Robert Cuthbert’s book, Flat Rock of the Old Time, takes us on a journey through the largest historic district in all of North Carolina, as reflected in letters penned by the people who founded it. I would like to thank Mr. Cuthbert for generously permitting HFR President Victoria Flanagan to use his book as a reference, and to Ms. Flanagan for lending it to me as a source of inspiration.

Apparent in many of the letters was a love of the beautiful weather and climate. This aspect of Flat Rock brought the founding families here again and again each summer, creating what would become a well-travelled path from Charleston. As Langdon Cheves writes to his aunt, Harriott Middleton, “…This has been a delightful day, clouds at times, and a breeze always, the fall running over all day and this morning a curling wreath of mist rising from it and the grass white with dew looking like frost.”

This feeling of wonder and relief brought about by the very nature of Flat Rock remains as true today as it was over 180 years ago. It is a sentiment that could have been expressed by any one of our tourists, snowbirds or transplants that seek the respite of Flat Rock season after season.

My own family relocated to beautiful historic Flat Rock from a hot, humid, and crowded city, just four years ago, and I still see the wonder of this place as if I had just arrived. I have written the following poem, Unchanged Springtime, in hopes of capturing the essence of Flat Rock’s natural bounty, and to remind us of the thread that connects our present with our past.


Unchanged Springtime
by Ella Oursler


The gnarled bark of the gruff apple tree
In the dark
Of the night, sometimes frightens me
Still I know that the sun, when it melts the snow
Will shine on every leaf, and encourage fruit to grow

And far across the undulating fields
The call of a mare, nudging her foal
Who with her sleek form shields him
Her young stallion

And the heads of the silly lavender stalks whisper
Their lilac crests bobbing with spring gossip
The aged doe and her young fawn
Come out after the thaw to taste new tulips
Delicate bushes once more bear rose hips

The creek burbles contentedly
Its rapids laughing dementedly
And the packed dirt drives
Now are soppy with melted snow
All the fall colors lay below

And little girls and boys
Don their springtime frocks and breeches;
Forgotten now are mittens and fleeces

Gone are the icicles
That used to hang down
Welcoming you, to Flat Rock
Our town

Paula’s prized goats, out to pasture once more
Their milk now flowing, a glistening pour

The washer men and women
Stringing clothes out on a line
Weeds now starkly blooming;
Clover amidst the thyme

The hems of many skirts drag in the mud;
Their owners far too elated to care
Children picking blackberries dash home shrieking;
Saying they had spotted a bear

Curtains thrown apart
Windows cracked
Even the mountains seem softer;
More relaxed

So here I stand
Beneath the trees
Letting the birdsong envelope me
And think
And watch
As the bustling people dissolve into springtime mist
And look to my feet; the asphalt sun-kissed

Though civilization sprawls, climbs
It is not so different from when
We had more wild in mountain
More dew in glen

No, we have not changed much, although
We first walked these paths
A long time ago.