous. I love houses swallowed by trees...

Steve Emery said...

MLight - Oh the things I'd like to say... But I'll do that somewhere else.

Steve Emery said...

Liberality - If my comments are thoughtful it's because your blog inspires that.

Same for you, Pagan.

linda said...

what a lovely place you live...very different from my neck of the woods! but the best are the frogs and chicken fest and the crepe I know why mine aren't doing anything...I don't live there! I haven't seen one flower! thanks for the stroll :)

Steve Emery said...

Linda - so crepe myrtles don't like CA? Not hot and humid enough, maybe? Since they bloom during the most beastly hot part of our year (heat index often over 100) I bet they need it.