Saturday, January 17, 2015

Change of Seasons, Fayetteville Style

Seasons change subtly in Fayetteville. Or perhaps we should say, people in Fayetteville change subtly with the seasons.

From the windows of Lafayette Flats we have a unique perspective on these changes. We have a bird's eye view of Waterstone Outdoors, New River Bikes, and a long view down Court Street to the visitor's center. From here we see many indicators of seasonal change, like:

Hats - Early spring toboggans change to ball caps and visors, then to floppy sun hats and then cycle back through ball caps to toboggans. Early season toboggans are usually snug fitting and the further into winter we go the looser and more decorative they become. There is one particular style of hat that we have come to think of as the quintessential "Fayetteville Hat": The no-frills ski cap worn by seemingly 85% of Waterstone Outdoors customers.

Cars, or more importantly, what is strapped to cars - Generally speaking, cars in the spring rarely have more than one or two kayaks or bikes attached. Heading into summer, the number of bikes multiply but kayaks stay the same. In the fall Gauley Season, both the number of cars with kayaks and the number of kayaks per vehicle explodes: We've seen as many as 12 cars in a row coming up Court Street with as many as 6 kayaks per car in Gauley Season.

Buses - We never get tired of seeing busloads of rafters headed up Court Street on their way to the put-in at Cunard. The number of buses and the number of passengers on the buses swells rapidly after the first few weeks of season and remains strong through summer until school buses start to roll, then fades away as traffic is diverted to the Gauley.

Speed - The pace of life changes with the seasons as well. In the summertime people on the streets of Fayetteville seem to be moving quickly, trying to get things done so they can head out to do what they really want to be doing like climbing or kayaking. In the winter, there are certainly far fewer people out and most of them seem to be contemplative; perhaps wistfully dreaming of warmer weather or pondering whether there is enough daylight left to head off on a hike or a bike ride.

As we sit here in the dead of winter, it's hard to imagine that the sun will shine warmly again and that the cycle of seasons will begin anew. Groundhog day is just a couple of weeks away, and then  - hopefully - an early spring?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Coming to Town

Lafayette Flats co-owner Shawn Means
and Writer-in-Residence Eric Shonkwiler
Editor's Note: Eric Shonkwiler is the first-ever New River Gorge Winter Writer in Residence at Lafayette Flats. He will be spending the next three months as a guest of Lafayette Flats during which time he will be working on a new novel. His first novel, "Above All Men" was published in 2014 and has received high praise in literary circles.
Eric will be contributing to the Lafayette Flats blog during his time in Fayetteville. This is his first installment:

I travel a lot—I’ve lived in five states in the last four years—and living the sort of life that I do, I’m used to living with relatively few (though cherished) luxuries. Time, decent gas mileage, good coffee and the occasional bourbon, are about all I look for. I’ve rolled into several towns looking at the same sort of time I’m going to spend here in Fayetteville, or even longer. Places that I should have, at least for a little while, thought of as home. But never, in all those places and towns, have I felt with any ease, that I was home. That is, until I came here.

It’s been just over a week, and I’ve already written forty pages of a novel. I’ve had some very delicious food at local eateries—and a fine dark porter from a Fayetteville brewery. I’ve had the chance to meet a few of the local faces at Cathedral CafĂ©, and I’m thankful for the welcome. But what’s harder to say, even though it’s my job, is that something about this town, and about Lafayette Flats, made me feel at home from the start. I haven’t had an off step here. I settled into my flat immediately—it’s hard not to. It’s a lovely place, and I have to thank Shawn and Amy for the chance to experience, not just the flat, and not just Fayetteville, but a moment of peace that I would not have otherwise had.

Here, in Fayetteville, I’m going to write a book, and I’m going to do it on my terms. I won’t have to worry about where my money is coming from, or where it’s going, for a little while. It’s that peace, coupled with the fact that I am somewhere different, somewhere new, that I think has led me to feel completely at home here. That’s me, too. I’m not at ease if I’m not a little stirred up. I’m looking forward to seeing more, doing more, and writing more. It’s been a heck of a long week, and this is just the start. I'll have more to say about my time in Fayetteville as I experience it. In the meantime, I'll be out among you (and holed up in my flat) writing and researching.