Why is it that sometimes we travel all around the world, figuratively or literally, to see beauty when beauty is right in front of our faces?
That’s what I feel like I’ve done this past week.
A few days ago, I took a long overdue road trip with my pals Virginia and Shirley. We headed in our usual direction – north to the mountains. While we had a good time (we always have fun when we’re together), the drive through the mountains was anything but relaxing. Traffic was backed up all along the way – crossing the highway on foot to visit some shops was, let’s say, an exhilarating experience. We made our usual stop at a vegetable stand in Dillard, standing in line for a while to buy cabbages and other mountain produce.
But the trees were beginning to turn, and that, as always, was a beautiful sight.
The real relaxing part of the day was a stop for lunch at Isabel’s in Tallulah Falls – a beautiful old antebellum home that serves good food and has great views. Another friend treated me to lunch there back in the summer and I’ve been wanting to go back ever since. It was sad to see that the house is for sale – seems you can’t escape signs of the rough time we’re in anywhere you go.
On my way back in that evening, after dropping off the girls, I noticed that the trees here, to a lesser degree, were also beginning to turn – with the maples catching fire in the late evening sun.
Then, with a couple of days off this past week, Charles and I decided to take a short ride north ourselves. The day’s weather forecast promised clouds, but no rain, not until at least after midnight.
As it has been more often than not lately, that forecast turned out to be dead wrong. The further north we drove, the darker the clouds got. By the time we reached Helen, a steady rain had set in. We stopped for lunch at West Family Restaurant between Helen and Cleveland, (another good place to eat) and decided to ride further north.
We turned on to Hwy. 197 – my favorite mountain road – and took the twists and turns through valleys rimmed with color, the leaves falling across the road in golden bursts. It was beautiful. We rode by Lake Burton, watching the rain and the falling leaves dot the water. Eventually, we turned toward Clayton, where we saw the mountains dappled in color, despite the rain, which had slowed to a slight drizzle. If the sun had been out, I know the predominately yellow leaves would have glittered like spun gold. We rode with the windows partially down for a while, savoring the clean air laced with whiffs of delicious wood smoke.
After we turned south on Hwy. 441, the rain set in so steady that there was little to see, except to keep our eyes on the road.
Then this afternoon, Sunday, with the rain finally gone for a spell, I sat out on the back deck and looked around me – there were the reds and the golds of autumn – the late afternoon sunlight making them glisten. I could smell wood smoke, partly from our own firepit, and partly from a neighbor’s chimney. And I marveled at the peacefulness, found here in my own backyard.
It just goes to show that sometimes what you’re looking for is just outside your own windows, requiring nothing but a moment of awareness.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for The Madison County Journal.