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The Seeker: The Beauty of a Blank Slate Caused by Canceled Plans

Katie Grant looks over her shoulder and smiles
Katie Grant, The Seeker. (Photo by Moving Mountains Studios)

What’s better than a weekend work event being postponed at the last minute? Thank you spring showers! Not one to waste an opportunity, this news freed up my agenda on the last weekend of April for some unstructured free time without any expectation of a result — aka fun!

To celebrate a weekend now free of commitment, I prepared a loose itinerary for myself and some friends around neighborhood events and hit the town. We kicked off the weekend in true tree-hugger fashion, honoring Arbor Day, celebrated on the last Friday in April to bring awareness to our trees and forests. Locally, TreesCharlotte, a public/private nonprofit, launched its inaugural TreeFest event hosted by NoDa Brewing in the North End. They arrived at the brewery supplied with 350 seedlings to give away on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The efforts of TreesCharlotte, its partners and volunteers over the years have led to either planting or giving away 48,900 containerized trees! This is one of those situations where I am thrilled to now be a statistic, as I joined the TreesCharlotte data set. The nonprofit sent me home with both a birch tree and a pine tree seedling over the weekend.

Grateful for my new plant babies (and hoping the feeling is mutual toward their new plant mama), our group then moved on to the second itinerary item: the Astro Pop Mural and Music Fest. The second annual free art and music extravaganza, first hosted in 2021 and unfortunately postponed last year, featured live murals and paintings, a lengthy live music lineup, several food trucks, and various local vendors mixed throughout the patio and rooftop beer garden at The Chamber by Wooden Robot in NoDa.

The event is the brainchild of Brett Toukatly, also known as local illustrator and muralist TwoKat, who wanted to find ways to merge his day job as a bartender at the brewery with his creative network.

Stepping foot into The Chamber, I was immediately charmed by the spacious taproom, patio and rooftop biergarten. The drink menu featured a rotating selection of drafts, specialty bottles and kegs, as well as to-go crowlers. We wandered upstairs towards the rooftop biergarten where NoDa’s artistic spirit was evident through live painting in tandem with music by Jupiter Hearts, Modern Moxie, and Moon Man.

Thank goodness for our frosty pints; it was toasty up there! (Nobody tell the organizers of my ill-fated work event.) Both the bands and the audience were sweaty, which played into the spring fever ambiance — an accumulation of bon vivant drawn to the same venue by local brews, music and art.

A few adult beverages in, it was time for some afternoon sustenance. What is a music and arts festival without food trucks? One of my local favorites, Katsu Kart Sando Shop, was on site, so I went with the vegetarian Kakiage Sando, a tempura vegetable fritter topped with cabbage kimchi mayo wedged between two pieces of bread. It may not have been the healthiest choice of the weekend, but neither is drinking back-to-back ciders under the springtime sunshine.

Later that night, my husband planned to stop by local talent Elevator Jay’s Summer Rooster listening party and live podcast at Snug Harbor. This meant it was time to chug some water and return to the car.

I was planning to stay horizontal on the couch for the rest of the evening; my best friend and neighbor all but broke her foot at the Queen’s Cup Steeplechase and needed a commiseration. I asked if she wore heels, even after I forewarned it may be a muddy mess. Her response? “No, I wore platforms.” Sigh.

I helped her wrap it, elevate it, and top off her rosé before heading home to finish my current episode of Copenhagen Cowboy. If you enjoy atmospheric, slow-burn noir thrillers with heavy synth soundtracks, this show is for you. But I digress.

I finalized my weekend with an early morning session at ISI Elizabeth to sweat out the ciders I imbibed over the weekend and my unsound food truck choices. I have no regrets; they each complimented my weekend perfectly in their own way.

Later, I stretched toward the remnants of my weekend hours within the four corners of my yoga mat at Khali. Their Sunday evening Deep Stretch class focuses on releasing excess tension and anxiety in the body — my go-to modality to beat the Sunday Scaries healthily.

The class consists of passive stretches with longer holds designed to help yogis improve flexibility and calm the nervous system. The classroom is comfortably warm, between 80 and 90 degrees, but since the focus is on stretching instead of dynamic movement, aggressive sweating is not really a concern. I love showing up with my mat, a water bottle and a stress reduction mindset with the goal of reconnecting with myself after a weekend of sun-soaked outdoor adventures.

From environmentally focused outdoor adventures to artistic performances, to personal journeys focusing on reconnection, spring is a time of hope and renewal; let’s explore together!

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