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Sweetly at Home in a Small Town

Sally Anger writes Artful Village

Sally Anger writes Artful Village

Dulce Domum

Although I was nine years old before we moved to the small town of Beaufort, North Carolina, it is where I spent most of my youth and what I consider my true home. Beaufort had not yet been “discovered” when I was growing up here. The boardwalk where tourists stroll on humid summer nights had not yet been built. It was a creative place to develop.

My cousin and I would roller skate down to the Rose’s Five-and-Dime and skate inside all the way to the back to buy a bag of freshly popped popcorn. I can still hear the sound of the skates clickety-clacking on the wooden floors. No one ever yelled at us; they just sort of smiled.

The Guthrie Jones Drug Store on Front Street is where I'd go with my friends. There, we'd sit on the floor and read the comics. If we were a little short on change or not very hungry, the lady behind the grill would make us a half of a grilled cheese sandwich.

It is those little creative exceptions to the norm, small but important, that helped to nurture my creativity in a small town.

Many factors go into the making of an artist; one of them is the willingness to let things be a bit different; to not have to conform. Beaufort has retained this characteristic. There is a celebration of the eclectic that is nurturing to the artistic spirit.

I remember feeling this even as I prepared to leave Beaufort for college. In the speech I gave for my welcoming address at high school graduation, I quoted from the Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

There’s a scene where Mole has been out exploring the world and having wonderful adventures and then one day he stumbles upon the smell of his old home and it draws him back. He’s overjoyed to be back with old friends and to see his humble abode. It was the way I knew I would always feel about Beaufort after I went off to college and to explore the world. Here’s how Mole described it:

“He saw clearly how plain and simple -- how narrow, even -- it all was; but clearly, too, how much it all meant to him, and the special value of some such anchorage in one's existence. He did not at all want to abandon the new life and its splendid spaces, to turn his back on sun and air and all they offered him and creep home and stay there; the upper world was all too strong, it called to him still, even down there, and he knew he must return to the larger stage. But it was good to think he had this to come back to; this place which was all his own, these things which were so glad to see him again and could always be counted upon for the same simple welcome.”

The chapter from which this is quoted is called Dulce Domum which means Sweetly at Home.

Now I have been off to other parts of the world and have come back to this area to live as an artist. There are many artists in this area and we know one another. There is a camaraderie amongst us that continues to nurture that artistic spirit.

The natural beauty and days of sunlight here are a constant inspiration. I still travel to large cities to sell my art, but am glad that I have this place of refuge in which to create it.

What about you? Are you, too, an artist 'sweetly at home' in your small town? I'd like to hear your story. Please comment below.

Sally Anger grew up in the coastal town of Beaufort, North Carolina after moving there at the age of nine. She has loved art all her life, and attended workshops and painted for many years. In 2002 she took the plunge and left a career as a nutritionist to pursue art full time. She is grateful to make her living through the art she loves. She lives in Morehead City, NC.

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