I was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and lived there for forty years. Next was Los Angeles for ten years. In 1997, I committed myself to being an artist and moved to Ashland, Oregon. I stayed there three years and then moved to the SF Bay Area and opened Heartful Art Gallery in Sausalito in 2001. In 2008, I moved to the Gulf Coast of Florida to be closer to my aging parents, and in 2015, I moved to Miami to be their caregiver. They wanted to stay in their own home as long as they lived and my going there to help them allowed that to happen. So grateful. They had been happily married for 73 years, and both passed fairly naturally at age 96. By December, 2018, I had completed handling their affairs in Miami and set out on a journey to my new home in Asheville.
I had never lived on the East Coast, and was attracted to the Blue Ridge Mountains, the forests, and the thriving art community in Asheville, a town of 92,000 people. I loved the idea of being able to have Asheville as a home base and take short trips up the East Coast to NYC, Boston, and Maine, travel to the North Carolina coast for a weekend, or explore the surrounding states of South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, and beyond. This country is vast, beautiful, and has so much to offer.
I've been in Asheville for six months now. There are many "best parts" of living here, but my favorite is nature. It is accessible. I don't need to seek it out or drive anywhere to get to it. I simply look up, look around, pause, and enjoy. It's everywhere, around every turn in the road, on every path.
Mountains surround Asheville. To me, they are living art, with the sun rising and setting and splashing shadow or color on them, clouds and storms moving over them, trees blossoming in spring and turning colors in fall, and birds singing everywhere.
For a nature lover like me, this area is perfect. I'm told there are sixty waterfalls close to Asheville (I've hiked to only 3 so far), and neighboring Transylvania County has over 250. I love trees. Being in a forest is a breath of Heaven for me, and I now have hiking boots, trek poles, and a backpack. I'm all set.
True, Asheville doesn't have an ocean. However, I so cherished the Gulf Coast waters of Caspersen Beach when I lived in Venice, Florida, the ocean lives inside me now. Also, I know winter does exist here, since I arrived in the middle of an ice storm last December. But the weather here is moderate, especially compared to the cold of Minnesota or the heat of Miami.
As for my required necessities, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and EarthFare provide plenty of organic, healthy food. Then there's the bonus of family and friends. My sister-in-law and niece both make their home here and have families of their own. Friends from California and Florida live here now too, and, being the gregarious person I am, I'm blessed with wonderful new friends as well.
So, that's the story. In my life, I like to move toward my next adventure and this is it. I'm happy here. I'm painting, creating, and thriving. Onward.
- Raphaella Vaisseau