North Carolina has a way of getting to you, and it happens in an instant. Pelicans flying in a line, skimming the wave tops, then rising and diving in their strange half-corkscrew and emerging from the ocean. The high, lonesome sound of a bluegrass fiddle calling across the mountain evening, joined by the pluck of a banjo. The heady scent of drying tobacco. No matter what it is that grabs you, you’re hooked. You start looking for the gentle peaks of the Smoky Mountains around every corner, watching for the rise of the Blue Ridge on every horizon. You listen for surf crashing, frogs calling, or the wind rattling the heavy heads of sea oats every time you open your window. You find yourself picking a side in the great Tobacco Road basketball debate: Duke or UNC. North Carolina has worked its magic on you.
From the mountains to the sea, from the Outer Banks to Asheville, Charlotte to Chapel Hill, Wilmington to Winston-Salem, you’ll find people as varied as the landscapes they inhabit, and histories as wild as the woods, creeks, rivers, and mountains. In the mountains, listen to a blacksmith play his anvil like a musical instrument, making it “sing” with the hammer. In Greensboro, visit the spot where four brave young men fanned the flames of the Civil Rights movement. Meet communities like the Cherokee and Seagrove, in which traditional arts have been practiced for centuries and are still alive today.
I didn’t grow up here, but I call North Carolina home all the same. Come for the pace and quality of life. Come for the barbecue, for the basketball, for the bluegrass. Come to add your own experiences to this contradictory, complex, captivating state. Come to live the state’s motto, Esse Quam Videri—”to be, rather than to seem”—and let North Carolina’s magic make a change in you.
Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon North Carolina.