Beach or mountains? Or both? For me, it's the mountains, the mountains, the mountains. Can't live without the mountains. When I left Frederick, Maryland, where I had lived for 25 years, I left the Catoctin Mountain foothills and the western Maryland mountains. Now, transplanted 650 miles away in Atlanta, I live less than an hour away from that same mountain range, which is all part of the Blue Ridge; now I live close to the southernmost tip of the Appalachian Trail, and not too far from my beloved mountains. We often get in the car on Sunday afternoons and drive north. Here's how that trip looked last weekend... I call this a recipe for slowing down. I did not even bring my notebook with me on this trip.
Jim has a gig every Sunday morning (a "steady," we call that). While he's gigging, I rummage through the kitchen -- we will be gone two days, so let's use up what's here -- and find cauliflower, potatoes, cheese. I remember a recipe I made many years ago, from the Moosewood Cookbook, find recipe, make a cauliflower/potato/cheese soup and a salad from some apples, spinach, cherry tomatoes, nuts, whatever is available and looks sincere. Eat.
Admire volunteer sunflowers growing by the mailbox. Jim is six feet, six inches tall -- haven't measured the sunflowers.
Stuff a few overnight items in a canvas bag and head out to the Family Folk-Art Reunion at Around Back at Rocky's Place in Dawsonville, Georgia, about an hour's drive from Atlanta.
Meet Roy Hinshew, who is carving this angel.
Be careful with those power tools.
Take a meandering drive north into the foothills to Dahlonega -- the site of the first gold rush in the U.S. Our destination is The Crimson Moon, our favorite long-distance dinner spot.
The food is great, but these guys are really why we come. Great musicians who jam together on Sunday afternoons at Crimson Moon. Toe tapping ensues. We let the music -- the melodies, harmonies, rhythms, and exuberance -- let it melt away the long work week.
Drive another hour north, winding up and down and around the Blue Ridge Mountains, stopping for a hello to the lake at Vogel State Park, which is smack in the middle of the mountains (scroll down to the last photo, here, for a picture of the lake, our favorite spot to swim), then we wend our way to Marble, North Carolina, where friends await our arrival...
...where the grapes are almost ripe, and where we pick blueberries as the sun rises the next morning and fold them into our breakfast pancakes.
Where we find water -- Jim's only requirement on a trip to the mountains.
This trip, it's the Nantahala River. The waterfall is thundering into a deep pool, and we don't get too close to it, because the pressure is too high. But we can admire it from a distance. What a roar!
I am... sensible.
"It's FINE, don't worry about me, I'll take some pictures."
Translation: "This water is FREEZING!"
Jim: YES IT IS! (That's not exactly what he said. It was more like HOLY BATMAN!, only that wasn't it, either.)
One more look around. Breathtaking beauty: The mountains, the river, the friends, the husband, still trying to take the plunge.
The picture of perseverance.
This is what I want to do with my novel. Persevere, even when the water is freezing. I don't want to stand, ankle deep in the freezing river, and take pictures. I don't want to be.... sensible.
I want to plunge in. It takes guts. Someone said it takes courage just to get up in the morning. Maybe it does. As I sit at my desk and work on this novel, I think it takes a certain kind of craziness -- is that what perseverance is? -- to make up people and stories out of whole cloth, thin air, bits and pieces of moments we have lived, the memories we have of those moments, and the meaning we assign them.
It's like looking at these mailboxes along the side of a rural road and asking, "Who lives here? What are their stories?"
That's the work I'm doing this afternoon.