The visitors sauntered into Cafe del Sol, ordered two lattes and spread their maps and real estate brochures out on the table and started talking about where to buy land.

As usually happens, they turned to a stranger at the next table and asked:

"Excuse me, sir, do you live here."

"Yes," I answered, "I do."

"Tell us about the community."

So I went into my well-rehearsed litany about lifestyle, government, schools, cost of living and community attitudes. It’s a lot like a political candidate’s stump speech. I’ve delivered it so often that notes aren’t needed.

The came a question that caught me off guard.

"Are there a lot of hicks around here?"

I took a sip of coffee before answering.

"Absolutely," I answered. "There’s a lot of us hicks around here and we’re damn proud of it."

Hicks. Rednecks. Bubbas. Over the years, the names have changed but the intent is the same. They were afraid they might encounter some dumb country bumpkins out here in the sticks.

They left, probably headed for Asheville where the imported sophisticates outnumber the hicks.  I finished my coffee and went back to the studio to work on a new video about the growing artist’s community in our little hick town.

But I did stop to scrape the cow dung off my boots first.