The snow came down for hours yesterday – silent, soft flakes. I’m tired of the snow, but it still works it’s magic. You can’t help but feel the world is enchanted for those few, quiet hours when everything’s covered in a pillow of pristine powder.
We spent Thanksgiving at my stepmother-in-law’s house in the Shenandoah Valley. Daniel’s dad grew up in this area, so he took my sister-in-law and I on a walk down to the river. The town was quiet, blanketed in fresh snow.
At about this point on the walk, I realized I couldn’t feel my toes.
They have a lovely dog I enjoyed petting while we waited for the turkey to finish cooking. Donna, the aforementioned stepmother-in-law, makes delicious brussels sprouts with bacon, which I greedily ate with a heaping mound of mashed potatoes.
After our car broke down, my grandparents graciously offered to sell us one of their cars. The only problem was that it was in Florida. So, within a week, we booked our one way flight to Tampa and prepared for a week of travel through the south.
We spent a relaxing few days in Bradenton at my grandparents house, enjoying Grandma’s beef with Amish noodles and watching a documentary about Florida on TV. On Sunday, we headed up to Orlando to attend church with Daniel’s mom before caravanning up to St. Augustine to be tourists for the afternoon.
A pirate ship!
After spending the night at my sister’s house in Jacksonville, we traveled up to Charlotte, NC. After a day of driving, we were fairly well exhausted, so we ordered takeout and watched trashy television into the evening.
The next day, we took a self-guided walking tour through Charlotte, admiring the Painted Ladies and modern downtown architecture, visiting a local Episcopal church, drinking delicious coffee, and eating at a local Greek restaurant.
It was the sort of trip everyone should take in the summertime. We paced ourselves and managed to see lots of friends and family as we snaked our way back to Charlottesville. I’m grateful that fate forced us to get down to Florida this year. Being with people who have known you forever is quite grounding.
In the beginning of July, Daniel and I headed out with friends from church to attend the annual congregational get together at the Episcopal campground that borders the George Washington National Forest. It’s taken me forever to get to posting these, because on the way there, our car broke down (RIP) and the rest of July was spent either car-less or in Florida to buy my grandparents’ car (thanks, Grandparents!).
I had a most relaxing time despite the stress of losing a vehicle. We played literary games, sang gospel songs in three parts, read on the covered porch, ate s’mores, and went on a very educational hike thanks to the presence of an ecologist and a former geology major. I fell in a creek, got bitten by a horsefly, and overheated a bit, but that’s part of the joy of summertime!
The weekend could not have been better.
I spent Saturday in the mountains with my church’s college group. You may remember that I went on the same hike last year and really enjoyed it.
We read Psalms, closed our eyes and listened to the gentle shhh of wind through leaves, and had Eucharist on the mountaintop.
Focused breathing up steep paths is a special sort of meditation. It’s so very rare for me to be able to let go of daily stresses and live in the moment for hours at a time, but something about Shenandoah does it for me. I was distracted by panoramic views, new friends, and the marvelous way the body adapts to uneven terrain. It was a lovely and exhausting day.
Mary and I have been friends for nearly 10 years. We met our junior year of high school, attended college together, and were roommates for a year and a half. She came up to visit last month, so naturally we went to Skyline Drive. It’s one of the most impressive parts of this state and I’m lucky to live so close to it. I especially love the foggy haze and flash storms that visit the mountains in summertime. It’s like exploring a primordial rain forest.