Photography by Stewart O’Shields / Artistic direction by R. Brooke Priddy / Makeup by Amanda Anderson and Jennifer Sellers / Hair by Moriah Luzius and Charlotte Murphy of Ananda Salon
For Liz White, the idea for the dress began with a parachute. For years she had wanted to make a garment from parachute fabric, though such a creation would be a total departure from her usual designs: vintage-inspired dresses and ornate velvet jackets, all satins and organzas that work well on stage or with some sort of dramatic feathered hat. The parachute dress was a new thought entirely. Working with the fabric, which she ordered online from a parachute shop, the material reminded the 27-year-old Asheville designer of the skeleton of a dress—its inner workings, its barest stitched structure. “I thought of the architecture of a dress, something wearable that you could see without being blinded by colors and patterns,” she says.
For Liz White, the idea for the dress began with a parachute. For years she had wanted to make a garment from parachute fabric, though such a creation would be a total departure from her usual designs: vintage-inspired dresses and ornate velvet jackets, all satins and organzas that work well on stage or with some sort of dramatic feathered hat.
The parachute dress was a new thought entirely. Working with the fabric, which she ordered online from a parachute shop, the material reminded the 27-year-old Asheville designer of the skeleton of a dress—its inner workings, its barest stitched structure. “I thought of the architecture of a dress, something wearable that you could see without being blinded by colors and patterns,” she says.
by Janet Hurley
Perhaps the universe figured I needed a kick in the pants. Right after I started dating my now-husband David in 1991, I met someone who’d gone to college with him and knew his ex-girlfriend. “Last I heard she was leading a canoe expedition through the Northwest Territories,” the guy reported.
“Sharks are very curious,” Brenda Ramer says. “If you stand really still you can feel them pulling on your fins.” For a daughter of the Midwest and a teacher trained in special education, Ramer seems remarkably drawn to life under the sea. In fact, her enthusiasm for oceanic adventure led her to develop Team ECCO, a Hendersonville nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching children to love and respect the ocean and the life in it.
For her first ten years of adulthood, Sherry Nesbitt was mainly a dutiful wife and mother. The Asheville native married an anesthesiologist, worked on and off as a nurse at Mission Hospital and raised her son, now 16. “I didn’t get out there and do a whole lot,” she says. “I did what was expected of me.”
But something changed in 2005 when she decided, at age 40, to fly a plane. She and her then-husband took a weekend trip to Charleston and talked about taking flying lessons. The next week, she took a test flight at WNC Aviation, a flight school at the Asheville Regional Airport. As soon as she lifted off on that clear day in May, hands gripping the plane’s controls and staring out over Asheville, Hendersonville and Lake Lure, she knew she was hooked. She remembers that, on the car trip to Charleston, her husband had blurted out an idea that suddenly sounded quite appealing: “If you would [take lessons], I would buy you an airplane,” she recalls him saying. He was serious, and so was she.
Ah, island life. Palm trees, turquoise water and a lazy pace born of constant humidity and year-round temperatures in the 80s. “You have to wait for everything,” Asheville interior designer Cate Scales remembers of her ten years on Saipan, one of the Northern Mariana Islands. “Americans are go-go-go, and that just makes island people go slower.”
Her adventures on Saipan, southeast of Japan, began in 1993 when she arrived to spend three weeks with her relatively new love, Ben. They started dating in their hometown of Lakeland, Florida, right before he took a clerkship with a federal judge for the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas. Scales, just 24 and an intern at an interior design firm, found Saipan breathtakingly beautiful and the community friendly. When she called her parents to tell them she’d decided to stay and had, in fact, already taken a job as personnel director at a Club Med-type resort (despite knowing nothing about the human resource field), her father told her he’d already packed her things. “Everyone except me knew I wasn’t coming back,” she laughs.
Well, she did occasionally think about ships. Her father served in the Navy and she grew up in Norfolk, Virginia, a huge Chesapeake Bay military town with one of the largest naval bases in the world. She signed up for the U.S. Marine Corps her senior year of high school as a way to get out of town and see the world. And see it she did—first Japan, then the Philippines, then on board the Coast Guard’s Cutter Eagle, an historic World War II sailing ship built with tall masts and billowing sails. In the late 1980s on the Eagle, she was part of the first active-duty crew to sail into Soviet waters in ten years.
Growing up, she always wanted to be like her big brother Jared, now a 22-year-old professional dirt bike racer. Mary, who’s 18, started racing at age six, ripping around the dirt track at the WNC Ag Center on a kid-sized Yamaha PW50. Her father Tommy Tuten, who owns an auction house in Asheville’s River Arts District, said she didn’t have to follow in her big brother’s footsteps if she didn’t want to. But Mary, an Asheville native, thinks riding is fun and it calms her down—most of the time. “It’s my thing to do,” she says. “When I’m on a bike or on the track, I feel like I belong there.”
by Jess McCuan . portraits by Rebecca D’Angelo
Military nurses find themselves at a curious intersection between life and death.
As nurses, they are trained to heal and comfort. But like all soldiers, they’re trained to hunt and kill when necessary. Not all military nurses end up brandishing weapons in combat zones, of course.
Katie Dunn, 28, lay on her belly and inched her way through a tight crevice, painfully aware of the rock overhead, the rock below and the kids following behind who needed her to stay calm. “You can’t turn around,” Dunn says. “And you don’t know what’s ahead. It’s nervewracking.” When the whole group made it through the crack and could stand up inside Worley’s Cave in Eastern Tennessee, they were rewarded with glimpses of stalactites and stalagmites—and the confidence of having met yet another challenge.