Lake Norman has changed dramatically over the 20-plus years I’ve lived here, but it’s easy to remember the way it used to be.Basically, there was less – of everything. When I began dating my future husband in the late ’80s, Chinese food was the most exotic cuisine around. You wanted an egg roll? You drove, from Davidson to the Lotus Chinese Restaurant in Mooresville.Later, after we married and moved to Cornelius, I remember watching NorthCross Shopping Center in Huntersville rise from farmland. Until then, shopping frequently involved significant driving, often to Charlotte or Concord. You’ll think I’m exaggerating when I recall the palpable community excitement when Target opened, but, really, the excitement was palpable. The Lake Norman region was a good place to live before thousands of new residents fueled tremendous development, but, in my humble opinion, it’s even better today. The key, I think, is our mix of old and new, of Southern, small-town and cosmopolitan, with a lake and its amenities thrown in for good measure. When we shop, we can buy local meats and produce at farmers markets or Huntersville’s historic Bradford Store. Then we can drive a few miles to Birkdale Village to check out Banana Republic, Williams-Sonoma and other chain stores. You find the same thing with housing. The Lake Norman waterfront is home to million-dollar mansions, but in several towns, you also find modest mill houses, a reminder of earlier days. Lake Norman has attracted new businesses in recent years, and the area also is home to many NASCAR teams, which add to the economic boon as well as to colorful North Carolina history.If you’re a newcomer, you can look forward to discovering the eagles and hawks that reside at Huntersville’s Carolina Raptor Center, exploring the Davidson College campus and enjoying Cornelius’ “Waving Man,” who spreads cheer as he greets motorists from his Main Street porch.I’m betting you’ll also find, as I have, that it’s the people who make our communities special – the folks who serve in the volunteer fire departments, work the polls every Election Day, volunteer in their neighborhoods and at their kids’ schools.In that way, Lake Norman is probably like a lot of America. Still, some things distinguish us. Sure, nowadays, we have sushi and fish tacos. But how many communities can say they’re home to old-school fish camps, too?
Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012
Everything old is new again
‘Must’ list 1. Latta Plantation Nature Preserve (5225 Sample Road, Huntersville) is the site of a circa-1800 cotton plantation and living history farm. It’s also home to the Carolina Raptor Center. 704-875-1391; www.charmeck.org. 2. Discover some of Lake Norman’s best food at Davidson Farmer’s Market (120 S. Main St., Davidson). Along with local fruits, vegetables and meats, you’ll find homemade doughnuts, empanadas, chocolates, fresh bread and more. 704-400-0880; www.davidsonfarmersmarket.org. 3. Opened in 2010, Discovery Place Kids (105 Gilead Road, Huntersville) provides children with play experiences that value imagination, fun and learning. 704-337-2672; www.discoveryplacekids.org. 4. Located at Duke Energy’s McGuire Nuclear Station (13339 Hagers Ferry Road, Huntersville), the Energy Explorium offers exhibits and games focused on the environment, energy and electricity. 980-875-5600; www.duke-energy.com.